Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Graduation Cap Cake

So this was one of those cakes where the client said "I trust your designs" and let me just figure something out, giving me the colors to use and the graduate's name only. I decided to try an angled-top cake (like those topsy-turvy tiered cakes) and I was pleasantly surprised. It turned out cool, even if the mortar board covered most of it. The square top was just a piece of cardboard that I covered with fondant and stuck on top of the fondant covered cake. The button and tassel I also molded out of fondant, and I used cookie cutters to create the "2010" and "GRAD" on top. Then I piped the rest in white frosting. The cake was lemon with vanilla-lemon custard filling. It was a relatively simple design, but now I'm ready to try a topsy-turvy cake... any takers?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chocolatey Chocolate Cupcake Tower

These cupcakes were for a retirement party with a racing theme. The request was for "very chocolatey" cupcakes so I talked them into an assortment of my different chocolate cakes. I made 3 cake flavors (chocolate chocolate chip, black and white, and cookies & cream) and 2 frosting flavors (vanilla and chocolate). Since it was a racing theme, I thought the black and white cupcakes would be cute, and I even sprinkled white and black sugar on each corresponding cake flavor. I couldn't find any checkered flag toothpicks, so I made a few for the top tier of the tower to play on the theme (if you give me a theme, I am very thorough!) I set them all out on my handy-dandy dad-made cupcake stand and they looked fantastic (but smelled even better!) And now I know that my cupcake stand holds 125 cupcakes - very cool.

Lemon Themed Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for a retirement party, and while the party didn't have a real "theme", the client asked me to match the colors of her plates and napkins, which were blue, green and had lemons. I did very simple flowers on white sugar sprinkles for the chocolate chocolate chip and carrot cupcakes, and added lemon wedge candy to the tops of the lemon cupcakes. Simple and elegant. And delicious. (I forget how much I love carrot cake!)

Teacher Cupcakes

This was a dozen cookies and cream cupcakes I created for an end of school gift for a teacher. The best part was that it was for a teacher friend of mine! I thought it was a cute idea for a teacher gift (and believe me, I've seen a lot of teacher gifts - not all good) I decided to go with a "school's out for summer" theme, complete with beach cupcakes (I use sugar in the raw over frosting for sand), summer suns (with chocolate details), red apples (with fondant leaves and stems). Then I added the "no school" cupcakes piped in frosting, as well as a couple of cupcakes personalized for the recipient. My teacher friend was so excited (I knew her favorite cake flavor) and I know this is one teacher gift that won't go to the white elephant gift exchange at the Christmas party (yes, I know about that!) ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fathers' Day Cake

I thought this was such a nice idea for a party and also for a cake. My dear friend Stephanie threw a Fathers' Day party to celebrate all the Dads in her life - her husband, dad, grandpa, uncles, brothers-in-law. So we felt like each of the dads should get their own "piece" of the cake. So she and her sister drew out some ideas on a paper napkin while they dined together and brought the paper napkin to me! And I created this cake with 7 fondant panels which represented each of the dads at the party. To keep the cake looking cohesive, I kept the colors similar, using brown, blue, yellow and orange as the main colors, with a couple others mixed in. With all the busy-ness of the design, I decided to cover the cake in white fondant. The cake was coconut cream and cookies & cream, all covered with a layer of vanilla icing. Once all the panels were attached and decorated with fondant details, I used a dark chocolate icing to write every one's name and outline each of the panels. Then I topped the cake with fondant letters and attached stars dangling on wires. I was happy with way it turned out, as was the family. I was more happy that I had leftover coconut cupcakes! Let the diet start NEXT week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jungle Baby Shower Cake

This little baby shower cake was based on a darling jungle invitation (see top photo). I made a cookies and cream cake with vanilla custard filling and vanilla icing. The cake got a layer of white fondant (I figured that I'd better start with white since the rest would be pretty colorful). Then I pieced together 3 trees around the sides with brown and green fondant. Next I added the animals: a giraffe, a monkey, birds and some butterflies. I filled in the empty space with different sized flowers and piped the chocolate frosting border at the top and bottom of the cake. I molded the larger elephant in blue fondant to match the invitation, then the baby girl elephant in pink to follow mama (the concept was a suggestion from the client! too cute!) And the pink banner with the guest of honor's name was the cake's finishing touch. I thought this cake turned out so bright and cheerful! What an adorable theme for a shower.

Rose Garden Cupcakes

Roses: the quintessential frosting flower found on 90% of bakery cakes. Confession: this is the first time I ever made them! I had thought about taking the Wilton course #1 just to learn roses, but I never got around to it. It turns out that between my books with great illustrations and my Mom (my original cake decorating teacher), I figured them out. When I was told that the client wanted 100 cupcakes with big roses, I said "sure!" (because that's how I roll). I figured that after 100 roses, I'd be pretty good at it. I admit, the first dozen or so were pathetic and didn't make it on a cupcake. But I eventually got my groove...and major hand I called in reinforcements. So about half of these roses were the work of my Mom (most likely the prettiest ones!) who bailed me out of the "war of the roses". (Thanks Mom!) The cupcakes were champagne orange cake with vanilla icing, chocolate chocolate chip cake with vanilla icing, and carrot cake with cream cheese icing. They looked so fantastic all together on my big custom cupcake stand (Thanks Dad!) The cupcakes were for a retirement party, and the party was at a home with a spectacular rose garden, so they were such a nice compliment to the natural decor. And they even smelled sweet!

Graduation Cupcakes

These Grad cupcakes were chocolate chocolate chip and cookies and cream cake with vanilla icing. The Grad's school colors were black and gold, so I used that as a color scheme. I made the grad caps with mini Reese's dark peanut butter cups topped with a square of Ghirardelli dark chocolate. I piped the tassels on top with yellow icing. The diplomas and "2010"s were molded from chocolate and set on top. And I found some cool edible star confetti that gave the cupcakes a little sparkle.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fancy Baby Rattle Cake

Ok, I gotta brag a little bit. I had a great MacGyver moment with this cake! I received a copy of the baby shower invitation and there was this graphic of a rattle with a beautiful blue and brown baroque pattern. I was going to just freehand the pattern with a piping bag of frosting, but between the cake and the matching cookie favors, that was a lot of "wingin' it". So I went shopping (the cure for my creative blocks!). I found rubber stamps that were close, and I thought that would give me a good impression if I pressed it into the fondant. But then I found these white puffy stickers that I loved. So I thought I'd make my own rubber stamp. I found a little acrylic tray at Mom's house (the original Martha MacGyver) and stuck the stickers on the bottom in a symmetrical pattern. I rolled out the Tiffany blue fondant, then pressed my homemade "stamp" into the fondant to create an imprinted pattern (see bottom photos). The patterned fondant would be pretty on its own, but it was even more spectacular filled in with chocolate frosting. So for the cake, I layered chocolate chocolate chip cake and chocolate custard ("death by chocolate" cake!) and covered the whole cake with a layer of vanilla frosting. Then I covered the frosting with a layer of white fondant. I decided I needed something "3D" for the top, so I actually baked a cupcake-sized cake in a pyrex bowl and added it to the top to be the rattle. I added my patterned blue fondant on the rattle and in a wide strip around the side of the cake. Then I finished my fondant details with a chocolate brown fondant bow and smaller brown stripes around the sides. The silver fondant details on top got their sparkle with a coating of silver luster dust. Lastly, I piped the bead borders and the writing to finish the design. I even added a small "#3" plaque to represent the family's 3rd bouncing boy! (I can't one little boy is a handful!) I think the design was simple and elegant, if I do say so myself. And now I have a cool new tool for imprinting fondant! Take that, Cake Boss!

Fancy Baby Rattle Cookie Favors

These rattle cookies were favors for a baby boy shower. I made my favorite sugar cookies, glazed them with white icing, then added the blue fondant rattle top while the glaze was still wet. I made a custom stamp to use on the fondant that gave me the design to fill in with chocolate royal icing (I used the same technique for the matching cake). I also piped the silver handles and stripe detail in silver royal icing and added a chocolate bow. I wrapped each cookie in a small cellophane bag with a matching bow, making them the perfect parting gift for the baby shower. I just love the Tiffany blue and chocolate brown color scheme, and the fancy pattern turned out so pretty! Aren't babies so much fun? ;)

Hello Kitty Birthday Cake

This fun Hello Kitty cake was for a 50th (yep, not a typo) Birthday. I thought I heard this client wrong too, especially when she sent a photo of the party decor. But when I delivered this cake, I met the group of ladies and they seemed so fun that I totally felt like the it was the right cake for the occasion! I started with a layer cake that was Champagne Orange with layers of vanilla lemon custard. The whole cake got covered with my vanilla frosting, then I covered the cake with pretty pink fondant. The stars, balloons, bows and HK were all made from fondant. I piped on the bead border, the writing, and the black details with regular frosting. I even added a "50" in chocolate to the middle balloon for a subtle reminder! Before cutting out the balloons, I pressed some different texture mats into the fondant to give them a little interest. The design came right from the plates and napkins that the gals were using from the party. I think it works for a 5th birthday or a 50th! Cheers to all of us that are young at heart! Party on, girls!

Hello Kitty Cookie Favors

I was never a Hello Kitty fan as a kid, but I have to admit that she's pretty lovable in fondant! These cookies were party favors that went with the Hello Kitty Birthday Cake. I made my favorite homemade sugar cookies and added a hot pink frosting glaze on top. Then, while the glaze was still tacky, I added the fondant cutout of Hello Kitty's face. Now I have been looking for a HK cookie cutter for a while, and I just can't seem to find one without ordering from some weird Hong Kong-based vendors on Ebay. But I thought I was rather ingenious when I found a little tin of sour candies shaped like her head at the checkout stand at Michaels. Turns out the top of the tin worked as a pretty decent cutter for the fondant. That saved a lot of time on this project (I had to hand cut each head with a knife the last time I made HK cupcakes!) I made the eyes, nose and bow from fondant as well. The whiskers I drew on with an edible marker. Each cookie got its own cellophane bag with a pink bow (I always bag my cookies, but they don't photograph well through the plastic!) I admit that the fondant isn't as yummy as royal icing, but in this case I decided the design just looked better with the smooth fondant. And we did have a family cookie taste test, which they still passed. I love finding new techniques!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tinkerbell Cupcakes

Now this was a challenge. I wasn't sure how to do a Tinkerbell, but you know me, I don't back down from a challenge. So I drew out my patterns and did my best to create the little pixie's profile out of chocolate. I painstakingly piped all the details with different colored chocolates and chilled them. Then I made some crazy big fairy wings. Once I pressed all the chocolate pieces into the frosting, I took a deep breath and asked my 2-year old son what they were. He got a huge smile and screamed "Tinkobew CAKES!" So I figured they were ok. I always use the kids as my success barometer (a real professional operation I'm running over here, huh?) For an accent, I frosted the other half of the cupcakes with green and added handmade leaves and purple flowers. All the cupcakes got a sprinkle of (what else?) "pixie dust" edible glitter. They turned out really cute, and our birthday girl was tickled. Cupcakes were chocolate chocolate chip and banana chocolate chip.