Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An Egg in the Nest...

In just a few weeks, we might have a little baby on our hands.  Well, twins, actually.  I say might because the babies in question are currently inside their little eggs, nestled on a bed of twigs in one of my empty flower pots on the balcony.

We have a couple of pigeons that have been lingering around our building, and in the mornings, we often hear them out on the balcony, their cooing getting louder and louder until one of us shoos them away.  Because really, who wants pigeons taking over the one outdoor space that we have with living on the third floor.  Apparently they've been canoodling out there more than we thought, because over the weekend, I noticed that they had started to build a nest on top of one of my empty (and very neglected) flower pots that was filled with dried up dirt.

And while we were contemplating getting rid of the nest to discourage any more loitering, they laid an egg.  And then another one!  Two pretty little eggs that I just didn't have the heart to get rid of.

I realize we're talking about pigeons here...  But I can't help being fascinated with the way the pair of them takes turns sitting on the eggs, keeping them warm, hour after boring hour.  Even pigeons sacrifice for their babies.

I really, really would love to see those baby birds hatch, something I've never seen before.  So I'm actually hoping they make it, even though that means a few more pigeons lingering around the building.  There's a place in my heart even for the happiness of pigeons.

So for now, we are trying our best to do all of our cooking indoors, so as not to disturb them.  They even seem to have gotten to the point that they trust me enough not to fly away when I walk up to the door to open it for some cool air, and I got close enough for a photo for this post a few days ago...

These cupcakes I made weren't for the pigeons, though!  (How weird would that be if they were, though?)  One of my close friends is having a baby, due in October, and she and her husband had a little party to announce if they were having a boy or a girl.  She asked me to make "gender reveal cupcakes", with a secret pink or blue filling inside, so that when everyone took a bite, they would see the color of the cream filling and the secret would be revealed!  Such a cute idea, and I loved being a part of it.

These were such fun cupcakes to make, and I used a design similar to my cream-filled Valentine's cupcakes, with fresh whipped cream filling and a smooth icing of chocolate ganache.  I piped pink, white and blue icing on top of the ganache in various boy/girl designs.  I also made a couple of cupcake toppers by cutting out onesies on pink and blue construction paper (tracing the shape of a small onesie-shaped cookie cutter), which I then taped to toothpicks and embellished with tiny little bows.

And as you can see, the secret cream filling inside was...  PINK!

She has been wanting a baby for as long as I've known her, and I know they're going to be wonderful parents.  I can't wait to meet their baby girl!

One Year Ago:  The Colors of Spice and the Secret in the Sauce
Two Years Ago:  Jiaozi and Cold Noodles

Gender Reveal Cupcakes
printable recipe

  • 24 cupcakes, any flavor
  • freshly whipped cream, tinted pink or blue (recipe below)
  • chocolate ganache (recipe below)
  • icing for piping, tinted pink, blue and white (recipe below)

Step 1:
Bake and cool the cupcakes.  Take a cupcake corer and scoop out the center of each cupcake.  Set cupcakes aside, covered with a clean kitchen towel, so they don't dry out.

Step 2:
Make the whipped cream according to the recipe below.  Scoop cream into a piping bag and pipe into the center of each cupcake, smoothing out the top with a knife.  Refrigerate while you make the ganache.

Note: Instead of whipped cream, you could also fill the cupcakes with a tinted buttercream or cream cheese buttercream filling.

Step 3:
Make the ganache according to the recipe below.  Dip each cupcake into the ganache and lightly shake off the excess.  (If you have any extra ganache, you can double dip the cupcakes, or chill the ganache and roll into truffles.)  Refrigerate cupcakes to set the ganache while you make the icing.

Step 4:
Make the icing for piping according to the recipe below.  Tint icing various colors, scoop into piping bags fitted with small tips and decorate however you like!

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipes and Design by Curly Girl Kitchen

Whipped Cream Filling
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • pink or blue gel food coloring

With an electric mixer, whip all ingredients on medium speed until firm peaks form; it's necessary to whip it thoroughly (stopping short of making butter, of course) to ensure the cream is stable and won't collapse and get runny.  Refrigerate until ready to pipe inside the cupcakes.

Chocolate Ganache
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (such as 60% cacao), finely chopped
  • 5 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) heavy whipping cream

Tip: Don't make the ganache until you're ready to dip the cupcakes.  If you make it ahead of time, it could cool too much and get too thick for dipping.

Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat gently over medium heat, just until it begins to bubble around the edges.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 3 minutes.

Stir the cream and chocolate together with a spatula until smooth and shiny.  Dip the cupcakes as directed above.

Icing for Piping
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon meringue powder (available at craft stores, on the baking aisle)
  • 1/4 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon clear piping gel (available at craft stores, on the baking aisle)
  • water
With an electric mixer, combine the butter, shortening, powdered sugar, meringue powder, clear vanilla and piping gel in a bowl until combined.  Add milk or water, just a few drops at a time, and mix until the icing becomes the right consistency for piping.  If it's too dry, it won't flow smoothly out of a small round piping tip, so if you're not sure, test a little first and then add more liquid as needed.

Recipes and Design by Curly Girl Kitchen