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The Hockey Goods – Hockey Puck Cookies

I was tasked with creating baked goods for my nephew’s hockey league’s end of season party. Initially, my plan was a sheet cake that would be decorated like a hockey rink and the sides would have a “puck” cookie for each kid on the team. That likely would have been adequate. More than adequate. But I operate on a go big or go home theory. So what we ended up with was this spread:

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The simple puck cookies that were originally intended to dot the sides of the sheet cake had morphed into m&m filled sugar cookies, coated in candy, wrapped in modeling chocolate and decorated with the kids names and team colors. Go big or go home.

After a number of google searches and reviews of my own cookie-making experiences, I settled on this as a basic model:

http://www.hungryhappenings.com/2014/12/basketball-pinata-cookies-with-skittles.html?m=1

Obviously, I wanted black cookies rather than orange, and didn’t want the basketball design, but the rest was fine. I mixed the dough and used enough Wilton black icing color for the dough to turn purple and refuse to be anything other than purple. I decided that in the proper light (which was obviously not in my kitchen) they would look black.

I rolled the dough to 1/4″ thickness (I have rolling pin spacers for this). The recipe suggests cutting the circles out of the dough when freshly baked out of the oven. This would ensure consistent sizing among layers of the cookie, but would waste a fair amount of dough (although the scraps would be edible-which may not be a problem for you but I am not lacking in the sweet things that are begging to be eaten department).

Each cookie would be assembled with two solid 3.25″ diameter circles sandwiched around a 3.25″ diameter ring (with a 2.75″ diameter for the inner ring). Because I cut these ahead of baking, there was some fluctuation in sizing-but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with application of more sweet goodness (modeling chocolate in this case).

So after baking, cooling and spreading with melted “tuxedo black” colored candy melts, I had this:

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The rings were attached with a bead of melted candy melts, and each cookie was filled with about a tablespoon of mini M&M’s. Another bead of melted candy melts attached the top cookie to finish the package. What follows is dazzling photo array of that process – and close ups to indicate the unevenness of the sizing (as a result of cutting prior to cooking).

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As you can see from the pics, the sizing is not perfect and the candy melts did not end quite as smoothly as I had hoped. But as is generally my approach, application of more sugar and/or fat will generally yield a cure for most baked goods sins. This was no exception. A layer of royal icing flooded across the top, and a layer of modeling chocolate wrapped around the sides cured both.

The modeling chocolate will be an entire post all to itself. But I used my “it’s not a dildo” 9″ Wilton fondant roller (with spacers) to roll out the chocolate to 1/8″ thick and cut into strips which were wrapped around each puck cookie.

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For the royal icing, I used the following recipe. I needed a deep black color and knew starting with a chocolate would use considerably less coloring (more Wilton black icing color):

http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2012/02/chocolate-royal-icing/

I piped a circle around the top of each cookie, flooded the centers and hoped for a smooth surface.

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For the final trick, I used a white gel icing pen to write the name of each player on one cookie. I used a divided 2-color icing bag to add a star in the team colors to the center of each cookie.

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I wasn’t quite expecting these to look exactly like the picture since the picture is of basketball themed rather than hockey, but I’m quite pleased with the result and the kids were as well.

Stay tuned for more!

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The Black Forest Chateau Gateau

You sadists all voted that I should make this as my birthday cake:

http://www.butterandbrioche.com/black-forest-gateau/

I really can’t blame you. Chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, whipped cream & mascarpone filling, booze-soaked cherries – it really has it all. And the photos look spectacular.

The recipe says to use 7″ pans. Hmm. I have 6″ pans, I have one 8″ pan, and eleventy billion 9″ pans. A cursory glimpse at the finished product led me to believe that using 6″ pans would have me creating something akin to a modular totem pole and I questioned the architectural stability of said concoction. I wasn’t wild about the 8″ option because I would have had to bake each layer one at a time and baking time alone would be over 2 hours. So after a quick review of cake pan capacity charts, I realized 9″ pans are double the capacity of 7″ pans. So it was decided-I would double the recipe and make a 9″ cake. So on the quest to not look like the picture, we have already made modification #1.

Next up was to collect the ingredients. Fresh cherries do not exist in my part of the world at this time of year. So I went with frozen. And (gasp) canned because remember the double the recipe? Yeah-I didn’t remember that when I was buying the frozen cherries.

Caster sugar does not exist in my part of the world at any time of year. But a quick google search told me this was just very sugar that would dissolve quickly. I could purchase extra-fine sugar (at an extra-ridiculous price) or I could grind regular granulated sugar in my blender with the caveat that such a process would etch the Ninja’s plastic bowl. Hmm. I wasn’t sure I was excited about plastic etching in my caster sugar (I mean, the plastic would have to go somewhere as it was etched, right?) so I spent $5 on 3 1/2 cups of extra fine sugar. In contrast, I spent $1.49 on 5 pounds of granulated sugar.

But the sugar price pales in comparison to the kirsch (cherry-flavored brandy). One 200 ml bottle (albeit a fancy bottle) was $20 (on sale). Oh. My. Word. To add insult to injury, 200 ml was not enough for the recipe. I (gasp) used the juices from the canned cherries to make up the difference.

This is kirsch. It’s hand-distilled (which means: this is going to be a ridiculously expensive product that we will put in a fancy bottle so you can feel like you bought something special):

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The recipe also calls for thickened cream. This is a product available in the UK and Australia and is cream (not soured) with a very high fat content and the consistency of custard. Huh. Unsuccessful searches at multiple stores led me to believe that thickened cream is not sold in the US.

Google came through again and I was finally able to locate a recipe to create thickened cream that didn’t use a souring agent. This is the consistency (unstirred-it is similar to sour cream in consistency after stirring).

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On round two (more on that in a bit) I found that thickened cream IS sold in the US:

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The cake baking went off without a hitch, the cherry/syrup bit went off without a hitch (I used regular granulated sugar after I ran out of the superfine stuff in the cake batter). As the cakes cooled, I brushed them liberally with the kirsch syrup-primarily because I was not about to waste any of that $20 bottle of liquor. So I brushed with kirsch, flipped the cakes and brushed a little more, flipped them back, brushed again. Those puppies are swimming in kirsch. I sure hope kirsch tastes good.

I then went about making the mascarpone filling. Knowing my vast familiarity with mascarpone (which I originally bought by mistake instead of Marsala because words are hard) and thickened cream, I decided to attempt the filling in two batches (just in case) then fold the two together. Well, arithmetic is hard too, and I ended putting 3/4 of the stuff in the first batch. The part in the instructions about being careful not to overwhip and split the mixture? Yeah-that looks just like this:

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Oops. So, I started with the remaining 1/4 of the stuff, and whipped a little cream and folded it all together. Looked good to me, and I proceeded to assemble the cake as indicated. I made the ganache and aside from not allowing it to cool quite enough, did so without incident. So the result thus far:

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At this point I decided both I and the cake needed a bit of a rest. The following morning, the cake looked like this:

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The Jenga pile was starting to suffer. Thankfully, I had leftover ganache which I was able to use to prop up the layers and turn the leaning tower of Black Forest gateau into a solid, but unattractive, chateau of cake fantasticness.

But I could not let this spectacle of cake-making mastery suffer a life shunned due to unfortunate ugliness. Knowing that frosting covers all sins-I headed back out for round 2 of supplies. I whipped up another batch of mascarpone filling (without overbeating), folded in the leftover filling from the night before, and set to frosting the cake and giving it an outfit that matched its regal beginnings.

And now we have this:

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Which looks like this:

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Or like this:

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And it tastes like angels singing in my mouth.

But it doesn’t look like the picture. Not even a little bit.