Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Diva Speaks...

Hi everybody! This is the "silent partner" in this venture. While Delights is on hiatus, you might want to visit my music education website called The Music Classroom. It's a comprehensive compilation of educational resources for the teacher and student.

The website also features my musical bio and repertoire to help those in search of a vocalist for that special occasion. The site has recently been re-vamped by the "not-so-silent partner" in the signature design style that Delights created for me. If you're so inclined, please leave a comment here or e-mail me at the address listed on the website.


Lenten Hiatus

I'm giving up blogging for Lent...Actually, a major project will keep me too occupied until Easter to post. And of course working on the Oklahoma Sugar Show pieces will become a top priority. Perhaps the St. Patrick's Day reprieve will allow my posting something appropriate to that celebration.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Mardi Gras Madness

As promised, the star of the day, the King Cake, makes its appearance surrounded by the acoutrements of the day (executed in sugar, of course). The Diva (Antonia) wanted y'all to know that SHE made the purple and gold sugar beads and strung them. She now claims she's ready for the Oklahoma Sugar Show.

The cake is fairly traditional; mine has a cream cheese filling with chopped pecans, orange and lemon zest and a touch of cinnamon (Vietnamese is my favorite). For those of you who've never had the pleasure of the King Cake experience, it is not unlike a yeast coffee ring, with or without a filling (fruit, marzipan, cream cheese, etc.). I play with the ingredients for each year's King Cake and this year's was particularly tasty (Remember, the first cake was consumed on Sunday). The harlequin diamonds of purple, green and gold on top of the cake are a thinned royal icing liberally sprinkled with colored sanding sugars. Usually, I don't make such a fuss about decorating the top of the cake; a drizzle of confectioners sugar glaze followed by a sprinkling of sanding sugars in the traditional colors in wide bands is the extent of my decorating. However, this cake had to be a bit more photogenic so out came the piping bag and royal icing. The Sugar Mask was described in yesterday's post.

The true pleasure of the King Cake is not in its taste or even its appearance. It is quite ordinary in the first and gaudy in the second. It's pleasure is in the celebration of tradition, and a religious one at that, not the Bacchanalian one we've come to associate with the celebration of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in New Orleans. The name is derived from the Three Kings (Wise Men, Magi) whose journey in search of the infant Jesus is celebrated on January 6th, the traditional day of the Epiphany of Our Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the Carnival season culminating in the frenzied celebrations of Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday and the fasting and abstinence of Lent.

Although the King Cake dates back to 12th Century France (the Galette de Roi of France is a more elegant pastry affair with an almond pastry cream filling traditionally served on 12th Night-the evening before Epiphany), its incarnation in Louisiana is steeped in the rich culture and tradition of that region. The official colors of Mardi Gras which decorate the cake were first chosen in 1837 and symbolize justice (purple), faith (green) and power (gold). A small figure of a baby, representing the Baby Jesus, is usually inserted into the cake; the one whose piece of cake contains the baby has to throw the next party or make the next King Cake. This goes on all through the Carnival season with King Cakes being consumed daily. This of course does not apply to me; whether or not I get the baby, I still have to make the next King Cake. Usually I provide some kind of prize for the lucky finder of the baby.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Mardi Gras Mask, with feathers and ribbons, in sugarpaste. Sparkly stuff on the mask is Moondust. Never again! Everything within five feet of the work area was sparkling (like Tinkerbell gone berserk).

Where's the King Cake, you may ask. Consumed. New cake is rising...will be ready for Fat Tuesday and more celebrating. For the Mardi Gras uninitiated, I'll post the meaning of the colors, cake and other symbols, tomorrow.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

For Theresa and John...

...Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Anniversary to my dearest friends! And Happy Valentine's Day to Lovers everywhere...

(A double-decker heart-shaped Brownie cake filled and coated with bittersweet chocolate ganache. The fondant covered, heart-shaped cake and foamcore board, were decorated with scallop crimping, sugar lace pieces, embossed sugar bows and sugar pearls. The Heart is adorned with gumpaste flowers: Roses, Cornflowers and Chinese Jasmine. The lace, bows and pearls were formed with molds and embossers coated with antique silk luster dust then, with the cakeboard and cake top, over-dusted with pearl dust. The heart-shaped cakeboard was trimmed in two ivory lace ribbons.)


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Diva Delightful Birthday Surprise

For my friend Maureen's birthday I created this mini cake wrapped in its own surprise package. The two pale pink fondant covered cake tiers are only 4" and 3" wide, respectively. The roses were formed in sugarpaste using molds as were the two strings of pearls. Both the pearls and flowers were over-dusted with pearl powder. The sugarpaste drapes were first embossed with a raw silk design then also dusted with pearl powder. For the base, I coverd a foamcore round in pink fondant, the raw edge of which was then encircled in two layers of ribbon. A loop of one of the ribbons was attached to the bottom of the foamcore in order to facilitate pulling the cake from its box.

The cake itself is a Marquise au Chocolat or less pretentiously, a flourless chocolate cake. This particular marquise has a hint of raspberry liqueur and would be quite tasty served with a raspberry sauce, a few fresh berries and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. My own particular favorite version was served with a pistachio sauce. Your favorite liqueur and sauce could be substituted, of course (think Kaluha, Kirchwasser, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Orangello, Frangelico, Amaretto, etc).

Although this miniature cake was made for a birthday, it could easily be adapted to suit numerous other special occasions including the bride and groom's take-home-cake with which to commemorate their special day. If styrofoam cake dummies were substituted for the actual cake, a miniature wedding cake replica could be placed under a glass dome or bell and kept indefinitely. And since the trend towards individual cakes has taken the wedding world by storm, an even smaller version of this cake would be appropriate for that particular use. It could also be used as a wedding favor placed in its own custom-designed sugar box (for those with big budgets or generous dads, of course).