Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Favorites

Hi guys -- I'm still here! Sorry to be MIA again lately, but it's a bit of an understatement to say that my life has been kuh-ray-zeeeee lately! It's gonna be at least another few days before I can return with my first recipe in who knows how long, but I thought I'd go ahead and share the food photography and music favorites I've nonetheless been saving up in my spare moments here and there. Below you can also find a quick phone snapshot of a strawberry and vanilla cake I baked this week for a Hello Kitty fan's 7th birthday this week! I didn't have the chance to meet Kara directly, but I sure hope she liked her strawberry-loving kitty ^-^.

How've you all been? I've really missed our interactions and can't wait til things calm down to get back on track.

Hello Kitty Strawberry Cake for Kara
Ampersand Mosaic Wedding Cake by Blissfully Sweet Cakes
1 BlissfullySweet-Ampersand Cutout Fondant Decoration Mosaic Wedding Cake Idea
Basil for Snickerdoodle Cookies from Desserts for Breakfast
2 Stephsus-Basil Herb Close-up Ingred Idea
Nautical Wedding Cake by City View Bakehouse
3 CityViewBakehouse-Nautical Zigzag Gold Rope Gumpaste Flower Anchor Fondant Wedding Cake Idea
4 IndianSimmer-Cherries Ingred
Ombre Buttercream Wedding Cake with Bird Toppers by Sugar High Inc.
5 SugarHighInc-Bird Topper Ombre Buttercream Wedding Cake Idea
Roasted Peach Sherbet Cones from Always with Butter
6 AlwayswithButter-Roasted Peach Ice Cream Cones Scoop Propwish Idea

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sweet Baptism Treats for Baby Warren!

Photo of Cake Close-up by John Manansala
Moon, Stars, Angel, and Lamb Baptism Cake for Baby W's Christening
Inspired by This Cake by PhoebeCakes
Photography by John Manansala
Hi there! Hope you all have been keeping cool if your area's as hot as our's (up to 108 degrees F at one point this weekend!). My new smartphone keeps buzzing me with heat advisory alerts. Even without any heat from baking, AC on full blast, everything dark, and 3 fans on, we were sweating like crazy. Please (oh please) do tell me that the summer heat's simply peaked early. Because if it turns out summer hasn't even brought out its big guns yet, I may not last the season =p. *Starts hummin' tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies...

The actual point of this post isn't actually to whine about a little temperature hike but to share some treats I made for an actual baby =p: my very first fondant cake as well as pistachio French macaron pops and decorated cookies to celebrate the christening of my friend P's little boy! I'm absolutely delighted for his entire family and can't wait to see how quickly Baby W grows in the coming year.

Photo of Macaron Pops by John Manansala
Pistachio Macaron Pops for Baby W's Christening
Photography by John Manansala
The inside of the cake consisted of 3 moist coconut cake layers, freshly chopped mango and mango curd filling, and silky coconut Swiss meringue buttercream. But to tell the truth, most of my attention fell to its outside. Covering my first-ever fondant cake was both exciting and a bit terrifying! I'm quite happy with how everything turned out, but I did have some issues with cracking and definitely have a lot to learn about handling fondant. Now that I've worked with it myself, I'm doubly impressed with all the smooth-sided, straight-edged cakes I see online! Even though I've watched just about every Youtube video that exists on covering cakes with fondant, I think it's one of those things that you have to learn by doing to a large extent. With my first wedding coming up soon, I've already ordered more fondant to practice with.

Hope you enjoy seeing my first fondant effort and other baptism treats and would welcome any tips or favorite fondant brand/recipe recommendations you might have to share!

Photo of Macaron Pops and Decorated Cookies by John Manansala
Angel, Cross, and Sweet Lamb Decorated Cookies for Baby W's Christening
Photography by John Manansala

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sushi Earrings Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the sushi earrings giveaway! The randomly selected winner is Nami of Just One Cookbook (comment #12)! Congrats and please look out for my email about the details of your prize =D!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Guest Post: Introducing SPACIOUS

Especially in light of the recent hardship to hit the DC area, I'm proud to share with something incredible that's come from our region. SPACIOUS is an inspired collaboration between Joey Katona (a former-coworker friend of mine) and the lovely and vibrant, Cary Umhau, who's my honored guest today. Their organization is all about unexpected meetings that turn out fabulous, so I had a lot of fun making some uniquely sweet and tangy red velvet pomegranate cupcakes for its custom flavor. Please give some love to the newest addition to the 6 Bittersweets Menu and to Cary as she shares the story of SPACIOUS as well as our cupcake collaboration!

Cary Umhau (SPACIOUS Founder and Creative Director)
Photography by Julie Wan
Xiaolu has a gift for putting together unusual flavors in her cupcakes, and that’s why I asked her to create a custom flavor for my social venture, SPACIOUS, after we’d ordered and enjoyed her wares at a couple of our events.

I thought it’d be fun to write about how I see her creativity as a damn tasty metaphor for what we do. I’m excited to be a guest-blogger here at 6 Bittersweets.

SPACIOUS is the brainchild of two people who – on the surface – couldn’t be more different. Joey Katona and I run it together, and although I’d dreamed about it for years, it came together only after Joey and I became close. We have a friendship that began online and grew in person. We found that in spite of a 28-year age gap, different faiths, genders, lifestyles and cultural backgrounds, we share many points of resonance and love doing things together. In a world where people generally stick to their own demographic, our unorthodox friendship enlarges both of us, and we see a rich opportunity to bring together different worlds to create a better one through what we’re doing together.

Joey Katona (SPACIOUS Co-Founder and Cultural Catalyst) with 6 Bittersweets mini cupcakes at the
"Bring or Be Your Own Kid" adult recess event this spring
We create custom events that are fun and facilitated for deeper connections so that people can meet others they might not meet while doing something they might not do. Examples of our events have been BYOK (“Bring or Be Your Own Kid,” an adult recess with pie-throwing), Everyday Improv, a Blank Canvas Day where we created art as we did in childhood, field trips to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and to a racism exhibit at Smithsonian Natural History, and a walkabout in Central Park with a location-specific app created by Bluebrain, an ingenious brother duo, to name a few.

I also consult so that businesses and organizations can have more fun, creativity, generosity and connectedness in their programming and staff dynamics.

There’s such a trend these days of sticking to those people we already agree with, of only socializing with people like ourselves. Yet so much happens when we hear new perspectives, consider others’ experiences, and contemplate the fact that there’s more to a person than the external cues would tell us.

So although chocolate loves vanilla frosting, and carrot cake generally sticks with cream cheese frosting, and lemon seeks meringue, our SPACIOUS flavor is red velvet with a surprise pomegranate filling, topped with Swiss buttercream.

And Xiaolu created it, knowing that Joey and I are as different as can be, but that we love hanging out together and with others with the knowledge that people who might not seem like they’d enjoy each other really will find resonance, given the right facilitation and atmosphere. And then great things will happen as barriers fall and people connect.

Subscribe to our site for weekly updates. Come join us at an event. Or order some of these cupcakes!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Favorites

Wow! Did you guys SEE that storm? What a crazy weekend, eh? For those of you lucky enough to be outside of the affected region, this article and this slideshow from Washington Post provide both visual and written documentation of recent events. According to the former, "The storm . . . took at least 13 lives across the eastern United States, caused widespread damage, and [left] more than 3 million people without power." We were out of power for about 24 hours (made especially miserable by the record-setting high temperatures) and even lost cell reception for several hours.

After 2010's "Snowpocalypse" and the microbursts of recent summers, we're not unused to our utilities going bust, but we could usually escape the effects previously by driving 5 or 10 miles away. But on Saturday morning we drove over 20 miles away on a major road and still failed to find a single building with power. Even worse, even the busiest intersections had neither working traffic lights nor authorized personnel guiding traffic. We quickly realized that venturing out was a bad idea and were grateful to see power come back that evening.

I know that many hit by the storm are still without power, struggling with fallen debris, or mourning loved ones. My thoughts remain with them, and if you have friends or acquaintances hit hard by the storm, I encourage you to offer your support until they can get everything up and running again.

Stunning Piano Wedding Cake by Legacy Cakes Bakery
1 LegacyCakesBakery-Piano Keys Fondant Wedding Cake Music Idea
High Tea Mini Cakes by Three Little Blackbirds
2 3LittleBlackBirds-High Tea
3 CookieandKate-Summer Squash Tacos with Avocado Chimichurri
Pinwheel Wedding Cake by Couture Cakery
4 CoutureCakery-Pinwheel Gumpaste Roll 2 Colors Out Sep, 2gthr Ruffle Fondant Wedding Cake
Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting from Hungry Girl Por Vida
5 HungryGirlPorVida-Vanilla Cupcakes Choco Frosting Sprinkles Bday Candle