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!