Mario, Luigi, & A Few Items You Can Grab Along The Way.

My son decided that he wanted to have a Mario themed birthday this year. I had already done Mario cookies, so I was feeling pretty confident about making them again… and the cupcakes. The wheels in my head were turning and I started sketching out the cookies I wanted to do. I asked my son, “Of the one’s off this paper, which cookies do you want me to make?” Not a smart move.  He choose almost all of them. But, they were so cute that I kind of wanted to try them all anyway. Maybe that is why I wound up making too many cookies. I wanted to have enough of each character. If I only made one batch of dough, there would have only been about 6 of each character. I didn’t want to be the cause of some upset kid (or adult…lol) because someone ate all the stars and they didn’t get to have one. Anyway, I learned my lesson…152 iced cookies later.

Bowser Castle CupcakesSo, let’s talk cupcakes. I wanted the cupcakes to look super cool. I looked at a few ideas online, but most of them had characters on top of the cupcake. Which would have been pretty cool, but costly. Instead, another “that’s perfect” moment happened. I decided to do the end flagpole scene when you clear a course on a Super Mario game. It took me a couple of days to cut out, draw, and tape the cupcake wrappers. The flags I printed out and cut. Now, I know the flags are supposed to be triangle shaped, but because of size issues and the way they printed, I had to cut them as a rectangle. I still think they turned out awesome. Originally, the top of the flagpole was going to be a Lemonhead, but because of my son’s love for marshmallows, a new idea was born. We topped cakepop sticks with mini marshmallows and colored the sides with a yellow food marker. Genius, I tell you.

Mario Kart 8 CookiesOk, back to the 152 cookies. I had so many cookies that I had to be strategic on divvying up the icing into different colors. I made sure that I iced the had-to-do cookies first. That left the yoshi eggs and emblem cookies last.  I put disco dust on the stars to make them sparkle. The mushrooms were easy. The blue mini mushrooms turned out to be my favorite. The fire flower and boomerang flower (Mario Kart 8) took a little more work. I went through my cookie cutters and found some possiblities (like the letter “K” or “V”), but they just didn’t look right. So, I had to make my own cutters. I decided to pipe out the leaves and make transfers. I wanted them to have depth. I made a few extra transfers, just incase they broke or didn’t match up right. The question mark boxes – don’t ask me why I freehanded them when I had my KopyKake machine setup and ready to go. Probably because I didn’t want to stop and print out the question mark. Since I had the KopyKake setup, I used it to make the Mario and Luigi emblem cookies. (Plus, my son thought the machine was cool and wanted to turn it on and off for me.) I was at the end of icing the had-to-do cookies and decided to make different color yoshi eggs, since I had a little bit left of every color.

Question Mark Cheese CubeOne last edible decoration…question mark blocks of cheese. It was a very tedious process. I happen to own a question mark imprint stamp. So, I stamped all four sides and top with a question mark and stuck a toothpick in them. (If you decide to do something like this, I recommend wearing food handler gloves. It made it easier to handle and I got to tell everyone, “Don’t worry, I wore gloves.”) Now, would I do it again? Probably not. Even though it looked cool, not everyone noticed and it took forever to do.

At the party, there definitely wasn’t enough room to put out all the cookies. So, I kept 75% of them in my Snapware containers, but had baggies for everyone to take as many as they wanted home. The cookie and cupcake designs were a hit. My son loved the party, as he should, since he made out like a bandit. When the party was over, I looked at all the cookies leftover. What is a girl to do? I took some to my neighbors and I made my husband take bags of cookies to his co-workers. Happy people everywhere. Enjoy.

Let’s Have A Luau.

Like I said last year, asking your kids what kind of birthday theme they want more than two weeks before their party is for the birds. My daughter and I were walking around Hobby Lobby and I spotted a row of luau party supplies. I “suggested” to her that she have a luau themed pool party. She saw the party supplies and her face lit up. She said that was a great idea…and so the planning began, finally.

Luau CupcakesThe cupcakes were easy. I had liners that matched the plates and napkins. I made rainbow colored cupcakes with white buttercream icing. They were topped with a cute umbrella like the kind you might put in a fruity drink.

Flip Flops and FlowersThe cookies were flip flops and flowers. I got the idea from one of my favorite cookie blogs. The flip flop cookie cutter is from Wilton. The hibiscus flower cutter I had to make myself because I did not have a flower cutter with five petals. My daughter wanted glitter or sparkles on the shoes. After the base coat dried, I piped on the strap and while the royal icing was wet, I added sprinkles. She said the cookies turned out awesome. Yippee!

The party went well and it didn’t rain.  When it was time for dessert, all the kids decided that they wanted a cookie AND a cupcake. The key to happy kids at a party is always making enough sweets for them to have one of each. Enjoy.

The SWEET Smell of Roses.

Roses are pink.

This cake was great.

It’s almost a crime how much sugar we ate.

Pink Rose CakeSo, what do you give your mother-in-law for her birthday? You bake her a chocolate cake, of course! I asked my husband if his mother was going to have a cake and offered to make one. I had in mind to try my hand at another ombre cake, with layers of aqua or purple, and this time covered in roses, until a little birdie told me that she wanted a chocolate cake. I quickly had to change my mindset. What was I going to do now? I Googled chocolate cakes and roses and found this lovely cake. I have never done a cake like this… but have no fear, I had my 1M tip near…(corny, I know)

Let’s take a minute and talk about tips & tricks. I knew that I was going to need to use two different piping tips. The large Wilton 1M tip for the roses on top and Wilton’s #18 tip for the rosettes around the base of the cake. Because both of these tips were going to require different size couplers, I was going to have to use two different pastry bags. I was not going to move icing back and forth, so I used the saran wrap method. I learned it several years ago from this blog. Also, when I was watching some YouTube videos on making different types of flowers, I noticed everyone had their favorite way to put icing in a pastry bag. I am showing you what I use. A Pilsner beer glass. Who knew that drinking beer on a business trip would turn out to benefit me later in life…LOL. I like this glass because, as you can see, the tip does not hit the bottom when I am using the large coupler, nor does it tip over. Overall, this glass has been a win-win!

Chocolate ButtercreamCrumb coating a cake, in my opinion, is the part I hate the most. Nothing like having it nice and smoothed and then the icing decides that it likes the spatula more than sticking to the cake. Then you have to get it to smooth back down without completely tearing the cake apart. (Just think of it like that piece of hair that you can’t get to lay down, no matter how much gel/hairspray you use. No matter what you do! Finally, you just say forget it and decide that it is “say something hat day”.) So…enough about the crumb coat. Next is putting on the top layer of chocolate icing (see above pic). Easy peasy. Only takes smoothing and turning the cake and smoothing and turning while smoothing. You get the idea. After that, pipe on some roses and your done…until you look at the sink and surrounding area. Clean-up…Arrgh.

Pink Rose Cake InsideLater that day, I picked the kids up from school and telling them of the “fun” I had icing the cake. I told my daughter that the icing was made with 4 sticks of butter and 8 cups of powdered sugar. She asked, “Are you sure it’s safe to eat this cake?” Enjoy.

LEGOS Are Everywhere!

Lego CookiesLegos have infested my house. Luckily, I have not had the honor of stepping on one and having to go to the hospital…yet. My kids love to take the minifigures and swap out heads, hair and bodies. Also, my son loves to play all the Lego games on the Wii. So, it is no surprise that my son wanted a Lego themed birthday party. I asked him if he wanted cookies, cupcakes or a cake. He said that he wanted all of them. I guess I shouldn’t have given him so many options.

Lego TowerI didn’t feel like making a ton of cookies, so I just made one batch of dough. But, when you are cutting out squares and rectangles, the dough goes a long way. I wanted to make Lego heads too. I searched through my cookie cutters, but couldn’t find anything that would work. So, I just made my own. The one thing that I love about icing Lego cookies is that I only have to use one single color. I must say these were super easy.

Lego Female FaceFirst, my plan was to make black icing and pipe features onto the minifigure faces. Then the plan turned into using a paint brush and brushing royal icing on the yellow heads. Finally, after I got out my KopyKake machine and all was said and done.  I wound up using food markers, which worked like a dream. Especially since my daughter wanted a few of the Lego faces to be girls, which means eyelashes and lips.

Lego CakeHe wanted chocolate cake with buttercream icing. I made a single layer round cake and a dozen cupcakes. I iced a crumb coat and then smoothed out the rest. I used brown M&M’s to make the face. It turned out kind of plain, but cute.

So, there you have it. He got all 3 desserts. We ate leftovers for a few days, which no one seemed to mind. After the party, my house has even more Legos. Enjoy.

Hydrangea Cupcakes

Hydrangea_CupcakesMy husband got a lateral move at work and wanted me to make cupcakes for his office to celebrate. So, I decided to send him in with hydrangea cupcakes. And why not? I seriously doubt anyone cares what they looked like. I know the truth about his co-workers. They just want them because they are covered in homemade buttercream frosting.

I have been wanting to make these for a while now, I saw them done a couple of years ago on one of my favorite blogs.These were fun to make and I learned a couple of things. I made a batch of frosting, put a little bit in a small bowl and then separated the rest into my two Kitchenaid bowls. In the small bowl I put a tiny drop of Americolor Forest Green, which was the wrong color to use. It was way too dark. So, I added a tiny bit of Americolor Electric Green, which worked like a charm. For the other colors, I used Violet and Royal Blue. Now, the fun part. Trying to put both purple and blue into one piping bag without getting the colors all mixed together. I took the easy route and used plastic wrap, as demonstrated here.

Hydrangea_CupcakeNow, that the bags are made it was time to pipe out the wonderful frosting. I started piping the leaves with a #70 leaf tip. I put 3 to 4 leaves around the top. I wish I owned a #2D tip, but I only had a #1M. Improvising and imagination are definitely on the top of my “keys to success” list. So, when piping out the flowers, you have to remember to rotate the piping tip. If you don’t you will have the colors facing the same direction, unless that is what you are going for. I wanted the flower colors to look sporadical.

The cupcakes were a success, but I have been told that I have to make another batch soon. Because, if you want to make sure everyone is happy and not have your husband come home with any extras, don’t send baked goods on a Friday when most of the office decided to take a half-day. Enjoy.

Pink Ombre Cake and Flower Cupcakes

Flower CupcakesLayered Ombre CakePink Ombre CakeI was asked a couple of months ago to make cookies for a family baby shower. However, I knew that I would be unable to do cookies at that time. So, I suggested that I make a cake instead.

I have seen ombre cakes on several of the other blogs that I follow. I thought that I would give it a try.

I started the night before the shower because I knew that I was not going to have enough time the next day to bake, cool, and ice. I was going to make a french vanilla cake. However, the cake batter was yellow and when I added pink food coloring, it turned a shade of orange. More like a shade of coral. So, there I was, the night before, with my four bowls of weirdly colored cake mix. I was not a happy camper. I dumped all the batter back into my Kitchenaid bowl, mixed it up a little, and made 48 cupcakes. I wasn’t planning on making that many cupcakes, but I was not about to throw out all that batter just because of a lousy color. Actually, when I mixed all of the different shades together, it turned out to look pink. I was satisfied, for the moment. Now, I had to start all over again with white cake mix. This new batch of batter turned the desired shades of pink when I added the color, so I was back to being a happy camper, again.

It was the day of the shower and I was onto making homemade buttercream frosting. I learned that when making a petal ombre cake that you need to make extra frosting. I own two bowls for my Kitchenaid stand mixer, so I made a batch in each bowl. I pulled half of the frosting out of the first bowl, so I had the white. In the second bowl, I put one drop of Americolor Soft Pink. I took half of that frosting out and put in into a separate bowl. Into each of the two remaining half-filled mixing bowls I added 2 drops of Soft Pink, stirred, and voila! I had my 4 colors.

On to the fun part, icing the cake. I cut the top of each cake layer to make it flat, frosted in between each layer, and put on a crumb coating. Do not throw away the cut off pieces of cake. I will tell you later what to do with the pieces. Now, I did not own enough #12 tips to do this job. So, I just put a coupler in the pastry bag and piped the frosting straight out of the coupler. The coupler has a little slit on the side. I turned the slit facing the side that was going to be pressed flat by the spatula. It worked alright, but I am in the process of purchasing more tips.

After, I finished icing the cake, I iced the cupcakes. I used a #129 tip. This tip has a metal bar inside. So, when I squeezed out the icing, it separated it into ribbons. Also, the bar makes it very hard to squeeze out the icing. It was tiring, but it turned into a pretty flower design.

I said earlier that I would tell you what I did with the extra cake bits. I dumped them all in to one of my Kitchenaid bowls, added all the extra frosting, and mixed it all together. It made a lovely pink ball with a consistency similar to cookie dough.  I put it in a Tupperware bowl and stuck it in the fridge for my husband.  He said it tasted like cake and icing.

As you can see in the pictures, it all turned out really well for my first try. Everyone thought it was beautiful. I had some people say it was the best cake they had ever tasted. Others wanted me to let them know when I started going into business. Everyone was happy, especially the Mommy & Daddy-to-be. That’s all that matters to me! Enjoy.

Ombre Cake and Smash***Well, a year has passed. I was asked to make the baby’s first birthday cake and smash cake. Her parents thought that it would be fitting to have it look like the baby shower cake. So, that’s exactly what I did. Enjoy.***

Poinsettia Cupcakes

For my side of the family, we did Christmas a day early. It was suggested that I could bring a dessert, preferably cookies. I had too much going on to devote time to cookies, so I made yummy cupcakes instead.

 

 

 

I wanted to try something new. I thought that making poinsettias would be pretty. I didn’t take a picture, but the cake is colored red and green. Therefore, I decided to keep the frosting white. I took my # 70 tip and piped out leaves, alternating around the cupcake. I went to my drawer of sprinkles and decided to keep it simple with red and green. I wanted the sprinkles to be in the center of the cupcake, but had no idea how I was going to achieve that by just shaking them on. I thought..I will  hold a funnel just above the center and shake in the sprinkles. It worked like a charm.

I feel bad for my sister. Her homemade apple pie sat on the counter lonely. The cupcakes were a hit. I got a lot of compliments and had a request for the recipe for the buttercream  frosting. Enjoy.

College Football Cupcakes

Football CupcakesTop view of the Football CupcakesFootball CupcakesA week ago, my husband came home from work and “somehow” started talking about cupcakes and it being his last week of training class.

I asked him if he would like me to make cupcakes for his class to celebrate. He said, “Sure!” I asked him what were their favorite colors. He said, “Alabama, Auburn & LSU!” After I laughed, I said, “I could do that.”  Because I was splitting the icing up for the three teams and didn’t want to run out, I went with a pom-pom effect. I think that they turned out rather well. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

(Originally posted on August 30, 2012)