Swirled Cotton Candy and Fluffy Rainbow Clouds – Floating Around in Cupcake Heaven at Le Dolci

3 Comments

Okay, so I’m a day late with the Vanilla Cupcake Day love, but I promise that this post is worth the extra 24 hour wait!  I don’t know if anyone keeps up with all the special and specific “food days” that come and go every year, but I was gobsmacked when I found out that all 365 days of the year celebrate a different kind of dish and confection!  It was the quite the head scratcher when I started seeing tweets on my Twitter feed about Donut Day, S’mores Day, and a host of other random food days.  I wondered, “how in the world do people know these things?!  And is every day a food day of some sort?” 

Enter my lovely, longtime friend Katrina @ The Demure Muse.  During the summer, she gave me this amazing, super fun book that’s dedicated to – you guessed it – 365 days of food!  Equipped with recipes for every day of the year, the book also includes a “calendar” that’s split up my month and tells you what each and every day is celebrating.  She knows I love food, she knows I love books, she knows I love to bake and putter in the kitchen – she knows me well. 

Yesterday, November 10th, was Vanilla Cupcake Day.  Oh, the humble vanilla cupcake.  So simple yet so delicious and deliciously complex!  Even though I love fudgy chocolate desserts like chocolate frosted cake, brownies, and Black Forest cake, I have to say that between vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes, vanilla edges out and takes the cake for me.  I love the flavour of vanilla frosting on top of a rich, fluffy golden vanilla cupcake.  I love my vanilla cupcakes fluffy as opposed to dense and cake crumbly, and I especially love vanilla frosted cupcakes adorned with tons of sprinkles!  My weakness is rainbow sprinkles, but I love chocolate sprinkles, crystal/coarse sugar, and anything bright, punchy, and colourful.  

If I had choose what type of vanilla combinations I enjoyed the most, I’d say vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, vanilla cake with lemon frosting, and vanilla cake with thick chocolate frosting.  I know it might sound weird, but I don’t enjoy the combination the other way around with vanilla frosting on chocolate cake quite as much.  It has to be the chocolate on top with the vanilla on the bottom if we’re talking about simple vanilla combos.  When you’re a cupcake lover, you can be very particular!

Vanilla cupcakes and lickably delicious vanilla buttercream frosting in a rainbow of colours are our specialities at Le Dolci and I’m so happy I get to post these photos because they were all done by yours truly!  We had an order of 2 dozen frosted cupcakes to do and my only limitation was to make the cupcakes pretty and fun.  Oh hell, no problem.  I got to choose the colours, the colour scheme, and the overall look.  Oh, this was going to be FUN! 

I was dying to use the gorgeous shade of lemon yellow frosting I had mixed up and I wanted the colour scheme to be airy, fluffy, and cute.  Yellow and blue go quite nice together, but I wanted more than two colours and thought, “Ooo, I’ll do some pink!  Pink, yellow, and aqua sky blue will make quasi rainbows!”  So there I was with my head up in the cupcake clouds of cupcake la-la land when I thought, “hmm, if I want this to look reeeally cute and fluffy, I’ll swirl the pink and blue together to make them look like cotton candy!”  I was so excited about the colour scheme I had to write it down before doing it for fear I would mess it up.  And after frosting them, I got to add some sparkle and glam by dusting edible glitter all over them!

These are the first regular-sized cupcakes I’ve ever frosted and decorated in my life (I’ve done minis before, remember these guys?) and it was SO.MUCH.FUN.  I used the star decorating tip to frost these and used three separate piping bags so I wouldn’t muddy or mix up the colours.  I used one piping bag to do the blue and the blue-and-pink cotton candy swirl, one piping bag to do the pink, and the third piping bag to do the yellow.  I’m right-handed, so I twist and keep the bag taut with my left hand while I squeeze and guide the piping with my right hand in a clockwise direction. 

With cupcake frosting, it’s actually not the piping that’s difficult.  The pain in the butt is actually filling the piping bag!  Whether you’re doing it for minis or regular-sized cupcakes, the filling of the piping bag is a tad on the messy and clumsy side, what with having to roll down the top, keeping the bag open, getting all the frosting in there without smearing it all over the place, and trying to get the frosting as close to the bottom of the bag as possible to prevent wasted frosting smeared up at the top.    After that though, it’s smooth sailing!

        

I’m so excited to experiment with other piping tips and other styles of piping frosting.  And with the holidays coming up, I’m positive there will be many more chances to have more decorating and piping fun with lots of fab colours.  I call these my happy, sunshiney, cotton candy, up in the clouds, My Little Pony-esque vanilla frosted cupcakes with sparkly fairy pixie dust! 😀

*****

Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

Operation Chocolate Ganache! Macaron Piping Fun at Le Dolci Studio, Part II

Leave a comment

The frosting and piping adventures at Le Dolci continue on!  After successfully piping frosting on a set of mini vanilla cupcakes, it was time for a little decadent chocolate fun: piping chocolate ganache onto macarons!  You read right.  Luscious, luxurious, airy, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth macarons.  Even though Le Dolci’s studio specialty and hallmark is – and always be – cupcakes, we do lots of different sweets and the studio hosts plenty of different themed classes: cookie decorating, truffle making, fun with fondant, cake pops, and macarons, among others! 

Just recently on September 30th, the studio hosted a marvelous macaron class led by the equally marvelous Mardi of Eat.Live.Travel.Write.  Le Dolci secured a cozy spot on Toronto’s macaron map and macarons were daintily placed on ours.  Even though I couldn’t attend the wonderful class that took place that evening (a night class + living in the suburbs don’t mix, unfortunately.  Sigh.), all was not lost.  We had some already-made macarons that needed to be filled, so we put the yummy vanilla buttercream frosting away (only for a little while) and took on Operation Chocolate Ganache for an afternoon of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry macaron piping and filling.

Even though I’ve made several posts about macarons on the blog already (Old Firehall Confectionery on Main Street Unionville, Daniel & Daniel in Cabbagetown, and La Bamboche on Avenue Rd. and also by Yonge & Eglinton, just to name a few), I’ll go through the nuts and bolts of what macarons are comprised of.  In a nutshell, macarons are sweet and delicate Parisian confections made primarily from egg whites, icing sugar, and almond flour, with the variables being the food colourings and flavourings used for the meringue cookie shells.  Then comes the filling which can take the form of a ganache, frosting, jam, or any number of other fillings you wish to sandwich between the macaron shells.  Operation Macaron at Le Dolci called for chocolate ganache, so chocolate ganache it was.

Ganache is a smooth, rich, velvety mixture of cream and chocolate.  Dark chocolate, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate are the most common types of chocolate used for making ganache and the way to make it is to heat the cream until it just reaches its boiling point, and then pouring the cream over chocolate squares or chopped chocolate.  Using a whisk, you then combine the chocolate and cream until the chocolate becomes nice and syrupy.  The desired consistency will depend on what you’re using the ganache for, so if you’re using the ganache as a filling (for either truffles or macarons, for instance), you’ll want it nice and thick to the point where it does drip off the whisk anymore.  This requires chilling, which you can easily do in the refrigerator.

Lisa heated up the cream and poured it over the chocolate, while I whisked the chocolate and cream together afterward.  I chilled and whisked it until it was thick enough to be piped and Miya helped me pour the ganache into a piping bag.  With the macaron shells sitting daintily on the wire rack workspace, I was ready to give those shells some delightful chocolate ganache kisses!  It was sucking down saliva as I was doing it.  I mean, seriously, unless you’re allergic to chocolate (the way my best friend is), I don’t know a darn person on this planet who wouldn’t salivate at the sight of thick, rich poofs of chocolate. 

They looked like tiny puddles of chocolate goodness and it was such a satifying feeling sandwiching the macaron shells together.  I had to be careful not to pipe too much (which would cause the chocolate ganache to squish out) or too little (you want the ganache to reach the edges because otherwise the macarons look like there’s nothing in them) and I also had to be careful how I sandwiched the shells.  I wanted the top shell to “sit” on the filling, so I had to apply enough pressure to make sure the top shell “stuck” but not so much pressure that it would make the filling ooze out.  The ganache gets goopy if you make try to fix a mistake of sandwiching them crooked, so I had to center them and press down on them just right.  After reading about the mixing and baking process and piping them, macarons are quite the science!  But a very delicious one.  YUM.

I made one or two not-so-perfect ones (a little too much in one and not enough in the other), but other than that, I was so giddy with what I had done!  We made a few extras and packaged them up in a little cellophane baggy and they were good to go.  I ate my macaron mistakes.  Oh shucks, what a terrible thing to have to do, right? 😉

*****

Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

Not Just a Pipe Dream – Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Ganache Piping Fun at Le Dolci! Part I

3 Comments

The Fall Harvest series is far from over, but after a full solid week of apple muffin recipes, fall farmers’ markets, and yummy fall sweets and breakfast comfort foods, I’m ready to take a small break before diving straight back in.  It’s time to get some frosting and cupcake fun back in the mix, Le Dolci style!  I’m so happy you were all so supportive and excited about my internship here at the studio when I posted about my first day and since then, I’ve been bouncing off the walls and soaking up every minute of it. 

I’ve learned so much and I’m really lucky I have Lisa and Miya to help guide me along.  It feels awesome knowing I’m helping Lisa and her business and being given all sorts of responsibilities and things to do.  Every time there’s something different, whether it’s mixing and baking a gazillion batches of vanilla cupcakes (minis and regulars) for orders, making fondant decorations, baking cake for cake pops, writing blog posts for the website, doing some photographh for the website and soon-to-be online store, and frosting and piping the afternoon away!

The fun and creativity that goes on during Le Dolci classes!

When I said I was learning a lot, I wasn’t kidding.  Let it be known that not only were my fondant olives my first foray into the sugary, squishy world of fondant, but that piping frosting was also completely unchartered territory.  But, wait, I bake cookies and cupcakes of my own!  How can I not have piped frosting before??  My family (or rather, my parents) don’t prefer frosting.  I know.  If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought I was adopted.  I lick frosting off the spoon.  THE FROSTING IS THE BEST PART.  And yet, all this time, I’ve been denied when it comes to my own homemade cupcakes.  Do I have fancy piping nozzles and tips?  Yup.  Have I used them?  Nope.  Those babies are being saved for when I eventually move out and won’t have to see my parents wrinkle their nose at the sight of icing sugar and butter.  I’m being dramatic – it really isn’t that bad!  You can understand why piping frosting would provoke such jubiliance on my part then, when for others it’s just part of the every day grind.

My first frosting piping project at Le Dolci was for a set of minis!  Cute little vanilla cupcake minis with pink vanilla buttercream frosting in the shaped of frosting “flowers”.  I’ll be honest, my first piping job was awkward.  As I was doing it, I was confused as to why it didn’t feel natural.  I know, it was my first time, so of course it wasn’t going to look perfect.  But this awkwardness was more than just my perfectionist personality screaming for mercy; this just felt…somewhat wrong.  

It wasn’t until I was on the streetcar after I left that I finally figured out what was wrong: I had used the wrong hand to pipe!  I’m right-handed and for whatever reason, I had started piping with my left!  I don’t know about you guys, but I do not have two fully-functioning hands.  I mean, my left hand isn’t impaired (I’m typing, aren’t I?), but aside from holding things, lifting it up to wave hello, and lifting things, my left hand is, well, kind of useless.  Hence why the first piping gig was less than stellar.

Enter frosting fun day #2.  After realizing my mistake, I was raring to go and this time, the results were MUCH better 😀  I piped bright, gorgeous yellow vanilla frosting “flowers” onto mini cupcakes again and dusted them with some edible sparkly glitter.  OOOO, FAIRY DUST!!  I had the mini cupcakes out on a cooling rack, I flipped the piping bag inside out to attach the tip and kept the top of the bag flipped down to fill the bag with frosting using a spatula.  Flipping the top of the piping bag back up, I twisted it tight, kept it taut with my left hand, and gently applied pressure with my right hand to pipe.  After frosting the minis, I dipped a paintbrush into the sparkly glitter and, doing what Lisa showed me, tapped the handle of the brush to gently glitter and dust the cupcakes.  Operation frosting was a success!

Did I help myself to one?  Pft, do cows go moo?  Of course I did!  Only I didn’t bother piping the frosting.  I just grabbed a mini and slapped some creamy frosting on it with a knife.  With cupcakes, there’s never any regrets or inhibitions 😉

*****

Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.