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!