Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Birthday Cookie Favors

This is a sampling of some cookie favors I made for a big First Birthday bash. I baked homemade sugar cookies (9 dozen!) in circle, square, and cupcake shapes. Then I glazed each cookie with a thin layer of icing. Once they dried, I piped decorations in white, baby blue and sage green royal icing. I added "A"s for the birthday boy's initial, and a few "1"s as well. The cupcake shaped cookies got a little sugar sprinkled for sparkle and a touch of gold luster dust for the flame of the candle. Once all the designs dried and the royal icing was nice and hard, I bagged each cookie and tied each bag with blue or green ribbon to match the party colors. They turned out adorable, and delicious (even the burned pan of cookies we tried were pretty darn good). Must be the real butter. Hope everyone liked their treats!

Deconstructing Elmo Cupcakes

I get a lot of questions like "how long does it take you to do those?" or "how do you do that?" So I thought I'd give the "behind the scenes" tour of making Elmo cupcakes. First, I start by making the faces. I've created my own templates by drawing the face parts on a sheet of paper. Then, I lay a sheet of wax paper over the template on a cookie sheet. I take Wilton candy melts in different colors and load them into a squeeze bottle (a lot like a ketchup or mustard bottle with the long nozzle on top). I melt the chocolate in the microwave and "draw" the designs on the wax paper. A few minutes in the fridge and they're ready to go. Now the cupcakes...

I start by adding a dollop of frosting to the tops of my cupcakes. This is just so I get a nice, mounded look with the frosting. This layer can be messy since it's covered up in the next step.

Then, I pipe icing through a special decorating tip that I believe was intended for piping grass; it has a bunch of little holes so the red frosting comes out like fur. [A side note when making red frosting: I used 2 entire jars of concentrated "no taste" red frosting color to get this red frosting to look right! ] I start the "fur" around the outside of the cupcake and work inward, covering the entire surface.

Voila! Elmo heads! Or little shag carpet cupcakes (not sure of the occasion these would celebrate...) You can tell people that Elmo turned his back and serve them like this, or you can add the chocolate face parts on top of the fur. I think I'll add the faces.

And there he is! So cute. You can't help but smile. I like to use the chocolate to make the faces simply because I think it tastes better than fondant, but fondant would also work for these. La la la la, la la la la, Elmo's World...

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

With all the schools going "peanut free", I have decided to come out of the closet as a true peanut junkie. I love peanut butter, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. And while these cupcakes are kind of boring in the decoration department, I thought they needed a post of their own since it's my new favorite recipe. I have concocted a peanut butter cake batter, as well as a delicious peanut butter frosting to top them off (think Reese's peanut butter filling meets cream cheese icing!) They were an accompaniment to the Elmo cupcakes post above. As I was enjoying one at home, I thought that I should try dipping the whole cupcake in a chocolate glaze and roll it in chopped peanuts, like those old-fashioned hand-dipped ice cream bars. Ahhhh. I need a guinea pig...any takers out there?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cowboy Birthday Cake

I've done so many cakes for my friend Steph that she is by far my best client. So when she said she wanted a cake that was "over the top", I had to deliver. Her family was throwing her Dad a 60th Birthday party with a cowboy theme to celebrate his childhood dream of being a cowboy. So I came up with this design. I hand-molded the cowboy, his two dogs, the campfire, logs, and cactuses (cacti?) out of fondant. I rolled ropes of fondant to sit at the base of each cake and drape around the large tier (the small red stars were large sprinkles from Wilton). The "golden horseshoe" was a nod to a former job where he met his wife, the Golden Horseshoe Revue at Disneyland (isn't that the cutest?) - it was also cut out of fondant and painted with gold luster dust. I molded the "60" and the red stars out of chocolate. And I cut out the horse, boots, and cowboy hats with cookie cutters and paper patterns. The "dirt" on the top of the cake was chocolate icing covered with chocolate cookie crumbs, and the rocks were candy rocks that were also chocolate. I decided to cover the whole cake with fondant in a light denim blue, which really made all the details stand out. The cakes were chocolate chocolate chip cake with french vanilla custard filling, and cookies and cream cake with chocolate custard filling. Another fun project! Keep 'em coming, Steph! xoxo

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pink Baby Bottle Cake

Wow! Two pink cakes in a row! Everything has been blue lately, so it was fun to do a girly baby shower cake this time. Did I mention how I love it when my friends order cakes and say, "oh I don't know...I trust you!" My instructions were "pink", "classy", and "wow". So this is what I came up with. I really wanted to try sculpting another cake, so I thought the bottle would be fun. I stacked four little 4" round cakes (new cake flavor - "mud pie") with frosting between to create the bottle. I carved a little off the top to round the top edge. Then covered the stack with white fondant. Then I molded a nipple and a ring for the bottle top out of fondant. I set the bottle on a 9" round cake (vanilla with raspberry filling) that I covered with pink fondant. I had to insert a wood dowel that ran all the way through both cakes for stability, but that seemed to do the trick. I finished off the base cake with white fondant polka dots and piped a bead border at the base of both cakes. Then I finished the bottle with a big pink fondant bow, and gave the bow and nipple a little luster dust for sparkle. I love the way it turned out, and I was proud of the fact that I just kind of thought of it myself (I'm usually surfing the web and magazines for ideas). Woo hoo! I just didn't think about how tall it would turn out. Luckily, it was going directly to the party...I had to take out a shelf in my fridge to fit it in! Phew.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Garden Fairy Cake

This was a special cake for a very special girl - my daughter's best friend at preschool. And what 4 year old girl wouldn't like a pretty pink fairy cake? The Birthday Girl's mom sent me a photo of a cake that she found on the internet with elements that she liked. She also sent me a picture of the plates and napkins she ordered for the party. So I took those ideas and color scheme and created this two tiered cake. It was supposed to feed 40 people, but I think it was closer to 60 servings (I just don't trust the Wilton charts...I tend to "go big"!) The cake was cookies and cream with chocolate filling and chocolate chocolate chip with chocolate filling. I covered those with my vanilla icing and a layer of pink fondant. Then I made all of the decorations out of fondant. I cut the butterflies, flowers and leaves out with cookie cutters, and molded all three fairies by hand. The fairy at the top sits on top of a cupcake that I also covered with pink fondant and surrounded with flowers. The 3 fairies got magic wands made out of toothpicks with fondant stars. I added some shimmer to the flowers and the fairies' dresses with luster dust. And the whole cake got a generous dusting of (what else?) "pixie dust". I'm getting more comfortable with making the fondant figures and attaching them to cakes; I think I learn new tricks with every cake I make. This was a really fun project. I think I got the best compliment of all from my daughter (who is also on the verge of turning 4). She said "Oh Mom, it's SO BEAUTIFUL!" Thanks, Baby!