namabakery wins its first cook-off!

Greetings from New York City! With job changes, having projects outside of baking, and moving around (between 3 different places this year), my namabakery projects haven’t been getting much love and affection, but finally, after more than a year since my last post,┬áI have something I can share with you!

Recently, my office had its own holiday cook-off, where contestants can share a sweet or savory dish or both. Of course, I got really excited for an opportunity to bake for my office so I signed up for it. I was hesitant at first though, because I don’t have a kitchen here, so I’d have to go back to NJ to bake, which means I would have to transport the finished products all the way to NYC. Why can’t I just borrow someone else’s kitchen in NYC? Because all my baking equipment is in NJ and my baking projects require a LOT of counter/table space. It’s more than just having an oven; every oven bakes differently, and that can affect the outcome of whatever you are baking. That said, yes, I am very nitpicky about my kitchen space. ­čśŤ Anyway, ramblings aside, I started brainstorming a couple days before the cook-off. My friend, Cui, had an awesome gingerbread recipe which contained coconut, almond, and flaxseed; tastes nothing like the typical gingerbread, but has a lightly sweetened flavor and uses pretty healthy ingredients, which I really like and was tempted to incorporate this into the baking project. I also wanted to bring back the white chocolate spheres I did 2 years ago because I felt that they could’ve been executed in a better way. At that time, it was just an experiment for my own practice so I’m not too crazy about the outcome of what I did with them. With the gingerbread recipe and white chocolate spheres in mind, I decided to make white chocolate snow globes with mini gingerbread houses (using the traditional recipe), on top of gingerbread cupcakes (using Cui’s recipe). After a full weekend of prepping the snow globes, baking, and making Jimmy the human mixer (cuz my electrical mixer was burning up) and my ride to various stores to pick up ingredients,┬ánamabakery won Best Presentation and Best Overall. Though namabakery can only keep the Golden Ladle until the next cook-off, it was an honor to have received the top prize for this round.

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Gingerbread house inside a white chocolate globe, on a gingerbread cupcake.

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This is why I need lots of table space. Also, as you can see in the photo, there were other concepts going on, but I ran out of time so they didn’t make it into the final product. I was going to make white chocolate sleighs with marshmallow gifts inside.

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White chocolate drying. Besides the snow globes, I was also going to make 3-dimensional houses (one of them comes with a garage). Hence you see roof panels and front and back pieces of the house with decorations on the door and circular window.

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White chocolate up close.

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Mini gingerbread house with christmas lights on. This is what it looks like without the globe on.

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Ok, so I actually made 2 types of cupcakes. The ones with Christmas trees and snowflakes are brownie cupcakes. The snow globes use the gingerbread recipe.

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Valentine’s Day Project – with free tutorial

While Valentine’s Day may have passed just a couple of days ago, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t need to show love on any other day! Below is the most recent project. I really wanted to link two separate hearts together and seamlessly, using white chocolate and basic at-home, piping technique of course. I Googled the concept to make sure that no one has done it, and so far, it doesn’t seem like anyone has. But if I’m wrong, let me know; I’m curious if anyone else has accomplished this at home. Otherwise, yay for another namabakery original!

PS – I meant to post this long before Valentine’s Day, but I got so swamped with other projects. Hence, the delayed posting. But don’t let that stop you from using the techniques demonstrated in this tutorial on other dessert projects! Be creative! ­čśë

Cake Recipe:
Ghirardelli® Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes

1. Using the x-acto knife’s tip, draw hearts onto a folded-up sheet of wax paper. I didn’t use pen or marker because I don’t think they’re safe to consume and the white chocolate will go directly on this template.

2. Cut out some hearts.

3. Pipe patterns onto the wax paper template. Add sugar pearls or any decorative pieces on before the white chocolate hardens.

4. Link a second heart template onto the first finished heart, and pipe the patterns on top of that. Make sure the white chocolate for the second heart does not touch the first. Otherwise the hearts won’t swing freely when they dry. Let the hearts rest on a platform where they can safely harden and not lose its form or have white chocolate sliding off the template.

5. After at least 15 mins, or when the white chocolate has dried and hardened, carefully remove the wax paper.

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