by akikowhite

Who’s a Texas Sweetheart and Texas Scoundrel?

I was honored to create a cake for the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels. It was raffled off at the Texas Library Associations annual conference. It was created using all 60 published books of the 13 authors who are a part of the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels.

It was placed on a table in the Overlook Books Booth. Many librarians enjoyed seeing all the edible creations on the cake and most were commenting that they were a scoundrel librarian!

What I thought was quite amazing is that I picked the one person who put their name in the hat that was celebrating a birthday! How cool is that!!!

Robbi Lenox of Cimarron Elementary

Here is the link to the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels Blog post about my cake and the TLA.

Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels: A Yummy THANK YOU from the Texas Sweethearts & Sco…: Thank you for sharing TLA 2016 with us! Thank you so much to all those who stopped by to see us at TLA! We adored sharing our TLA rec…

Here are some process shots of the cake I made. The book covers were printed on wafer paper with edible ink. Then glued to gum paste with piping gel. I used wires to hold the books in place and to make the branches of the tree. The topper was made to be easily taken off and enjoyed on a bookshelf as a art piece. I enjoyed making this creation…even if I didn’t get much sleep. ūüėČ

Easter Drip Cakes

Little Bunny Foo Foo Drip Cakes

I had a blast creating these drip cakes! I loved seeing my other cake artist friends make these and wanted to try them out! So what better time to do it than on Easter!!! I made 5 cakes in all.

These are the larger of the three. It is a lot of fun to make these because pretty much anything goes! I bought different easter candies. I added 2 different kinds of sprinkles, made home made cake balls and hand painted macarons for the top. I also made some vanilla and chocolate bark with sprinkles of course!

I purchased some cute little chocolate bunnies to put on top and wha la!

I also created some fondant flowers to add to the sugary goodness!

There actually is a method to this madness!

To make these you will need several kind of sweets to put on the top of the cakes. I advise to lay out all your toppers and start with the largest piece first. (for me it was the bunny) then build out from there. I put the bark on in various places, cake balls, macrons, candies and then added the sprinkles last. I use the rule of threes when doing the cacheable and macarons. I think it really keeps the design looking good but not to chaotic. If you decide to make one, fun with it!

Close up photos of the goodness! Yum!

Here you can see my hand painted macarons up close.

It is a vanilla cake with strawberry filling, buttercream icing and chocolate ganache as the drip.

I also made some Easter cake pops! Yum yum!

Time to dig in… I promise we didn’t drool on the cakes! or maybe we did!

Below you can watch my quick YouTube video of how I made the cake.

ENJOY!

 

Guinness Stout Cupcakes with Peppermint Macaroons



I just wanted to share the recipe that I found for the Guinness Stout Cupcakes that I made for St. Patricks day. They were so scrumptious and delicious. I was so pleased at the rise that I got out of the recipe and the chocolate ganache centers made them so full of chocolate deliciousness! 


I created these for kid friendly folks, by taking out the liquor in the ganache and buttercream. The Guinness in the cupcakes are baked so there is no alcohol left after it has been cooked. 



I made a half recipe and got the perfect dozen cupcakes. I used the left over ganache to make my fillings for the mint chocolate macaroons. 


The cupcake recipe is adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker. Her site is well worth looking at. There are many yummy recipes there. 

http://www.browneyedbaker.com/irish-car-bomb-cupcakes/?m





Guinness, Whiskey & Irish Cream Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¬ĺ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1¬Ĺ teaspoons baking soda
¬ĺ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

Directions:

1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Then cool slightly.

2. Whisk in the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter together until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners using an ice-cream scoop. I find that I can get a more equal amount by using this method. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Put chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in microwave for a minute, then for 30 second intervals until warm. Pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple minutes and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey (or vanilla) and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, (or vanilla) and increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Top with the chocolate mint macaroon. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.


The chocolate mint macaroons recipe was inspired from¬†“macaroons” by Paragon Books.



I also bought a macaron silicone mat to help keep a consistent size with the macaroons

Peppermint Macaroons

Ingredients:

3/4 cup ground almonds

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 extra large egg whites (room temperature)

1/4 cup superfine sugar

1 tsp pepperment extract

green food dye

Directions:

Place the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Sift the mixture into a bowl. Line a cookie sheet with your silicone mat or use parchment paper.


Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whip until holding soft peaks. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. Beat in the peppermint extract and enough green food  coloring for your desired color.


Using a spatula, fold in the almond mixture into the meringue  one-third at a time. When all the dry ingredients are thoroughly in corporate, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbon like consistency.


Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip. Pipe 32-36 small circles onto the prepared baking sheet or the silicone mat. Tap the baking sheets firmly onto a work surface to remove air bubbles. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This helps the meringue form a crust that will keep it’s shape when baked and give it it’s pretty legs. Preheat oven to 325 F./160 C.


Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and carefully peel the macaroons off the parchment or silicon mat, let cool completely before filling.



Yummy!



Chicken Squawk!

Just squawking around the chicken coop today!

I’m loving this wafer paper as wings and feathers. So fun!

Squawk squawk! Trouble at the hen house! ?

Here’s one of the chicken’s in all it’s painted glory! I also played with some Photoshop brushes. I’m trying to figure out how to make my imagery more flat for publication purposes.

Thanks for viewing the hen house!

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Recipe is below if you want to skip my long drawn out explanation of why I chose to make a gluten free vegan cookie. 
 
I don’t talk about my health often, but I’ve seen some differences and have experienced some positive change from just eliminating certain things from my diet. I would be lying to say that it has been easy. Try being a baker and not being able to indulge in all the things that you bake!!! I’m hoping that I will be able to reintroduce these items back into my diet someday, but for now, I’m testing out all kinds of recipes, to see which ones I can alter to replace the crunchy, decadent buttery flavors that I am craving!!!¬†
 
For those of you who have known me for awhile, you know how much trouble I have had with excema. It started about 15 years ago when I decided to stop taking allergy shots that I had been taken for over a year. It was getting more and more difficult to go to the allergy specialist office regularly, and I really had not seen much results. Little did I know that it had actually been helping all along. 
 

My excema had gotten so bad that I couldn’t wear shorts or even short sleeve shirts and I would wake up in the middle of the night itching like a dog. It was and sometimes still can be so unpleasant! I’m still in the healing stages. Just last night I introduced orange juice and I had a ¬† reaction. ūüôĀ


So after many years of feeling the itch, seeing allergy specialist, and several dermatologist, I decided to try an elimination diet. I cut out everything except turkey, lamb, veggies (except tomatoes and potatoes), fruit (except citrus), herbal teas and honey. 
 
I had also been suffering from tightness in my shoulders and upper body and both my hands were completely numb when I woke up in the morning.¬†In just a few days of being on the elimination diet I noticed that these things disappeared. I¬†think that cutting out sugar had a huge part in this and maybe by eliminating things that I was sensitive too made the inflammation in my body disappear. I’m not a doctor, but I feel like food can really play a big part in how you feel!¬†
 
So after figuring out the things that I was sensitive to, I decided to leave them out of my diet for awhile. At least until my skin heals. (I used the app mySymtoms to keep my diary) 
 
Sorry for the long post to get to the recipe. I felt I should share as to why I’ve chosen to make a gluten free vegan chocolate chip cookie. Maybe some of you have had a similar experience, I would love to know that I am not the only one that has had to figure these things out. Modern medicine has its place, but figuring out what your own body needs and doesn’t need is something we should all do.¬†
 
I think it’s very tasty cookie and turned out much better than I had expected! Even my very picky 10 year old likes it!¬†
 
So here it is…
 
GF Vegan Chocolate Chip Recipe
Preheat oven to 375 F.
 
1 1/4 cups of oat flour
1 cup brown rice flour 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. potato starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
4 oz. organic coconut oil (melted)
4 oz. organic shortening (melted) 
3/4 cup sugar 
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tb flaxseed soaked in 5 Tb. water 
( I also added¬†2 Tb flaxseed chai and Cocoa mixture with the flax seed water mixture, but it’s not nessasary)
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
 
Soak flax seed with water.
 
Combine the flours, potato starch, salt, baking soda, and xanthan gum in a bowl and mix with a whisk. 
 
In the kitchen aid or large bowl mix melted shortening, coconut oil, sugars and vanilla. Whisk in flaxseed and water mixture. ¬†Stir in the flour mixture until combined. ( the more you mix the flour mixture in the chewers do less crunchy your cookie will be. This is from activating the xanthan gum, I personally like crunchy cookies, so I didn’t mix it too much.)¬†
 
If possible let dough sit an hour or two or refrigerate overnight. I couldn’t wait than long, so I went ahead and started baking immediately!¬†
 
I used an ice cream scoop to scoop out the cookies and I rolled them into a ball shape then flattened the into 2 1/2 to 3 inch cookies and placed about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Cookies will be delicate straight out of the oven, so let them cool on the cookie sheet a couple minutes then transfer to a rack to cool. They may be kept in airtight containers for several days. 
 
Enjoy! 
 
This recipe was inspired from Alice Medrich’s chocolate chip cookies recipe.¬†
 
 
 
 
 
 

2015 Highlights Foundation Picture Book Boot Camp

Highlights from Highlights

Picture book boot camp faculty Denise Fleming, Pat Cummings, Peter Brown and Greg Pizzoli

DAY 1

Arrival and Tour

The Barn
Touring the Highlights Magazine Offices

Dino!
Carolyn Flores loves her dinos!

After an evening of touring, everyone had an opportunity to share their projects with all the attendees.  There was so much talent to be seen!

This is the story that I presented ¬†about a koi fish. Junichi’s story is based off of a Chinese folktale about how a koi fish endures swimming upstream to the top of a waterfall and becomes a dragon. This story represents why the koi kites became one of the symbols of Japan’s children’s day.

Tale of the Dragon Fish
Junichi was always last and wished he could swim

as fast as his brothers and sisters.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to fly,” thought Junichi.

DAY 2

The faculty presented their work and we got busy on our manuscripts.

Greg Pizzoli
Peter Brown
Pat Cummings
Denise Fleming
Little Cabins in the woods

Pat Cummings and Martha Rago
Sheli Petersen and Carolyn Flores are ready for the photo!

Denise thought we all needed a new pair of teeth

for our group photo.

Denise looks just lovely with her new set of teeth!

Time to get to work!

We separated into 4 different groups, each one lead by a faculty member. My group was lead by Greg and we were called the “Baby Pigeons”. We worked all morning with our groups then in the afternoon presented our manuscripts to the other 3 faculty. We had only 15 minutes to share with each one and boy did those 15 minutes go by fast! It was a really intense day. I think I became more confused as the day went on and later found that I had to do a lot of purging of my work to make it a more finished peice.

That evening the Guest Faculty arrived. Nancy Paulson of Nancy Paulson Books, Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffor Content agency, and Martha Rago the art director of Random House/Golden Books for Young Readers Group. We presented our work to them the next day.

The Lodge

The lodge is where I spent most of my Friday evening into the wee early morning of Saturday finalizing my manuscript and book dummies. Thanks to Carolyn for kept me company and let me use her drafting tools. I still think I was the last man standing that night.

DAY 3

Presenting

My little cabin

Patricia Keeler and Robin Rosenthal

It was fun to hear what everyone thought of my story.

I feel inspired to return home and work

on it until it is ready for submission.

Sketching by Lori Ann Levy-Holm

DAY 4

Final Workshop Day

I thought it would be fun to share a few little adornments for the cupcakes at our last meal together. So, I took out my trusty cake decorating tools and got to work. I did have to improvise on a few things.

Rolling out the modeling chocolate.
Using the top of a salt shaker to shape the flowers.
Just a few little flowers
with pearl candy centers.
Yum! Yum! Yum!

So they weren’t as elaborate as I usually make things, but I think they were appreciated. The chef at Highlights kept telling me how slow I was…This is why I would probably fail at being on a cake show!

Greg and me!
Martha, Peter and I.
Me and Denise with our pearl whites, not the dingy ones.
Me and Pat
Robin, Shelli, Carolyn, Leni and Renee
Sheli, Tom, Renee, Peach!, Carolyn and Leni
Me, Allison, and Carolyn

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the¬†Highlights Foundation‘s Picture Book Boot Camp. It was an incredible opportunity and I learned so much more about the industry. Thanks to the wonderful faculty;¬†Denise Fleming,¬†Pat Cummings,¬†Peter Brown¬†and¬†Greg Pizzoli¬†for an unforgettable weekend! Thank you to Highlights for the wonderful facilities and to all the attendees who made my weekend so special!

Sheli at her little cabin in the woods
Nice little swing on the property.
Boyd’s Mill Press
Down by the Creek

Nice trail we took alongside the creek.

Love all the vegitation.

Stone steps to the creek.

  

Good Night!

Feature in American Cake Decorating Magazine

Thank you to American Cake Decorating Magazine for featuring me in their “In My Kitchen” section of their July/August issue.

http://americancakedecorating.com

Here is the link to the American Cake Decorating Magazine website where you can purchase your copy of this months issue. It has great tips on cake decorating and is loaded with information about what is going on in the industry.

In this issue I am honored to share a tutorial with other cake friends on how to paint a flower design on a cake. It is something that I hope everyone tries. It is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it and can be a quick and elegant way to dress up a fondant covered cake. Nothing is better than a blank canvas, and it is even sweeter when it is made out of cake!

Below is my youtube video of the whole process:

 

Enjoy!
Akiko

Spotlight in Cake Master’s Magazine

What an AMAZING feeling to see your own art in a magazine! I want to thank¬†Cake Masters Magazine¬†for the wonderful Cake Spotlight spread in this years April Issue of their magazine. My Pied Piper Cake won Best of Divisions at the Austin¬†Capital Confectioners¬†“That Takes the Cake”¬†show. There is a spread right after mine showing a few of the incredible cakes that were in the show. This years theme, “Once Upon a Cake” was perfect for my Cakelustrations! I had a great deal of fun creating my own version of the Pied Piper.

Kidlit411 Spotlight

I wanted to share with you my process of the Pied piper cake that I did recently. I will post some photos here, but would appreciate you checking out the Kidlit 411 blog site to see the full interview.

Character Sketches

Starting the background and

I created a goat out of clay for reference.

Lots of little flowers out of gum paste

Making mushrooms

Background out of foam core and fondant

Gum paste trees

Cake base covered in modeling chocolate and fondant

Pied Piper skeleton

Adding the modeling chocolate

Final Pied Piper

Goat skeletons

Sculpting goats out of modeling chocolate

One of the final goats

Three goats done and 4 more to go

Here are a few of the other critters

that were added to the cakelustration

And the final image of the Pied Piper

Very elated that The Pied Piper won Best of Divisional Competition

at the That takes the Cake 2015 show in Austin, Texas

Thanks for viewing, I hope you enjoyed the process shots.