Cake Chalet

If you haven't heard of Cake Chalet, you need to hurry up and check it out - they offer unique Cake-in-a-Bag mixes in 93 cake flavors! My roommate heard about it on a food blog and ordered these cool custom cake mixes for my birthday.

I got three Cake & Frosting Mixes and one Batter Booster.
The custom mixes are:
Bloody Mary Cake with Party Punch Icing.
Avocado Spice Cake with Lemon Lime Icing.
Spumoni Cake and Spumoni Icing.
Potato Chip & Dip Batter Booster.

The Cake-in-a-Bag mixes are made to order and require only two ingredients to whip up. The Batter Boosters can be simply added to your favorite store-bought cake mixes to spice up the flavor.

I decided to try making the Bloody Mary cake mix for my bake sale.
Let's just say, this is the easiest cake mix ever! All you need is 2 cups each of milk and heavy whipping cream to add to the cake mix. Despite having to run to the store to get the milk and heavy whipping cream, these were mixed up and oven ready in a few minutes. I was a little heavy handed pouring the batter into the baking liners so I ended up with just a few less than 2 dozen cupcakes.

The Party Punch icing was prepared just as easy with 2 more cups of heavy whipping cream. The icing consistency was a little soupy and not good for piping swirls on top of the cupcakes so I had to get creative... I had seen some tiramisu cupcakes with the tops cut off and the icing in between so that's what I did. I used a serrated knife to cut the tops off and star cutter to make a shape in it to let the icing show through.

The cupcake flavor is definitely very original and got rave reviews. The Bloody Mary cake had a little spicy kick to it and the Party Punch reminded everyone of something tasty from their childhood - kind of like the Screwballs ice cream cones with the gumball on the bottom. Remember those? Do they still make them?


Great American Bake Sale

I saw some TV commercials for an organization called Share Our Strength which is fighting to end childhood hunger in America by promoting an event called the Great American Bake Sale (GABS). I knew I could do something with my baking skills to help out.

Many of my co-workers bake for so many occasions and holidays so I began wondering if I could hold an office bake sale to help raise awareness and also raise funds to donate to this campaign. The Share Our Strength website has tons of useful information about how and where to host a successful bake sale. I went ahead and got approval from the president of my company who suggested I start to plan a date with our marketing coordinator. We picked Thursday June 24th and I registered the date with the GABS neighborhood - which is a great place to pick up tips and tools like check lists and printable flyers. Since the bake sale would be during work hours we decided it would be best to have a "no host" sale and put up a collection jar for donations.

The Share Our Strength statistics show that $200 can help buy grocery bags of healthy foods for 50 families in need therefore I set a goal of $200. I didn't really know what to expect or how many people would volunteer to bake. I spread the word of the sale and created some simple decorations and before I knew it, the sale date arrived and we had two tables full of treats!

Share Our Strength sent me some balloons and banners with an initial $10 donation.

I made Bloody Mary cupcakes with Fruit Punch icing from the Cake Chalet assortment of mixes my roommate bought for my birthday. I used Wilton cupcake liners and flags to match the Americana theme.

I also made white chocolate covered pretzel rods. The table included Cherry Vanilla Surprise Cupcakes from Carolyn, Orange Almond Cupcakes by Christine, Chocolate Pecan Cookies from Patricia, Fudgey Brownies by Ashley and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Kristen.

Hillary made these cute "Red Tab" brownies to match her Levi's.

Muriel made monstrous-sized Whoopie Pies and Christina made Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Here's Qunita's famous Strawberry Cake along with Banana Pudding.

Lauren made Chocolate Brownies and Lindsay's mom made the world's most delicious cookie trays!

Yay! Here's me :)
I'm very proud to say I surpassed my goal of $200 by raising $388!!

Click here for ways to get involved.

(special thanks go out to the staff at Hallmark for inflating my balloons at a discount)


Quickie Cuppie Cakes

Want to make some yummy quick cupcakes in a pinch but don't have enough icing?

I had 8 cupcakes left over from an order but I had already used all my homemade icing and I only had 1/4 tub of store bought icing left. Not hardly enough to ice 8 cupcakes successfully, right? Try putting the frosting in a small bowl and heating it the microwave for a few seconds on medium heat, stir until creamy and just dip the top of the cupcake in the icing. Tap off the access and repeat with the next cupcake. I double dipped... shhhhh... don't tell. Once all the cupcakes were coated I added some colored sugar to make them happy.

Just enough sweetness to balance out the cake!


Strawberry Margarita... Cake?

I wanted to make something fun to celebrate my parents' birthdays this year. They like to order Margarita's when they go out and my roommate had once made Margarita flavored cupcakes so that's where the idea began.

I started with a Margarita Cupcake recipe from recipegirl.com and altered it along the way to come up with this delicious Strawberry Margarita Cake w/ Lime buttercream icing.

Here's what I came up with. Pretty simple and very yummy...

9 oz liquid Margarita mix (a little more than 1 cup)
3 oz tequila (a little less than 1/3 cup - I used Patron)
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1 box Strawberry cake mix
3 large egg whites
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs lime zest

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two round or oval 8"-9" cake pans.

1. Whisk together the margarita mix, tequila & Grand Marnier in a small bowl. According to RecipeGirl: Measure out 1 1/4 cups for the recipe and drink the rest over some ice ;)

2. Blend cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, lime zest & 1 1/4 Margarita mix from step 1 into a large bowl. Blend on low for 30 seconds and then medium speed for 2 minutes.

3. Divide the cake batter evenly into 2 greased cake pans and bake according to cake mix package instructions. (About 20-25 min.) Let cakes cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove them to a rack to cool completely.

Lime Buttercream Icing:
(crusting/medium consistency)
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp water
1 Tsp grated lime zest
1 lb powdered sugar
1 Tbsp Wilton Meringue Powder
1/8 Tsp salt

1. Cream shortening, lime juice, water and lime zest in a large mixing bowl.

2. Gradually add sifted powdered sugar, meringue powder & salt and mix on medium speed for a few minutes - until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.

Yields about 3 cups of icing... plenty to ice and decorate a 2 layer 8" cake!

I used the Cricut Cake machine to cut the Happy Birthday decoration.


Gymbo the Clown

Some people really hate clowns - mainly because they can really look creepy or because of the scare factor associated with a certain murderous character in a movie... but I find it hard to not fall in love with this cute little Gymbo the Clown character. Gymbo is a cute fun-colored clown used at Gymboree play centers which was the perfect setting for my friend's son's very first birthday party.

Her only requests were that the cake matched the party's Gymbo theme and that the Birthday greeting be written in Albanian.

I couldn't find a very clear image of Gymbo on the internet (he's not yet a celebrity) so I printed out the best one I could find and used it as a template to cut out the fondant pieces. It was tricky yet fun putting the pieces together like a puzzle.

I made coordinating polka dots to put around the sides of the cake and a matching rolled fondant border. My friend ordered super cute sugar cookies from the Sugar Bakery which looked awesome displayed with the cake!

I cut the birthday greeting from fondant with my Cricut Cake machine in advance... when I went to assemble the letters I was missing an "n" (even though I checked the spelling 100 times). I scrambled to cut another one free-hand and I bet you can't even tell which "n" was cut by me!

The cake was a 12" double layer chocolate Devil's Food cake with milk chocolate filling covered in vanilla icing and topped with rolled Satin Ice fondant.