Archive for Cupcakes

Cake Pops!

I love cute party treats and cake pops are one of the items I’ve been trying to perfect.

Ever since Bakerella starting showcasing the cute little goodies on her blog, I’ve been attempting to learn the ins-and-outs of the entire process. Believe me, there is more of a learning curve than one might think!

Below are some of the examples of the pops I’ve made in the past year. Not only did I love making these for my friends, I also enjoyed stretching my mind to come up with creative ways to display them.

It’s a Boy! pops for my friends Heather and Alex. I made these to share at our Bible study group before baby Owen arrived. I was able to score a green picket fence display rack from Hobby Lobby for free! The styrofoam base works perfectly for displaying cake pops.

I also made some cake balls (minus the stick), just to give that a try. YUM!

This set of cake pops was created for my friend Mandy’s birthday party. She invited all her friends over to dreadlock her hair, and I knew the occasion called for chocolate and sprinkles!

Mandy is an amazing writer, so I wrapped a plastic container with fabric covered with words. I added a green stripey ribbon and a cork-board M.

To help the cake pops stand upright in the container, I filled it with dark chocolate and white chocolate chips.

These cake pops were made for my SIL’s baby shower. A baby girl, could you guess?! :) It was fun playing around with different combinations of sprinkles and decorations. Again, the display was from Hobby Lobby (free), with a coat of pink paint and a sparkly tulle bow.

I failed to get a shot of the last batch of cake pops I made. They were for a wedding shower, and I made round ones and also tried my hand at shaped ones. Hearts. Not as easy as I anticipated.

I only took the best-looking pops to the shower. These were the “defects” left behind to be consumed by my family. ;)

This photo shows a couple of the things that I need more practice to perfect…funky-shaped hearts and cracked candy coating (and there are so many variables that can cause cracked coating, argh!)

But, considering that Bakerella herself only ever shows 5-10 pops at a time, I’m sure even she has at least a few duds in every batch of 48. :)

 

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#81: Day of the Dead Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes

In September 2009, I started a cupcake adventure. (At this rate, I may never finish! And, I’m not sure I even want to, so, ha!) If you haven’t read about it yet, you can do so here.

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Would you look at that? Yummy! I can still smell the cinnamon/chocolate combo!

I made the icing first…butter and powdered sugar.

Milk, Mexican vanilla, and cinnamon were then added to round out the icing, which was set aside until later.

The base of the batter was (used guessed it), butter and sugar.

Four eggs were separated and the yolks were added to the cake batter.

More Mexican vanilla…this time in the batter.

Then, Mexican chocolate was added. This was something I’d never purchased before, so it was exciting to try something new.

Mexican chocolate comes in disks like this:

The chocolate was then melted (I used the microwave) and added to the batter.

Dry ingredients were added next…

And the whites I saved earlier were beaten until they formed stiff peaks.

So fluffy!!

The beaten eggs were then mixed into the batter.

And baked! These cupcake papers were a birthday gift from a friend. She found them at IKEA and they are designed in such a way that you don’t need a muffin tin…just a cookie sheet. Very cool!

They made cupcakes bigger than regular sized, but not quite “jumbo” sized.

Next, the icing I had set aside earlier was added to the top.

YUMMY!!!

If this recipe (or any other from the Abbi/Gail Adventure) intrigues you, I highly recommend getting Gail’s book. Your local library may even have it. This recipe is on page 138!

 

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#50: Creme Brulee

In September 2009, I started a cupcake adventure. (At this rate, I may never finish! And, I’m not sure I even want to, so, ha!) If you haven’t read about it yet, you can do so here.

***

Doesn’t that just look yummy?! You can almost taste that sweet caramel on top, can’t you? Mmm!

These cupcakes start with dry ingredients mixed together and set aside while the butter and sugar get creamed together.

Egg yolks are added and whites are saved for later.

That makes the base of our batter.

Milk comes next…

and alternates with dry ingredients…

…to form a more complete batter:

Then the real excitement begins! Grab a tube of caramel ice cream syrup.

And add it to the batter.

Nom nom!!

Remember those eggs whites we set aside earlier? They are going to come into play now.

Whip it…whip it good!

Until the whites form stiff (but not dry) peaks like so:

Fold the beaten egg whites gently into the batter.

Portion out your batter into cupcake papers and while those are baking, mix together the ingredients for the frosting.

Over low heat, melt together the frosting ingredients.

It’ll start to get frothy as it warms up.

We want to slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring non-stop, for one minute.

We allow that concoction to cool a bit, add vanilla, and beat until it’s thick enough to spread.

Now that these beauties are done baking, it’s time to top them off!

I wouldn’t necessarily call this “frosting”…probably more like a glaze. It took several tries to figure out how much to put on top of each cupcake. Too little and they didn’t get adequately covered (and a cupcake frosting shortage is a shame!); too much and it dripped over the edges.

But there were some, like this one, that were p-e-r-f-e-c-t!

Here they are, packed and ready to go…off to the home of a hungry family!

If this recipe (or any other from the Abbi/Gail Adventure) intrigues you, I highly recommend getting Gail’s book. Your local library may even have it. This Creme Brulée recipe is on page 93!

 

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#106: Dessert Cups

In September 2009, I started a cupcake adventure. (At this rate, I may never finish! And, I’m not sure I even want to, so, ha!) If you haven’t read about it yet, you can do so here.

***

Need a simple way to make a dessert that doesn’t require many ingredients? You’ve come to the right post!

Ingredients:

  1. Candy Melts by Wilton or Make’n Mold wafers or other baking chocolate (regular chips in chocolate, white chocolate, mint, etc. work fine, too.)
  2. Cupcake papers (save your cute ones for another project…this is a good chance to use up those out-of-season or mismatched ones!)
  3. Fruit or other “filling.” I chose to use thawed, frozen strawberries from my grandparents’ farm. Yummy!

You start by melting the wafers in a microwave or double boiler.

You then use a pastry brush to get a dip of chocolate…

And “paint” a layer of chocolate all over a cupcake paper like so:

Here’s what a single layer looks like. You can tell by the transparency of the chocolate in the bottom that it’s important to do several coats! At least with candy melts. I’m not sure you’d have the same problem with chocolate chips or other baking chocolates.

I did a total of three coats and had some issues getting a smooth coating. The first coat was a little tricky to get on, and after that, subsequent coats of warm chocolate kept melting the previous coats.

So…they looked a little globby, but since they were going to be covered up, it wasn’t a problem! :) I refrigerated them for 15-20 minutes to make sure the chocolate was nice and set.

Once the chocolate had cooled and hardened, next came the really fun part! Peeling off the paper! The three coats made them nice and sturdy, but I still worked carefully to remove the wrappers.

Here they are peeled and ready to be filled!

I drained my strawberries and placed a scoop in each cup. I wish I had had more berries to go around and some whipped cream to top them off!

The original recipe suggested drizzling the fruit with raspberry sauce, but I just sprinkled each one with a pinch of sugar instead.

Darling!

Since making these, I’ve thought of so many fun ways they could be used! Mini ice cream bowls, “baskets” for Easter treats, pudding cups, yogurt parfaits.

You could even use them as mini serving bowls to hold nuts, mints, sprinkles, garnishes, and other small party foods.

And since Candy Melts come in so many colors, you could even make these bowls in pink or blue for a baby shower or in a bride’s wedding colors.

The best part? No dishes to wash…just serve and eat!

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#96: Strudel Cups

Seventeen years ago, THIS was how we celebrated my sister “Sonny’s” (Allison’s) birthday:

Well, today she’s the big 1-8, and I would be remiss if I did not give her a

birthday shout out!

Since she’s living in Nebraska for the next month (though SOON to become an Okie transplant, like moi!), and I can’t be there to celebrate her today, I’m doing the next best thing (cyberly speaking): PHOTOS of cupcakes!

The following cupcakes are from my “Abbi-Gail Adventure.” Yeah, remember that? It’s been awhile. These are recipe #96, Strudel Cups:

The ingredients for Strudel Cups are pretty basic: (that’s melted butter in the bowl)

Phyllo dough is a funny thing. It’s pretty much like edible tissue paper. Very strange. I’d never worked with it before, and that was my first impression of it while it was raw…it’s Kleenex-like.

First, you cut the phyllo dough into fourths, cram a piece of it into a sprayed muffin tin, and brush a layer of melted butter on it.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat several more times, in several more muffin cups.

Add some lemon juice to your chopped apples,

…some cinnamon,

…some sugar,

…some chopped walnuts,

some ground almonds and golden raisins, and give it all a good stir!

Fill each muffin cup with a heapin’ helpin’ of the strudel filling.

And bake until golden.

Once these were baked, I removed them (carefully!) from the tins and placed each one on a bright red muffin paper to give them a little pizzazz! Easy, though, not many of us would consider this truly a “cupcake.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SEESTER!! I LOVE YOU!!!

When I see you again, we shall bake! :)

Woodland Birthday: Part 2

The day of Beau’s first birthday, I woke up excited and nervous. Sort of the same way I felt on the morning of my wedding. Is that weird? I’m sure some would say it is.

I’d also like to mention how much of a thrill I get out of planning a party on a limited budget. It forces me to get more creative! Maybe that’s why it reminded me of my wedding…I did the same thing with that event: achieved the biggest WOW possible for just a fraction of what other brides spend.

At any rate, I had been planning Beau’s woodland party for months and wanted everything to be perfect!

I’m SO GLAD I thought to book the amazing Abi Martin as the party-day photographer. There is no way I would have been able to corral my kiddo, play the part of hostess with the mostest, AND capture all the details and precious moments of the party. Abi is not only a talented photographer, she is also incredibly fashionable, VERY personable, and a dear friend to my family. Abi, thank you for capturing our day. I am speechless over these photos.

Beau’s birthday banner was one item I was able to create WAY in advance. It’s hard to tell, but I added glitter glue around each letter. I also attached each circle to the ribbon using tiny brads. That way, the skunk and the number could be changed out for future parties, or I could even sell it to someone with a different name! :)

Remember my sketch from Tuesday’s post? Messy though it was, it helped me pull off this spread:

I LOVED deciding which snacks we should include for this theme. These chocolate nests were one of the first things I thought of. Because one of our guests has a peanut allergy, I substituted butterscotch chips for the peanut butter called for in the recipe.

I framed 12 photos, one favorite from each month of Beau’s life, and interspersed them among the decor.

Stanley the Gnome helped hold down the fort.

I found this cool jar at a Hobby Lobby outlet store here in town and filled it with rocks, moss, and a doe and her fawn.

Here’s a shot of the goody bag contents: one finger puppet, one bird whistle, two colored pencils, two magnets, all contained in a burlap bag.

And since I believe in EVERYONE getting a party favor, I made acorn cookies for the adult guests.

Another shot of the food table, this time, with my cake topper included as the centerpiece. You’ll notice the cake stand is perched on top of  a log. FREE! from my in-laws’ woodpile! :)

Me and my birthday boy. He’d just woken up from his morning nap, so he looks a little stunned. But, MAN, if he isn’t just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! :)

The cupcakes below are exactly what I envisioned as I was planning out the food table. I’d never covered cupcakes in fondant before, but the technique worked perfectly for creating smooth mushroom tops. The white polka dots were made out of royal icing that I blopped out and dried several weeks in advance. The risers were borrowed from my friend Mikie and covered in green Canson paper that I cut to look like grass. The cool thing? Mikie used these same risers (sans grass) last summer at the baby shower she co-hosted for Beau and me.

For those who aren’t huge fans of fondant, we also had a handful of buttercream-topped cupcakes with paper toppers I made.

To balance out the sweetness, I made sure to include some good ol’ Chex mix!

Another easy (read: inexpensive) centerpiece I made was a 14″ tall cylinder vase full of acorns (picked up off the ground at my in-laws’ house!) and topped with a friendly gray squirrel.

“Trail Mix” is a necessary component of any woodland party, wouldn’t you say? I made Fawna’s version using peanuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, mini marshmallows, and Reese’s Pieces. Sweet AND salty. Mmm.

Here’s the cake topper from Tuesday’s post. Doesn’t he look right at home on top of that two-layer chocolate cake? :)

 

Whenever I host a party, I’m always looking for new ideas for cute displays. I used B’s party as an opportunity to try another technique I’d seen: creating paper cones to hold snacks.

Interesting side-note: this “grass” is actually the bottle drying rack we received as a shower gift when Beau was born! I just added a thin hunk of styrofoam to the base so I could insert the sticks that held up the cones.

I also made my little birthday boy a shirt, using scraps of fabric that my mom and mother-in-law already had in their attics. I’d only made two other shirts before, and the design for them was much easier. I was curious to see how easy it was to create a character using multiple pieces and interfacing. It worked well! And now that the shirt has been through the wash a few times, the canvas I used for the beard and eyebrows is beginning to fray a bit around the edges, making it that much more beardly. :)

Seeing as how it’s been over 100 degrees every day for the past month (or since time began, it seems!), I made sure to have icy-cold drinks. I had a simple ice-water-with-lemon combo in a huge cookie jar I’ve had for years and I made cherry limeade punch in a cool drink dispenser I borrowed from my friend Natalie.

I received many compliments on the punch. And it couldn’t have been easier to make! I used this recipe, with a slight alteration. I started with a double batch, following the recipe as written. Then, because it was a bit tart for our liking (and I needed to make sure we had plenty), I added an additional two bottles (2-liters each) of Sprite. Perfect!

Beau’s little pals were so cute in their swim suits. Check out this guy: such a poser! :)

One of my artsy-mom friends has the cutest kiddos! We were so glad they could come to our party!

We had a puddle pool available and B and his little friends had the best time filling up cups, containers, and squirty fish.

After swimming, it was time for cake! And, boy, did Beau like it when we all sang “Happy Birthday to You.”

He started with a small nibble of fondant, before realizing that the entire cake in front of him was not only destructible, but tasty, too!

And he wasted NO time tearing it up!

The last picture is one my sister Sonny captured. It’s so fun to see the pure joy on his face!

Oh, what messy fun it is to turn one!! :) I love you, baby boy. It’s an honor to be your mama. Mwah!

Le Rar Rar

Nothing says “Bachelorette Party” quite like animal print, am I right? So…what better sweet treat than an assortment of leopard-print cupcakes with buttercream icing?

My client requested three cupcake flavors:

Cookies and Cream:

Chocolate:

Strawberry (no in-process photo…oops!)

She wanted all the cupcakes to have strawberry buttercream icing and asked that the three varieties be covered in different shades of pink. As students attending
online cooking school
know, it is important to make food look as great as it tastes.

Sometimes people have NO IDEA what they want in terms of flavors or design and I love guiding them towards a decision.

Other times, they know exactly what they want and my job is merely to knock their socks off by fulfilling their requests. And I do love to please. So follow her directions I did.

I must take a moment here to say that I got plastic cupcake carriers from Midwest Baking Supply and was totally thrilled with them. They were well-constructed, inexpensive, and made transporting the cupcakes so easy. Plus, they look very professional. Even though I consider baking a hobby (at least right now), there’s no reason I can’t be as professional as possible!

This was a fun project and I look forward to doing multiple variations of cupcakes again in the near future!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Some of the most important women in my life are gardeners. I am not. In fact, you might say I have a black thumb. I bet if you gave me enough time, I could even find a way to kill an artificial plant. But then again, that’s not what this post is about.

No, this post is about celebrating the green-thumbs in my life. Though I originally made the following cupcakes for the back-to-back birthdays of my sister-in-law, Ali, and mother-in-law, Robin, I cannot continue this post without offering up a shout out to my sister Arica, who is turning 25 today!

Happy Birthday, Seester! I LOVE YOU!

Now, Arica is a gardener for sure. She gets it from my Grandpa. I, however, get cupcake baking skills from my Grandma (and the book Hello, Cupcake).

This set is meant to resemble garden rows, complete with veggies, tools, and cookie crumb dirt!

1gardenrows

The shovels were made from pretzel sticks and candy melts. The “seeds” were candy-coated sunflower seeds.

2shovel

Heads of lettuce were made using green Tootsie Rolls and icing-covered corn flakes.

3lettuce

The peas were made from green Tootsie Rolls and M&Ms.

4peas

Radishes were made from red and white Tootsie Rolls and icing-covered corn flakes

5radish

The carrots were my most favorite veggie to make…orange and green Tootsie Rolls. The carrots were then scored with a knife and rubbed with cinnamon to give them a fresh-pulled look. Yum!

6carrots

So what if I don’t have many outdoor gardening skills…these ‘veggies’ taste better anyway. ;)

Baby Sabbatical

Not long ago, I found the cutest fabric in Hobby Lobby:

fabric

After my mom and I spent some time hashing out ideas, she created this cute maternity top for me:

cute top

And it fits The Bump and I perfectly!

cupcake

Tomorrow, I will be 33 weeks pregnant. If my mom’s prediction of Baby’s arrival time (read: early!) turns out to be correct, that leaves me only about 5 weeks before I’m officially on Mama duty.

And there’s still plenty to do, like finish setting up Baby’s space:

bassinet

Get all of Baby’s clothes and diapers washed and ready to go:

fuzzibunz

Bake a bunch of lasagnas and quiches and other dinners that can be made ahead and frozen:

PW lasagna

(Just because I’ll take a break from baking for clients doesn’t mean I get off the hook completely!) :)

quiche

All that to say, I am taking some time off from creating. A Baby Sabbatical, if you will. In fact, “sabbatical” is defined as “a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year.”

I can’t predict whether my break will be closer to the two month end or the one year end of that spectrum. That will depend mostly on Baby’s temperament and my energy level. (I sure hope it’s not a YEAR!)

But I can tell you this for sure: I finished my last cake order this morning and I’m only taking orders for custom books through TUESDAY, MAY 25th.

So…if you are planning to want a journal, photo book, or sketchbook made for an upcoming birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion, please order NOW. I want to be able to guarantee I can get it done for you before Birth Day!

In the meantime, I will continue posting about the projects I have completed…until the queue runs dry! :)

Thank you so much for your understanding and for your patronage over the past few years. Your loving support and sweet comments mean a lot to me!

Abbi

#41-Piña Colada Cupcakes

In September, I started a cupcake adventure. If you haven’t read about it yet, you can do so here.

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Today is my dear friend Megan’s birthday!! It’s been 9 years since we first met in a Survey of Western Arts history class in college. We hit it off immediately and it didn’t take us long to become close pals, especially when we figured out our apartments were just one mile apart! So many of my fond college memories (and beyond!) include Megan. She has such a sweet disposition and is the kind of friend a friend would like to have. Despite the several states that separate us now, she has continued to put forth the effort to keep in touch and continue our friendship…including traveling to Oklahoma to be one of my bridesmaids!

0484

After nearly a decade, Megan remains one of my favorite people to talk to and spend time with. She’s an incredible artist and if she were here, I would make here these cupcakes! :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEGAN! These are for you! ((After this baby is born, we should get together for REAL piña coladas…and maybe some turkey/spinach tacos! haha))

***

The first step was to cream together butter and sugar and then add eggs one by one.

01butsugegg

Next, pineapple juice and rum combined to make the ‘liquid’ part of the batter.

02pineapplerum

Dry ingredients and the pineapple/rum mixture were alternately added to the butter/sugar/egg mix.

03stir

Pretty yummy looking batter, huh?

04batter1

Next, a scoop of coconut was added to increase the Piña Colada effect. :)

05batter2

Then, egg whites were beating within an inch of their lives…

06eggwhite

…until they formed stiff peaks:

07stiffpeak

The beaten egg whites were gently folded into the batter.

08foldwhites

And the little suckers were ready to be baked.

09ready

Mmmm.

10baked

Then, there was more beating of egg whites…

11beateggs

to which powdered sugar was added…

12powsug

to create the icing.

13icing1

And, yup, more coconut.

14icing2

Then, these morsels of sunny goodness came into play. Oh man, do I LOVE dried pineapple!

15pineapple

Each cupcake was iced and topped with a wedge of dried pineapple.

16group

Yes, ma’am. This round’s on me!

17cupcake

And just to be sure they were tasty enough to share, I took one for a test drive.

18yum

All that’s missing is a little paper umbrella!