It was a birthday cake kind of weekend.

You’d think I’d be busy enough with food while working as a pastry chef in a restaurant, but clearly that isn’t the case. Going from being covered in flour at work, I come home to get covered in powdered sugar. “You have flour on your face,” is a comment I receive regularly at work. “The day must end in Y!” is my typical response. They don’t always tell me though, and sometimes I’ll end up going around half the day with flour smeared all over my face and no one telling me. Sometimes I think the other chefs leave me hanging on purpose for their own personal entertainment. Touche, fellas.

One friend’s husband turned 40, and she wanted a birthday cake with humor and personality. She sent me a pic of something someone else had made that was on the internet, and the concept was filled with sarcasm. Naturally, I loved it.

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The firetruck even lights up and makes noise. I made sure to tell my friend to push the buttons when they lit all the candles for the full effect of the cake.

Apparently though, it wasn’t as funny as I thought it was, considering I had to EXPLAIN the humor behind it to both my dad and my husband. The conversations were almost identical.

“Is he a firefighter?”

“Uh, no. The firetruck is on call because there are so many candles on the cake. You know, because he’s 40. Over the hill. Because there are SO many candles. Get it? Do you not get it? Come on, you HAVE to get that. It’s funny!”

“Yeah, I get it.”

Men…

The other cake I made was for a set of adorable twin girls who were having their first birthday party. Mom wanted pink roses on their cakes, and sent me a picture of the faded color rose cake she found. The faded colors weren’t as obvious in the one I made, but if you look closely you can see that the top shade is lighter than the bottom.

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Every time I walked through the kitchen after they were finished, I’d stop and stare.

“They’re just so pretty,” I’d say out loud. No one was listening.

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(Photo by Angela McCall, Happy Clicker Photography)

These little boards that Mom’s friend made were so cute and creative to go along with the cakes that have little tidbits of info on them.

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(Photo by Angela McCall, Happy Clicker Photography)

Cutest. Smash cakes. Ever.

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(Photo by Angela McCall, Happy Clicker Photography)

But the smash cakes aren’t nearly as cute and sweet as the birthday girls. They did a great job smashing them. Happy birthday, girls!

Poop Emoji Cake

Over The Hill birthdays give you the opportunity to go over the edge with funny gifts. Which is why this is one of my favorite sections in a party store to look at, because there’s usually something good enough to make me laugh out loud. This cake had the same effect.

Two sisters-in-law and my husband all turned 40 within one month of each other. What’s crazy about this is that my brothers are 6 and 9 years older than me, but we ALL married spouses born in 1977 within a month. All of them also have dark hair and blue eyes. Weird. Well, we’re weird, so it does make a little bit of sense.

Two days before a dinner gathering around the last birthday, my mom asked if I was available to make a cake. The idea of this cake had actually popped in my head a few days before, thinking of how funny it would be to make this.

Coincidence?

I think not.

This cake was meant for my sister-in-law. They’re soulmates.

If she did have a problem with it, we could always use the excuse, “Well, you married Michael, so we knew SOMETHING was wrong with you.”

She’s from New Jersey and is always willing to give you a very honest answer…even if you may not like that answer.

“Tracy, how did you like this dessert?”

“It was cheesecake. Eww.”

That’s when I knew something was wrong with her. Cheesecake is da bomb dot com, and I threatened to strap her up in a straightjacket and throw her in a padded room. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled.

Originally, we were going to get together at their house to grill out for dinner, but she preferred to go out to eat. When my brother told me this, I started laughing.

“So, I have to bring the cake in the restaurant?”

“Yeah…is that a problem?” he asked.

“No (starting to laugh hysterically), it’s not a problem.”

He had NO idea what the cake looked like.

“Is it a family friendly cake?” he asked.

“Um, yes?”

I laughed out loud for the next few hours, imagining walking through a very busy local restaurant with this cake. This was going to be fun.

We pulled up in the parking lot, and I turned the cake to face out so everyone could see it clearly. As we were getting out of the car, I saw a couple of ladies with their kids standing on the sidewalk. They were chatting away, until one of them saw the cake. She stopped mid-sentence, “Oh my gosh! Look at that cake! That is hilarious!” The lady she was chatting with turned and starting laughing.

This continued as we walked through the restaurant, and people started taking pictures of it before, during, and after dinner. I saw a few people roll their eyes, but the majority of people enjoyed a good laugh at this crappy cake.

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The top tier was made in a doll cake pan, and is a dark chocolate cake packed with mini chocolate chips, covered with chocolate icing (of course). The eyes, mouth, and letters are made out of fondant. The bottom tier was a 2 layer 9 inch pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing. I decided to make two of the birthday girl’s favorite cake flavors since she is officially over the hill.

Happy 40th Birthday, Tracy! You’re old as crap!

Sesame Street Birthday Party

Some days, it feels like the days and weeks drag on, and then… BOOM! My baby boy turns 2. This all goes along with my cousin’s perfect description of having young kids, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

He’s not 2 weeks old.

Not 2 months old.

TWO YEARS OLD.

Where has the time gone?

I’m sure the mothers whose babies are turning 40 would snort at me because I have NO clue what it’s like for time to go by so quickly. On my birthday last year, my mom told me how she just can’t believe that her youngest baby is having her 7th anniversary of turning 29. Fine, maybe it’s me who refers to my birthdays as anniversaries these days, but that’s not the point. The point is that she remembers when I was a cute baby. A curious child. A sarcastic tween. An incredibly moody teenager. A partying college kid.

When my daughter’s 7th birthday rolls around later this year, all of the same feelings will happen again. It’s a continuous cycle that happens multiple times a year, each time my husband and I looking at each other and saying, “They’re growing up SO fast,” with pure amazement like neither one of us has already said this 100 times before, even when it’s just five minutes earlier.

We also said this last year at his Pirate First Birthday Party we threw for him. Honestly though, getting through that first year is a major accomplishment, so you better believe there was a big party. “Who serves alcohol at a kid’s party?” my brother asked as I passed around a special cocktail to some of the adults. “I’m not serving the kids alcohol!” I yelled at him.

This year was more low key. In fact, the only person who wore anything relating to Sesame Street was me in my Cookie Monster t-shirt… Because Cookie Monster is AWESOME. I even made Cookie Monster Cupcakes a few years ago because he’s so awesome. My cupcakes were in the March 2017 edition of  Story Monsters Ink magazine because you can’t go wrong with Cookie Monster. Should I say Cookie Monster and awesome again in the same sentence? COOKIE MONSTER IS AWESOME. Moving on.

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This year’s cake was MUCH smaller than last year, but it served its purpose…

To look ridiculously cute and fill our bellies with sugar so that we could all sugar crash later in the day. Mission accomplished.

This is a 4 layer 10 inch round Blue Velvet cake. What? Blue Velvet? What the heck is that? It’s Red Velvet cake with blue food coloring instead of red. Yes, you CAN do that. It’s covered with cream cheese icing. I ordered the Elmo and Cookie Monster cake toppers from Amazon, made the 2 out of chocolate using a chocolate mold and lollipop stick, and made the rest of the decorations out of fondant.

The birthday boy loaded up on bubble toys. I don’t think I have EVER seen so many bubble toys, and he loves every single one of them. They catch his attention for about two whole minutes before he moves on to something else, only to return to the bubbles thirty seconds later. The attention span of a toddler is always entertaining, and you never know how long it will last.

Maybe next year he’ll understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but this year he’s happy with bubbles.

Pirate Birthday Party

Click HERE to watch the slideshow!

It’s hard to believe our son turned a year old, but I was prepared to throw him a pirate party.  Every time my husband would pick on me for going “overboard” (ha ha, get it?), I would scoff at him and say, “He’ll remember this party for the rest of his life!”

Since a baby’s first birthday party is more for the adults and older kids than the birthday baby himself, it gives me an excuse to throw a blowout of a party.  First, the construction of the cake.  It had to be good.  It had to be massive.  It had to be amazing.

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Two weeks before the party, I got started on the cake topper, which was a treasure chest made out of rice krispie treats.  I bought a box of 16 treats, then put them all together to start the construction.  Here is the base and the top.

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After they were put together, I slathered some icing all around the sides and top.  The brown fondant was rolled out using a fondant roller, then cut into strips and wrapped around the treats to give it a real look of wooden planks.  The only thing I would do differently with this is use chocolate icing as a base, so there wouldn’t be any white specs of the buttercream underneath the fondant.

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The gold coins were made out of fondant as well.  I rolled out white fondant, using a small circle cutter to cut out the shapes, then painted them with gold food coloring.  This took several coats.  After the coins dried completely (couple of days), I layered them on top of the treats.  Skewers were cut to fit, and placed horizontally through the top section of the treats to secure them together.  More icing was piled on top and smoothed for a rounded look, then covered with the strips of fondant.  Toothpicks were stuck in the back side of the base of the chest, then the top part of the chest was placed on top of the toothpicks and coins.  The toothpicks secured the top part to the bottom.  The chest was placed on a small cake board, then cut to fit.  Dowel rods were placed in the top tier of the cake to prevent the chest from sinking into it (that thing was pretty heavy when finished).  Graham cracker crumbs were used as “sand” and the seashells were made out of chocolate using a seashell mold.  The jewels are plastic, and I used the majority of the jewels in the package for making treasure bags (along with plastic gold coins, plastic jewel rings, beads, and candy).  The treat bags were hidden in the back yard for the kids to do a treasure hunt, which they loved!

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The treasure map on top of the chest is also made out of fondant.  I rolled out the fondant, then cut it to shape using a paring knife.  An edible black pen was used to draw on it.

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Finished cake!  It literally weighed over 40 pounds…so it was transferred from one place to another only for pictures.  The bottom tier is a 3 layer 12 inch cake, and the top tier is a 4 layer 10 inch cake, the entire cake is vanilla with buttercream icing.

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The pirate skull, 1, anchors, and sharks are all made out of chocolate, using chocolate molds.  The red stripes and black cannon balls on the bottom tier are fondant.  The decorations on the top tier for the ocean are buttercream icing.

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Here is our little pirate, digging into his smash cake.  It was a 4 inch cake covered with buttercream and chocolate icing.  Go ahead and take a bite, big guy.  It’s your day.

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And, here we are with the pirate ship cake pops.  When I originally saw these, I got all excited and just HAD to make them…but wanted to add a little more than the original image I found, which only had the red and white stripe sails.  We went to our local arts and crafts store, which is where I found the card stock red and white stripe paper, along with black paper and the skull and crossbones stickers.  The cake pops are chocolate, covered with milk chocolate.  None of these were left at the end of the party.

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Speaking of chocolate, how about some chocolate lollipops?  I started working on these a week before the party.  Since there were several different colors of chocolate, it was more time consuming than just using one solid color.  I melted the different colors of chocolate separately, and used a toothpick to detail the colors, setting the molds in the refrigerator for the chocolate to set in between each color.  Time consuming, but worth it in my opinion.

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Here’s the dessert table, which also had chocolate chip cookies (made small and thick to look like gold nuggets), and peanut butter ritz cookies made with yellow chocolate to resemble gold coins.

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Oh, and while we were at the arts and crafts store, silly me made the mistake of walking past the bird houses and came across this one.  It ended up in my cart, along with paint brushes and paint.

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I was very happy with how it turned out, and used it as a table centerpiece for the party.  We’ll put it up in the yard since the party has passed for our visual enjoyment to watch the pirate birds play in their new pirate ship house.

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Here was our menu for the party.  I decided to print out copies and place them around the house so I didn’t have to repeat myself 20 times going over everything there was to eat. Almost all of the food items served at the party are included in my upcoming cookbook!

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The photo prop was bought for pictures like these.

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And who doesn’t love an inflatable pirate?

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It’s not a pirate party if you’re not dressed as a pirate, right?  Exactly!  ARRRRGH!!!

Frozen Birthday Cake

Frozen…the movie that literally every mom knows.  In fact, I bet every mom knows every single word to the song “Let It Go.”  Backwards.  Maybe even in Chinese.  I’ve gone as far as getting the sheet music and downloading background music to play it on my flute.  The things we do for our children.

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Our daughter turned 5, and she’s been talking about her Frozen birthday cake and party for the last several months, so I knew it had to be something good.

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“Frozen” is a frozen buttercream transfer.  The snowflakes are made out of fondant, a variety of different shades of blue and cut out with a snowflake cutter.  I rolled out the fondant and cut the snowflakes out several days before putting the cake together so the snowflakes could harden.  I watched this video to learn how to do a frozen buttercream transfer.

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The 5 is made out of chocolate using a chocolate mold.  The “ice” is made out of hard candy (see recipe below), and the cake toppers were purchased from Amazon.  In all honesty, you can use any figurines you please for placing items on a cake for decoration, just make sure they’re nice and clean before placing them on the cake.  Nobody wants cooties.

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The cake was a 10 inch 4 layer white almond cake with buttercream icing…and I’ll have to say it was a big hit.  There’s nothing like having a Frozen birthday pool party in August.

Hard Candy Recipe

3/4 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups corn syrup

1 cup water

1 tablespoon extract (or candy flavoring)

food coloring (takes very little, 1 drop of sky blue recommended for this)

In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water, cook on medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Turn heat to high, do not stir, and wait until mixture reaches between 300-310 degrees.  Candy thermometer (digital thermometer is fine) is a must for this.  When mixture reaches desired temperature, remove from heat and stir in flavoring and coloring.  Spray a cookie sheet with butter spray, spread candy mixture out into a thin layer.  Let set to cool and harden, break into shards and place on cake.

Princess Castle Cake

Over the weekend, we threw a birthday party for our daughter.  It’s still hard to believe she’s already four years old.  Anyway, several months ago I had asked her what kind of cake and party she wanted, and since she’s really into princesses, this was naturally the theme she picked.  So, I started thinking, and asked, “Do you want a princess castle cake?”  Her eyes lit up and she cried, “Yes!  A pink princess castle cake!!”  Done.

While constructing the image in my head, the idea of towers sounded wonderful.  But, with graduating from culinary school the week before and forty million other things going on, I wasn’t able to pre-make any of the towers.  I attempted to make some thicker towers, but half of them didn’t turn out well and were leaning quite terribly.  The first picture here is a rough draft of the cake.  I liked to call this the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I thought it was appropriate.

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Anyway, the lopsidedness of this cake had me all up in shambles, and I couldn’t handle showing off a cake like this.  The middle tier was the lopsided part, but after it was all put together and the icing was too soft (it was ridiculously falling down on the sides), I decided to redo that part and go with it.  Even though my daughter loved it, I was already making excuses in my head as to explaining why we couldn’t take the cake out to the porch for everyone to sing happy birthday so she could blow out the candles.  Plus, I knew that sleep from massive anxiety of my perfectionism would really get in the way and practically ruin the whole ordeal.  No, I’m not kidding.

So, off went the two towers and middle tier…and into the trash can.

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The second tier was redone, new icing was made…and I was extremely happy with the end result.  The flowers were pre-made out of fondant and set out to dry and harden for easy handling putting on the cake, then I put a little dot of white icing inside each flower for color contrast.  After looking at some other castle cakes, the vines going up the sides looked interesting as well.  The water is made out of piping gel, and the little bridge was also made out of fondant that was set to dry.  I cut an empty toilet paper roll in half to prop it up for 24 hours so it could dry completely and hold its form.  I bought the package of princesses as toppers, and they also double as a present.  She loves them.  The flags are made out of fondant (also laid out to dry) and attached to skewers.

The bottom tier of the cake is a 6 layer 14 inch Neapolitan cake…so it was chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cakes layered twice for the total of six layers.  The top tier ended up being a 4 layer 6 inch cinnamon cake.  We took the leftover cake to her school this morning, and they were quite happy.

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Ahh, the dessert table.  I decided to stick with three items this year to make it easier, and since the cake was so massive (it literally weighed 40 pounds), only three items worked out great.  The other two items included sugar cookies cut in the shapes of hearts, crowns, and high heeled shoes, and of course some Oreo Truffles drizzled with pink chocolate instead of white chocolate.  The sugar cookies and truffles disappeared during the party, leaving only a couple of tiny little survivors on the table.  I’m not really all that big into decorating for parties, other than using the basics, so that’s how it was here.  Table decorating kit, a couple of table cloths, and balloons.  Oh, and the piñata.  Overall, it was a great turnout and the kids seemed to have a blast.

Oh, and the best part?  Our little pumpkin will become a big sister in February…

Erskine College Cake

It’s that time of year…Graduation!  Whether it’s kindergarten, high school, or college, this is definitely a big part of the year.  Everyone’s babies are growing up.  With this particular cake, I really like the theme behind it.  Mom and daughter were announcing what college she’s decided to go to through this cake at her high school graduation party.  Ohh, the suspense.  It was a very cute idea, and this definitely lit a fire under my bottom to try two new things that I hadn’t done before…a frozen buttercream transfer and petit fours.

The first experiment was the petit fours.  Over the years, I’ve been asked quite a few times if I could make those, but the answer was always, “No, I have never made those.”  Well, after this last time of being asked, it was finally time to buckle down and give it a shot…and I’m really glad.  The graduate absolutely loves petit fours, and the two local bakeries that the mom usually went to was booked solid with other graduation cakes and goodies.

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So, we started talking about the design of the cake.  First, I did a search for Erskine College cakes…but didn’t have any luck there.  Okay then, starting from scratch.  As we looked over the website and I was getting ideas for colors and how to decorate the cake, she asked me if I could put the emblem on the cake.  Since I had never done a real transfer on a cake, this made me nervous, but had seen it done before on several YouTube videos, and knew it was time to give it a shot.  The most helpful video was the one made by Wilton, so I followed her lead.  Overall, I was very happy with how all of this turned out, and am excited about doing this more in the future with different designs.  The flood gates have been opened.  Click HERE to watch the Wilton video.

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For the petit fours, I stuck with the school colors and made them simple.  It was a good thing and bad thing when I was making these though, because after I trimmed the cake down for the petit fours, I couldn’t stop eating the leftover cake scraps.  Click HERE to watch the video that helped me most with petit fours.  The base poured fondant over the petit fours is a light yellow/gold color, along with the deep red and black for the school colors.

Humorous Science Cake

When it comes to birthdays, it seems like different people see them in a very different light.  You have those people who really don’t care all that much, it’s just another day.  Then, there are the people who embrace the fact that they’re still on this beautiful planet for another year, and happily celebrate.  And then you have the last group, which dreads getting older and sees birthdays only as a reminder that they’re not getting any younger.  Well, my best friend falls into this last category.  So, when I asked her what flavor cake she wanted for her birthday, she said, “Meh, I don’t want a birthday cake.”  Fortunately, I’m stubborn and don’t listen very well, because I decided right then that I would still make her a cake, and surprise her with it at work on her big day.

But, I wanted to do something different.  Something that I knew she would love.  In high school and college, she was a big science buff.  She had two science majors in college along with a minor, and it’s always been something that she loves.  So, for my science-loving birthday-hating BFF who appreciates my goofy sense of humor, I decided to go with something that would be somewhat humorous, but also pointed out the positive aspect of having another birthday.

When I started searching for science cakes and funny birthday slogans, I came across one that was absolutely perfect.  Scientific, to the point, and funny.  That’s when the thought of making it a science themed cake would go together so perfectly with the slogan, and the fact that she’s a science fan.

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All of the decorations are made out of gumpaste and fondant.  This really didn’t take as long as I had expected, and actually had the 9×13 inch cake pan sitting in front of me to make sure these little decorations would be a correct size.  Since there would be a lot of writing on the cake, the decorations would need to be small enough to fit, but large enough to create the right amount of space between the decorations and writing.

Oh, and have I mentioned that she loves Oreos?  So, I decided to go with a simple white cake, but that was packed with chunks of Oreos all throughout.

White Cake with Oreo Chunks:

1 box Duncan Hines White Cake Mix

1 small box white chocolate instant pudding mix

4 eggs

1 cup oil

1/2 cup water

8 oz. sour cream

15-20 Oreos

1 cup milk (for dipping Oreos)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first six ingredients in mixing bowl, beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Dip each Oreo cookie in milk, break into 4-5 pieces, place in batter.  Gently stir cookies into batter, incorporating well.  Grease and flour a 9×13 inch cake pan, spoon batter into pan.  Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until top of cake is golden brown and is slightly pulling away from sides of pan.  Cool in pan on cooling rack for 10-15 minutes, remove cake from pan, continue cooling on rack until completely cooled.  Ice and decorate as desired.

 

Angry Birds Birthday Cake and Cake Pops

My nephew is a HUGE fan of Angry Birds, so this year when his 5th birthday rolled around, my sister-in-law decided to do Angry Birds as the theme for his party.

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She’s really big into cake decorating as well, so I asked if there was anything I could make that would go along with the theme…and we decided on cake pops.  And I’ll be honest, after these little guys were put together and were sitting on the kitchen counter, I laughed at them every time I walked in the room, because they were just so incredibly cute.  There are some tutorial videos on YouTube that were a tremendous help for these cake pops.  Although the videos I watched had candy as the little decorations, I decided to work with the molding chocolate that my sister-in-law made and used for all the decorations on the cake after she had put everything together.  She kept telling me about how great the molding chocolate was to work with, and how much she liked it better than fondant…AND it tasted so much better, too.  Come on, it’s chocolate!  Of course it’s going to taste better than fondant, right?

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So, for all of these little guys, I handmade the eyes, beaks, eyebrow, etc. from the molding chocolate.  With the beaks and the little hair patches on top of the yellow birds, I set those in the refrigerator for a few minutes for those to harden before sticking them into the chocolate.  This made the process easier for them to set.

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For the cake, I can’t get over how amazing of a job my sister-in-law did on this.  She started making all of the birds, pigs, and other little props about two weeks before the party.  This allowed her enough time to work on all of the details of the birds and props, and for them to set as well before placing on the cake.

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Literally every single prop on this cake is molding chocolate…which means the kids at the party got to eat them, too!  She also covered the cake with the molding chocolate…rolled it out just like fondant and placed it on top of the cakes.

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I had the pleasure of eating a slice, and it was delicious.  Usually when I have a slice of cake that is covered with fondant, it gets separated from the cake and isn’t eaten…but that certainly wasn’t the case this time.

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I love how she made a slingshot and put the red bird in here.  This is also made out of molding chocolate, and she formed it around a wooden skewer, then placed it at an angle in the cake.  The birds and other props are attached with icing.

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Yep, you guessed it…the 5 is also made with the molding chocolate.  It’s soft enough to be able to stick candles in the top as you can see here.

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Since the party took place on a weekend, she still wanted to do something special for her little birthday boy and his friends at school, so she just made some cupcakes, topped them with blue icing, multi-colored sprinkles, and picked up these Angry Birds cupcake toppers at the store and sent them to school with him for his friends to enjoy as well.  Simple and cute!

Chocolate Clay (Modeling Chocolate) Recipe: (from cakecentral.com)

Ingredients

*10 ounces semisweet chocolate      (coarsely chopped chunks or chips)

1/3 cup light corn syrup

*Note: the chocolate can be      substituted with almond bark, or colored candy disks to create different      colored flowers

Instructions

Using Microwave: In a shallow bowl, melt the chocolate in microwave (be careful so that the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees F.) for 2 minutes; stir. If chocolate is not completely melted, return to microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stir until smooth.

Using Double Boiler: Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot water and stir until melted.

Add corn syrup to the chocolate and mix well (scrape all the corn syrup into the chocolate with a rubber spatula).

Using a rubber spatula, stir and fold mixture, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl well, until no shiny syrup is visible and the mixture forms a thick ball.

Pour mixture onto a waxed paper sheet and spread with the spatula until it’s about 1/2-inch thick; let it sit and stiffen, uncovered, for about 2 hours.

Use at once or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Your Roses or bows will harden after a few days at room temperature and can be saved by storing in a cool, dry place.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS NOT TO TOUCH THE CLAY TOO MUCH. IT GETS VERY STICKY AND BECOMES HARD TO HANDLE!

Finding Nemo Birthday Party

My best friend threw her little girl’s 2nd birthday party recently, and decided to go with a Finding Nemo theme.  Honestly, it couldn’t be more of a perfect fit.  Mama has always been fascinated with ocean life and fishies in general, and her little girl is a water baby as well…and they both absolutely LOVE Finding Nemo.  No seriously, I think Mama has seen that movie a minimum of 100 times.  I remember when it came out, and she dragged me to the theater because she couldn’t stop talking about it, and even did the impression of Dory doing the whale talk.  I remember staring at her with an amused smile on my face.  Then, she kinda blushed afterwards and said, “Well, you have to see it!”  Apparently, but it was so worth that little showcase right there.

Let’s get started with the games and decorations that she made.  When my daughter and I pulled up early in the driveway, my little pumpkin got so excited when she saw all of the games set up, and I was already baffled at what she had put together.

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This sign was so cute.  I asked her where she got the idea for this, and she told me it was from her creative brain (that goes nonstop, I might add).  She had finger painting set up with washable paints, big sheets of white paper, all sitting on top of a bed sheet in the driveway for the kids to paint.  She called this Anemone (sponge) Painting since that’s where Nemo and his dad lived.

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Here’s my little pumpkin.  She enjoyed herself doing this.  A lot.  Good thing this stuff was washable.  The birthday girl walked up to her and slapped some orange paint right on top of her head, but she didn’t seem to notice and just kept on painting.

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Here’s the sign for the “Tank Gang” and she had an inflatable pool set up for the kids to play in.  She decided to use this because technically the kids were swimming in a tank.  Too funny.

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BUBBLES!!!  Bubble Station!  Nuff said.

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I saw this sitting on the ground, squatted down to get a better look, and literally laughed out loud.  Loved it.

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Something else that made me laugh.  She made this out of poster board and laminate.  What a perfect addition.

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Next to this was the East Australian Current.  She used blue tulle that she bought at Wal Mart, then googled images of Finding Nemo turtles, printed them out and stuck them up there with it.

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For some reason when I walked in the door with the cake and cupcakes, I didn’t notice the ceiling.  Later, when I was sitting in the living room, I looked over and saw the ceiling.  How in the world did you miss that?!  I asked myself…got up, grabbed the camera and snapped some pictures.  The blue tulle is on top, and the jelly fish are made out of shimmer material, stuffing, and yarn, all of which she found at Wal Mart.  She’s killin’ me here.  I loved it.

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And, we’re moving on to food and beverages.  When she pulled me aside to show me this, I laughed out loud again.

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She bought these wafers at the Dollar Tree.  So cute, and love the colors.  For the food labels, she found the pictures off the internet on Google, printed 4 labels to a page with the wording next to each picture, describing the food.

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Sandwiches!  I really love the way she named everything here.

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Chicken Sticks!

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Goldfish!

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This watermelon shark was my favorite.  I’ve seen this online before, and was so excited when I saw her grandparents putting this together for the party.  They ended up sticking toothpicks in the “gums” and used pineapple to make the teeth.

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Candy Sushi!  She asked me to make these for the party, which of course goes perfectly with the ocean life theme.

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I also made the cake and cupcakes.  She asked for marble flavored cake and cupcakes, with the “Mine!” decorated cake.  I used pirouettes along the border of the cake, buttercream icing, the “Mine” label out of fondant, along with the seagull and rocks made out of fondant.

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Marble cupcakes with cream cheese icing!  The blue icing of course went along with the ocean color, and orange sprinkles for Nemo.  She ordered the labels that were handmade…and literally came in the mail 30 minutes before the party.  Whew!!

I fussed at her for being such a super mom with this party, and I’m still baffled by everything that she put together.  And you know what?  She was worried that it wasn’t going to be put together well enough.  Silly girl.  I told her she was nuts, because everything she put together was amazing.  After the party, she tells me that she’s not going to do any more parties at home, because it’s too much work.  I laughed, and said, “Yeah, I said that the past two years before this year.”  We just had our daughter’s Little Mermaid birthday party just the weekend before this.  🙂

The Little Mermaid Birthday Party

Every year that my daughter has had a birthday, I’ve gone a little…overboard with her parties.  Her first birthday was a luau, then her second birthday was Minnie Mouse themed.  But this year, it has been the most fun.  Since she’s turning 3, she’s more aware of what’s going on.  She also LOVES birthday parties.  So, when it was time for hers to come around, she was beside herself with excitement, and talked about it nonstop.  Seriously, nonstop.  She even fussed at the dogs for taking one of the goodie bags that Mommy made for her friends that were coming to her party.  I got a kick out of that.  “No doggies, this is for my birthday party!  You leave it alone!” And her teachers at school said that she’s continuously talking about it there, asking her little friends if they’re coming to her birthday party.

Several months ago, I couldn’t decide between Hello Kitty and The Little Mermaid, so I let her watch the movie.  Done.  She loved it.  So, I started going over some things that I wanted to have for her party.

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First, here’s the birthday cake.  Of course, you have to have either birthday cake or some other birthday dessert at a party, right?  So, here it is.  This is an oval cake, 3 layers of yellow cake with chocolate chips, chocolate filling, and covered with buttercream icing.  Click HERE for the cake topper set I used for this cake, and HERE for the oval pan set I used.

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Originally, I was just going to use the figurines for the top of the cake, but it felt like it was missing something.  So, after a little bit of brainstorming after putting the cake together, I decided to make a 3 out of chocolate and use that as the topper, but create a little island for it and put the “dinglehopper” on there as well.  My nephew ate the chocolate 3.  He loves it when I make chocolate.  Click HERE for the number chocolate mold topper I used.  Click HERE for the food chopper used to create the graham cracker crumbs.  I use this sucker all the dang time.

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King Triton, Sebastian and the castle!  Since I set this cake up so that these characters were technically under the sea, I wanted to do a little bit of decorating with fondant on top of the buttercream icing.  I pulled up a picture of the castle on my phone, and tried to replicate it as best as I could to just use it as a backdrop, cutting out different sized pieces and putting them all together.  The rocks, coral and seaweed are also made out of fondant.

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Ursula and her cave.  When I was looking at the details of her cave, I knew that copying that would be more challenging, and the clock was ticking away…so I decided to just make a simple, but large cave that doesn’t look all that inviting.  Shoot, the seawitch’s cave shouldn’t look inviting!  I certainly wouldn’t want to go swimming in there!

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Cupcakes!  These are strawberry cupcakes with blue tinted cream cheese icing, topped with graham cracker crumbs for the sand effect, and topped with chocolate seashells.  Click HERE for a chocolate seashell mold.

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The chocolate yummies!  I made all of these using different colors, and put them on a glass plate with graham cracker crumbs to look like they’re all on top of sand.  I made these same chocolate decorations for my nephew’s Shark Cake earlier this year.  They’re super cute, and super yummy too!  Click HERE for the chocolate molds I used for these creatures.  In order to make chocolates with different colors, use a toothpick to distribute the chocolate, and let it set before putting other chocolate colors over it.

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And here’s one of the most popular items I make for parties…Candy Sushi!  I also ended up slicing some Swiss Cake Rolls for added “sushi” to the platter, but everything else is hand made using rice krispie treats and different candy.

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Here’s the full dessert table.  Packed with all the yummy goodies!  Sugar overload!  Click HERE for the table decorating kit I used in this picture.

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Pink lemonade, anyone?  I bought the drink fountain specifically for this party, because the thought of beautiful pink lemonade streaming down like this would be perfect for this occasion.  Click HERE for the drink fountain used in this picture.

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Here is her birthday banner.  One of my friends (who I like to call Martha Stewart’s protégé), made this for the party.  She’s the one who made all of the amazing stuff for her son’s Superhero Birthday Party earlier this year.

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And, here’s what she also made for the front door.  So cute!  It’s still there!

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My little pumpkin, we’re singing the Happy Birthday song to her in this picture, with her friends and cousins standing around her.

It was a great party, with a wonderful turnout.  I told people to come hungry, because the dessert table was less than half of the amount of other food.  We also had a chicken cheese ball with crackers, crab dip in bread bowl, deviled eggs, chips and salsa, shells and cheese, cheesy poofs, ham delights, chicken tenders, pigs in a blanket, and a veggie tray.  Our little birthday girl was tuckered out early, from a very busy day, no nap, and a full belly.  🙂

Wedding Cakes and Other Wedding Goodies

The following cakes were made for wedding events…whether it was a cake for the groom, bride, bachelor/bachelorette party, bridal shower, or the actual wedding itself.

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

bridal shower (white almond with white truffle)

Earlier this year, when my neighbor came knocking at my door to ask me if I could make some bridal shower cupcakes for her, I was more than happy to help.  She wanted to stick with the simple colors, so we just went with white and silver.  Traditional, yet elegant.  These are white almond cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream icing, edible silver sprinkles as a garnish and white chocolate wedding bells that I made with a chocolate mold and used them as a topper.

Groom’s Cake

Jess's Groom's Cake

Several months ago, I went to a friend’s bridal shower.  As we sat there chit chatting, she asked me if I could make them a cake for the rehearsal dinner…as a surprise for the groom.  This guy loves, and I mean LOVES…the zoo.  Any zoo.  They have season passes to the local zoo, and travel to other cities to check out their zoos as well.  Quite the animal lover.  So, off I went on looking at some other zoo cakes to get ideas of putting this cake together for them.  I gave her the option of two flavors, since it was going to be a larger cake, and she picked red velvet and dark chocolate.  The rock cave is made out of rice krispie treats, surrounded by Twix bars, a mixture of piping gel and icing as the pond, and graham cracker crumbs as the sand.  I just used plastic animals to go on top, the Zoo sign is made out of fondant, and I used skewer sticks to hold it up.  The sign was made ahead of time, and the sticks were attached with chocolate to the back.

Groom’s Cake

Ashleigh's Groom's Cake

While sitting at the computer one day, I received a text message from my super creative friend, asking if I could make a groom’s cake for her friend who was getting married…and in a panic, because the rehearsal dinner was in a few weeks and she didn’t have anyone making the cake.  When the bride and I started talking about what she was looking for, she wanted the theme to be around the fact that her groom loved to play Ultimate Frisbee…so she wanted an Ultimate Frisbee cake.  While doing some research, I got the basic idea of what would be something simple, yet obvious that this is what the cake was representing.  She sent me pictures of his jersey and the Frisbee that they normally use, so that’s what I based the colors on here with both.  The Frisbee is made out of gumpaste, the jersey is made out of fondant, along with the end zone lines.  The cake is dark chocolate with chocolate chips, and covered with cream cheese icing.

Wedding Cake

Leah's wedding cake

One of my childhood friends was having a very small wedding, and she asked me to make a cake for them.  She looked at several different cakes, pointed out the things she did and didn’t like about them, so I went off the information from her on what she wanted.  The top tier is 6 inch, and the bottom tier is 10 inch.  I bought the red icing roses, because I was concerned about all of the roses looking identical (yes, I’m that particular with some of this stuff).  Since I don’t make a lot of icing roses, making sure they were identical and uniform was a requirement in my head.  So, we went with the classic white icing all over the cake, black fondant ribbon as a base, and the red royal icing roses.  The entire cake is white almond, covered in buttercream icing.

Wedding Cake

ellen's cake

This cake was for my aunt.  The colors she wanted to go with were white and light blue, and since this wasn’t her first wedding, we decided to do something a little different than the traditional white cake…and switched it up!  Blue icing covered with white royal icing flowers and icing.  She wanted a square cake, so the bottom tier is 12 inches, and the top tier is 10 inches.  The bottom tier is two layer white almond cake, and the top tier is four layer chocolate caramel cake with chocolate filling.  There was literally one piece of the top tier left, and 2/3 of the bottom cake left…and that was only from 30 people eating it!  I did up cutting a bunch of pieces of cake for people coming back for seconds, and who also wanted both flavors.  The spiked pillars are separating the tiers, and I loved it this way.  Since the cake was traveling (and the church was in the middle of nowhere, and we made 4 u-turns trying to find the place), it worked out perfectly that the cake wasn’t put together until we got to the site.  I didn’t want a repeat of the Alice in Wonderland Cake, especially since this was the same side of the family.  😉

Girly Bling Cake

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This wasn’t made for a wedding, but honestly I think it would be amazing for a bachelorette party or some sort of bridal shower for a girly girl.  This is a 10 inch 4 layer yellow cake with buttercream icing ruffles, bling border, plastic tiara, edible silver glitter, and a gumpaste high heel.  I actually used a high heeled shoe mold to make this shoe, and LOVED the way it turned out.

Also, the Girls Night Out Cake I made a while back would also be great for a bachelor or bachelorette party.  And I’ll be honest…I’ve actually made some R-rated chocolate lollipops for bachelor and bachelorette parties in the past, but I don’t think it would be exactly kid-friendly to post the pictures on here…but it’s definitely an option if you’re looking for something to add.  😉

And if you want a REALLY girly cake that’s covered with all kinds of girly goodies, check out the 40th Birthday Girly Cake.  Just take away the 40 topper, and you’ve got a killer bachelorette party cake!

Medical School Graduation Cake

Nine years ago, I met my future in-laws, without really knowing it at the time.  Among those in-laws included one of my husband’s cousins, who was a senior in high school at the time.  He wanted to be a doctor, but still had another year of high school to finish up before heading off to college.  Even as a pre-med, that boy kept his nose in the books, and was always ahead of his level.  Nine years later…here we are.  Graduating from medical school.  I still can’t believe how quickly time has gone by, now he and his wife are moving away for their residency.  Without any doubt in my mind whatsoever, both of them are going to be amazing doctors.

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This is a two tiered cake, the top tier is 8 inches, and the bottom tier is 10 inches.  The bottom flavor is mocha, and the top flavor is a vanilla pound cake.  It’s completely covered with buttercream icing and fondant decorations.  The graduation cap, school book, stethoscope, and diploma are all made out of fondant.

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The medical symbol is also made out of fondant.  I made that by printing out the symbol, then cutting the design out of the paper and placing it on top of fondant that I rolled out.  With a knife, I traced the outlines of the symbol, and took a toothpick to cut out the smaller holes.  This was tedious, but well worth it in the end.  The MD letters are made out of white fondant and black chocolate, and I used a mold to make those.

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A friend that I grew up with is also a doctor, so I called him for some ideas.  “Is there anything I could put on the cake that would be a funny reference to their experience in medical school?” I asked him.  He thought for a minute, then mentioned a particular teacher.  Everyone knows this teacher.  He said, “If you put his name somewhere on the cake, they’ll crack up.”  And they did.  As I walked up to them with the cake in my hands, they were looking it over.  I told them to make sure they look at the book on top of the cake.  They both leaned over, and started laughing hysterically.  “Get the camera!  Take a picture!”  Their reaction to the cake was well worth every bit of effort.

Alice In Wonderland Birthday Party

Behind every cake, there’s a story…well, for me at least.  Behind this cake, there are several stories.  In fact, I’m still trying to recover from lost sleep over the weekend.  But overall, I was very happy with the end result of how all the goodies turned out.

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The goodies for this themed birthday party were for my cousin’s daughter’s first birthday party, which was an Alice In Wonderland theme.  When she called me about making some goodies, originally I was just going to make some cookies.  After that, I asked her if she wanted me to make the cake, and she jumped on the opportunity.  I was worried about traveling with the cake already decorated, since my cousin lives almost two hours away.  I didn’t want something to happen to the cake since I’d be traveling farther than normal with a tiered cake, so I decided to come up the night before the party and decorate the cake after I got there.  The original plan seemed genius, just stack and ice the cake, worry about the actual decorations when I got there…  But, there was a problem…

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The cake fell over en route.  It was a three tiered cake that was tall, and slightly top heavy, so I was a nervous wreck.  As I’m driving down the road, my husband calls me to see where I was.  I told him about having the cake already stacked, and he started laughing, “Why didn’t you wait until you got there to stack the cake?”  I sighed, and said, “I don’t know.  I really should’ve kept them separate until I got there.”  Shortly after that conversation, I heard something in the back…but assured myself that it was fine.  Halfway there, I stopped at a rest area to use the restroom and check on the cake.  I peeked in the back through the dark tinted windows, and saw it.  I stood there for a second and muttered a couple of not-so-nice words, then opened the back of the SUV.  I stared at it.  Shook my head.  Laughed.  Then, pulled out my phone to take a picture of it and text it to my cousin.   I started going over a Plan B, then called her.  She picked up the phone and said, “It’s okay, Erin.  It’ll be fine, I promise.  We’ll figure it out.”  I laughed and said, “Oh, I’m not worried about it…just have to make another one.  Are you still at the store?  Oh, good…here’s what I need…” and gave her a list.

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Cake…Take Two.  After I got to her place, the process began.  We still had to run some errands, so I was baking two tiers at a time, only doing 1 layer per tier for this cake.  I decided to go with shorter tiers to the cake would be more stable when I stacked it together.  But, the good thing was that we only had to travel 15 minutes to the party location.  As I was working on the cake, I periodically would look at my watch.  Midnight.  I continued to go about putting everything together, determined to get this thing done.  1am hits, and my cousin is very sleepy, and I fuss at her to go to bed (since she had to get up with the kids early in the morning).  She passed out, and I continued to chug away on the cake.  I told myself that no matter where the cake was at 2am, I needed to go to bed.  2am hit, and I told myself to go until 2:30 and see where we were with it.  2:30 hits, and I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and continued.  The leaves were fondant that had to be rolled out and individually cut, then stuck on the cake.  That was the process that was taking so long…  3:15am.  Done with the leaves.  I’ll finish it in the morning before the party, the rest won’t take long.  I thought to myself.  I looked at the mess, and agreed with myself that it could also be cleaned up in the morning.  The next morning, I piped more leaves on the cake, then stuck the roses on it and the crown on top.  I made the crown earlier in the week out of fondant and gumpaste, so that it would have time to set before the party.

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When I was talking to my other cousin (the birthday mom’s sister) about the cake on the phone prior to the weekend, she said something about how the Queen of Hearts had her minions paint the white roses red.  As I was preparing the cake decorations earlier in the week, this was one of the things I was doing…painting the white roses half red for the painted effect.  I called her up and asked, “Hey, I just realized that I’m painting white roses red.  Does that make me a minion?”  She paused, and said, “Why, yes…yes it does.”  So be it.  I diluted the red food coloring with vanilla, because otherwise the color is clumpy and looks like a blood red color that’s painted on.  Diluting the food coloring makes the color much smoother.  If you don’t have vanilla, you can use vodka (it evaporates and doesn’t cause the food coloring to bleed as much when diluted).  Try not to drink the vodka during the decorating process though…

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I ended up calling my cousin back and asking her if she wanted a baby smash cake to match the big cake.  So, I just made a 4 inch cake, piped the icing on with a leaf tip, and topped it with a red rose.  So stinkin’ cute.

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Cookies with instructions…I like it.  Although, with these cookies, you don’t have to tell me more than once.  These are my shortbread cookies, decorated with chocolate.  Chocolate?  Yes, chocolate.  I melted the colored chocolate wafers and spread the colors on top, then used a squeeze bottle with white chocolate to write on top of them after the colored chocolate set.  As I’m doing this, my daughter is sitting on my husband’s lap at the table, watching me, and says, “Don’t mess up the cookies, Mommy.”  I couldn’t help but to laugh.  Yes ma’am.

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I didn’t do these, but my cousin did.  She just got the string, labels, and tied them on to the flavored drinks.  They were SO cute, went along great with the theme, and all the kids loved them.  The party was a big success, and the birthday girl was as adorable as they come!

Paradise Cake

Click HERE to watch the video of this cake!

Ten years ago when I was working in the corporate world, I came across something that made me really start daydreaming about a tropical vacation.  One of my friends had sent out an email with a picture of a hut on stilts in Tahiti, over the most beautiful clear water I had ever seen.  I stared at that picture for the longest time, and I told my husband that it would be great if we could go to a place like that sometime.  Maybe one day that wish will come true.  In the meantime though, I decided to make a cake to look like it.  With every single cake that I have made, there’s always been some sort of learning experience.  Whether it’s just a small thing, or a big, “Oh man, I should’ve done that instead of this,” circumstance, there’s always something to be learned with each cake.  Well, this particular cake had several learning experiences…and luckily this cake was just made for the heck of it, so it didn’t even have a home.  Good thing!

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First thing’s first…the little hut.  I made this several days before making the cake.  The floor and walls are made out of gumpaste, and I used a pattern press to give it the wood texture.  The windows and door frame are individually cut out, and they were laid down to set and harden before putting up together.  The roof is made out of rice krispie treats piled on top of a cake board, then covered with icing and fondant.  The dock is made out of the same material, color and pattern press as the hut.

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Now, on to the accessories…  The bed is one rice krispie treat, covered with icing and fondant.  The surfboard is fondant, the lounge chair is gumpaste.  The towel and beer cooler are made out of fondant.  The wooden boat is made out of fondant, the paddles and ladder made out of gumpaste.  Look at this setup…this really would be paradise.

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The flip flops and sign are made out of fondant…and I figured that sign would be perfect for the atmosphere.  Leave your sandals at the door and grab a drink when you come in…well okay then!

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I colored the icing using 2/3 blue and 1/3 green, to give it that mix of the two colors.  After I iced the cake, piping gel was spread on top to give it that shimmery look for that gorgeous water you see in the tropics.  But, trouble can arise during typhoon season.  I was questioning the sturdiness of hut sitting on stilts when I was putting it together.  The roof was the heaviest part of the structure, and the floor wasn’t strong enough to handle it…

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Oops!!  After the pictures were taken, I had gone upstairs to get them on the computer.  As I was sitting here, I heard a THUD.  Oh crap, what was that?  I thought.  Both of my dogs were up here with me, and I knew that it had to be the cake.  I creeped down the stairs and peeked around the corner…you would’ve thought I was checking for a burglar…and there it was, collapsed.  I started laughing, and grabbed the camera to get pictures of the flop.  As I was taking pictures of it and looking at what had happened, I knew what it was…the floor had shifted its position on top of the skewer sticks holding it up, and it couldn’t handle the weight from the walls and roof…so the floor buckled and that THUD I heard was the roof landing on top of the table.  Oops again.  Next time I try something like this, I’ll wrap a cake board with the textured fondant for a more stable floor, and attach the sticks to use at stilts to the bottom of the floor before inserting it into the cake.  Lesson learned, but in the meantime…EPIC FAIL.  Bahahaha!!  I’m still laughing about it.