Paisley Cake

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Paisley Cake

Paisley Cake

This paisley cake is something I made for my mom’s birthday. I love that the paisley chocolates that decorate this cake resemble a beautiful wrapping paper pattern.

Paisley Cake Side View

Paisley Cake Side View

This cake is covered in fondant, and the bow and pearl edging are also made of fondant. The pearl/bead edging is made using a 4mm bead mold brushed with super pearl luster dust (that is why the pearls are shiny and opalescent).

Paisley Cake Closeup

Paisley Cake Closeup

The paisley chocolates are attached to the cake with royal icing. See below for a photo journal of the making of this cake.

Leveling the cake

Leveling the cake

This cake is an 8″ square so I leveled the layers using a small cake leveler. I then cut one of the layers in half, so that there would be three layers.

Filling the cake

Filling the cake

The cake is a champagne cake with a champagne custard filling. I piped a buttercream dam around the perimeter of the cake to make sure that the filling would not ooze out. Champagne cakes used to be popular and could be found in many bakeries. I remember the classic pink champagne cake that was covered in pink chocolate curls. It was stylish and delicious!

Stacking the cake

Stacking the cake

The stacked cake is about three and three quarter inches tall. This means that once the cake is crumb coated and covered in fondant, it should be about four inches high.

Crumb coating the cake

Crumb coating the cake

Here is the crumb coated cake. Crumb coating is applying a light coat of frosting (in this case buttercream diluted with water) to cover the cake and seal in all of the crumbs. Once this crumb coat sets up, you are ready to apply your final coat of frosting or cover your cake in fondant. The crumb coat is a rough coat and does not need to be perfect. It is intended to seal in the crumbs so that your final coat will not have any crumbs or bits of cake peeking through.

Smoothing the crumb coat

Smoothing the crumb coat

If you are covering your cake in fondant, you will want your crumb coat to be smoother than if you were going to apply another layer of frosting. This is because the shape and texture of the frosting that is underneath the fondant will show, so you want to get it as smooth as possible. To do this I fill an asparagus steamer with boiling water. I then dip a large bent spatula into the water and wipe it off with a paper towel and then run the hot spatula on the sides and top of the cake to smooth.

Smoothed cake

Smoothed cake

This is the cake after I have smoothed it with a hot spatula. Don’t fuss over the frosting too much, because the fondant will cover small imperfections.

Covering the cake in fondant

Covering the cake in fondant

This is the fondant covered cake. The red silicone rolling pin is the one that I use to roll the fondant. The straight rolling pin in the background is the one that I use to roll the fondant onto and pick up to lift and place on the cake. I use the fondant smoother (right side) to smooth the fondant over the cake.

Trimming the fondant

Trimming the fondant

I use an x-acto knife to trim the fondant from the bottom of the cake.

Making fondant pearls

Making fondant pearls

For this cake, I am trimming the fondant ribbon with fondant pearls/beads. I use the 4 mm bead maker to make the strings of pearls that will be attached to the ribbon. The super pearl luster dust is brushed into the pearl mold to keep the fondant from sticking.

Adding ribbon to the paisley cake

Adding ribbon to the paisley cake

Next I begin adding the fondant ribbon and pearls to the cake. Both are attached using a tiny amount of water (painted using a fine paint brush).

Materials for paisley cake

Materials for paisley cake

Now its time to start adding the paisleys to the cake. The fondant bow is formed using rolled paper towels stuffed in the loops to keep its shape while it dries overnight.

Attaching the paisleys

Attaching the paisleys

Adding more paisleys

Adding more paisleys

Paisleys panoramic view

Paisleys panoramic view

The paisley chocolates are attached to the cake with royal icing. Royal icing is very strong and the chocolates need to be held in place for less than a minute to get set on the cake.

Dried fondant bow

Dried fondant bow

The bow has dried overnight and is now sturdy enough for the pearl trim to be applied.

Adding pearl/bead trim to the bow

Adding pearl/bead trim to the bow

The fondant pearls are attached to the ribbon by applying a very small amount of water to the ribbon using a fine tipped paint brush. The strings of pearls will stick to the surface that is covered with water, but too much water will make them fall off and can also leave marks on the fondant.

Attaching fondant pearls to the bow loops

Attaching fondant pearls to the bow loops

Attaching the pearls to the bow loops was probably the hardest part. I had some strands of pearls that I had made the night before, but found that I could not attach them to the bow loops because the curves were too much and would cause the strands to break.  I ended up making additional fresh pearls for the bow loops.

Putting the bow together

Putting the bow together

Even though the bow looked like one piece when it was drying, it is actually five different pieces. If  it was all one piece, it would be even harder to attach the pearl trim. The final five pieces were assembled on top of the cake as the final step.

Paisley Cake birds eye view

Paisley Cake birds eye view

Here is the finished cake! It was a lot of work but definitely worth it!

Paisley Cake corner

Paisley Cake corner

The paisleys with polka dots are my favorite.

Paisleys

Paisleys


Paisley Chocolates

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Paisley Chocolates

Paisley Chocolates

Paisley Cake

Paisley Cake

When I first saw these paisley chocolate molds I knew that I had to make something special with them. They are so whimsical and unique and add a lot of detail to any creation.

I made these chocolates to attach to a cake that I was making for my mom’s birthday.The cake is designed to look like a gift and I think that these paisleys are perfect because they really look like a beautiful wrapping paper pattern. My mom’s favorite color is pink, so of course the paisleys are made using three shades of pink chocolate.

Mini Paisleys

Mini Paisleys

To make the paisleys you will need the following ~

Paisley accessory mold and paisley mini mold (if you are making a large quantity I recommend you use at least two molds. The more molds, the faster the process will go.)

2 bags of pink candy melts

Pink or red candy coloring

Tools needed for this project are as follows ~

Three 12oz squeeze bottles

Chocolate in Bottles

Chocolate in Bottles

Very fine tipped paint brush

Candymelter palette

Electric skillet (optional)

Toothpicks (use these to periodically stir the chocolate in the candymelter palette)

Begin by selecting the three colors that you will use to make your paisleys. I suggest deepening shades of the same color, but you can use any color combination. I chose pinks, but once I saw the finished chocolates, I found that two of the shades were too close to together and could not really be distinguished from each other, so I suggest distinctly different shades.

Step 1 – Pour both bags of pink candy melts into a microwave safe bowl(I use a large Pyrex bowl). Melt in the microwave on the defrost setting in 30 second increments stirring each time. It is critical that you stir in between each 30 second increment. This will ensure that the chocolate is heating evenly and will prevent it from getting too hot which will make it seize and become difficult to work with.

Single Paisley

Single Paisley

Step 2 – Use a funnel to fill one 12 oz squeeze bottle with melted chocolate and place it in the electric skillet which should be turned on to the lowest possible setting and lined with thick dish towels. The electric skillet is great because it will keep your chocolate from cooling down and hardening while you work. Rotate the bottle every so often to ensure that it is evenly heated. Note – Do not leave the electric skillet unattended as it is a potential fire hazard. If you are not using an electric skillet to keep your chocolate at working temperature, you may have to microwave the chocolate once it is too cool to work with. You can do this by removing the squeeze bottle lid and placing the open squeeze bottle in the microwave on defrost setting for 20 second increments until the chocolate is sufficiently warm.

Paisleys & Flowers

Paisleys & Flowers

Step 3 – Divide the remaining chocolate into two separate bowls. Use the red or pink candy food coloring to tint the remaining two bowls of chocolate to different shades. Make sure you are using candy food coloring as regular coloring is not suited for use with chocolate because it is water based and will cause the chocolate to seize. Candy food coloring is an oil based product that is specifically designed for use with chocolate. Begin by dropping a couple of drops into the chocolate, stir and continue to add coloring until you reach the desired shade.

Step 4 – Use a funnel to fill the other two squeeze bottles with the new shades of chocolate you just mixed. Place the bottles in the electric skillet to keep them warm.

Step 5 – Plug in the candymelter palette and squeeze a dollop of each of the three different shades of pink from the squeeze bottles into separate aluminum cups in the palette. This is the chocolate the you will use to paint the details on the paisleys.

Stage 1

Stage 1

Step 6 – Using a very fine tipped paint brush begin painting the first level of detail onto the chocolate mold. You can use any of the three colors that you want, but keep in mind which color you are planning to use as your background color. The background color is the color that you will fill the mold with after the details are dry. The details should contrast the background color so that they really stand out.

Step 7 – Once the first layer of detail has dried (dry time will vary depending on air temperature), you can paint the second layer of detail. I generally paint this layer with the the color that you will not be using for the fill. You have already used one color for the 1st level of detail, and you are planning on using one color to fill the mold, so the only color that is left is the color you will use to paint the second layer of detail.

Stage 2

Stage 2

Step 8 – Once all of the details have dried, it is time to fill the molds. Use the three different colors that you have in the squeeze bottles to fill the molds. You can use the same fill for all of the cavities in the mold or you can vary the fill color. Because I used all different color combinations, I used all three colors to fill the cavities. If I had used light pink and medium pink for the detail colors, I would use dark pink as the fill color. If I used Dark pink and light pink as the detail colors, I would use medium pink as the fill color. The idea behind this is to make the different shades pop as much as possible. If you are putting these decorations on a cake, you may also want to consider the cake background when choosing the fill color. If the cake is white, you know that any darker shades of pink will contrast best against it. If the cake is light pink, you know that a chocolate that is filled with light pink will blend into the color of the cake, and stand out less. Your color choice will depend on the look you are trying to acheive.

Stage 3

Stage 3

Step 9 – Place the molds in the refridgerator for approximately 15 minutes or more until the chocolate is hard.

Step 10 – Release the chocolates from the mold. I do this by turning the mold upside down onto a piece of parchment paper (the chocolate will not stick to this)

Step 11 – Enjoy! These fantastic little chocolate decorations will look amazing on a cake or placed on top of cupcakes or brownies.


Stars & Sprinkles Chocolates

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Stars & Sprinkles

If you’re feeling patriotic and have dreams of backyard BBQs and 4th of July cookouts these chocolate stars are perfect for adding some color to your festivities. Use them as cupcake toppers for spectacular 4th of July cupcakes, or use them as a border at the bottom of a cake. The possibilities are endless and because this is a quick and easy project, kids will be happy to join in the fun as well.

This is a great chocolate project for those who are just beginning to work with chocolate. There is just one color of chocolate that you will need and the Ice Princess Chocolate Mold is very easy to work with.

Ice Princess Mold

Ice Princess Mold

To make these stars, you will need the following tools -

~One 12 oz squeeze bottle

~Small Paintbrush

You will also need the following Items -

~Ice Princess Chocolate Mold

~1 bag (16 oz) white chocolate candy melts

~Tricolor Nonpareils

Step 1 – Begin by melting the chocolate. I melt my chocolate in the microwave by emptying an entire bag of white chocolate melts into a large Pyrex bowl and microwaving it in intervals of 30 seconds on the defrost setting, stirring in between each 30 second interval.  The stirring will ensure that the heat gets distributed throughout the chocolate and it melts evenly.

Step 2 – Once the chocolate is fully melted and smooth (no lumps), use a funnel to transfer the chocolate into a 12 ounce squeeze bottle.

Filled Mold

Filled Mold

Step 3 – Now you are ready to fill the mold! This mold is made of silicone and though they are originally designed for making ice cubes, I found that these silicone molds work great for chocolate. They produce crisp designs and the silicone is very flexible making it easier to remove the chocolate. This mold is pretty deep so I only fill each star about 3/4 full.

Hint – Keep your chocolate squeeze bottle upside down in a pint glass when you are not holding it. This will keep all of the chocolate close to the tip and will eliminate air bubbles and the chocolate explosions that you sometimes get from hidden air pockets.

Squeeze Bottle in Pint Glass

Squeeze Bottle in Pint Glass

Step 4 – Once all of the star shapes are filled with chocolate, tap the mold several times to allow air bubbles to float to the top. Next place the mold in the refrigerator on a flat surface for about 15 minutes.

Step 5 – Remove the mold and pop out the stars. Gently pry away the silicone from around each of the stars before trying to release them. This will help detach them from the mold.

Step 6 – Repeat the process to make more stars, or if you have enough, move on to decorating your stars.

Decorating Supplies

Decorating Supplies

Step 7 – Prepare your decorating supplies. For my stars, I’m staying with the patriotic theme by using tri-color nonpareils which are in red, white, and blue. You can use any combination of sprinkles you like. Nonpareils work well because they are small and provide good coverage. Now you will need two small dishes or plates. Place your sprinkles in one dish and squeeze a bit of chocolate (maybe two tablespoons) into the other dish.

Hint – If you are done with your chocolate, pipe the remainder that is left in the squeeze bottle into small dollups on a piece of parchment paper. Don’t forget this step, because if your chocolate solidifies in your squeeze bottle, it will be almost impossible to remove (you would need to rewarm it). Once the wafers that you pipe are dry, all you need to do it put them in an airtight bag or container and they will be ready for re-melting for your next project.

Star Painted with Chocolate

Star Painted with Chocolate

Step 8 – Begin decorating! Pick up one of your chocolate stars and use your small paintbrush to paint the chocolate onto the surface of your star.  Do this quickly so that the chocolate doesn’t set up as you work. You can rewarm the chocolate in the microwave if it gets to cool. Once the surface of your star is coated in chocolate, immediately dip it into the sprinkles. Press it down firmly and remove it. It should be covered in colorful sprinkles! Repeat this with the remaining stars be creative with your decorating. I chose to fill in just the center of some of the bigger stars. You can create any pattern by brushing the chocolate on isolated areas of the stars.

Stars closeup

Stars closeup

Star covered in nonpareils

Star covered in nonpareils

Have fun with these stars by throwing them in a fruit salad, using them as cupcake toppers, decorating a cake with them, making a candy necklace, or anything else you can think of. Use your imagination and if you enjoy this blog and decide to try it yourself, please send in your pictures. We would love to post them and share all of your wonderful projects!

Star Cupcake in Paperorchid Wrap

Star Cupcake

Star Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Star Cupcake


Pretty N Punk Cupcakes

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Pretty N Punk Cupcakes

Pretty N Punk Cupcakes

Starting this project I was excited because I have never used Bella Cupcake Couture Cupcake Wraps, or any cupcake wraps for that matter, and when I saw the Bella Cupcake Couture Lu Lu Black and White Cupcake Wraps, I was inspired and knew just what to make. I love the elegant pattern on these wraps and black is an unexpected color that is not usually associated with cupcakes so I thought it would be fun to make something different.

Bella Cupcake Couture Wrap

Bella Cupcake Couture Wrap

Starting out, I anticipated this to be an easy project. Just bake and frost some cupcakes and place them in the wraps right? Wrong. I started out by baking standard sized cupcakes and when the cupcakes came out of the oven and cooled I quickly realized that they were going to be too small for the Bella Cupcake Couture Wraps. Looking down into the wrap, the top of the standard size cupcake was a good 1/2″ below the edge of the cupcake wrap, and the cupcake had at least 1/4″ of breathing room all around it. I knew that even if I mounded on giant swirls of frosting, the cupcake would still look sunken and inset from the wrap.

Standard Size Cupcake in Wrap

Standard Size Cupcake in Wrap

My options were to place the cupcakes on some sort of stilts to raise them up so that the top of the cupcake would be level with the edge of the wrap, to go ahead and frost the cupcakes using as much frosting as possible so that the problem wouldn’t be as noticeable or to bake new larger cupcakes. The stilt idea seemed clunky and complicated and I knew I wouldn’t get the results I wanted by frosting the cupcakes I already had made, so I baked new cupcakes. The next size up that I had in baking cups was a 1-7/8″ wall by 2-1/4″ diameter base baking cup. This is the size in between standard and giant (Texas sized), and if you don’t fill it too full you can use a standard size muffin baking pan.

Cupcakes in a Row

Cupcakes in a Row

Just for reference, a standard size baking cup has 1-3/8″ walls (sides) and a 2″ diameter bottom. Note: 1-3/8″ walls and 2″ diameter bottom measurements must be approximations because although these are the dimensions that are called out on the packaging, when I measure the baking cup it seems closer to 1-1/2″ wall and 1-7/8″ diameter base. These are the most common size and the kind that people generally use. They come in a variety of different colors and patterns, and you should be able to find some variety of these size at your local grocery store.

Large Baking Cups in Pan

Large Baking Cups in Pan

Using the new larger baking cups I baked some new cupcakes. These larger cupcake liners stuck up way above the edges of my cupcake pan. I filled each cup with 1/2 cup of batter (next time I would use 1/3 cup because this was too much) and baked them for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees F. When these cupcakes emerged from the oven I could tell that they were much much bigger, but the question now was… are they too big? Unfortunately the answer was yes. Bigger than the standard size cupcakes but too big for the cupcake wraps, these cupcakes would not do. Now I was determined that I would make a cupcake that was not too big, not too small, but just right.

Large Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Large Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Because I didn’t have any other in between size baking cups, I had to create my own by cutting approximately 3/8″ off of the entire rim of the larger baking cups. They originally had a 2″ wall (the packaging again read 1-7/8″ wall, but when measured was closer to 2″) so this brought them down to a 1-5/8″ wall. This may not seem like a big difference being that the standard baking cup was only 1/4″ shorter, but because of the differing base diameters, the overall size was quite different. I continued to cut the baking liners three at a time until I had 12. I placed them in the standard size muffin pan and filled them with approximately a level scoop (I use a 56 mm scoop) and a half of batter (this is approximately 1/4 cup), and baked them for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. After letting the cupcakes cool on a wire rack, I dropped one into the wrap and found that to my relief and delight these cupcakes were the perfect size.

Medium Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Medium Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Now the fun part! Decorating the cupcakes. My idea for decorating was simple… Pipe frosting on the cupcakes using a large decorating tip and then sprinkle with black sugar pearls and place in cupcake wraps. This part of the project went pretty much according to plan.

I wanted a vibrant contrast color that wouldn’t fade in the background or be drowned out by the black, so I chose electric pink. I put approximately 5-6 cups of buttercream icing in the bowl of a six quart Kitchen Aid mixer and using the whisk attachment I mixed in almost a whole bottle of electric pink gel paste to get this shocking pink. Hint: The frosting will become darker as it sets. If you want to make sure that your frosting is the color you are hoping for, color it the night or day before you want to use it and color it just a shade lighter than you want. By the next day, your frosting will have developed to its final shade.

Decorating Supplies

Decorating Supplies

I used a 14″ pastry bag and Ateco tip 825 to pipe frosting on the cupcakes. Start piping from the outside edge of the cupcake and end up with your swirl ending in the center.

Next use your fingers to sprinkle black sugar pearls onto the cupcakes.

Pink Cupcake

Pink Cupcake

Now gently place the cupcakes in the Bella Cupcake wraps. I found that the best way to do this is to hold the cupcake directly over the assembled wrap with one hand. Bring your other hand under the wrap and up through the opening in the bottom of the wrap to grap the cupcake and gently guide it down into place.

Now you can add additional decorations to your cupcakes such as the chocolate skull toppers we added here, or place them on a pedestal for an elegant display.

Recap – To do this project at home you will need the following:

~Bella Cupcake Couture Lu Lu Black and White Cupcake Wraps (1 pkg-12wraps)

~12 Large Baking Cups (1-7/8″ wall and 2-1/4″ diameter base)

~14″ Pastry Bag/Decorating Bag

~Ateco Tip/Tube 825

~Black Sugar Pearls

~1 Bottle Americolor Electric Pink Gel Paste

Optional:

~12 Chocolate Skull Toppers

Cupcakes on Cake Stand

Cupcakes on Cake Stand

All dressed up in Bella Cupcake Couture Wraps, these cupcakes make a wonderful centerpiece for any celebration. I love that these cupcakes are very versatile and can look elegant and chic or a bit edgy and punk when you add the skulls.

Skull Cupcakes


Chocolate Easter Bunny

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Chocolate Bunny

Chocolate Bunny

Make a Chocolate Easter Bunny for an eye catching addition to any Easter basket!

Bunny in Basket

Bunny in Basket

I have always had my heart set on making a chocolate Easter Bunny, so I set out on a mission to make a special colorful bunny, different from those that you can buy at the store. There were a few hiccups, but all in all I think that this Chocolate Easter bunny is an unforgettable addition to any Easter basket, and will surely bring a smile and Easter cheer to anyone who sees it.

I would caution that this project is challenging, and while I encourage everyone to try it, if you have not used a two part mold before, or worked with chocolate before, I would not recommend this as a first project. Begin with some simpler projects such as one piece molds using one or two colors of chocolate and then move on to this one!

To make this bunny, you will need the following tools -

~Two 12oz squeeze bottles

Candymelter Palette

Candymelter Palette

~Paint brushes of varying thicknesses

~Candy melter palette

~Mold Clips (10) or Binder Clips

~Electric Skillet (optional)

You will also need the following Items -

~Bunny Mold

~1 bag (16 oz) milk chocolate candy melts

Electric Skillet

Electric Skillet

~1 bag (16 oz) dark blue candy melts (for overalls)

~2 white melts for the eyes

~2 black melts for the eyes

~2 orange melts for bowtie

~2 red melts for pocket

~2 yellow melts for kerchief

~1 pink melt for nose

~1 tan or peanut butter melt for muzzle (you can mix brown and white to get this color as well)

Step 1 – Begin by plugging in the candy melter palette and dropping in all of the various colors you will be using. Let the palette melt the colors while you get the mold and filling colors ready.

Chocolate Bunny Mold

Chocolate Bunny Mold

Step 2 – Melt the filling colors. The main filling color is the milk chocolate.  This is the color we will be filling the mold with and so we will want to melt this and have it ready for when we need it. Also since the overall color (dark blue) is the second most used color, you will want to have plenty of this color melted and ready for when you need it. I melt each bag of melts separately in a pyrex bowl in the microwave. To do this, I pour the entire 16 oz bag of melts into the bowl and microwave on defrost setting in increments of 30 seconds, stirring in between. Do this, stirring between each heat cycle, until the melts are completely smooth. Use a funnel to transfer the melted chocolate into a 12 oz squeeze bottle (all of the melted chocolate will fit).  Do the same with the dark blue melts.

Cutting out Mold

Cutting out Mold

Step 3 – Keep the chocolate warm. To keep these colors warm and liquid while prepping and painting the mold, I place the bottles on top of a couple layers of dishtowels in an electric skillet on the lowest setting. Monitor this carefully, as you do not want the chocolate to get too warm. Rotate the bottles periodically and add additional towels to keep the proper temperature if necessary. Do not leave this unattended as it is a potential fire hazard.

Clipped Empty Mold

Clipped Empty Mold

Step 4 – Now you are ready to prepare the mold. The mold that I have is not yet cut out. This is fine if you plan to make two halves and stick them together, but to make a 3-D mold you need to cut the mold out so that it can be clipped together. Roughly cut out the halves.  Place the halves together and begin to cut through both layers of plastic leaving about 1/2″ border all the way around the mold. Once I get this started, I begin to use the mold clips to hold the cut portion of the mold together while I continue cutting around the entire mold.

Stage 1 Interior

Stage 1 Interior

Step 5 – Separate the two sides of the mold and lay them flat on your work surface so that the interior of the mold faces you. Now you are ready to begin painting the details into the mold. Use toothpicks to stir the colors in your candy melter palette. Make sure that they are fully melted and smooth. There will be three stages of painting the chocolate.

Stage 1 Detail Exterior

Stage 1 Exterior

Chocolate Painting – Stage 1 – On the front interior of the bunny mold use your paintbrushes to paint black into the pupils of the eyes. Paint the pink nose, white teeth, and orange bowtie at this time as well. On the back interior of the bunny mold, use your paintbrush to paint the white tail, red pocket and yellow kerchief. You can use the same paintbrush by using a papertowel or cloth to wipe of the excess chocolate in between colors. Generally I designate one paintbrush per color so that there is no chance of the colors mixing. Whatever you do, do not wash the paintbrushes or get water anywhere near the chocolate work area. Water is the enemy of chocolate and will cause it to seize and become ruined.  Use only dry or slightly damp towels or papertowels in the chocolate work area.

Stage 2 Interior

Stage 2 Interior

Stage 2 Exterior

Stage 2 Exterior

Chocolate Painting – Stage 2 – Make sure that your Stage 1 details are dry before beginning stage 2. Do this by touching the chocolate. It should be set, and should not stick to your finger. For Stage 2, paint the white iris of the eyes. Paint all the way around and over the black portion of the eyes so that there are no gaps. Paint the muzzle tan. Paint the overalls on both cavities of  the mold using a paintbrush with a wider tip. Make sure that the dark blue overall color adheres to all of the surfaces.  Hold the mold above your head to look at the exterior side of the mold to see if the coverage is consistent.  Add a thick enough layer of blue so that it is solid and you cannot see through it when looking from the other side.

Stage 2 Face

Stage 2 Face

Chocolate Painting – Stage 3 – At this point make sure that all of your stage 2 details are set. If everything is set, proceed by using a wide tipped brush to paint the entire interior of both halves of the mold with a coat of the milk chocolate filling color. I do this as a precaution. In two sided molds, I have had the unfortunate experience of squeezing my warm filling color into a perfectly detailed mold and seeing my details melt and slide over out of place because the warmth of

Color Slide on Pocket

Color Slide on Pocket

the filling chocolate caused them to detach from the surface that they were painted to. One solution to this is to use a cooler chocolate or refrain from rotating the mold.  I find that if the chocolate is any cooler, it will not completely coat the mold as it should, and I have had sliding occur even when I am not rotating molds. At this point you have already invested a lot of time and effort into this bunny and I advise you to paint the insulating coat of milk chocolate to protect your details. If you have any tricks or solutions for this problem, please let me know.

Stage 3 - Chocolate Coat

Stage 3 - Chocolate Coat

Stage 3 Face

Stage 3 Face

Step 6 – Make sure that the insulating coat of milk chocolate is set. Now you are ready to put the two halves together. To do this I use the milk chocolate filled squeeze bottle to fill the back interior of the mold with chocolate.  Take the front of the mold and place it on top of the chocolate filled half. Clip the molds together using the chocolate clips. Rotate the entire mold to get the interior completely covered. Another option for filling this mold is to clip both halves together and fill the mold with chocolate through a hole in the bottom. This method requires you to make a hole in the bottom of the mold and make sure you have a container big enough to place the mold in vertically so that it stands upright while you fill it with chocolate.

Filled and Clipped Bunny

Filled and Clipped Bunny

Step 7 – Refrigerate the mold until set.  I refrigerated this mold for 30-40 minutes.  Allowing it to set longer should not do any harm, and once it has set it should easily release from the mold. Just remove the clips and gently pry away the plastic.

Tools for Trimming

Tools for Trimming

Step 8 – Don’t worry that there is an unsightly seam around the bunny. This is normal and can be easily removed using an exacto knife or paring knife (as long as these tools are sharp, they should work).  Place the bunny on a piece of parchment or wax paper and use the exacto to remove the excess chocolate from the edges. Dust away any chocolate shavings that land on the bunny, and now you are left with a spectacular Easter treat!

Chocolate Bunny at Home

Chocolate Bunny at Home


Easter Cupcake Project for Kids

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Bunny Cupcakes

Bunny Cupcakes

This is a fantastic Easter cupcake project to do with kids because it is simple and fun. All the kids I know love to bake and decorate, the trick is finding projects that match their attention span, and this one fits the bill. All of the ingredients and decorations can be store bought, and you could even use store bought muffins if you didn’t have time to bake up a batch of cupcakes.

I made these cupcakes with my neighbor, Grace, and she took them to school to share with her class. The idea for these Bunny Cupcakes comes from the book, Cupcakes Year Round by Sara Neumeier. I love this book! It came out even before the cupcake craze and has so many amazing recipes and tips. I make the Hot Buttered Rum Cupcakes every year for Christmas and this book also has my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe.

Iced Cupcake

Iced Cupcake

To make the Bunny Cupcakes you will need the following:

~ 24 Cupcakes

~Two Containers (about 4 cups) Store Bought Creamy Vanilla Frosting

~Green Food Coloring

~ 24 Bunny Peeps

~ Narrow  Ribbon  (about 5 feet – 3″ per bunny)

If you want to go the extra step of making your cupcakes and frosting homemade, I suggest carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. It seems like the perfect fit for Bunny Cupcakes.

Step 1  - Make your cupcakes and let them cool completely.

Step 2 – Add drops of green food coloring to your frosting to get the desired shade.

Step 3 – Use an offset spatula to frost the each cupcake.

Step 4 – Tie a 3″ length of ribbon around the bunnies’ necks to form a bow tie. If the ribbon is a bit long, just trim it. Grace added her own touch by giving some of the bunnies bandanas instead of bow ties.

Bandana Bunnies

Bandana Bunnies

Step 5 – Use the spatula to put a small dollop of green frosting on the bottom of your bunny and place the bunny in the center of the cupcake.

Voila! Now you have delicious and delightful Easter Treats to share!

Be creative and feel free to make variations on this project. I decided to make some similar cupcakes using the classic yellow chick Peeps and grass. I used grass tip 233 to pipe grass onto a cupcake. Note: Buttercream is best for this. You can use store bought frosting to do this but you will need to put the prepared (filled with tip and icing) into the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour so that the icing will set up enough to get good results with the grass tip.

Classic Peep Cupcake

Classic Peep Cupcake

I use lavender sugar pearls to dot the grass and place a big yellow chick Peep on the top of the mounded grass.  Then I piped additional grass around the chick. To avoid the white exposed marshmallow spots that you will see when you cut the Peeps apart, cut two little ovals off of another Peep and stick these on to cover the white spots and serve as wings.

Another variation uses colored coconut as the grass. For this, put some flaked coconut in a bowl and add a few drops of food coloring. Stir the coconut and food coloring until the coconut is the desired shade.

Tinted Coconut

Tinted Coconut

Now frost your cupcakes using an offset spatula. Now the fun part…turn the frosted cupcake upside down and dip it into the bowl of coconut so that it is completely covered. Now you have a grass covered cupcake and all you need to do is add a topper. Peeps come in so many different colors and shapes, you can chose any color combination you want.

Use the offset spatula to add a dollop of frosting the the bottom of your Peep and place the Peep in the center of the cupcake. Using your fingers grab a small amount of the coconut to cover any exposed frosting around the Peep.

Peep Cupcakes

Peep Cupcakes


Ducky Cupcake Tree

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Ducky Cupcake Tree

Ducky Cupcake Tree

This cupcake tree is perfect for a baby shower or baby birthday. Guests will be in awe that the ducky cupcake toppers are cute and edible too!

You will need about 30-32 cupcakes to fill the cupcake tower. The three tier cupcake stand will fit approximately 28-40 cupcakes depending on how far your frosting and decorations extend beyond the cupcake. For the photo I fit 28 cupcakes on the stand.

To make the cupcakes you will need the following –

~Ducky Suckers (follow this link for directions and materials needed to make the Ducky suckers)

~Pastel Fluted Baking Cups (if you want all of the baking cups to be the same color (as shown in the picture) you will need two packages of these baking cups because they are an assortment and contain 20 each of the three colors shown.

~One batch of Buttercream Icing or other firm frosting or icing recipe (you need a frosting that will hold its shape).  You will need about 9 cups.

~Disposable or Reusable Pastry Bag

~Tip 1M

~Orange Gel Paste

~Three Tier Cupcake Stand

Cupcake Setup

Cupcake Setup

Step 1 – Use your favorite recipe or a box mix to make the cupcakes. You will need a recipe that makes at least 30 cupcakes to fill the tree. If you are using box cake mix you will need two boxes. Use a ¼ cup scoop to fill each baking cup. These fluted baking cups are slightly shallower than a regular baking cup so they take a bit less batter. Bake as directed.

Step 2 – Cool the cupcakes fully. If you don’t wait for the cupcakes to cool completely, the frosting will melt off of the cupcakes. If you haven’t already made your icing you may want to do this at this time. Color your icing with orange gel paste to get the desired shade.

Step 3 –Set up your 3 tier cupcake stand. This way you will have a place to put your decorated cupcakes. If you are traveling you will want to set the stand up once you get to your location and place the cupcakes on at that time.

Ducky Suckers

Ducky Suckers

Step 4 – Prepare your pastry bag for decorating. Drop tip 1M (this is a large tip and does not work with a coupler) into the bottom of your decorating bag and fill the bag with frosting. Take one cupcake in your hand and begin piping blossoms all over the cupcake. Hold the tip close to the surface of the cupcake. Squeeze the bag firmly to make sure that the frosting will adhere to the cupcake. Stop squeezing and pull the tip away from the cupcake to form a blossom. Continue doing this until the cupcake is completely covered. I find that it is easiest to work from the center outward. Repeat this process to decorate all of the remaining cupcakes.

Step 5 – Place the Ducky Suckers on the cupcakes. Simply stick the lollipop stick into the center of the cupcake so that the ducky is resting atop the frosting. Remember – Ducky Lollipop sticks must be cut down by an inch to an inch and a half so that they will be the right height for the cupcakes.

Ducky Closeup

Ducky Closeup

Step 6 – Place cupcakes on the three tier cupcake stand. When loading, be careful to place cupcakes on either side to balance the stand. Do not place all of the cupcake on one side as the stand may tip. Also remember this when unloading the stand. Slide cupcakes into the nooks in the center of the stand. Continue placing until all cupcakes are on the stand.

It is best to place the cupcakes on the stand once the stand is in its final position. This is because moving the fully loaded stand is difficult. If you have to move the stand lift from the legs not from the bottom tier as the bottom tier will rise up and smash your cupcakes.

Step 7 – Add a decorative border such as an eyelet ribbon to the sides of the tiers or leave as is for a beautiful display.

Buttercream Recipe

2 lb Bag Powdered/Confectioners’ Sugar
1 ½ tsp Clear Vanilla Extract (You can use regular vanilla if you don’t need the frosting to be white)
½ tsp Salt
1-1/3 Cups Boiling Water
1 ½ Sticks Unsalted Butter (12 oz) Cut into ½” cubes
3 Cups Shortening

Sift the powdered sugar and place in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Put whisk attachment on mixer. Add boiling water, vanilla, and salt.  Mix until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm not hot. Add remaining ingredients and mix on high speed for about ten minutes.

Duckies

Duckies


Ducky Suckers

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Ducky Suckers

Ducky Suckers

These Ducky Suckers are adorable favors for a baby shower, Easter party or other celebration. They can also be used to construct our Ducky Cupcake Tree.

To make the ducky suckers you will need the following –

~Ducky Mold (if you are making a large quantity I recommend you use at least two molds. The more molds, the faster the process will go.)
~4 bags yellow candy melts (this will make about 40 duckies – 1 bag makes approximately 10   duckies)
~2 white melts for the eyes
~2 black melts for the eyes
~2 orange melts for the beaks
~40 four and a half  inch lollipop sticks

Tools needed for this project are as follows –

~12oz or 6oz squeeze bottle
~Very fine tipped paint brush
~Candymelter palette (optional)
~Electric Skillet (optional)
~Toothpicks

Candymelter Palette

Candymelter Palette

While the candymelter palette and electric skillet are optional I highly recommend these tools especially if you plan on doing other chocolate projects. If you can get just one, get the candymelter palette first and the electric skillet second. The candymelter palette is one of those tools that once you get you will never be able to live without. It has made my candy projects so much easier! You plug the palette in, drop in one or two candy melts/wafers in each of the tiny aluminum cups and it melts them and then keeps them warm while you work. When I first started trying to do chocolate projects I would get all of the different colors I wanted to use melted and then just as I would begin to work I would realize that the first color I melted had already set up. This is so frustrating. The candymelter palette solves this problem and makes colorful candy projects much easier.

The electric skillet is also very useful and you may even have one of these at home already. You can use it to keep small cups of melted candy warm. I put mine on the lowest setting, put a couple of terrycloth dishtowels directly onto the skillet and then place my candy filled squeeze bottles on top of the towels. This keeps the chocolate warm so you don’t have to reheat it while you’re working.

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to begin making the duckies.

Yellow Melts

Yellow Melts

Step 1 – Put the white candy melts, black candy melts and orange candy melts in individual cups of the candymelter palette and plug in. If not using the candymelter palette, melt these in small cups and keep warm in electric skillet or re-warm as needed.

Step 2 – Melt 1 bag of yellow candy melts. I do this in the microwave. I put the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and melt on defrost setting in 30 second increments stirring each time. You want the melts to melt evenly and not get too hot or they may seize up and become difficult to work with.

Funnel & Squeeze Bottle

Funnel & Squeeze Bottle

Once the candy is melted, I use a funnel to get the candy into my squeeze bottle. Some people prefer to melt the candy directly in the squeeze bottle. This is an option that I have tried but I find that it can be difficult to get all of the candy completely melted and if it is not fully melted, candy globs will plug the tip of the squeeze bottle.

You should have leftover candy in the bowl. I place this in the electric skillet to keep it warm until I need to refill my squeeze bottle.

Paint Black Eye

Paint Black Eye & Beak

Step 3 – Use a very fine tipped paint brush to paint the ducky eyes. Begin by putting a small dab of black on the eye of the mold to serve as the pupil. Do this for all of the eyes on the mold. If you are using more than one mold, complete the pupils for all of the eyes on all of the molds before moving on.

Step 4 – Use a very fine tipped paint brush to paint the ducky beaks. If you have just one paint brush use a dry paper towel or cloth to wipe the bristles before changing to another color. Do not use water to wash the brush. Bringing water in contact with the candy melts will cause them to seize and become unworkable. Use the orange candy melts to paint the beaks. I try to get a droplet of orange candy and place it on the beak so that the beak is solid and not see through. You can also achieve this by doing multiple coats.

Paint White Eye

Paint White Eye

Step 5 – Make sure that the black has set up before painting the white over it to complete the eye. If you are using just one mold, you probably need to wait a few minutes. If you are using more than one you can probably proceed because by the time you are finished the first mold is probably dry. To test, just touch the black and if it is still liquid it is not set up enough.

Once the black is set, paint the white directly over the black and all around to form the iris. You will want to put a significant amount of white candy on the eye so that it will not be see through.

Frontview Ducky

Frontview Ducky

Step 6 – Make sure that the eye is fully set as described in step 5. This will take about 5 minutes at room temperature. Now you can go ahead and fill in the rest of the mold with yellow candy melts. Use the squeeze bottle to fill each ducky cavity. Fill all of cavities in the mold. Keeping the mold level, tap the mold on the counter to fill in the cavities and to get the air bubbles to rise to the top. Note: Do not tap excessively as this may cause the colors to bleed together. You can hold the mold over your head to check and see if this is happening.

Fill Molds

Fill Molds

Now insert the lollipop sticks. Poke the lollipop stick into the candy surface and then rotate to get it fully embedded. If necessary you can cover the lollipop stick with some additional candy using the squeeze bottle.

If you are using multiple molds, follow the above process for one mold at a time. If you fill the cavities in all of the molds the candy may have set up a bit before you come back to tap and insert the lollipop sticks.

Insert Lollipop Sticks

Insert Lollipop Sticks

Tap Out Bubbles

Tap Out Bubbles

Step 7 – Place the mold in your refrigerator until set. In my refrigerator this takes about ten minutes. The molds can also be set a room temperature on a cool day, but this will take a lot longer.

Step 8 – Release the duckies. If the duckies do not release easily and part of the eye or candy is left behind, the mold has not set long enough and you need to refrigerate it for a longer period of time.

Duckies in Mold

Duckies in Mold

Step 9 – Enjoy! The chocolate ducky suckers will keep for a very long time (I have kept some for months). A benefit of making things with chocolate and candy melts is that they are stable and almost non-perishable. If you are using the duckies for the Ducky Cupcake Tree you will need to cut about an inch to an inch and a half off of the bottom of each lollipop stick so that they will be the right height for sticking in cupcakes. If you are making the ducky lollipop favors you will need 3”x4” Clear Treat Bags and approximately 12” of ribbon per lollipop to tie in a bow.

Duckies with Ribbon

Duckies with Ribbon


Ladybug Cake

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Ladybug Cake

Ladybug Cake

This is a cake that I made for a friend of mine’s little girl’s 1st birthday.  I love ladybugs and had just purchased a new Backyard Bugs cake pan that I wanted to use.  I had a limited amount of time for this cake so I wanted a simple design.  The birthday party invitation featured pink, white, and green so I thought I would use those for the cake.  Using white as one of the colors saves time because it is one less fondant color to mix.

I started with a three layer 10″ diameter cake.  I covered that with white fondant and made the green band that wraps around the bottom of the cake. I made holes in the green band before placing it on the cake.  I then used the same small round cutter that I used to make the holes in the green band to cut out dots to fill those holes. I then made the wavy stripes and straight stripes using the fondant cutter tool.

The second tier is a 6″ diameter, three layer tier that I covered in green fondant.  I made a band similar to the one on the bottom tier and then cut out tiny white flowers to place all over.

Ladybug

Ladybug

The cake topper is the Ladybug, and as mentioned before it is the Ladybug Cakelette from the Backyard Bugs cake pan.  I baked the Ladybug and let it cool before decorating it with a thin layer of fondant.  The eyes are  royal icing.

In addition to this cake, there was a tiny little cake especially for the birthday girl to enjoy all for herself.

Mini Cakelette


St. Patrick’s Day Cookies

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Lucky Shamrock Cookies

Lucky Shamrock Cookies

Fun to make & tasty too, these Shamrock Shortbread Cookies are sure to bring you good luck and brighten your St. Patty’s Day!

To make the Shamrock Cookies you will need the following:
~ Shamrock Cookie Stamp
~ Scalloped Cutter Set or 2 ¼” Round or Scalloped Cutter
~ Emerald Green Luster Dust
~ Lemon Juice

Tools needed for this project are as follows -
~ Rolling Pin for rolling the dough
~ Small Paint Brush
~ Cookie Sheet
~ 8” Angled Icing Spatula or other lifting tool
~ Small Dish for mixing Luster Dust and lemon juice
~ Toothpicks

Shortbread Dough

Shortbread Dough

Step 1 – Begin by making the cookie dough. I used the Shortbread Recipe that comes with the Rycraft Cookie Stamp. This is a very simple shortbread recipe (I substituted superfine sugar for plain sugar) but you could use any kind or dough that is meant to be rolled and cut. The shortbread may seem a bit crumbly in the bowl, but you should be able to press it together with your hands to get it to form a ball.

Rolling Dough

Rolling Dough

Step 2 – Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface or piece of parchment paper dusted with flour. Roll the dough to about ¼” thick. The surface of the dough doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth or unblemished because you are going to use the cookie stamp to make an impression that will cover imperfections.

Stamping Cookies

Stamping Cookies

Step 3 – Now that the dough is rolled out it’s time to stamp the cookies. To prevent the cookie dough from sticking to the stamp you can dust the stamp with a bit of flour. Make sure to tap all of the flour out of the stamp or use a toothpick to get flour out of the stamp. If the stamp is clogged with flour, you will not get a clean impression. Now stamp as many Shamrocks as you can on the dough you have rolled out approximately 2 ½” apart (center to center). This will ensure that you have enough space to cut them out with your round or scalloped cutter.

Step 4 – Cut the cookies out using a 2 ¼” Scalloped or Round Cutter.

Cutting Out Cookies

Cutting Out Cookies

Step 5 – Remove excess dough from around the cookies.

Removing Excess

Removing Excess

Step 6 – Using an angled spatula lift the cookies onto your cookie sheet. If you are not using a Silpat or nonstick cookie sheet, bake the cookies on a sheet of parchment paper so they won’t stick.

Cookies on Sheet

Cookies on Sheet

Step 7 – Once your cookie sheet is filled put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This will help the shamrock design to come out more crisply and will minimize puffing. Turn the oven to the temperature indicated on the recipe.

Step 8 – Now it’s time to bake the cookies. Pull the cookie sheet directly out of the refrigerator and place in the oven. Bake as per the recipe. I baked these cookies for about 12 minutes.

Step 9 – Remove cookies from the oven and let cool. Move to a cooling rack.

Mixing Luster Dust Paint

Mixing Luster Dust Paint

Step 10 – Once the cookies are completely cool, it is time to decorate! This is my favorite part! Begin by mixing together the luster dust and lemon juice. The lemon juice is used because it is clear and will help to make a paint out of the luster dust. You could try other clear liquids. Clear vanilla and vodka work as well. Mix the luster dust and lemon juice to the desired consistency. I wanted the emerald green to be a vibrant and saturated with color, so I used very little lemon juice to luster dust. Try 1/8 tsp luster dust per 1 drop of lemon juice. From there you can add more of either depending on what shade you want. Use a small paint brush to mix the luster dust and liquid.

Step 11 – Paint the Luster Dust paint you have just created onto the cookies. Make more paint as needed. If the mixture dries out, add more lemon juice.

Painting Cookies

Painting Cookies

Step 12 – Let the cookies dry for a couple of hours before stacking so that the paint will have set up.

Now you have beautiful St. Patty’s Day treats to share. I love the look of the shimmery green luster dust paint that decorates these cookies. These cookies will last for a long time (at least two weeks) when stored in an airtight container.

Enjoy!