Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hello Kitty Cupcakes

Well, until today, my 3 year old daughter had not really noticed Hello Kitty. But after this, she has become a fan. And I might also become a fan because these turned out adorable! I debated on how to create Kitty: with chocolate or fondant. I usually go the chocolate route because I like the taste of the chocolate better than the fondant. But I decided the white chocolate wasn't "white" enough. So I drew a pattern for her head on cardboard, cut it out and used it as a pattern on the rolled fondant. I had to cut out the kitties by hand with a little knife, but it wasn't as labor intensive as I thought. I piped on her face with melted chocolate and frosting, and the pink flowers were all made from fondant as well. In an attempt to appease some of the boy guests, I made some of the cupcakes a little less girly by using blue sprinkles, but for 4-year olds, they tend to pick the most decorated of the cupcakes regardless of the decorations. And of course, I added a little sparkle in the form of edible glitter (always a hit with 4-year olds!) The cupcakes were chocolate, vanilla and lemon, all with vanilla icing. What a cute theme for a cute girl...Happy Birthday Bella!

Baby Dessert Buffet!

What is a baby shower without dessert? (No fun.) I considered making a big fondant cake for my pregnant friend, but she was so excited at Christmas time when I started offering the mini cupcakes that I decided to go this route. Her reasoning (and mine) was that at a party, when I bring cupcakes, she has to commit to just one flavor. With the minis, it is socially acceptable to eat 2 or 3, so you get to sample several flavors. I am a big believer in the "sampler platter" concept as well, so I thought, "what could be cuter than a huge buffet full of mini (uh-hem, "baby") desserts for a baby shower?" The answer: nothing! I even went so far as to make tiny fondant decorations to top the mini cupcakes (little flowers, bottles and onesies). But woman cannot live on cupcakes alone, so in addition to the 7 flavors of cupcakes that I made, I also brought brownie cheesecake bites, coconut macaroon cookies, lemon raspberry bars, homemade chocolate truffles, and baby blackberry tartlets. The cupcakes were as follows: lemon cake with cream cheese icing, vanilla cake with vanilla icing, chocolate cake with vanilla icing, chocolate chocolate chip cake with peanut butter icing, champagne orange cake with vanilla icing, red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, and coconut cake with vanilla icing. I think I made enough so that every guest could try one of each treat, and from the looks of things, I wasn't far off. It was big, elaborate, and a labor of love. If you are interested in a dessert buffet, call me. I'll try and figure out what to charge!

Baby Onesie Cookie Favors

In my fever to get these done on time, I didn't get photos of all the different designs this time, which really bums me out. This was my 3rd batch of these baby boy onesies, but I had a different color palette to work with this time - blue, green and yellow. So I used my favorite designs (preppy collars, argyle, pinstripes) and was inspired to do some new designs as well: little green "izod" alligators, little yellow duckies, super "S" symbols (the baby's last name is also an S, so I thought this was double-cute). And I also like to do little sayings: "I love Mommy, I love Daddy, Got Milk?, Rock Star, Chick Magnet". They turned out so cute. Each one was individually wrapped in a cello bag with a little ribbon bow. The guests had fun looking through all the cookies and picking their favorites. And I had fun getting to do this for my lovely friend. Win-win!

Baby Shower Decorations

This baby shower was a very special occasion. One of my oldest and dearest friends is having a baby boy in March, so yes, I went a little overboard. I made small, 3-tiered diaper cake centerpieces; I tried something new and worked in a small glass vase in the top tier so that I could add a fresh flower topper to each one. I think it was a fun variation to my usual diaper cake. My co-hosts and I used a color palette of baby blue, lime green and light yellow for the shower. We decorated with actual baby clothes pinned to a clothesline, bright colored linens and "baby" flower arrangements. I made the little "It's a Boy!" banner using simple paper and my Sizzix machine (I'm a scrapbooker as well! I'm addicted to my little Sizzix and was happy to use some new dies!) The paper onesies were also pinned with mini clothespins to a piece of blue yarn. Everything was so cute and festive! Hurry and get here Baby S...we are anxious to meet you!

"Annie" Cookie Pops

These cookie pops were for a group of moms and daughters who went to see the play at the OC Performing Arts Center today. I had wracked my brain for a couple weeks on what design to do for these. But after seeing some creepy drawings of Orphan Annie on the internet, I decided to keep it simple with the recognizable "Annie" logo in red on a white glazed cookie. All the cookies were individually wrapped in cellophane with a cute red bow (they just don't photograph well through the cellophane). I hope you gals had a great afternoon! I couldn't get the tune of "Hard Knock Life" out of my head all weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Louis Vuitton Purse Cake

I am so excited about this cake! For my first purse, I was really happy with how this turned out. It was also my first attempt at carving cake. (I must be watching too much Ace of Cakes or something.) But I added the "before" picture to prove that it is actually cake in that handbag! I stacked white cake 5 layers high and "glued" the layers together with icing. Then I carved the top a little to look more purse-like, and covered the whole cake with frosting. Then it was on to fondant. I tinted my fondant in light tan and dark brown, then rolled out the brown fondant on a piece of fake leather I bought at the fabric store. This gave my bag a real leather-looking surface. I cut pieces of "leathered" fondant and attached them to the cake. I finished the edges with rolled "piping" and made the tan leather details. The handles were the only part of the cake that were not entirely edible; I made them by wrapping fondant around pipe cleaner (for more stability). The zipper was a piece of fondant I pressed onto an actual zipper (ha! I thought that was ingenious!), then I brushed the "metal" details with gold highlighting dust. The purse was loosely based on an actual handbag that I found a picture of on the internet. I free-hand painted the Louis Vuitton logo and designs on the brown leather with gold luster dust. The "purse" sat on a bigger "present"cake below, which I covered in white fondant and "quilted" to give it some texture. Then I added a big fondant bow painted with gold luster dust and a fondant tag that had "40" (for the 40th birthday party) to finish it off. The present cake was alternating layers of chocolate chocolate chip cake and coconut cream cake, with coconut cream filling. (I was dying to eat this two favorite flavors together! But alas, it went out the door without a fork mark...)
I was so excited to have my friend Maria pick up the cake (she gave me that "free reign" to "design something" that only friends can give!) She was blown away when she got to my house. And from the text she sent my that night, it sounds like the rest of the party was also blown away. Awesome! I have a feeling this won't be my last purse cake!

Black and White Cake

I made this cake for my cousin Ashley's 21st birthday (man, do I feel old). She had a black and white themed party, and the cake was a big hit. This was a cool project for me because I got to a) transport it all the way to Yorba Linda and b) actually eat it! The cake made the drive no problem (that non-slip shelf liner is magic!) I molded the "2" and "1" out of fondant, then attached toothpicks to the bottoms and let them dry overnight. The fondant bow was probably my best one yet, although I found out the hard way that it was too heavy to mount it on the side of the cake. Luckily, when you bake for family they are pretty forgiving. The bow looked just as cute resting on the bottom tier. And lucky it was tasty and no one really even noticed. I get to eat my cupcakes all the time, but I never actually get a slice of layer cake, so this was kind of exciting. And since they picked my favorite raspberry filling, it was an even bigger treat. The top layer was red velvet cake with strawberry and Bavarian cream. And the bottom layer was white cake with raspberry and Bavarian cream. Both pretty tasty, if I do say so myself. Although I have to admit, that it's kind of a bummer to watch someone cut into your artwork. Occupational hazard, I guess. Another hazard I learned from this project: that you should wear gloves when tinting fondant black, and that it takes 3 days for your palms to not be purple if you don't. Fellow bakers take note!

More Sesame Street Cupcakes

What kid doesn't love the gang from Sesame Street? With the bright colors and happy faces, these guys are a staple in every Mom's household. I was thrilled to make another batch of Sesame cupcakes, and I even tried a new face for Cookie Monster (which I think I like better - without the cookie in his mouth). And the scale of the Elmos was also better. (Hey, I'm learning as I go!) Other than the fact that my hand gets tired piping all that fur and my kitchen gets stained from all the food coloring, I love doing these guys! I made all the faces out of chocolate, and Oscar got a fondant trash can lid "hat". The cupcakes were peppermint vanilla, chocolate chocolate chip, lemon and vanilla. The Oscars are always the most popular (I think it's the trash can lid! And besides, he was chocolate!)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bridal Shower Branch Cake

So first, I need to apologize for the messy table in these photos. I usually clean up before I get out the camera, but this cake was a little different in that the client actually came to help and took the cake once we were done! So I didn't have time to clean. (I know, my only vinyl tablecloth has a Halloween's a real professional outfit I'm runnin' here...) That being said, the cake didn't get the fancy photos it deserved.

I created the design (with Sara's help) from the shower invitation, which had the deep teal and brown colors. Sara, a fellow preschool mom, asked if she could come and help and learn some fondant techniques, so I put her to work. We hand-tinted the teal fondant and covered both cakes. Sara made the cream colored fondant flowers, and I piped the chocolate shell border and chocolate branches on the fondant. We added the gold dragees to the flowers to give the cake the little "bling" it needed. The cake inside was vanilla with a raspberry filling (and quite tasty, as we sampled as we decorated this time!) It was my favorite kind of design: simple and elegant. And I hear that the shower guests loved it. Success!

Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

I just found these photos that I never posted, so here it is! These cupcakes were a request from a client whose daughter saw the chrysanthemum design in the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book and wanted them for her birthday. Of course that book was in my library, so I was happy to oblige. I piped the chrysanthemums on half of the cupcakes, and topped the other half with small fondant flowers. The cupcakes were red velvet with cream cheese icing. They were really bright and fun!

Mini Christmas Cupcakes

When my dear friend (and blog-stalker) Heather ordered mini cupcakes for Christmas Eve, I was excited to try to actually decorate them (up to this point, I had only done a swirl of frosting on the minis). And since I use all my friends as guinea pigs, she got some fun and festive mini desserts! I had the idea to add a chocolate-dipped marshmallow head to make a snowman cupcake, and they looked cute (even if they were a little top-heavy!) The hats were a half of a regular Oreo topped with a mini Oreo. And I used sprinkles, fondant, and my trusty food marker to make the faces. I had to do the black and whites in mini for her, since she was such a fan when I first blogged about them. They were a little tricky in miniature, but turned out cute. The holly and snowflakes were cut out of fondant. And the red and green cupcakes were simply rolled in sugar to create a sparkly ball of crunch-covered frosting. I bet they looked cute all together on the buffet table. Thanks Heather! ;)

Birthday Cake for Baby Jesus

This cake was for a fellow mom from my daughter's preschool. She shared with me her family's tradition of getting a birthday cake every Christmas and singing "Happy Birthday" to Baby Jesus. I thought it was so cute, and I was excited to do this special cake. I wanted to do some elegant Christmas decorations around the cake, but then I thought it would be fun to add the guest of honor! So I built a manger and a blanket-wrapped baby out of fondant. The "hay" was flaked coconut tinted with cocoa powder. And I drew in the baby's face with a food marker. The holly leaves I cut out of fondant and painted with a luster dust to get the glittery green color, then added Red Hot candy "berries". The poinsettias were also fondant with gold dragees in the center. And the rest of the decorations I piped with frosting. The cake was my signature "Chocolate Chocolate Chip" (the recipe from which the rest of my cake recipes are based...a family favorite). It was so much fun, and a really special way to end my cake baking season!

Christening Cake - Baby Mateo

This cake was for a party celebrating the Christening of a handsome new baby boy. The cake was red velvet (the mom's favorite) with cream cheese icing. I did a simple cross design out of rolled fondant, and piped the details with chocolate icing. I really liked how the swirl designs turned out...I think it turned out elegant.

Gingerbread Barn

When my husband and I were first married, we decided we'd do an elaborate gingerbread house together every year for the holidays. Of course, with the addition of our son, we have skipped the last couple years. But we are back to our tradition with this year's barn. I think my mom had pulled the instructions out of a magazine from the 80's, and I copied all the patterns and hand cut each piece out of gingerbread cookie dough. The reindeer and santa were all pieced together with 3 layers of cookie to make them 3D. We assembled everything with the traditional royal icing, some tinted dark brown. We also made a red glaze that we painted on the roof and sleigh before decorating with candy, which included candy canes, spearmint leaves, m&ms, silver dragees, and cupcake sprinkles. Everything here is (technically) edible, except for the foil wrappers on the presents in the sleigh (although some of the candy was stale and the dough is doctored a bit to be more sturdy...not as delicious!) It was a big endeavor, and we managed to keep it in tact even with the kids around. Other than a sagging barn roof, it looked as pretty as the picture!