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Posts Tagged ‘sea life’

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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Typewriter Cake

 

 

My husband wanted a typewriter for his birthday…this is how I provided it.  I had a few issues arise during the making of the cakes this year and was not fully pleased with the end result on this cake, but at least I did get to try a few new techniques and to hone other skills.  (Please note that this photo makes it look very lopsided, but in reality it was not.)

My darling husband does not like marshmallow fondant, so this year I experimented with a different product – homemade modeling chocolate.  I LOVE working with that stuff!  Super easy to make with just 2 ingredients and just as versatile if not more so than fondant.  Both cakes were made exclusively with the modeling chocolate (M.C.) as I did not want to deal with making fondant once I had tried the M.C.  The one time that I can say for sure that I will use fondant in the future is when I need a pure white covered cake since the lightest color achievable with the modeling chocolate is a nice ivory color as seen in this pic.

Some of the techniques that I experimented with did not work out at all and luckily I started working on the components for these cakes weeks ago so that when things failed (or…ummmm…got destroyed…oops!) I had plenty of time to repair the damages or try a new approach.  This is why I ask that people give me about a month notice if possible when they want me to make a cake for them, so that I can design the cake and take my time getting things just right, although I will not turn away someone who only gives me a week or two.

Tropical Island Cake

 

Island Cake Details

 

This year his cake was a little more formal with a set color palate (chocolate brown and ivory) and a design that needed to stay somewhat true to form.  My cake, on the other hand, was a more free-form piece which left a lot to my imagination.  I have been stressed out a lot this year and the kids seem to be stuck in crabby mode, so it didn’t take long for me to decide that the theme for my cake was to be, “Deserted Tropical Island for One.”

I made the shelter, trees with coconuts and leaves, discarded sandals, and tons of fish ahead of time using modeling chocolate and royal icing.  I ended up accidentally destroying the first set of royal icing fish (ALWAYS check your oven before preheating just in case you are hiding something from children/hubby/dog/etc) and remade them as a set of modeling chocolate jellyfish (grape, strawberry, and raspberry jelly fish to be exact) which were then left in a too warm location and forgotten resulting in my abandoning of the fish totally.  😦

But even with the fish abandoned, I was extremely pleased with the final cake.  The shelter and coconut trees look pretty real for being made of chocolate and the rose bush on the side of the hut resulted from me playing around and having tiny flowers on hand to decorate an errant blob of homemade butter cream frosting (new recipe this time and can I say YUM!!!!!).  I had hoped to make a tiny crab for the beach, but did not have the time to accomplish this, so maybe on a future cake.

And why, you may ask, do I make 2 cakes for our dual birthday party (our special days are 4 days apart), especially when the gatherings are relatively small?  The answer is that he likes chocolate cake and I prefer white or funfetti cakes.  This year my cake required 2 boxes of funfetti cake mix while the main body of his took up 2 boxes of devil’s food cake.  In addition, the round component of the typewriter (I think it is called the carriage, but feel free to correct me if I am wrong) was a Swiss Cake Roll made from scratch and filled with a combination of raspberry jam and fresh whipped cream then covered with frosting and modeling chocolate.  I was not very pleased with this, my first attempt at a Swiss Cake Roll, as the cake was unreasonably dry and crumbly.  If I had more time, I would have made a second one to try a different recipe/method but there was no time so I had to go with the one that I had.  The only thing that I liked about this portion of the cake was that I created a structurally supportive system of straws to keep the Swiss Cake Roll from collapsing the back of the typewriter.

As I said, I used a few new techniques for these cakes, some with great success and some which were miserable failures but in the end everyone was pleased with the look of the cakes and enjoyed eating them and that is what matters the most.

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