Dainty Dogwood Cupcakes

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Dainty Dogwood Cupcakes

Dainty Dogwood Cupcakes

One of my favorite trees is the Dogwood tree.  They have the most beautiful delicate blossoms and I love seeing them in bloom.  Even though the gorgeous blossoms will only last for so long, you can enjoy these dainty Dogwood cupcakes year round!  These little chocolate Dogwood blossoms are the perfect size for topping a cupcake, and floral decorations work for so many different occasions.  I think these would be lovely with white frosting for a rustic wedding cupcake tower.  As always I am a big fan of making chocolate decorations because they are tasty and can be made in advance, so on the days leading up to to your event all you have to worry about is perfecting your cupcake recipe and frosting.

Supplies

Supplies

Here are the supplies I used to make the Dogwood chocolates. The candy coatings shown are Wilton Vibrant Green candy melts, and Clasen Brite White confectionery coating.

Dogwood blossom centers

Dogwood blossom centers

I used a small squeeze bottle to fill in the centers of the blossoms.  Squeezit mold painter bottles are small squeeze bottles with very tiny tips.  I love these bottles for painting small details on a mold.  They are also great for writing with candy coating or chocolate.

Dainty Dogwood Blossom Centers

Dainty Dogwood Blossom Centers

Give the centers about 10 minutes to dry at room temperature before filling in the rest of the mold with white candy coating.  Depending on the temperature, the drying time may vary, but if you are in a hurry, you can always pop the molds in the refrigerator for a few minutes until the centers are set to the touch.

Filling the molds

Filling the molds

I use a regular squeeze bottle to fill the molds.  I also find that it really reduces bubbles if you keep your squeeze bottle upside down while you are working.  To do this, you need a small cup, like the baby cup I am using, to keep the squeeze bottle resting upside down.

Dogwood mold

Dogwood mold

Try not to overfill the molds.  In this case it is better to underfill the mold.  If you’re not sure how much chocolate to use, fill just one cavity of the mold and then tap out the bubbles to see where you’re at.

Tapping the molds

Tapping the molds

Tap the molds until air bubbles stop rising to the surface.  You can also take a look at the mold from the bottom to see if most of the visible air bubbles and pockets have been eliminated.

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

Here are the chocolates just out of the mold.

Orchid Luster Dust

Orchid Luster Dust

I had a few different shades of luster dust to try out.  This Orchid Pink is pretty, but wasn’t quite the right color.

Petal Dust

Petal Dust

This Wilton Ruby Red Pearl Dust was just right! I simple brushed it on with a dry coarse brush to accent the edges of the blossoms.

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

These little flowers remind me of Spring! I had some green luster and color dusts, but didn’t end up using them because the green was vibrant enough on its own.

Dainty Dogwood Blossom

Dainty Dogwood Blossom

Just a hint of peachy pink really makes these blossoms pop.

Dogwood Cupcakes

Dogwood Cupcakes

 


Teddy Bear Cookies

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Decorate-A-Teddy-Bear Cookies

Decorate-A-Teddy-Bear Cookies

Don’t be alarmed that these teddy bears don’t have any faces!  They are decorate-a-teddy-bear cookies, and are mean’t to be decorated with edible food pens.  Ever since I decided to throw my son a teddy bear picnic party, I have been crazy about teddy bears.  I thought these cookies would make a fun project for the kids to decorate at the party, and I really like that they can be made in advance and frozen. I made all of the teddy bear cookies in advance and froze them completely decorated.  At party time, it was a cinch to pull them out and let them thaw.  These cookies are guaranteed to bring a smile to your party guests, and even the parents will enjoy getting in on the decorating action!

Rolling the dough

Rolling the dough

Begin with a great sugar cookie recipe.  My Excellent Sugar Cookie recipe is the one I always rely on.

Dough Thickness

Dough Thickness

You want to keep the dough thickness consistent.  I roll it about 1/4″ thick.  This makes for sturdy cookies that don’t break easily.

Teddy Bear Cookie Cutter

Teddy Bear Cookie Cutter

This is a Teddy Bear Comfort Grip Cutter from Wilton. It’s about 4″x 4″, just to give an idea of the size of these cookies.

Teddy Bear Cookies, unbaked

Teddy Bear Cookies, unbaked

I was able to fit eight cookies per sheet.  I baked them for about 12 minutes.

Teddy Bear Cookies, cooling

Teddy Bear Cookies, cooling

Once they are just slightly browned on the edges, they are done.

Making the royal icing

Making the royal icing

Now that the cookies are cooling, you can make your royal icing.  I love Bridget Edwards’ royal icing recipe.  I colored this icing with Americolor Warm Brown and Chocolate Brown gel pastes.

Piping Bag

Piping Bag

I use a #2 decorating tip to pipe the outline on the cookies.  I like to keep my piping bag closed securely using a clothes pin, and I like to keep it tip down in a pint glass with a wet paper towel at the bottom.  This keeps the tip from drying out while you’re working.

Outlining cookies

Outlining cookies

I like to outline all of my cookies before flooding any of them.  It makes it easier if you can get an assembly line going.

Flooding the cookies

Flooding the cookies

Once you are done with all of the outlining, it is time to make the flood icing.  To do this you will add water a few drops at a time to the royal icing (the icing you have already colored and used for piping).  You want to thin it to the point that when you drop a ribbon of the icing from a spoon it disappears into the icing after a few seconds.  Once it is the right consistency, transfer it into a squeeze bottle and use that to pipe the icing onto the cookies, working with about three cookies at a time.  If you squeeze the icing onto the cookie, and it runs out to the border, you have thinned it too much.  In my experience, icing that is thinned to much remains tacky and doesn’t fully dry.  It may also become grainy in appearance.  When you have the right flood icing consistency, you should use a toothpick to guide the icing to the borders of the outlined cookie until it is completely covered.

Wet icing

Wet icing

While the icing is drying, it will be very shiny.  The cookies should take four to six hours to dry.

Aqua royal icing

Aqua royal icing

I wanted to add some extra detail to the cookies since I wouldn’t be adding any faces, so I settled on bow ties for the boys and pearls with bows for the girls.  I used some of the uncolored royal icing I had leftover to make an aqua shade.  I piped the bows, pearls and bow ties using a #2 decorating tip.

Teddy Bear cookie with pearls

Teddy Bear cookie with pearls

For the girl teddy bears, I piped the pearls and bow directly onto the cookie.

Polka dot bow ties

Polka dot bow ties

For the boy teddy bears, I piped bow ties onto parchment paper.  I let them dry and then attached them to the boy teddy bear cookies using a small bit of royal icing.  I used the very tip of a toothpick to get the white polka dots onto the bow ties (do this while the icing is still wet).

Boy Teddy Bear Cookie

Boy Teddy Bear Cookie

I stored the finished cookies in Ziploc freezer bags stacked in a plastic storage container.

Cookies packaged for freezer

Cookies packaged for freezer

The key to defrosting the cookies is to remove the plastic container from the freezer, remove the lid, but DO NOT remove the cookies from the container or their individual freezer bags.  Just let them thaw at room temperature for about 4 hours.  You will notice that there may be condensation forming on the outside of the bags.  This is a good sign!  The cookies are thawing and the moisture is collecting on the outside of the bag rather than on the cookie itself.

Ready for decorating

Ready for decorating

Now you are ready to decorate the cookies.  Get all of your friends together and have a cookie decorating party.  There are a ton of edible pens on the market. I used a few different brands, and found that they all seem to work very well.

Girl Teddy Bear

Girl Teddy Bear

You can have a lot of fun getting creative with these cookies.  When the guests are ready to go, they can take home their treats, if they haven’t already eaten them!

Decorated Teddy Bear Cookies

Decorated Teddy Bear Cookies


Retro Rocket Cake and Dessert Table

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Hudson's 1st Birthday Cake

Hudson’s 1st Birthday Cake

This is my little baby boy’s 1st birthday cake.  I made some curtains for his nursery out of an adorable fabric by Michael Miller called Retro Rocket Rascals, and I just couldn’t get enough of it, so I decided it would also be the theme for his first birthday.

Bottom Tier of Cake

Bottom Tier of Cake

The white decorations on this cake are made of gum paste, and created using the Cricut Cake Machine.  I got my Cricut machine a few years ago and haven’t used it a ton, but it is great for cutting out intricate, detailed decorations.

Rocket men

Rocket men

A lot of work went into making the retro rocket boy figure atop the cake.  When making a special figure, I often make two just in case something happens to one. Everything here is made out of fondant and gum paste with spaghetti used for the supports.

Retro rocket boy face

Retro rocket boy face

I made a lot of different faces because it took a while to get it just right.  The hair is made of royal icing, and I used luster dust to color the cheeks.

Second retro rocket face

Second retro rocket face

Here is the alternate face.  In this photo you can see that the royal icing hair is still wet.  The black part of the eye is painted using AmeriColor Super Black gel paste.

Finished retro rocket figure

Finished retro rocket figure

Hudson loves a party, and he actually had two parties for his 1st birthday!

Retro Rocket Dessert Table

Retro Rocket Dessert Table

I saved the top tier of his cake to make the cupcake tree for the dessert table.

Top Tier of cake

Top Tier of cake

There were a lot of fun treats for the babies, and I found some straws that fit the retro rocket theme!

Peach Juice

Peach Juice

The paper cups and pretzel cups are from Meri Meri and Paper Eskimo.  I love all of the cute stuff they come up with!

White fudge covered pretzels

White fudge covered pretzels

Popcorn isn’t baby safe, but having snacks for parents is always a good idea!

Kettlecorn

Kettlecorn

These rocket pop cookies were a big hit with the kids.

Rocket pop cookies

Rocket pop cookies

The cupcake toppers and “Happy Birthday Hudson” banners were made using the Cricut Cake machine. I love these Red Wave Baking Cups from Wilton.

Cupcake tree

Cupcake tree

Hudson loved all of the birthday festivities and attention!  He is one perfect little guy!

Hudson eating cake

Hudson eating cake


Teddy Bear Cake Pops

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Teddy Bear Cake Pops

Teddy Bear Cake Pops

My son just turned two, and we had a teddy bear picnic themed party to celebrate!  I wanted to make some extra special treats for the kids, and thought teddy bear cake pops would be perfect!  I don’t have much experience with cake pops, so I stuck to the basics.  I used store bought cake mix and frosting because I was short on time, and didn’t know how difficult this project would be.  It turns out that cake pops are pretty easy and fun to make, so next time I won’t hesitate to branch out with different flavors and frostings.

Cake pop mixture texture

Cake pop mixture texture

Here is what the cake pop mixture looked like.  I baked one box of cake mix in a 9×13 pan and then crumbled it up and added about 3/4 of a container of store bought chocolate frosting.

Cake pop balls

Cake pop balls

Next I rolled the mixture into balls.  These are about 1″ in diameter.  I set them on a parchment lined pan to prevent sticking.

Cake pops on sticks

Cake pops on sticks

I used 4-1/2″ lollipop sticks for these cake pops.  To get the cake balls to stay put on the lollipop sticks, I dipped the end of each stick into the melted chocolate about 1/2″ deep.  Then I immediately stuck the lollipop stick into the cake ball and placed it on the styrofoam block to dry.

Dipping the cake pops

Dipping the cake pops

I used two 12 ounce bags of Wilton light cocoa candy melts to cover 48 cake pops.  The Wilton melts worked wonderfully because they were the perfect consistency.  With other brands, I usually have to add shortnening or paramount crystals to thin the coating; but with the Wilton melts I didn’t!  Pouring the chocolate into a tall narrow glass like this pint glass is helpful because it allows you to get the most dips out of your chocolate.

Dipped cake pop

Dipped cake pop

My technique for dipping each pop is to fully submerge the pop in chocolate and then pull it directly back out without swirling the pop around in the chocolate.  I found that if I moved the cake pop around in the chocolate, there was a much higher chance that it would fall off of the stick.  When I dipped the pop straight in and back out, I had almost no problem with cake pops falling off the sticks.  Once I had the pop out of the chocolate, I would swirl it around right near the surface of the chocolate (as shown in the above picture) to get excess chocolate off.

Cake pops drying

Cake pops drying

The cake pops dried surprisingly quickly (probably withing 10 minutes).  You can see the change in sheen once the pops are dry to the touch.

Rolling out the muzzle

Rolling out the muzzle

The next step is decorating the pops!  This is the fun part!  I used fondant for the decorations and colored three small pieces brown, black, and tan.  I used AmeriColor chocolate brown, super black, and ivory gel pastes to get the shades that I wanted.  For the muzzles I rolled out the tan fondant using my small fondant rolling pin with pink bands.

Tools

Tools

I used the bottom of a standard decorating tip to cut out the circle that forms the muzzle or mouth area of the bear.  The toothpick cut in half is used to make a small hole for the mouth.

Cutting out muzzle

Cutting out muzzle

Decorating tips work great when you don’t have a small enough circle cutter for what you are doing.

Making the ears

Making the ears

To make the teddy bear ears, I rolled a bunch of small brown balls of fondant and used a fondant sculpting tool to indent the center of each ear.

Cutting the ears

Cutting the ears

I cut each of the indented ovals using an x-acto knife and used the top portion as an ear.  Originally I cut these in half to make two ears, but I found that the ears were too small so I just cut them about 3/4 of the way to the bottom and re-rolled the excess fondant.

Eyes and nose

Eyes and nose

The eyes and nose are just small balls of black fondant rolled into oval shapes. The eyes should be smaller than the nose and more oval in shape.

Plain undecorated cake pop

Plain undecorated cake pop

Once you have the eyes, nose, ears, and muzzle all ready to go, things come together pretty quickly.  Here is a plain cake pop with no decoration.

Step 1 - Add the muzzle

Step 1 – Add the muzzle

Step 1 – Add the muzzle.  My fondant was sticky enough that it adhered to the cake pop just by itself.  If you are working with a drier texture of fondant, you could use melted chocolate or royal icing to stick the details to the pop.

Adding the ears

Step 2 – Adding the ears

Step 2 – Add the ears. Put them on the cake pop so that you can easily see them when you take a step back.

Step 3 - Add the nose

Step 3 – Add the nose

Step 3 – Add the nose.  Again my fondant was very sticky so the nose easily stuck to the muzzle, but you could use a bit of water to get the nose to adhere.

Step 4 - Create the mout

Step 4 – Create the mouth

Step 4 – Create the mouth.  I used a cut toothpick to make a tiny hole for the mouth.  For the teddy bear pop that is smiling in the first picture of this blog, I just used a fondant sculpting tool with a flat edge.  You could also use the tip of a ruler.

Step 5 - Add the eyes

Step 5 – Add the eyes

Step 5 – Add the eyes.  Here is where your teddy bear really comes to life!

Cute teddy bear cake pop

Cute teddy bear cake pop

The only problem with these cake pops is that they are almost too cute to eat!

Bow-tie bear

Bow-tie bear

I had a great time making these cake pops, and will definitely make more cake pops in the future, but as I learned at Hudson’s party, they do have one limitation, heat. The temperature was 82 degrees, and even in the shade it wasn’t cool enough for these poor bears!

Melted teddy bear cake pop

Melted teddy bear cake pop

 


Where the Wild Things Are Cake

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Wild Things Cake

Wild Things Cake

This is a very special cake that I made for my husband’s 30th birthday.  The book, Where the Wild Things Are, is his favorite children’s book; and as you can probably tell, this cake was inspired by that beloved classic children’s story by Maurice Sendak.

Max in his boat

Max in his boat

This cake is super detailed, and my husband had a lot to do with that.  He loves designs that are very realistic, intricate, and detailed, and this cake is a perfect illustration of his style.  The cakes I usually create are a bit more clean and simple, so I definitely made and exception for this one.  But the bottom line is that you really want the recipient to love the cake, especially when it’s your husband!

Monsters

Monsters

Dog

Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

This cake is frosted with buttercream, and the figures are all fondant that has been etched and painted with food coloring.  The buttercream waves on the top of the cake are probably my favorite feature.

Sea Monster

Sea Monster

My second favorite thing is this sea monster.  It reminds me of the Loch Ness Monster and I just love the colors.

More monsters

More monsters

Bottom Tier

Bottom Tier

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each tier of this cake is covered in scenes from the book.  It’s hard to capture all of the details, because the scenes wrap all the way around the cake for a full 360 effect.

Room and Monster

Room and Monster

Tent and palm

Tent and palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were so many different colors of buttercream for this cake, I had a real mess on my hands in the kitchen!

Cake in progress

Cake in progress

There were so many details on this cake, both of our sisters had to jump in and lend a hand with the fondant figures.  Thank you sooo much Abi and Leandra! This cake was truly a family affair and there was a lot of heart and soul put into the making of it!

Goodnight

Goodnight


Sunny Yellow Gerber Daisy How-To

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Gum Paste Gerber Daisy

Gum Paste Gerber Daisy

Edible flowers are wonderful decorations for cakes, cupcakes and more.  I made these gum paste flowers for the bottom tier of a wedding cake, and I love the vibrant colors.  Gum paste flowers are easy to create and make a big impression.  Keep reading for a step-by-step on making the yellow Gerber Daisy in this photo.  There are so many different techniques for making beautiful edible flowers, and I am excited to share my tips on making this simple and sweet yellow Gerber Daisy.

Flowers in flower forming cups

Flowers in flower forming cups

To make this sunny yellow Gerber Daisy, start with some bright yellow gum paste.  I make my gum paste by simply adding Tylose powder (1.5 tsp per pound) to my fondant.  I generally add the Tylose after I have mixed my color into the fondant, but you can add the Tylose to uncolored fondant and then color it as well. The color used to make this vibrant shade of yellow is AmeriColor Lemon Yellow. Once you have your gum paste colored, you need to roll it out to about 1/16″ and cut out the flower shape using the largest cutter from this daisy cutter set.  I like to use my small fondant rolling pin with the pink bands for rolling out gum paste; it makes it easy to get that perfectly uniform thickness that you need when working with small detailed items like flowers. Once you have your flowers cut out, place them gently into your flower forming cups.  These cups help your flowers to form into a natural cupped shape while drying. If you don’t have flower forming cups, not to worry, you can use a regular drinking glass.  Just cover the top of the glass loosely with plastic wrap and then push down lightly to create a little hammock for your flower.

Feathered petals

Feathered petals

To make the small feathered petals that surround the center of the flower, use the smallest cutter from the Wilton fondant daisy shapes cut out set. Roll your gum paste as thin as possible to make these shapes.  Cut the six-pointed flowers in half and then cut each point down the center to make two points.

Cutting the daisy shapes

Cutting the daisy shapes

Push the outside points of the cut flowers inward so that the little petals are bunched together.  For the base of the Gerber Daisy, stick two large daisy cut outs together, using a bit of water, so that the petals are staggered. Now you are ready to stick the feathered petal pieces to the rest of the flower.

Putting the petals on the Gerber Daisy

Putting the petals on the Gerber Daisy

Use a tiny bit of water to stick the feathered petal pieces to the center of the flower. If necessary, use small pieces of parchment paper between the top and bottom daisy cut outs to keep the flower petals from sticking to each other while drying.  The parchment can also help add dimension and texture to the flower.  Stick a few pieces of parchment between the petals and remove them once the flower is dry.

Petals in the center of Gerber Daisy

Petals in the center of Gerber Daisy

Continue to work your way all around the center of the daisy until the tiny petals make a full circle.

Gerber Daisy tiny petals

Gerber Daisy tiny petals

Continue adding more small feathered petals until you have several layers of texture.  There are three full circles of feathered petals on this flower.

Sunny Yellow Gerber Daisy

Sunny Yellow Gerber Daisy

For the center, roll a small ball of dark brown gum paste and flatten the ball into a small circle.  To get the texture shown on the center of this flower, press the gum paste circle against the bottom of a medium sieve. The harder you press, the more pronounced the texture will be.  Luckily if you overdo it, you can just re-roll the ball and try again.  Attach the center using a dab of water, and your sunny yellow Gerber Daisy is complete! Experiment with different color combinations and designs.  The fun thing about edible flowers is that there are no rules!  You can make them look as realistic or whimsical as you like, so just have fun!


Pink and Black Dessert Table

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Pink and Black Dessert Bar

Pink and Black Dessert Bar

Dessert bars are so much fun, I knew I couldn’t resist when my friend, Amanda, told me she wanted one for her 30th birthday.  I was completely sold on it once she told me the colors were hot pink and black! This was the first dessert table I had ever done, so I put a lot of time into baking and planning.

Pink and Black Dessert Bar

Pink and Black Dessert Bar

The party was held at my friend’s tasting room, Malm Cellars, so I knew I would need to transport all of the desserts and items for setup.  Creating a dessert table requires a lot of coordinating, and having some store bought items can make things a bit easier.

Dessert Bar

Dessert Bar

Lucky for me, there were a wide variety of store bought candies and confections that fit the pink and black color scheme.  I purchased pink snowballs, black jelly beans, Good and Plenty candy, black and white ribbon candy, black licorice, white mini meringues, pink stripe candy sticks, white fudge covered pretzels, pink and white ice candy, white nonpareil gumdrops, pink rock candy, M&Ms (in pink, black, and white), black and white peppermints, and pink button candy.

Snowballs

Snowballs

The items that I made were chocolate covered cheesecake hearts, mini pink velvet cupcakes, mini pink macarons, and pink rice krispy treats.

Truffles

Truffles

If you are running short on items, you can always wrap truffles in tissue and tie with a bow that coordinates with your color scheme.

Button Candy

Button Candy

I love the button candy because the little dots really pop and make such a cute display.  I just cut the pink portion from a rainbow strip of button candy and then used tape to secure it into a roll. The stacked rolls add a lot of visual interest.

Cheesecake Hearts

Cheesecake Hearts

The cheesecake hearts are a crowd pleaser and I am always looking for desserts on sticks because they add height to the dessert table.  Whether it’s cake pops, cookie pops, pie pops, or cheesecake pops like these, I like to include at least one “pop” item on every dessert table.

Candy in apothecary jars

Candy in apothecary jars

Apothecary jars filled with colorful candies are a great addition to any dessert table.  Getting enough candy to fill the containers can be pricey and one way around this is to make some of the items or fill the jars with large items that take up a lot of space.  I love to include rice krispy treats in my dessert tables because people really do love them (they are almost always gone first), and you can make them in any color just by adding food coloring to the melted marshmallows. You can also cut them into different shapes and sizes using a cookie cutter sprayed with non-stick spray.

Candy

Candy

The mini pink velvet cupcakes are a smaller version of my pretty n punk cupcakes.  They are frosted with vanilla buttercream and topped with black sugar pearls.  I still love Bella Cupcake Couture cupcake wraps, and these are the mini version of their Lu Lu Damask Black and White wrapper.

Dessert Bar

Dessert Bar

You may want to consider offering some gluten free or sugar free items for people with dietary restrictions.  The french macarons are made with almond flour so they are perfect for gluten free guests.  Also rice kripy treats, meringues, and most hard candies and jelly beans are gluten free.

Mini pink velvet cupcakes

Mini pink velvet cupcakes

Here are some photos of the dessert bar items in the making.  I use sheets of shelf liner cut to fit my baking sheets to prevent the cupcakes from sliding around.

Chocolate Cheesecake Hearts

Chocolate Cheesecake Hearts

Chocolate covered cheesecake is not only delicious, but also easy to store.  I freeze these pops and store them between sheets of parchment paper in plastic ziploc containers right up until the event.  They thaw very quickly and some people prefer the taste of them frozen!

Sparkly macaron tops

Sparkly macaron tops

I just love these sparkly macaron tops! Pipe your macarons and then dust with a sprinkling of hot pink sanding sugar to get this effect. All these sweets are making me hungry!

Dessert Table from the top

Dessert Table from the top

Amanda had a great birthday, and the guests enjoyed overdosing on sugar, so I think my first dessert bar was a success.  I had a fun time with it, and I hope you had fun taking a look.  I am always looking for new ideas and items to include, and would love to hear any of your dessert bar tips, tricks, and adventures!


Pirate Cupcake Kit

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Pirate Cupcakes

Pirate Cupcakes

Throwing a pirate party, but too busy to make a cake?  This pirate cupcake kit is the answer! Pirate parties are so much fun, and if you are short on time cupcake kits can make your party a cinch!  Meri Meri has a whole line of cupcake kits, and this is one of my favorites.  When I am in a pinch, and need a cute cupcake solution, these cupcake kits are my go-to.  I made these cupcakes for my nephew’s second birthday.

Meri Meri Pirate Cupcake Kit

Meri Meri Pirate Cupcake Kit

The kit comes with 24 baking cups and 24 assorted toppers.  As usual, I love the polka dot baking cups in this set, and because they are black, the colors are still bright even after baking!  The parrot, pirate ship, pirate hat, and pirate flag toppers are too cute!  My favorite is the bright parrot in a pirate hat.

Cupcake toppers and baking cups

Cupcake toppers and baking cups

This kits makes it super simple to throw together a party fit for a pirate in no time.  If you are too busy to bake, you can just purchase cupcakes at the store and set them in the baking cups from the kit.  Then pop on the toppers and you are set for a marvelous party for all of your mateys.

Pirate Flag Cupcake

Pirate Flag Cupcake

These cupcakes are frosted in yellow buttercream.  I used AmeriColor lemon yellow to get this shade.

Parrot Cupcake

Parrot Cupcake

The parrot with the eye-patch is so fun.  All of the Meri Meri cupcake kits have really unique and detailed toppers that set them apart from other cupcake kits.

Pirate Ship Cupcake

Pirate Ship Cupcake

The cupcake stand is actually a Halloween cupcake stand from Wilton.  I just left off the haunted house topper, and it worked perfectly for this pirate party.  I hope you have as much fun with this cupcake kit as I did.  Whether you are throwing a pirate party or just looking for a fun baking project to do with your kids, this kit is the perfect thing!

Parrot cupcakes on stand

Parrot cupcakes on stand


Rocket Pop Cookies

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Rocket Pop Cookies

Rocket Pop Cookies

When my little boy turned one, I wanted to make his party extra special.  I needed a way to make an extraordinary party with a little time.  I love things that can be made in advance, and cookies are one of those things that add extra pizzazz to a party and can be made and stored easily.  I found this rocket cutter, and I knew it would be perfect.  I wanted these cookies to stand up so that they could be used as a standing element on a dessert table.  I also wanted to package and give out the rest of the cookies as party favors.

Cutting out the rocket cookies

Cutting out the rocket cookies

It all starts with cutting out the cookies.  I always use my Excellent Sugar Cookie Recipe, and roll the dough about 1/4″ thick.

Rocket cookies on mat

Rocket cookies on mat

I like to use a non-stick baking mat, like the Silpat mat shown here, because nothing sticks and I am able to use little to no flour when rolling out my cookies.

Rocket cookies on baking sheet

Rocket cookies on baking sheet

I used 4-1/2″ lollipop sticks for the rocket pop cookies.  I laid out all of the sticks and then placed one cookie on top of each stick and pressed down gently. You can see from the picture that the sticks went about halfway up the rocket cookies.

Baked rocket pop cookies

Baked rocket pop cookies

Here are the baked cookies cooling on a rack.  Always make sure they are nice and cool before you begin decorating.

Rocket pop cookie assembly line

Rocket pop cookie assembly line

I set up an assembly line to begin decorating the cookies.  To get the red icing I used AmeriColor super red gel paste in the royal icing. I outlined the cookies with a Wilton #2 tip and filled in the center with flood icing using a squeeze bottle. The cookie icing recipe is from Bridget Edwards, who has an amazing blog, Bake at 350.  I let the red icing dry a bit before piping on the white details.  All of the details are piped with a Wilton #2 tip and the white icing is brightened with AmeriColor bright white gel paste.

Rocket pop cookies up close

Rocket pop cookies up close

There were a few bubbles in the red icing here and there, but overall the cookies came out nicely.

Packaging the cookies

Packaging the cookies

For the favors, I slipped each cookie into a clear bag and tied a ribbon around the bottom.

Rocket pop cookies with ribbons

Rocket pop cookies with ribbons

For the remaining cookies, that were for the dessert table, I stored them in Ziploc containers.  I stored the packaged cookies in Ziploc containers as well, to preserve the freshness.  Just before the party, I stuck the cookies in their places on a Styrofoam stand I covered in scrap paper.  I think this makes such a pretty display for a dessert table.

Rocket pop cookies in stand

Rocket pop cookies in stand


First Communion Cake

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First Communion Cake

First Communion Cake

This is a cake that I made just last week for my goddaughter’s First Communion! First Communion is a pretty big deal, and I have never made a religious cake before, so I was a little bit stumped on the design.  My goddaughter, Kylie, is such a wonderful, talented, beautiful little girl and I needed to make something extra special for her big day! Luckily Kylie let me know that she wanted the cake color scheme to be purple, pearl, and black! Gotta love a girl who knows what she wants!  Such a sophisticated choice as well!

Purple Fondant

Purple Fondant

It all started with the purple fondant.  I really wanted a beautiful shade of lavender, but once I started the coloring process, I got more than I bargained for.  I just could not get the shade that I wanted with my “go to” Americolor gel pastes.  I tried both Americolor Royal Purple and Americolor Violet, but the violet was too blue, and with the royal purple I kept ending up with muted dull mauve colors that just looked dingy. I started adding Americolor Fushia to the mix and ended up with a slightly better shade, but it was still not ideal. I decided to try a completely different brand of coloring, Wilton neon purple.  I’m not sure if you can buy this color individually; I had it as part of a Wilton neon colors set, so I thought I should give it a try.  To my delight, the Wilton neon purple created a perfectly pretty shade of purple.  The first four colors (starting on the left) in the photo above were created with Americolor Royal Purple and Americolor Fushia gel pastes combined. The two colors on the far right are colored with Wilton neon purple.

Before - Purple/Lavender

Before – Purple/Lavender

After - Cornflower Blue

After – Cornflower Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more thing about purple…it fades like crazy! After coloring my fondant I wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it rest overnight.  When I woke up the next morning, my beautiful shade of lavender had changed to cornflower blue. Argh! In the face of this disaster I went online to see what other people were saying.  I found that this was a common problem that some said could be fixed with baking soda, if you add it before the fade occurs. I couldn’t save the original batch, so I started fresh with some new fondant and added 1/4 tsp baking soda per 4 ounces fondant.  I couldn’t find any exact recommendations on the quantity, so this was a test. I again let this set overnight, and I woke up to fondant that was still lavender, but seemed to have darkened a bit more than normal.  I determined that although the color was darker than I had planned on, it would work.  During this process I got to thinking back on other purple cakes that I have made.  I realized that my purple gumpaste has never faded.  I don’t know why this is, but it seems that when you add tylose to fondant (this is how I make my gumpaste) it protects it from fading.

First Communion Invite

First Communion Invite

Once I past the first hurdle, it was time to work on design.  I took a cue from the invite and used a silhouette portrait of Kylie to make a personalized child praying silhouette. I used an x-acto knife to cut through the paper template and etch the silhouette outline into black gumpaste.

Frame for silhouette

Frame for silhouette

The shape of the invite lent itself to being the frame for the silhouette.  The frames and silhouette are cut from rolled gumpaste using an x-acto knife with a new blade.

Silhouette

Silhouette

The background of the invite gave me the idea for stenciling the bottom tier of the cake.  I found a damask cake stencil that I could stencil onto the cake with royal icing.

Masking the cake

Masking the cake

This was my first time working with a cake stencil, and it turned out that my cake was shorter than the stencil. I could have cut the stencil to the right height, but the stencil was expensive, and I still wanted to be able to use it on a taller cake.  I masked off the portion that I didn’t need with masking tape so that the top edge would be clean.

Stencil with royal icing

Stencil with royal icing

I made one batch of royal icing and thinned it slightly with water to use as my stenciling medium.  I spread it onto the stencil with an offset spatula, and then removed the stencil. The stencil worked alright, but I found that stenciling on a round cake is much more difficult than stenciling on a square or rectangular cake.  The stencil needs to have direct contact with the cake to make the stenciling come out crisp, clean, and uniform thickness.  On a round cake, your sides need to be perfectly square all the way around so that there are no gaps between the cake and the stencil.  My cake had relatively square sides, but there were some varying gaps, and as a result the stenciling was not a uniform thickness all the way around and there was some blurring.  One length of the stencil was not enough to go around the cake completely, so I waited 15-20 minutes for the royal icing to dry and then applied the stencil to the remaining area of the cake.  I overlapped the stencil so that the pattern would line up seamlessly. On a round cake, I can’t see a way around having a seam.  The place where the stenciling finally meets up will just be the back of the cake.  Again, on a square or rectangular cake, you won’t have this problem.

Stenciled Bottom Tier

Stenciled Bottom Tier

You can see the uneven thickness of the royal icing in this photo as well as some of the blurring.  Even though this is an imperfection, it gives it texture, and adds some old-world charm to the cake.  It feels like it could be part of a beautiful old cathedral.

Gumpaste pearls

Gumpaste pearls

I still needed to incorporate pearl into the cake, and the thought that gumpaste pearls would be lovely for the bottom border.  I use a 4mm pearl mold to make the strands of pearls.  The key to making pearls is to brush your pearl mold liberally with pearl luster dust.  I used CK Products Super Pearl Luster Dust here. I make all of the pearls and then trim off the excess with an x-acto knife before applying them to the cake.

Gumpaste pearl border

Gumpaste pearl border

The pearls make a very elegant touch, and they are deceivingly simple to make. I wrapped the cake drum in a lavender satin ribbon. I am so fortunate to have such an amazing goddaughter, and it was such a pleasure making her First Communion cake!

 


Circus Cake

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Circus Cake

Circus Cake

So this is my favorite cake.  Yep, it’s really my very favorite cake (that I have made). It is even more extra special to me because I made it for my nephew’s 1st birthday!  I had been wanting to make a circus themed cake, and I had a picture of this one in my head long before I started. It all began when I found the retro chocolate molds for the animals on the cake.  The adorable elephant, monkey, and seal chocolate figurines were calling my name and crying out to be part of a fun, cheerful circus cake!

Elephant Chocolate Topper

Elephant Chocolate Topper

You may already know this about me, but I’ll say it again, I am a BIG fan of using chocolate on cakes!  Especially now that I am a mom and have to try and squeeze in cake projects here and there, being able to make chocolate figures ahead of time is unbelievably convenient.  When I saw the cute little retro elephant rocking horse chocolate mold, I knew it needed to be the center of attention on this cake!

Monkey Chocolate

Monkey Chocolate

The peanut border is a fun detail that reminds me of the circus.  I made these with some peanut butter flavored candy melts, not for the flavor, but because the color was perfect.  The yellow stars on the top tier are made of fondant using a pie crust star cutter from Williams-Sonoma.  I love their pie crust cutter sets because they are so versatile.  I end up using them for so much more than just pie crust!

Seal Chocolate

Seal Chocolate

The chocolates on the cake are pretty substantial, and I was worried that if I didn’t connect them properly they would just fall right off the cake. I whipped up a thick batch of royal icing and it held the figures on with no problems.  Royal icing is such a lifesaver!

Elephant Chocolate

Elephant Chocolate

The scalloped red and yellow vertical stripes on this cake really bring everything together and give it that big top feel.  I actually placed the vertical stripes on the cake and then cut the scallop pattern using a piece of cardstock and an x-acto knife.  I had to be careful not to cut through the base layer of yellow fondant, but this method was much easier than transferring the individually cut pieces onto the cake.

Top of Circus Cake

Top of Circus Cake

The cake drum is wrapped with yellow grosgrain ribbon and blue rick rack.  I think the rick rack adds to the retro style of this cake, and I love using it as an accent on cake bases. I always hot glue my ribbon to the cake drum.  I have tried other methods such a double stick tape, and white glue, but I really want to know it is going to stay put, and hot glue is the only reliable method I have found.  Thinking back on the making of this cake, it was one of the smoothest and easiest cake experiences I have had.  Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite cake! Once I had the cake covered in fondant, all I had to do was pop on the chocolate figures, which had been made in advance.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Thanks for taking a look at this cake, I hope it inspires you to try a cake with chocolate details!

 


The Great Cupcake

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The Great Cupcake

The Great Cupcake

I am a sucker for a fun cake pan, and this Great Cupcake Pan has been calling my name for quite some time.  In spite of my efforts to be selective, somehow my collection of specialty shaped cake pans keeps growing, but who can resist a giant cupcake? I think I can squeeze one more pan into the attic!

White Chocolate Cupcake Shell

White Chocolate Cupcake Shell

I love the scalloped detail that makes up the “cupcake liner.”  I wanted to preserve this detail but I was afraid that it would get lost if I covered it in frosting, so I went a completely different direction, chocolate!  I melted some white candy melts and threw in a few pink candy melts to get a light pink color.  I sprayed the bottom part of the cupcake pan with non-stick spray and then wiped out the excess.  Then I brushed the melted candy coating up the sides of the pan.

Inside of candy shell

Inside of candy shell

To make sure the candy shell was nice and sturdy, I painted two coats of chocolate.  I waited for the first coat to dry before applying the second.  I left the candy shell to set overnight and then unmolded it in the morning.  I wasn’t sure if the chocolate would stick, so this was experimental, but to my surprise and delight, the shell released from the pan beautifully!

Cake in chocolate shell

Cake in chocolate shell

You may recognize the cake here; it’s Funfetti! This cake was for my goddaughter’s birthday and she always makes a special request for Funfetti.  The bright colorful spots always liven up a party, and kids especially love it.  The cake fit perfectly in the shell; I just leveled it a bit to make it slightly shorter than the top of the chocolate shell.

Frosting top of cupcake base

Frosting top of cupcake base

I added some light pink frosting to seal in the cake and make sure no cake would peek through.

Top of Great Cupcake

Top of Great Cupcake

So this is the top that I originally made.  I covered the cake in poured icing and added some confetti sprinkles.  I was happy with the color and sprinkles, but the icing started to crack, and that wasn’t the look I was going for.  Also it looked more like an ice cream than a cupcake.  Hmmm… Scratch that one!

Cupcake with poured icing

Cupcake with poured icing

I went ahead and put the top on just to see the overall look.  As you can see, the top of the cupcake is a little too small for the cupcake base; it doesn’t go all the way out to the edge of the chocolate shell.  Details, details! These are the kinds of issues that you just can’t think of! The top portion of this cake would make a really cute shell for a snail cake.  I’m putting that one on my list!

Frosted Cupcake

Frosted Cupcake

So here is the revised version frosted with Ateco tip 825 in pink buttercream. It takes a lot of frosting to cover this cupcake! Hint –  Use a large pastry bag to get one continuous swirl of icing.

Great Cupcake with sprinkles

Great Cupcake with sprinkles

A few confetti sprinkles and voila! Time to dig in! This giant cupcake is sure to be the center of attention at any party!


Farm Animal Baby Shower Cake

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Farm Cake

Farm Cake

This is a very special cake that I made for my sister’s baby shower.  The shower had a farm theme, and so I wanted to do something bright and cheerful.

Pigs

Pigs

The sheep and pigs figures are from a book I had recently purchased, Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes, a book that I still look at all the time!  I absolutely love Debbie Brown’s work.  She is so talented at modeling figures from fondant and gumpaste, and her work always looks so polished and professional!  I was inspired by her work, and this cake was my first attempt at 3-D modeling with fondant. If you are intimidated by 3-D modeling, her books are the perfect first step.  She lays out all of the pieces and gives you a step by step on how she constructs her figures.

Sheep

Sheep

The little sheep peeking out from the bushes are so cute and remind me of spring.  To cover the cake drum I rolled out white fondant and embossed it with an embossing wheel.  I then wrapped the edge of the cake drum in a cute red and white gingham ribbon.

Chick and apple box

Chick and apple box

This cake has a lot of details, but any of the figures could be used individually as a centerpiece or cake topper.  This little chick would look just as cute on top of a cupcake.

cow

cow

Cows are my sister’s favorite animal, so the cake definitely had to have a cow.  The rectangle portion of the barn is cake and the roof is molded rice krispie treats.

Tree

Tree

Here is a top view of the cake.  My amazing husband made the tree for this cake all by himself!


Dapper Duck Family

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Dapper Duck Family

Dapper Duck Family

Easter is on its way, and this dapper duck family seems like the perfect something sweet for this holiday.  I love chocolate molding, and Easter is never complete without chocolate, so this is the best time of year to dust off your old chocolate molds and get to work.  I try to find unique and unusual molds, and while bunnies are the traditional choice for Easter, this duck family is so cheerful and cute, I just couldn’t resist!  Searching for chocolate molds is like looking for buried treasure;you never know where you’ll find them.  You can find good molds at specialty kitchen stores and online, but I have found some of my best molds at swap meets and yard sales.  It’s fun to hunt for molds, and you may just find a one of a kind mold that had been forgotten for years in someone’s attic.  The older molds have some fun retro designs that you just can’t find in the store.

Duck Family in Mold

Duck Family in Mold

Back of Mold

Back of Mold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made these ducks for my son’s 1st Easter, and I chose bright colors so he would really notice them in his basket.  This happy little duck family reminds me of ours, now that we have a little one waddling around!

Daddy Duck

Daddy Duck

Mama Duck

Mama Duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used candy coating for all of the details and filling of the molds.  I really love my candy melter palette for projects like this, because I can easily keep a variety of colors warm all at once.  This speeds up the mold painting process by leaps and bounds!

Mama Duck Chocolate

Mama Duck Chocolate

The mama duck is probably my favorite; I love the pretty pink Easter bonnet! I added the eyelashes to the mama duck for extra beautification!

Duck Family

Duck Family

The only hiccup in this project was the baby’s hat.  I had mixed a custom color for the light blue using some candy coloring, and that particular chocolate ended up sticking to the mold a bit and not properly releasing.  There are too many factors to pinpoint the exact reason for this failure.  I think it was just to much liquid (candy coloring) added.  I have used candy coloring, which is an oil based coloring designed for chocolate, many times without any issue, but some times you just run into trouble! Oh well!

Ducky Easter Basket

Ducky Easter Basket

Look at this little duck family!  All dressed up and ready for an Easter party! Happy Easter!  I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!


Oakland A’s Baseball Cap Cake

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Oakland A's Cake

Oakland A’s Cake

So I don’t follow baseball at all, but my brother in law, Peter, is a die-hard Oakland A’s fan.  He the biggest sports fan I know, and he is unwavering in his dedication to the Oakland Athletics.  I wanted to do a special cake for his 35th birthday, and because he is an absolute A’s fanatic, I knew it would have to be an Oakland A’s themed cake.  I needed the cake to be compact so I could easily transport it, and this baseball hat cake was a last minute idea that fit all the criteria.

Back of A's Hat Cake

Back of A’s Hat Cake

I have a hard time thinking of cakes for guys.  Maybe its because guys hobbies and interests usually aren’t easily translated into big swirls of pink frosting, or maybe its just because I have made fewer cakes for men.  This cake is great because you can just change the colors and logo and you have the perfect cake for any baseball fan, guy or girl.

Side View of A's Hat Cake

Side View of A’s Hat Cake

The hat is baked using a sports ball pan (one half) cake stacked on a 6″ round cake carved into a wedge.  I wasn’t sure how I would get just the right shade of green for this cake, and it turned out to be a combination of Americolor forest green and leaf green gel pastes.  The entire cake is covered in green and yellow fondant, and the stitching was done with a Wilton cutter/embosser tool.  Hopefully this season will be a good one for the A’s!

 

Top of Hat Cake

Top of Hat Cake


Daffodil Cookies

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Daffodil Candy Cup Cookies

Daffodil Candy Cup Cookies

Spring is finally here, and nothing makes me happier than seeing the cheery bright yellow daffodils that bloom this time of year!  Daffodils are my favorite flower, and last year I came across a cute little craft project on Martha Stewart’s website – making paper daffodil candy cups.  I loved the look of these delightful decorations and thought why not make them edible! So this year I turned them into a cookie with a candy cup center.  These cheerful cookies would be the perfect accent for your Easter table.  I’m thinking of putting a cookie at each guests plate; I could even write a name on each cookie and use them as place cards. They would be beautiful for a baby or bridal shower as well!

Cutting out cookies

Cutting out cookies

To make the cookies, I started with my Excellent Sugar Cookie recipe.  I used the daffodil template from Martha Stewart’s site to make a card stock guide to cut out the cookies.  I reduced the template to 85%, but I’m sure it would work at full size as well.

Cookies on sheet

Cookies on sheet

I baked the cookies on a Silpat non-stick baking mat.  I love using these mats because the cookies slide right off, and they make for easy cleanup!

Cooling the cookies

Cooling the cookies

While the cookies are cooling, you can get the icing ready!  I have tried a lot of royal icing cookie decorating techniques and recipes, and I have not always been successful.  Through a lot of trial and error and searching, I came across a book called Decorating Cookies by Bridget Edwards.  This is the most amazing cookie decorating book I have found.  It has tons of tips, tricks, and methods for creating beautiful cookies, but most importantly it features what is, in my opinion, the perfect foolproof royal icing recipe, and the author, Bridget Edwards, has very kindly allowed me to feature that recipe here!  Thank you Bridget!!! I should also mention that Bridget has a wonderful blog where she shares more of her lovely cookie creations and insight!

Outlining the cookies

Outlining the cookies

I used a bit of Americolor lemon yellow and egg yellow gel pastes to get the right shade for these cookies. I used a number 2 tip to outline the cookies with royal icing.

Filling in the cookies with flood icing

Filling in the cookies with flood icing

Next, working with three or four cookies at a time, I filled in the cookies with flood icing.  Flood icing is just royal icing thinned with water.  It is the icing you use to fill in the outlined area of the cookie.

Using a toothpick to drag icing to the edges

Using a toothpick to drag icing to the edges

I like to use these funny little picks called Bamboo Forks to drag the icing to the edges of the cookie.  The ends of these picks are wider than a toothpick and I find that they really help me nudge the icing into those far corners. After I had covered the three or four cookies I was working with in yellow flood icing, I immediately piped the white dots onto the cookies.

Piping the dots

Piping the dots

Piping the white flood icing dots on top of the yellow flood icing was a bit intimidating, but it actually worked out great! Following the advice in Bridget’s book, I added the same amount of water to both icings (the yellow and white) to make sure that the flood icings were the same consistency.  For the white flood icing I added Americolor bright white gel paste to get a super white finish, and to help me get the polka dots pretty uniform in size I used these tiny little squeeze bottles.  I use these bottles a lot for chocolate details, but they came in really handy for these cookies as well!

Letting the cookies dry

Letting the cookies dry

Once I had piped all of the polka dots, I breathed a sigh of relief and let them set out to dry.

Shiny, glossy cookie

Shiny, glossy cookie

I love the shiny, glossy sheen on these cookies.  It took about six hours for the cookies to dry.  I usually plan for them to dry overnight just to make sure they are completely set.

Filling candy cups

Filling candy cups

Okay so I feel like this project is getting a bit long now, and the cookies are cute just as they are, but if you’re still as excited as I am about daffodil candy cup cookies, stay with me! I promise it’s worth it! I filled these little fluted candy cup molds with candy melts.  I like to use a baby feeding spoon to drop a dollup of candy coating into the mold cavity.

Back of baby spoon

Back of baby spoon

You can use the back of the baby spoon to push the chocolate up the sides of the mold.

Orange Candy Cups

Orange Candy Cups

I made these candy cups in two colors, because I wasn’t sure which I would like better.  I just let these candy cups dry at room temperature (it is 65 degrees in my house this time of year) for about 20 minutes, but you can stick them in the fridge to get the candy coating to set up even faster.

Jellybeans

Jellybeans

Now time to sort the jelly beans!  If you have a little helpers, this is a great job for them!  Just be aware that one or two jelly beans may go missing!

Jelly beans and Candy Cups

Jelly beans and Candy Cups

I used orange and yellow jelly beans, but you could fill the candy cups with other candies like Reese’s Pieces or anything you like!

Royal Icing glue

Royal Icing glue

I saved a bit of royal icing to use as glue to stick the candy cups to the daffodil cookies.  Royal icing is very strong and just a small dab is enough.

Placing candy cup

Placing candy cup

By pressing down in the center of the candy cups, I made sure my daffodil centers were completely stuck.  I allowed about fifteen minutes to make sure that the royal icing was dry before filling the cups with jelly beans.

Daffodils in a row

Daffodils in a row

Put these little treats in cellophane bags and tie a ribbon around the top and you have an irresistible favor or gift!

Packaged Daffodil Cookie

Packaged Daffodil Cookie

Royal Icing
Author: 
 
The perfect royal icing for decorating sugar cookies! Recipe as printed in Decorating Cookies by Bridget Edwards.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup meringue powder
  • 1 scant cup water (meaning not quite full)
  • 2 pounds (32 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
Instructions
  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the meringue powder and water until foamy and combined.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar, add the corn syrup, and mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 5 minutes.
  3. Increase the mixer’s speed to medium-high and continue beating, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. To check for stiff peaks, take the beater off the mixer and hold it so that the icing is pointing up in the air. If the peak is floppy, keep beating. If the icing holds a point and keeps that point when jiggled, you have a stiff peak.
  4. Note: Be careful not to overbeat the icing, or it might become flaky when applied to the cookie. Keep a close eye on the glossy sheen; overbeating will cause it to go dull.
Notes
This is my favorite foolproof royal icing recipe for decorating sugar cookies! Bridget Edwards, an amazingly talented and creative cookie artist, very kindly allowed me to feature this recipe from her book, Decorating Cookies. Thank you Bridget!

 


Dancing Goldfish Cake

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Dancing Goldfish Cake

Dancing Goldfish Cake

This is a fun little cake I made for my mom’s birthday.  I was inspired by the goldfish chocolate mold, and couldn’t resist putting this little happy goldfish on top of a cake.  I like using chocolate figures on cakes because I can make the figures way in advance and then just pop them on the cake at the last minute.  For this particular cake, I knew I would be short on time and sleep because I had a two month old baby at home. Even though I was short on time, I wanted to make something special for my mom, so I chose this design.

Painting Chocolate Mold

Painting Details on Chocolate Mold

I have tried a lot of different methods for “painting” chocolate molds, and for fine details like these I prefer to use a candymelter palette and paint brush (one that is dedicated to food use only).  Once I found the candymelter palette, I really got excited about chocolate because it allows you to keep up to ten colors warm at the same time in the small aluminum cups attached to the palette, and for painting details, there is nothing better.  When you stop having to worry about keeping all of your chocolate melted, you find there is so much more you can do with your designs.

Painted Details Front of Mold

Painted Details Front of Mold

The basic strategy for painting chocolate molds is a layering technique where you paint all of the details first and then fill in the background color.  You need to leave a little bit of time in between layers so that the colors don’t run.  For example, I painted the black pupil of the eye first and had to let it set before applying the white part so that the two wouldn’t run. All of the colors that you see are melted candy coating (a.k.a candy melts, confectionery coating, summer coating, chocolate wafers).  Candy melts are not actual chocolate.  They have a higher melting point than chocolate, do not require tempering, and come in a variety of colors, so they are quite convenient.

Filling in the Background

Filling in the Background

Once all of the details have been painted and are dry, you are ready to fill in the mold.  For this, I use a chocolate squeeze bottle. I melt my background color, pour it into a chocolate squeeze bottle, and then fill the mold.  Make sure to tap your mold so that all of the nooks and crannies are filled in with candy coating.  Luckily, the molds are clear so you can just lift them up over your head to see if there are any gaps or bubbles.  For this goldfish, I stuck a lollipop stick in at this point since I knew I would be putting it on a cake!

Goldfish in Mold

Goldfish in Mold

This goldfish just makes me smile!  It is so cute and it reminds me a bit of Cleo, the goldfish from Pinocchio.  The pretty pink flowers and lovely bow remind me of my mom.  Once your chocolate is dry, you can flip the mold over and unmold your figure.

Unmolded Chocolate Goldfish

Unmolded Chocolate Goldfish

Once your goldfish is unmolded, you are left with a beautiful, shiny, chocolate goldfish!  Looks like the perfect cake topper to me!  This happy goldfish looks like it is dancing for joy.  I was so excited about the goldfish, I almost forgot about the cake!  For my mom’s cake I wanted the chocolate goldfish to be the focal point, so I needed something simple that would coordinate with the goldfish and not detract.

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

To keep things simple I frosted the cake in cream cheese frosting and decorated the sides with toasted coconut.  I love how the toasted coconut is a thousand different shades of golden brown.  I am partial to Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut, and use it whenever I can.

Dancing Goldfish Cake

Dancing Goldfish Cake

Whimsical, simple, and fun!  That is how I describe this cake.  Next time you need a cake in a hurry, think about using a chocolate cake topper.  It adds a lot of interest and detail to the cake, and can be made well in advance so you don’t have to invest a lot of time decorating at the last minute!  You may have noticed that there is a happy dancing boy goldfish as well!  Hopefully someday soon, I will be able to make a happy pair of dancing goldfish!


Mickey Mouse Rocket Cake

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Disney Rocket Cake

Mickey Rocket Cake

We just returned from a family trip to Disneyland and it reminded me of a special cake I made for my nephew’s 4th birthday.  My nephew, Cavan, had finally gotten to the age where he was able to tell me what he wanted for his birthday cake, and it was a Mickey Mouse rocket cake.  Of course I had heard of Mickey Mouse, but never a Mickey Mouse rocket ship, so I had to do some investigating to see what it was all about.

Mickey Rocket Cake

Mickey Mouse Rocket Cake Bottom

Luckily I did my research, because the Mickey Mouse Rocket has a very specific look with bright colored horizontal stripes wrapping around the rocket.  I decided to make the rocket out of cake and set it on top of a cake planet.  I used my upper and lowercase tappit sets to make the letters for this cake. The tappit sets are handy because they allow you to add a quick professional looking letters to your cake in a hurry!  I generally use gum paste to make the letters, but if I am in a hurry and only have fondant I will just roll out my fondant and let it set out a few minutes before cutting the letters. This allows the fondant to firm up a bit so that the letters are more stable and easier to cut and handle.

Side of planet

Side of planet

I got the idea for the texture of this planet from the Debbie Brown book, Cartoon Cakes.  I love all of Debbie Brown’s books and this one is fun just to look at even if you aren’t interested in cake decorating.  It is a whole book of wonderful cakes featuring Warner Brothers cartoon characters.  The cakes are expertly designed and decorated by Debbie Brown and they are truly unbelievable.  There is a really cute Marvin the Martian cake, and that is where I got this planet idea.

Mickey Mouse edible figure

Mickey Mouse Gumpaste Figure

The Mickey figure is made of gum paste.  When making a small figure like this, I have to use gum paste because fondant is just too soft and I can’t get the small details. At the same time that I was making this cake, I was looking for a present for my nephew and I came across the perfect a toy called Fisher-Price Disney’s Mickey Mouse Space Rocket.  It was Mickey Mouse with the very rocket ship that I was making in cake! With the cake and the rocket toy I was hoping to be number one Auntie!

Mickey gum paste figure

Mickey Mouse gum paste figure

It’s always a lot of fun to make cakes for children because they have such fun and over the top reactions!  This ended up being a great 4th birthday cake that Cavan loved. I was happy to be able to make Cavan’s birthday extra special, and I am so lucky to have such a wonderful little nephew!


St. Patty’s Day Frogs

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Leprechaun Frog Cupcakes

St. Patty’s Day Frog Cupcakes

Long ago there was a bakery in downtown Santa Rosa called Burlington Bakery, and every year my mom would go there around St. Patrick’s Day and get us these fun, delicious little frog cupcakes.  Seeing those little Leprechaun frogs with tiny hats was always the highlight of my St. Patrick’s Day.  The fact that they looked too good to eat, but tasted delicious was part of the fun.  When Burlington Bakery went out of business I missed the frogs terribly.  Once I got a bit older, I decided that I should make these frogs and share them as my St. Patrick’s Day tradition.  The great thing about these frog cupcakes is that they don’t need to be perfect.  A few warts or lumps here and there just give them character, and they are guaranteed to light up the eyes of the little leprechauns in your lives!

Cupcakes cooling

Baked Cupcakes

Start with your favorite cupcake flavor.  Anything will work.  I usually go with chocolate or vanilla, since those are the original flavors that the bakery made.

Cupcakes and frosting

Pink frosting and cupcakes

Take the wrappers off of your cupcakes and turn them upside down on a baking rack.  Make a half recipe of Decorator’s Buttercream Icing (see recipe below). This buttercream icing recipe is so delicious and easy to work with.  It is my favorite crusting buttercream recipe and I give a big thank you to Toba Garrett, an amazing cake decorator and baker, who graciously allowed me to post this recipe from her book Professional Cake Decorating. If you don’t already have this book, go out and get it.  Toba is such an inspirational decorator and the book contains so much invaluable information including tips, tricks, techniques, and recipes for gorgeous cake decorating.  In case you can’t tell, I am a BIG fan!

Dollup of frosting

Frosting on cupcakes

A bit of Americolor deep pink gel paste will give you this shade of pink.  I use a 56 mm batter scoop to get a dollup of frosting and place it on top of the upside down cupcake.  If you don’t have a batter scoop, use a 1/4 cup.

Smooth frosting

Smoothing the frosting

Next use a small offset spatula to smooth out the frosting and make a rounded shape for the frog’s head.  Don’t get carried away with this, the frogs don’t need to be completely smooth to be cute!

Icing for frogs

Poured Green Icing

Now make the icing to cover the frogs.  This is a very simple poured icing.  The recipe is as follows -

Sift one 2-lb bag of confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) into a large bowl

Add 1/2 cup plus 3 tsp room temperature water

Add 1/2 tsp Americolor leaf green gel paste

Mix using a handheld electric mixer until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl as you go to make sure everything is combined.  The icing will be thick like a paste.

Spoon with icing

Icing spoon

Use a large spoon to pour the icing over the frogs.

Pouring the icing

Pouring the icing

Pour a large spoonful of the icing directly onto the top of the cupcake in a circular motion.

 

Icing dripping

Icing dripping

Don’t try to cover the cupcake completely using the spoon.  Just let the icing flow down and it should eventually cover the entire cupcake.

Iced frog cupcakes

Iced frogs

These green blobs could make cute slime monsters. Now that you have the frogs covered you want to let the icing set for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Increased humidity will slow the drying time.  The icing is dry if it does not show a fingerprint when you touch it.

Chocolate Hat Brims

Chocolate Hat Brims

In the meantime, you can make the chocolate hats. To do this, melt about 8 ounces of milk chocolate wafers and spread the chocolate onto a Silpat using an offset spatula.  Wait until the chocolate changes from shiny to matte (this happens quickly) and then use the wrong side (largest circle) of a Wilton 1A tip to cut out the hat brims.

Rolo Hats

Hats made of Rolos

Rolos were the perfect candy for making these hats. The original frogs had plastic hats, but I wanted my frogs to be completely edible.

Constructing Rolo Hats

Hats made with Rolos

Use a tiny bit of melted chocolate to stick the Rolo to the hat brim.

Tropical Tie-Dye Fruit Roll-Ups

Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-ups

I used Betty Crocker Tropical Tie-Dye Fruit Roll-ups to make the bands of the hats.  I was looking for solid yellow fruit roll-ups, but all I could find was a variety pack with some cartoon characters printed directly onto the roll-up.  I cut the fruit roll-ups into strips using a pizza cutter and a ruler. Just a warning on these fruit roll-ups – they are super sticky and not that easy to work with.  I thought I was saving myself some time by using a store bought product, but coloring and rolling fondant may actually be easier.  I do like the thickness of the roll-ups and they stick to the hats easily without any icing or chocolate.

St. Patty's Day Chocolate Hats

St. Patty’s Day Chocolate Hats

Using a toothpick and some melted chocolate, I added a little shamrock sprinkle to each hat for some extra flair.

Frog cupcake mouth

Cutting the mouth of the frog

Now that the cupcakes are dry, it is time to make the mouths.  To do this, use an x-acto knife and cut a small smiling mouth for each frog.

Pink frosting smile

Pink frosting smile

Remove the green icing cutout to reveal a pink frosting smile!

Smiling frogs

Smiling frogs

Once the frogs have their smiles, they really start to take shape fast!

Frog cupcakes with eyes

Frog cupcakes with eyes

Use a toothpick and tiny bit of melted chocolate to stick on the eyes.  These eyes are store bought.  I found them at my local Target store.

Frogs with Hats

St. Patrick’s Day Frogs with Hats

Next use a bit of chocolate to stick on your hat, and maybe place your froggy in a pretty cupcake liner.

Happy Frog St. Patty's Day Cupcakes

Leprechaun Cupcakes

Finally, share your St. Patty’s Day frog cupcakes with all the lucky lads and lasses in your life.  You are sure to brighten their day by presenting them with a happy smiling frog this St. Patty’s Day!

Decorator’s Buttercream Icing
Author: 
 
This is a delicious crusting buttercream recipe that is perfect for piping, as well as frosting cupcakes and cakes.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • 8 oz solid vegetable shortening or high ratio shortening
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 lb confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp meringue powder, sifted
  • 4-1/2 fl oz heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Place the butter and shortening in the mixer bowl and mix on medium-high speed with a paddle attachment for 3 minutes. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream for an additional 60 seconds.
  2. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Gradually add the sugar, then the meringue powder. The mixture will appear dry.
  3. Add the liquid and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 5 to 8 minutes. Once the buttercream is made, keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
  4. Store the icing in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
Notes
This is my favorite crusting buttercream recipe! Toba Garrett, an amazing cake decorator and baker, graciously allowed me to feature this recipe from her book Professional Cake Decorating. Thank you Toba!

 


Baking Cup Comparison

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Baking Cup Comparison

Three Cupcakes

If you’re like me, you get excited when you see a super cute baking cup! I have polka dots, paisleys, zebra print, striped, colored foil, and even though I have stacks and stacks of baking cups, if a cute pattern or color catches my eye, I simply must have it.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s an addiction, but you could call it a habit.  Luckily it isn’t a very expensive habit to have, but with baking cups ranging from $2 to $7 a package, it can add up.  One thing that has driven me crazy about baking cups is when the following happens – You have the cutest most lovely baking cup that is going to be the perfect party accent and ties in with everything beautifully and you know it will just make your cupcake pop, you put the baking cups in the pan, fill them with batter, bake, and when you pull the cupcakes out of the pan you find that your super cute baking cup is completely unrecognizable.  You can no longer discern the original color, or pattern, and all of the colors are muted and confused!  Disaster!  Have you ever had this happen to you?  What is the point of having fabulous baking cups if the process of baking the cupcakes ruins them!  I promise to get to the bottom of this problem once and for all!

Cupcake Case Comparison

Baking Cups

There is a baking cup line out on the market now called ColorCups.  This line is manufactured by Wilton and guarantees that colors will remain bright on the outside even after baking.  The slogan on the package describes ColorCups as “Always bright, colorful, and fun!” I decided I would put these supposedly super powered baking cups to the test! I decided to test them against a regular baking cup and see what the results were.

Empty ColorCup Baking Cup

Empty Rainbow Dots ColorCup

Empty Polka Dot Fairy Case

Empty Polka Dot Cupcake Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a look at the inside of the ColorCup baking cup, you can see that it is actually foil. Of course a foil lined baking cup!  The foil makes a barrier between the grease and oil from the cupcake protecting the pretty outside liner! Brilliant!  Once I saw this, I had high hopes for these new baking cups.  The baking cup on the right is just a standard no frills baking cup.  Because I already knew that the standard plain baking cup would probably not fare well against this new hybrid ColorCup baking cup, I decided to throw a third cupcake liner into the mix.  I used a standard polka dot baking cup lined with a Reynolds foil baking cup.  I wanted to see if I could make a DIY ColorCup by adding a foil liner to any old baking cup.

Reynolds Foil Baking Case

Reynolds Foil Cupcake Liner

Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil

Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I baked all of the cupcakes at the same time, in the same pan, with the same batter so that there would be no other variables.

Baking Cup Comparison

Baking Cup Comparison

I intentionally used baking cups with white backgrounds since the bleed through shows up best on baking cups with light backgrounds, and I know from previous experience that dark colored batters such as chocolate show through on a lot of baking cups, so I used chocolate for the “worst case scenario.”

Chocolate Batter

Chocolate Batter in Pan

Chocolate Cupcakes

Baked Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the moment I took the cupcakes out of the pan, the results were obvious.  There was a clear winner!  The Wilton ColorCup had prevailed!

ColorCup Cupcake

Cupcake in Wilton ColorCup Baking Cup

The standard baking cup was the biggest loser!  The polka dots were completely lost and the brown from the chocolate of the cupcake became the prominent color.

Cupcake in Standard Polka Dot Baking Case

Cupcake in Standard Polka Dot Baking Liner

The standard baking cup lined with the Reynolds foil baking cup came in second.  The polka dot baking cup was still vibrant and colorful with no grease seep through or color mutation, but the liner still pulled away from the cupcake since it was not actually attached to the foil liner.

Cupcake in Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil Cup

Cupcake in Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil Cup

You have to hand it to the Wilton ColorCup; it really is a revolutionary thing to be able to bake a cupcake and still have a perfectly bright and pretty liner!  One of the keys to the ColorCup design is that the foil lining is adhered to the pretty paper exterior liner.  While the standard baking cup lined with the Reynolds foil baking cup came in second, you could tell that the cupcake had two separate liners.  The space between the paper and the foil is visible making the overall cupcake just slightly less attractive.  In some scenarios, if you are going for a ruffled look, this could be preferable, but overall the ColorCup wins.

Baking Cup Comparison

Baking Cup Comparison

The answer to this baking cup problem that has plagued bakers endlessly has been solved! If you need a perfectly dressed cupcake, use a foil lined baking cup.  In addition to Wilton ColorCups, Reynolds has a similar line called Reynolds StayBrite baking cups.  Hopefully other baking cup manufacturers will follow suit so that we will have a wider array of designs to chose from.  In the meantime, I need to start stocking up on more baking cups!!!


Scuffy The Tugboat Cake

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Scuffy the Tugboat

3-D Scuffy The Tugboat Cake

Do you recognize this little tugboat?  If you’re like me and have a fondness for the Golden Books of your childhood you do!  It’s Scuffy The Tugboat from the beloved Golden Book.  The book is a classic that you shouldn’t miss out on, so if you haven’t read it yet go out and find a copy.  It is a beautifully illustrated and written book to share with your children and grandchildren.

Book and Invite

Children’s books offer great inspiration for birthday parties, and  I thought Scuffy The Tugboat would be a perfect party theme for my nephew’s 3rd birthday!  Also it was a great excuse to make a Scuffy cake.  At the time, I thought that everyone knew exactly who Scuffy was, but at the party many people thought the cake was just a tugboat.  I couldn’t believe they had never heard of Scuffy!

Fondant Scuffy Eyes

Scuffy’s Eyes

I knew I had to get the eyes right for the cake to truly look like Scuffy.  The eyes always bring a character to life, and it’s exciting when you get to the eyes, because once you put them on you can tell if everything is going to work.  You can have everything else right, but if the eyes aren’t spot on, you may have to try again.

Scuffy Closeup

Scuffy

Side of Scuffy

Scuffy Side

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally I wasn’t sure if I would use piping or fondant for the details on this cake.  I tried piping, but the result was not what I wanted, so all of the details are fondant and gumpaste.  The cake itself is just cake (no rice krispies) and though it is a 3-D cake, the shapes are not difficult, so it is pretty simple (as simple as 3-D cakes get).

Tugboat Bow

Bow of tugboat

The tool I use most often for wood grain is a plastic ruler.  I use the edge of it, and drag it across the fondant to make the pattern.  I brushed this wood grain with brown gel paste to bring out the grain.  I love to do fun cake boards, and this is one of my favorite. I went around the cake board with some red grosgrain ribbon and added yellow rick rack on top of that.  I think it is a cute detail for a child’s birthday cake.

3-D Scuffy Cake

Scuffy The Tugboat Smokestack

Scuffy Smokestack

Scuffy Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most challenging part of this cake was definitely the smokestack.  I didn’t know how to make a hollow gumpaste cylinder, so there was a lot of experimenting.  Finally I wrapped a very sturdy paper cylinder from a roll of plastic wrap in parchment paper.  Then I rolled out a rectangle of blue gumpaste.  I cut the gumpaste to the exact size needed to cover the roll, and wrapped it around.  I sealed the seam with a bit of water and let the cylinder stand upright for a couple of days.  Once the gumpaste was dry, I slid the paper roll out and was left with a hollow gumpaste tube.  My previous trials taught me that the gumpaste will stick to the paper tube if you don’t wrap it in parchment.

3-D Scuffy The Tugboat Cake

Scuffy 3-D Cake

Well that is the Scuffy cake!  I hope you are inspired to read the story and maybe make a Scuffy cake or cupcakes of your own!

Scuffy Book

Scuffy The Tugboat Golden Book


Owl Houndstooth Cake

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Owl Cake with Houndstooth

Owl Cake

This cake was a last minute idea for the birthday of a very close friend of mine.  Colleen is one of my best and oldest friends, and as you can probably guess, she loves owls.  When I was first thinking about what to do for her, I thought about making a 3-D shaped owl cake or cupcakes.  I looked at a lot of different owl images. Owls are very popular right now, but a lot of them seem a little too cartoonish, and I didn’t want the cake to look like it was for a child.  I thought that I should stick with a “grown-up” color scheme and maybe something fashion related to fit Colleen.  That is what brought me to the houndstooth pattern. Owls are wise and dignified and the houndstooth pattern, being very classic and timeless, seemed to fit, so putting them together just worked for me.

Owl Topper

Gum Paste Owl

To make the owl, I used gum paste, which I make by adding tylose to my fondant.  I like this method because it allows me to take already colored fondant that I have on hand and turn it into gum paste for modeling.  I know there are commercial gum paste brands, but I have never used these. I also used gum paste for the houndstooth pattern.  I cut each one of these with an x-acto knife.  It was a painstaking process, and since then I have searched for and found a houndstooth cutter.  The benefit of cutting by hand is that you can customize the pattern size to your cake.

Owl and tools

Weighing gum paste owl

When modeling figures, a scale like this Salter comes in very handy.  I use it to measure small amounts of fondant and gum paste so that I will know how much to use next time.  The owl is made of 3.3 ounces of chocolate brown gum paste.

Modeling Owl Eye

Eye made of gum paste

Owl and tools

Weighing gum paste owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

I looked through all of my scalloped cutters hoping to find one that would be just right for the green part of the eye, but I couldn’t find one small enough so I ended up using a bismarck tip (Wilton #230) to cut the little half circles and make the scalloped detail.  I continued to improvise with the bismarck tip and found that it worked wonderfully for making the little green feathers on the owl’s wing.  For the white and black parts of the eye I used tip #2A and tip #1.  I tinted some gum paste egg yellow, and used a small daisy plunge cutter to help make the feet.

Owl Houndstooth Cake

Owl Side View

This was such a fun cake to design and make, and I was honored to be able to make it to celebrate the birthday of an amazing friend!


Valentine’s Cookies

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Valentine Cookies

Embossed Valentine’s Cookies

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and while it is getting closer by the minute, it’s not too late to make some lovely cookies for your sweetheart!  These cookies are pretty perfect for a Valentine’s party or fun project.  You can make them as simple or detailed as you like, and who can resist a delicious decorated sugar cookie?

Embossed Quilted Heart

Quilted Heart Cookie

Love Heart Cookie

Love Embossed Cookie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made these cookies with a clever cookie set that lets you use texture mats to imprint the details into fondant. The cookies look intricate and detailed, yet the process is very straightforward.  If you have shaky hands and shy away from piping, this set is perfect.  With the texture mats, you can get the look of a beautifully piped cookie, without the work.  The cookies are beautiful plain or embellished, and mistakes can always be eaten! See below for a step by step on making these cookies.

Cutting the hearts

Heart Cut-out Cookies

First you need to start with an excellent sugar cookie recipe.  This one is my favorite; the dough is so irresistible that a lot of the cookies don’t even make it to the oven!

Rolling Cookies

Rolling pin and cookies

Heart cutout cookies

Baked cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve got your cookies baked and cooled, now it is time to decorate!  This is the fun part!  To decorate about 14 cookies you will need about 7 ounces of fondant.  Use any colors you like.  To get the pink color I used, use a 3 to 1 ratio of Wilton rose gel coloring and Americolor burgundy gel paste.  For 7 ounces of fondant I used 3 drops burgundy and 9 toothpicks (half dipped) of the rose coloring.  While I generally stick with Americolor gel paste, I prefer the Wilton rose color to the Americolor pinks.  I sometimes end up with too much of a Pepto-Bismol pink with the Americolor and with the Wilton Rose you can achieve more of a raspberry.

Texture mat and fondant

Embossing fondant

You want to roll your fondant to about 1/8″ thick.  Spray your texture mats with non-stick spray and wipe away the excess.  You can press the mat into the fondant using either side of the mat.  One side will make a raised impression and the other will make an indented impression.  I opted for the indented impression with the exception of the love mat.  It only works one way or else the writing will end up backwards.

Imprinted pink fondant

Imprinted fondant

Embossed fondant hearts

Texture mat hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have trouble with the texture mat sticking to the fondant try to let the fondant set out a bit (5-10 minutes) after you roll it, or use a tiny bit of cornstarch on top of the fondant to make it less sticky.  I think these look lovely just imprinted, but for extra oomph you can add some piped dots at the intersection of the lines on the quilted cookies, and some painted accents to the love and baroque heart cookies.

Painting heart cookie

Painting “Baroque” Heart Cookie

Painting "Love" Heart

Painting “Love” detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

To paint the accents I use a mixture of Wilton White Pearl Dust, Vodka, Royal Icing, and gel paste (1 drop Americolor Sky Blue and 2 drops Americolor Teal).  Just mix the gel paste, pearl dust, vodka, and royal icing until you get the consistency of paint.  The royal icing is optional.  I added it because I had made it already to pipe the dots on the quilted heart.  It makes the “paint” a little bit thicker and more opaque.  If you don’t use it, the paint will just be a bit more transparent.  They key to painting the details is using a teeny tiny brush.  I used the very smallest one I have.

Painted Baroque Heart Cookie

Baroque Heart Cookie

Piping details

Piping on heart cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

To pipe the dots on the quilted cookie, I used a #2 tip, and added a 1:2 ratio of sky blue and aqua to get the turquoise colored royal icing.  After you have piped the dots, look back to see if there are any pointy dots.  If so, just press down gently with the tip of your finger to smooth the peak into a nice rounded dot.  As long as your icing has not set too long, this should work. To attach the fondant hearts to the cookies, I used just a bit of thinned royal icing (since I already had it) spread over the cookie, and then just gently pressed down to get the fondant to adhere.  You could also use piping gel if you have it on hand.  I hope you have fun with this project.  There are so many variations and possibilities!  I would love to see your designs, so please post a picture if you give it a try!

Valentine's Close-Up

Heart Valentine Cookies

Excellent Sugar Cookies
Author: 
 
My favorite sugar cookie recipe for making cut-out cookies!
Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and sugar.
  3. Using a pastry blender cut in the butter until particles are fine and crumbly.
  4. In a small bowl, using a fork, beat the egg, heavy cream, and vanilla.
  5. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients.
  6. Stir until dough comes together. Using your hands, combine and knead the dough into a uniform consistency.
  7. Roll out dough to about ¼” thick on a floured surface or non-stick baking mat.
  8. Cut out shapes and place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet (or cookie sheet lined with a non-stick baking mat) and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are just slightly brown.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack and enjoy or let cool completely and then decorate!
Notes
Note: For cookies with super sharp edges, freeze cookies on cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes (or refrigerate for 15 minutes) before baking.

 


Cake and Cupboard Cake

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Cake & Cupboard Cake on Pedestal

Cake & Cupboard Cake on Pedestal

I love polka dots!  They just seem very versatile and cute!  I can think of a thousand polka dot things that I love: polka dot fabric, polka dot ribbon, polka dot pillows.  I could go on. I even have a favorite polka dot sweater. Soooo, I have always wanted to make a polka dot cake and specifically I have always wanted to make a cake that looks like the one in our logo!  My brilliant husband designed the logo, and of course it is perfect for me considering my love of everything polka dot, and my love of cakes.  So what could be better than a polka dot cake that looks just like the one in our logo?

Polka Dots Closeup

Polka Dots Closeup

I looked at my round cutters to find a fairly small size for the polka dots.  I ended up using a 3/4″ round cutter and I designed the scallops using a piece of cardstock that I cut into a pattern.  The cake is covered in white fondant and then a layer of dark brown gumpaste that went about 3/4 of the way down the cake.  I laid the cardstock pattern against the fondant and cut the scallops using an exacto knife, being careful not to cut into the white fondant behind. I then used a ruler to mark the placement of the dots and I cut those out with the 3/4″ round cutter and filled them in with the 3/4″ dots I had cut out of pink gumpaste. Voila!  As far as time, this cake is one of the quickest and most simple I have made.  I love simple designs, but also find that the simpler the design, the more perfect it needs to be because the flaws really show.

Cake & Cupboard Polka Dot Cake

Cake & Cupboard Polka Dot Cake

 

You can see some creased fondant and overcuts in the brown gumpaste. I was in a bit of a hurry with this one (just trying to fit it in during my baby’s naps) so it is not flawless, but I still think it’s a super cute cake.  As with all cakes, there are things I would do differently if I did it again. The cake is a 7″ round cake and next time I would go with a 6″ round cake to elongate the shape and give more height.  You can’t tell but the middle cake layers are actually smaller (probably 6 to 6-1/2″ in diameter) to give the cake sort of an hourglass figure as it appears in the logo.  This effort was definitely lost, but I think it would show up better on a taller 6″ cake.  The other thing I would do is lose the cake drum bottom and just have the cake sit directly on the pedestal for an appearance more similar to the logo.  In this case the cake drum was necessary.  I made the cake for my own birthday adventure which was bike riding  around Angel Island, and I knew it would be going on a bumpy ride so I designed it for maximum stability (it is doweled into the cake drum).  Maybe it is just because I love polka dots, but I feel like it is a fun and simple cake that could work for birthdays, showers, anniversarys, etc.  I hope you had fun taking a look.  I am sure there will be more polka dot cakes in my future!


Peter Rabbit Cupcakes

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Peter Rabbit Cupcakes

Peter Rabbit Cupcakes

Here comes Peter Rabbit pushing a wheelbarrow full of carrots from Mr. McGregor’s garden. These Peter Rabbit Cupcake Kits and Cupcake Holders by Meri Meri will brighten your Easter and bring you back to your childhood and the wonderful world of Beatrix Potter.

Peter Rabbit and Wheelbarrow

Peter Rabbit and Wheelbarrow

Do you remember Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and Tom Kitten?  These adorable cupcakes will remind you of all your favorite Beatrix Potter tales, and if you’re not yet a fan maybe you will bake up a batch of these delightful cupcakes and become inspired to begin reading Beatrix Potter’s beautifully illustrated classics.

Peter Rabbit Up Close

Peter Rabbit Up Close

These Peter Rabbit cupcake holders are designed as little wheelbarrows. They are very simple to put together and each wheelbarrow holds one cupcake.

Peter Rabbit and Friends

Peter Rabbit and Friends

Each cupcake pick features a different Peter Rabbit character.

Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit

Use tip 4B to pipe the decorations on each cupcake. My friend Grace had the brilliant idea to use orange sugar pearls at the center of each flower.

Benjamin Bunny

Benjamin Bunny

Egg yellow gel paste is used to color the frosting on these cupcakes. Use about one-quarter teaspoon per 4 cups of frosting to get this shade.

Jemima Puddle-Duck

Jemima Puddle-Duck

You will need about four cups of frosting to decorate 12 cupcakes using tip 4B.

Tom Kitten

Tom Kitten

Jelly beans, sugar pearls, and orange carrots can be used for added color!

Decorating Supplies

Decorating Supplies

For perfectly sized cupcakes, use a batter scoop to fill your baking cups. I use one level scoop per cupcake.

Ready to Bake!

Ready to Bake!

Even the cupcake cases have Beatrix Potter Characters decorating them.

Cupcake Tip 4B

Cupcake Tip 4B

Begin by piping from the center outward using tip 4B.

Fully Piped Cupcake

Fully Piped Cupcake

Continue all the way around until the cupcake is completely covered.

Placing the Sugar Pearls

Placing the Sugar Pearls

Use tweezers to place each sugar pearl. Then carefully push down using your finger.

Piping Grass onto the Cupcake

Piping Grass onto the Cupcake

Use grass tip 233 to pipe the blades of grass. Layer the tufts of grass for a full look. Sprinkle with carrots.

Grass Cupcakes with Carrots

Grass Cupcakes with Carrots

To get this shade of green frosting, add one quarter teaspoon avocado gel paste, 3 drops leaf green gel paste, and one drop mint green gel paste per 2 cups of frosting.

Name Tags

Name Tags

Print up name tags and stick them to toothpicks to personalize your Peter Rabbit cupcakes.

Jelly Bean Cupcake

Jelly Bean Cupcake

If you are having an Easter party or family get together, these Peter Rabbit cupcake holders will make your table extra special.  Use your Peter Rabbit cupcake holders as place cards, and each guest will get their own special treat!

Row of Rabbits

Row of Rabbits

Put your Peter Rabbit cupcakes on parade or display them on cake stands for a dazzling centerpiece.

Cupcakes on Cake Stands

Cupcakes on Cake Stands


Hungry Polar Bear Cake

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Polar Bear Cake

Polar Bear Cake

A polar bear eating ice cream? What could be more fun and delicious than a snowflake covered cake with a happy polar bear on top? Just the thought of a polar bear eating ice cream makes me smile, and children will be pleased to see that polar bears like ice cream just as much as they do!

Happy Polar Bear

Happy Polar Bear

Cozy in his striped scarf, this polar bear couldn’t be happier while enjoying his ice cream.

Polar Bear Backside

Polar Bear Backside

Aside from the polar bear itself, most of the decorations for this cake are made using cutters of various shapes. This speeds up the decorating process. The polar bear is sitting on a scalloped fondant circle made using our scalloped cutter set.

Tools

Tools

Using different cookie cutters to cut out fondant decorations is a simple and easy decorating idea.

Snowflakes

Snowflakes

Cutters that imprint patterns or textures will give more dimension and depth to the design. A non-stick mat is a wonderful work surface for rolling out fondant because you can leave the decorations on it while you work and they won’t stick.

Snowflake on Cake

Snowflake on Cake

Attach the fondant snowflakes to the fondant covered cake by applying a bit of water using a small paint brush.

Name in Lower Case Funky Tappit Letters

Name in Lower Case Funky Tappit Letters

These fondant letters are made using the funky lower case letters tappit set.

Tappit Set

Tappit Set

For this cake I wanted the first letter of each word to be capitalized, so I used the funky letters and numbers tappit set and the funky lower case tappit set.

Cutting out the lettering

Cutting out the lettering

Roll out long strips of fondant to cut out the letters using the tappit set. The tappit cutters are designed to cut each individual letter separately.

Fondant Letters

Fondant Letters

I use the pink (1/16″) dough bands on the 9″ rolling pin to get the fondant to the correct thickness.

Tappit Letter Detail

Tappit Letter Detail

I love the tappit sets because they produce stylish, crisp, clean, sharp looking letters. Tappit letters produce a fresh unique look that is different from hand piping plus there is the added benefit of being able to move letters around. If you make a spelling mistake with the tappit set, just remove the letter from the cake. Mistakes made with icing are much harder to fix.

Lettering on Cake

Lettering on Cake

Apply the tappit letters using a tiny bit of water applied with a paint brush. If you allow the tappit letters to dry, they will be stiff enough to attach to your cake with royal icing at the base of each letter so that they are free-standing.

Rounded Border Set

Rounded Border Set

The scalloped edge that surrounds the top tier of the cake is created with our rounded border cutter set. Cutter sets like these have endless uses and are great to have on hand for quick design ideas.

Top Tier

Top Tier

Scalloped stripes in alternating shades of blue add extra detail to this cake.

Sculpting the Polar Bear

Sculpting the Polar Bear

The part of this cake that is most daunting is probably sculpting the polar bear. I was inspired to make this bear by a greeting card I saw on one of my favorite stationary sites, Hello Lucky. A sculpting tools set will help you out with sculpting figures.  Don’t be afraid to try because it is just fondant and if you mess up you can always eat it and start over!

Starting the Scarf

Starting the Scarf

Making the scarf is a lot of fun, and the technique can be used for a variety of decorations. Begin by cutting small uniformly sized strips of fondant in two alternating colors. I use a ruler and x-acto knife to cut the strips to the same size.

Striped Scarf

Scarf and Ice Cream

Next use the small rolling pin to roll over the strips of fondant. Roll over them with even pressure so that they meld together. Now you have the fabric for the scarf.

Cut Out Shapes

Cut Out Shapes

The strips that have been rolled together should be stuck to each other and form one piece of fondant from which you can cut out a scarf, bowtie, or any shapes you can think of.

Polar Bear

Polar Bear

Polar Bear

Polar Bear