4th of July Goodies

I prepared holiday goodies for two different parties to celebrate the 4th of July. 

For the first party, I was asked to make a coconut cake in red, white, and blue, plus some cookies. 

For the cookies, I made shortbread and colored some of the dough with red paste and some with blue paste.  I used the colored dough to make pinwheel cookies.  While the cookies tasted yummy, the colors were less than satisfactory.

I also colored some white chocolate with red and blue pastes and made chocolate stars to garnish some brownie bites and the base of the cake:

The brownie bites, topped with dollops of chocolate buttercream and the white chocolate stars, came out nicely:

Now for the cake:  3-layer coconut cake.

For the red and blue colorings thus far, I had been using a red coloring paste:

Since the colorings used in the cookies didn’t give me rich colors, when I got to the red, white, and blue cake and frosting, I decided to try coloring gel:

However, after using a full tube of red gel to color the one layer cake, I was left with a light pink color.  So then I kept adding paste, until I came up with as good a red as I thought I would get.  As for the blue cake, I also used a full tube of blue gel for one layer of cake, only to end up with a very light blue colored cake. I ended up adding a bunch of blue paste to get a deeper blue color in the cake.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the red and blue cake layers, so I don’t have those to show.

So not only did the gel not produce a rich color, but it also had the added disadvantage of requiring more liquid per unit of coloring than did the gel.  For the cake this wasn’t such a problem (although, if I had added enough gel to get the color I wanted, I probably would have ended up with too much extra liquid in the cake.  However, I didn’t get that far before I got smart and switched to the paste).  I ran out of gel before I got to the frosting, but had I used the gel to color the frosting, the extra liquid would definitely have been a problem since the extra liquid would indeed have made the frosting too soft.  Needless to say, I’m done with the gels and will be sticking to paste in the future.

Now for the frostings.  For the red frosting, I started with a raspberry buttercream, which was a bright fuchsia color.  To that I kept adding red paste until I gave up and ended up with a bright pink.  For the blue frosting, I started with a blueberry buttercream, which gave me a purple color, then added a bunch of blue paste until I gave up with a dark blue-purple frosting.  Here’s what I had for the frostings:


After I made the frostings as pictured above, I decided to try to do better than the bright pink and dark purple colors I had.  So I went out and bought more red paste and added more red and blue colorings to the frostings until I ended up with truer colors.  You’ll see in the pictures below that I did eventually get pretty close to red and blue, but it took a heck of a lot of coloring to get there.

For the white frosting, I made a coconut cream cheese frosting using coconut cream for the flavoring.

The cake was a 3-layer coconut cake (one layer red, one layer white, and one layer blue), filled with coconut cream cheese frosting mixed with shredded coconut, and frosted with red, white, and blue frostings.

To frost the cake, I used a ribbon technique to do red and white stripes around the side of the cake and blue on the top of the cake.  Here’s what the frosted cake looked like:

For the stars to go on top of the cake, I made marshmallows colored with red and blue pastes, and cut into star shapes.  I thought those were really fun! !  The white powder on top of the marshmallows is cornstarch, which I used to dust the marshmallows so they wouldn’t be too sticky too handle.

Finally, I bought some wire to use to suspend the marshmallows on top of the cake.  Unfortunately, the wires weren’t strong enough to support the marshmallows, so I tried folding the wires in half to get extra support.  This worked for a minute or two, until the marshmallows started sliding down the wires.  Not what I had planned, but I did get a good laugh out of the whole shenanigan!

For the other party, which I attended, I brought some of the shortbread pinwheel cookies and some of the marshmallows. 

I also made a frozen chocolate –raspberry mousse pie with a chocolate graham cracker crust, topped with chocolate ganache.  For the mousse pie, I had planned on using wires to suspend some white chocolate stars and white chocolate coils.  However, by the time the end of the evening rolled around and I had to garnish the pie, I gave up on making a full effort with the garnishes.  I managed to get a couple of stars on the cake, but instead of suspending the coils with more wire, I just laid them on top of the cake.  Not a great presentation, but everyone still enjoyed the pie.