Mini Christmas Cakelets

As usual, the holiday calls for a spectacular bake-off at my office.

I wanted to use some super cute mini cake pans - or cakelets, as I like to call them - so I bought a mini snowman shaped pan from Wilton [I had my heart set on mini gingerbread men but they didn't have any of those left.] I used a German Chocolate cake mix which I thought I could doctor up to make it taste like gingerbread by adding ground cloves, cinnamon and ground ginger... but of course I couldn't find the ground ginger in my cabinet. It ended up just tasting like a spice cake, which happens to still be yummy.
I covered them in white chocolate ganache and decorated them with some store-bought cookie icing and some miscellaneous holiday candies...
Luckily my friend surprised me with a mini gingerbread man pan from Williams Sonoma and I was able to make little gingerbread cakelets after all! I didn't have time to buy chocolate for more ganache so I used some green candy melts that I already had - which I thought was a festive choice... until they turned out looking like little martian men. Oops.
I left some of the cakelets uncovered.
I brought my cakelets to work to add to the holiday spread...
My coworkers never disappoint! Red velvet cookies, Magic layer bars, Pecan bars, Rainbow cookies, Ginger spice drops, Chocolate Cupcakes, Peppermint Bark... this isn't even all of it!
My little green men...
Mr. & Mrs. Snowman
How freakin' cute are these reindeer & sleigh cupcake holders from my fellow decorator/co-worker?
Hope you had an awesomely sweet Holiday Season!


Poinsettia Puddin' Poke Cupcakes

I had a few decorations left over from my double wreath cake and didn't want to waste my hard work (and incredible talent) so I made some holiday cupcakes for my chiropractor's office. Let's just say that slouching over cake decorations hasn't been very good to me but at least the chiropractic office has treated me well.

I found an interesting Chocolate-Peppermint Poke Cake recipe on the back of a Betty Crocker cake mix box which I had cut out, saved and adapted for these festive cuppies.
I'll be honest... the only reason I adapted the recipe is because I couldn't find any peppermint extract. It must've sold out for the season because I looked everywhere! And no... mint extract is not the same as peppermint, I tested. Blech!
I used the recipe posted below and topped these cupcakes off with a sprinkle of red & white sugar crystals, my extra royal icing poinsettias, fondant holly leaves and lil' fondant blossoms.

box chocolate cake mix

Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box

box (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
cups milk

container chocolate frosting
container of vanilla frosting (I used extra vanilla buttercream I already had)

Step 1
Heat oven to 350°F for shiny metal or glass pan (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line 2 cupcake trays with paper or foil liners. Fill liners 2/3 with prepared mix. Bake cupcakes as directed on box for 24 cupcakes. Cool 10 minutes. With handle of wooden spoon (or something slimmer), poke the top of each warm cupcake in about 4 or 5 spots.

Step 2
In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with wire whisk about 2 minutes. Immediately pour over cake. Cover loosely; refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled.

Step 3
Fill a disposable decorating bag fitted with a 1M tip with half chocolate icing and half vanilla icing.  Pipe a swirl of icing onto each cupcake. Decorate as desired and store covered in refrigerator (although I don’t recommend storing fondant in the fridge at all).

Done! Yummy cuppycakes to share...

or not.


Double Wreath Christmas Cake

Taking the Wilton Method Cake Decorating Classes during the holidays is a great idea! Mainly because you can work the seasonal themes into weekly assignments but even more so because you usually have more reason to celebrate... and therefore eat cake!

My final cake for course 3 had to be a tiered cake. It was near Christmas (last year) and I had a friend's holiday party to go to so I wanted to make something festive. I had some royal icing poinsettias already made from a prior class so I wanted to work them into my final. I came across an photo of a round wreath cake somewhere and decided to make my own double tiered verion.

A few days before class I made a bazillion green fondant holly leaves using a mini cutter from Wilton's holiday mini metal cutter set. Okay, well not a bazillion but I kept cutting until I thought I would have enough and then cut out a few more. I kept myself busy by watching a 1945 Sherlock Holmes crime film.

The night before class, I made the cake and covered it in fondant. Then Saturday morning I nearly cried because it was raining and I had to walk my 2-tiered cake and all my supplies the half-mile from my apartment to Michael's. Luckily I found a ride at the last minute... crisis (and tears) averted.

At class, I assembled this:
My Wilton Method Instructor helped me figure out the best way to lay out the leaves and I attached them to the cake with royal icing. To finish it, I made the bow from red fondant and draped it over the top tier of the wreath.
I really think this came out awesome! I can't believe I went from not knowing how to make icing or use a pastry bag to making a tiered cake in just a few weeks!

I was skeptical of using the pillars and separation plates at first but they made travel easier because I was able to stack the cakes for class and then take them apart to transport them to my friend's party. Yay!


Chocolate Snowman Dress Up

One of my favorite activities to get in the holiday spirit is attending local Christmas craft fairs. I usually don't buy much but am always looking out for a vintage jewelry score or some sort of unique craft. I have to say that in recent years the search has proved to be fruitless... there's only so many clothespin reindeer one can handle!

At one particular church fair there's a room of donated items that are usually more amusing than useful but always super cheap. I came across this interesting snowman chocolate mold for 25 cents. It was actually a set of 4 of the same molds. I tried to only buy one for 25 cents but the guy made me take all four.

They're snowman boxes! They're pretty big and use up quite a bit of chocolate which made me glad I took all four molds because each box took a while to set.

I used Wilton candy melts in White and Colorburst Brights.

But guess what... the adorableness doesn't end there. Look at what's inside!
Each box contains chocolate dress-up pieces. Chocolate snowman hat, scarf, mittens, and boots! Too cute.

I wrapped these up in cellophane baggies as a sweet surprise for a special few.


Denim Pocket Toppers

I think I'm getting used to mixing fashion and fondant... I was asked to make a follow-up version to my last Denim Bottom Toppers by creating some Levi's Red Tab pocket cupcake toppers out of fondant.

The teeny tiny red tabs were just too too small to actually write "Levi's" on but I (almost) wanted to try it just to see if I could pull it off.
I think the clients might have actually been able to eat these this time.
Next up... cookie pants?


Fancy Shandelle Cupcake Tower

Feeling Fancy?
Birthday girl Shandelle is! When it comes to being fancy, she can teach me a thing or two any day. A Fancy Nancy themed cupcake tower was required for her fabulous soiree. I didn't want to disappoint so I sent these sketches to her mother to make sure my design was fanciful enough.

The party was decked out in Fancy Nancy's trademark fabulous style and my cupcake tower was a huge success.

Fancy Nancy cupcake tower for a glamorous young lady.

The cake topper is an 8" round double layer vanilla cake covered in fondant. I wrapped the fondant tiara around a soda bottle covered in parchment paper to dry and assembled it at the party.

The rest of the tower was made up of 40 delectable (fancy for yummy) cupcakes with fondant tiaras, purses, butterflies, flowers and the birthday girl's initials.

Chocolate & Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and edible fondant decorations.

Happy 4th Birthday to Fancy Shandelle!


Disney 1st Birthday Tower

Nothing marks a special day quite like a party... and nothing makes a party quite like a cake.
A cake can make any occasion tastefully sweet, especially birthdays... even more so if it's a very first birthday.

 I received a special request for a lovely little girl who was celebrating her big day with a Disney celebration. Her family wanted a cupcake stand with a fake cake topper - a first for me. What they didn't want was the typical half-circle cake with Mickey ears so they challenged me to design something different that still captured the magic of Disney.

Here's the illustration I came up with for the styrofoam cake topper.
What's more magical than fireworks at the Disney castle? Even if you've never taken a trip there, you know you've seen those commercials ...

And here's my almost edible rendition. (I need to work on my flower scale a bit)

Along with the faux cake is 40 absolutely edible
Disney-themed cupcakes. Cuz nothing kills a party like a fake cake...

Some tiaras to represent the princesses...

I couldn't forgo the famous ears altogether...

Like Disney Parks new campaign states:
"Let the Memories Begin"

Happy Birthday Aaliyah!


Hello Cookie

My co-worker's birthday fell on the day we had the Halloween Bake-Off and she specifically asked for me to make her a Hello Kitty cupcake. Well... between the giant sugar cookie pumpkins and the fondant denim pocket cupcake toppers, I didn't have time to make a batch of cupcakes.

I didn't want to disappoint, so I used my noggin and made use of the sugar cookie dough from the pumpkins to make Hello Kitty birthday cookies.

Problem - no Hello Kitty shaped cookie cutter.
Solution - hand-cut cookie shape using paper template printed from my computer.

Since I had to hand cut them, I only made two.
I also used the paper template to attempt making a royal icing transfer on parchment paper. I figured I'd waste too much time trying to freehand onto the cookies... good idea, right? Umm, well, it seems that I didn't leave the icing enough time to dry so when I tried to remove the royal icing from the parchment paper in the morning, I lost the middle of Hello Kitty's face. Oops.

Remember my last post? I'll say it again... Royal icing and I are not friends.

Here she is pre-trauma.
Pretty cute, except I don't know what's going on with the runny icing in her armpits.

I was able to save her face (the one on the left) and used some extra icing to glue her to the cookie.

Happy Birthday to my lil' HK lover!

Maybe if I make royal icing everyday, I'll learn to love it?

Nah, I doubt that.


Halloween Bake-Off

I started the annual Halloween Bake-Off at my office only a few months after I started working there. I don't really know why it started or even what I made that first year but it has become a seasonal tradition that has extended to all other major holidays.

When I was trying to decide what I was going to make for our 2010 bake-off, I came across the cutest Jack-o-lantern cookie cutters from Wilton.

That meant I would have to tackle my least favorite thing in the baking realm... royal icing.
Royal icing and I have not been friends.
Regardless, I had to make these cutie sugar cookie pumpkins with custom designed faces. Okay, okay. Royal icing is not that bad. The only challenge was the size of the cookie, they're massive! I had to really make sure the icing was the right consistency to flood the middle evenly.

Here's my pumpkin gang I brought for this year's baking event.

This happy lil' guy is my fave! I made him for my boyfriend, but he thought it was too cute to eat.

*wink* *wink*

My fellow cake-making office mate made this phenomenal mummy cake!

The fondant strips are flawless and the gummy worms add the perfect creepy touch!

My friend/roommate/colleague made yummy pumpkin swirl brownies.

Another crafty co-worker made this spooky eyeball "cauldron" cake.

Our Halloween feast was complete with homemade gourd pie and pumpkin cheesecake. Shamefully, I have to admit my favorite thing on the table was the juice-filled gummies in the skull cup (bottom left). I'm pretty sure that says "Hey guys, thanks for all your hard work baking, but I'm just gonna these store-bought gummies the first place prize."

Haha... like there was going to be a prize! That's the trick to this treat.

Happy Haunting!


Denim Bottom Toppers

Mixing both of my worlds
= equals =
edible fashions?

I was asked to make some denim pocket cupcake toppers for a client meeting at my office.

To mimic a natural looking denim color, I blended some black and royal fondant together making sure to leave it a little marbled. I happened to accidentally stumble upon the perfect textured cutting board which brought this faux textile to life. After rolling the fondant to 1/8", I used a paper template and a sharp knife to cut the pocket shapes.

Luckily I had a tracing wheel in my sewing box which made the signature stitch marks a breeze.

Turns out that the clients weren't even allowed to eat them... at least they were fun to look at.


International Cupcake Delivery

When you're getting married in the Dominican Republic and you're a graphic artist, you want to handle all the details yourself. That's exactly what my close friend did for her wedding in tropical paradise. Everyone was dressed to the nines (more like dressed for the 99 degree weather), and her attention to detail was a 10.

My friend was so grateful that over 100 of her closest friends and family RSVP'd to her international nuptials that she decided to come up with a surprise for those also celebrating a special time during their trip. She asked what I thought about making cupcakes for a few celebrating a birthday during her wedding week abroad. Impossible? Nah. Challenging? You bet.

She made special custom designed gift tags for each birthday guest and provided me with ribbons, orange tropical royal icing flowers, gold luster dust and gold dragees.
I made the unique cupcake wrappers with my Cricut cutting machine.

All I had to do was make the cupcakes and bring them on an international flight to decorate at the resort, box them up and deliver them to the reception. Well, let's just say... easier said than done. The cupcakes were almost unrecognizable when we arrived. Panic. Breathe. Put the cupcakes back together.

Luckily I had the pretty decorative cupcake wrappers and icing to cover up the crumbly mess that remained.

Tah Dah! Magic!

If I didn't tell you how traumatic they looked before being decorated, you would've had no idea. I think they look as if I had baked them at the resort.

Here's a shot of them on the table at the reception with the table numbers (which the bride also made herself).

Now the wedding cake is another story. I was put in charge of overseeing the wedding cake and by "overseeing" I mean decorating... I had only one direction to follow:
Make sure the cake was not sitting on a paper doily.
It was. I removed. Check.

The cake was bare. It was a traditional Dominican cake covered in some sort of ganache-like icing. That's all. The bride had given some ribbon to the wedding coordinator which my boyfriend and another of our friends helped me put on the cake's tiers before the ceremony.

We needed flowers and the florist wasn't there yet. Panic yet again. Breathe. Go to ceremony while baker transported the cake to the reception. Breathe.

The ceremony was incredible. Rain earlier in the day caused some extreme humidity but the sky was clear and we were ready to celebrate... as were all the on-lookers at the beach in their swimsuits.

While the wedding ceremony guests were attending the cocktail hour, two friends and I ran to the reception hall to add flowers to the cake. We arranged the flowers and greenery on the cake and were able to grab a drink with everyone else in no time. Thank goodness for creative friends!

I think the cake looked stunning in it's tropical setting at the open-air reception.

My friend and her husband seemed to enjoy it as well.

The cake was delicious, too bad I can't take credit for the taste!

Congratulations! Thank you for including me in all the special events leading up to your magical day. Best wishes, my friend.


Ghosts of Halloweens Past

In preparing for my favorite holiday (who am I kidding? they're all my favorites), I took a look back in my photo archive and found these glorious attempts at conjuring up some spooky, fun treats.

Oh goodness! This did indeed give me nightmares... not because it's horrifically spooky, but because I threw a hissy fit attempting to create cereal treats! I made a cocoa crispy treat graveyard and fruity pebble crispy treat ghost pops. I swore off crispy treats after this experience.

These eyeball cupcakes came out pretty cute thanks to Wilton's Wacky Witch Silly-Feet Silicone Baking Cups and Ready-To-Use Icing Tubes. The idea came from Wilton's website too... but don't look for it because their picture makes mine look bad! ha!

I impressed myself with these cookies! I found these Spooky Cutters in my cabinet and had been dyyying to use them so I made a bag of sugar cookie mix and tinted half the dough with cocoa powder to cut out the bats, ghosts, skulls and 'eek's. Not gonna lie... I picked the ones I thought would be easiest to decorate. I re-cut them when they came out of the oven, while the dough was still soft, to give them sharper looking edges and then outlined them with Wilton's Ready-To-Use Icing Tubes after they had cooled.

A co-worker gave me the Wilton Halloween Candy Kit so I made these cute chocolate coated pretzels to give out at our office. I used Wilton's Candy Melts, of course! The witch fingers are my favorite- plus they were easy to make.

Being a Wilton fanatic paid off! I won a Halloween contest on their facebook page and they sent me a box of goodies, including this Skull Mini Cakelet Pan. I made the skulls out of Devil's Food Cake, fittingly, and covered them in black chocolate ganache. I initially tried to make dark chocolate ganache but I ruined my first batch (as always) and luckily had some black candy melts on hand. The faces were piped on with melted white chocolate.

Hmmm... What will I make this year?