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Archive for March, 2011

After reconnecting with a friend from high school, our family was invited to join theirs for dinner.  I am absolutely unable to visit someone empty-handed and so I asked what I should bring.  I was informed that because of my interest and skills, I had dessert duty.

No problem.

The only guidance that I was given was that the entire family loves chocolate except for one person.

My husband recommended cupcakes as something easy and basic.  I think he figured that I would slap some frosting on a few cupcakes and call it a day.

He should know me better than that.

After pondering the parameters and a few different ideas, I decided to go with a seasonal theme.  Four seasons allows for some nice variety and a range of creative expression.  I decided to make one batch of chocolate cupcakes and one batch of vanilla cupcakes and decorate a few of each in each seasonal style.  For added oomph I tossed some chocolate chips into the chocolate chips into the chocolate batch.  I didn’t have time to go pick up a box of vanilla cake mix, so I made the vanilla cakes from scratch.

BIG MISTAKE!

I didn’t realize until the day after the party that the recipe turned out terribly dry.  I should have taste-tested them.  But at least they looked good and the chocolate ones turned out.

First up: Winter

Happy Snowman

A happy royal icing snowman sitting in a drift of french vanilla butter cream frosting.  The frosting was great and tasted like cotton candy.  I used a very thick orange royal icing for the carrot noses and they actually stood out from the snowmen.

Then: Spring

Delicate Flowers

Beautiful Roses

Lacey Leaves

I was tempted to make the green grass mint flavored, but I didn’t want to overwhelm or overpower the design elements.  I used a star tip to pipe the homemade butter cream onto the cupcakes.

The flowers and leaves are made of white modeling chocolate that was delicately tinted.  The leaves were each individually cut out and had veins etched in before the edges were ruffled and they were dried with bends and curves in them to make them appear more realistic.  The ribbon roses were made with thinly rolled strips and came out very nicely.  Modeling chocolate was certainly nicer to deal with than fondant for these elements.

Next up: Summer

Surf's Up!

Royal icing surfboards ride on waves of blue butter cream.

The shells are homemade chocolates with crushed peppermint candies in them.  They melt in the mouth and taste exquisite!

(Can you tell where my love lies?)

 

 

 

 

 

And finally: Autumn

Autumn is my favorite season.  I love the leaves.  I love the colors.  I love the cool crisp mornings. And I love any excuse to work Autumn into my art.

Maybe the entire reason that I did the 4 seasons cupcakes was so that I would have an excuse to make an autumn cupcake in February.

Autumn Leaf

The leaves were made of marshmallow fondant that I tinted red, orange, and yellow and then marbled.  I etched veins into each leaf and then draped them over a rolling pin to dry.  Right before I placed them on the cupcakes, I dusted them with gold shimmer dust.

Bright leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The frosting for these cupcakes is a double chocolate butter cream which was sprinkled with a whisper of hot cocoa mix before the leaves were put on top.

Awesome Autumn Leaves

This was a great project for me.  I was able to play around with various techniques and products and just let loose on things.  I have never done a cupcake project this large and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I may consider doing cupcakes for my next birthday…stay tuned to find out if I do!

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For my son's 2nd birthday I HAD to go with his favorite cartoon character.

This cake looks NOTHING like my original design, but I am not entirely surprised since I think that Blue’s Clues cakes for 2nd birthdays are doomed.

A friend of mine made a Blue’s Clues cake for her son’s 2nd birthday and at the last minute the nice royal icing topper that she had made for it broke and she was stuck with a very basic tiered cake.

I wanted to show that Blue is not adverse to royal icing toppers and with the help of the kids had designed  a cake which would have all of the main characters (Blue, Steve, Slippery Soap, Mr Salt, Mrs Pepper, etc) standing on top of the cake.  In order to be certain that the royal icing dried fully, I made them a month in advance.  There were a dozen characters each 2-4 inches tall that took me a couple of nights to make.  They were drying beautifully and all was good.

And then my middle kiddo ate them.

Grrrr!!!!!

So I remade them with a couple of changes.  I wasn’t as pleased with the results, but they would do. It’s a cake for a 2 year old after all.  He won’t really care.  But a week before the party, when I went to remove them from the wax paper and flip them over so they would be fully dry, about half of them broke.  So I changed my design and planned on sticking them around the sides of the cake with Blue and Steve standing on top with the candle.  I kept the cookie sheets of characters hidden in the oven so that middle kiddo wouldn’t get to them.  (He has a history of taste-testing my creations. )

When my landlord came over just days before the party, I took them out to show her.  I figured that they would be fine in the couple of minutes it took to walk her to the door when she left.  I was wrong.  I entered the kitchen and the HE was, hiding behind the table with a half-eaten character in each hand.  I was furious, especially when I saw that he had scarfed down all of the unbroken topper pieces.

So I settled on this design.  I actually found making the paw prints around the sides of the cake to be very therapeutic after the difficulties of getting the cake put together.  And it tasted great and everyone enjoyed it…especially the birthday boy.

Luke dives for his Blue's Clues cake

The cake is funfetti and the frosting is homemade butter cream.  The letters on top are the only original royal icing toppers that weren’t eaten or damaged.

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