Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Sunday! We are only one week away from the Super Bowl! We are 49'rs fans but whether you are a San Francisco fan or a Baltimore fan you will want to have fun finger food for your party and that includes desserts.

Today's cupcakes are, obviously, not an original idea. I'm sure that there are millions of tables that will sport a version of this design. The difference is in the execution of the design. I recently saw "bakery" football cupcakes that had a smear of green icing with a long blob of brown icing and a few squiggles of white "lines" on top. The "footballs" looked more like what came out of an animal than a football. Immediately I thought, "Well, I can do better than THAT!". 

The "grass" tip is one of my favorites in the Wilton line of decorating tips. It looks like a thimble with lots of holes poked into the flat top. Most commonly it's used to create grass but you can also use it for fur or shag carpeting looks as well. I will warn you that, like making stars all over a cake, this can be hard on the hands. But it is SO worth it! 

I baked the dark chocolate cupcakes in gold trimmed liners for our 49'rs team but you could bake them in purple or yellow liners for the Raven's if you'd like. Then, when the cupcakes were cool, I topped them with the green icing with the "grass" tip.

The footballs are actually fudge. I used a round cookie cutter to cut out a circle and then moved the cutter over to cut the circle in half which makes a pointed end at the edges of the piece of chocolate. You could use melted chocolate that hasn't totally set up or even chocolate "eggs" if you can find them. Naturally you could also pipe brown frosting in the shape of footballs as well. I used fudge because I had also planned to make cocoa powder covered fudge truffles to set out from the left over fudge as well. The lines are just white frosting.

Now if you don't have any tips at all here is a way to get the same look. Frost the cupcakes with the green frosting and then, using the tines on a fork, poke the frosting and pull up many times to make little "peaks" in the frosting. Use chocolate candy for the footballs. For the thin white lines just put some white frosting into a zip lock bag and cut a bit off of the corner. It's even easier to make the field lines and numbers using this last technique with the zip lock bags. Just because you don't have all the bags, tips and other tools to pipe with doesn't mean you can't make these fun cupcakes!

Hope you all enjoy your Super Bowl Parties! Check our Facebook fan site for daily Super Bowl tips this week beginning today and take a look tomorrow for our Super Bowl Party Plan on our Cherry Party Blog !

Next Sunday I'll reveal another of the new Demo Wedding Cakes! See you then!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Happy Sunday! As I mentioned last week, I began working on my Demo Cakes for the upcoming Bridal Faires for this year. I try to present brand new work so a few months ago I cleared out all but 3 of my previous demo cakes and need to replace those with brand new work. Today is the first of many I will create this year to share!

With Valentine's Day so near I know that there are quite a few engagements about to happen. We happen to know two couples who were married on Valentine's Day and with that holiday landing on a Friday next year there are sure to be many Valentine's weddings then as well as the following two years. With that in mind I designed this Valentine's Wedding Cake.

I do adore the statuary that this cake shamelessly copies but I wanted it to feel like a wedding cake. Lots of wedding cakes are designed with the Bride's dress in mind but not too many with the Groom in mind. I've always loved the look of a formal tuxedo with the black tails and slacks, white shirt, tie and cummerbund. The cummerbund is also known as the "crumb catcher" because the pleats face upward and can, indeed, catch any falling crumbs! I have always loved the way this particular detail at the Groom's waist seems to complete the look of the formal tuxedo.

Now here is the quick and easy secret to you being able to make this cake too! Fondant often intimidates people but when you "panel" fondant you are working with it in much smaller strips so it's easier. For this particular look you would cut out 1 inch wide by 10 inches long for the bottom tier and 1 inch wide by 8 inches long for the top tier in white fondant. The bottom strips are actually about 1-1/4 wide so you will need 8 of those strips. The tops of the tiers are all 1 inch strips. Place the first strip at the top of the tier and let the buttercream seal it to the cake. Then, using a clean paint brush you use ONLY for food, paint on a strip of water where you want the next strip to overlap. Now, carefully, place the next strip onto the strip above and smooth it down onto the cake. Repeat till you finish the side and then trim your corners so that they are straight. Once you have completed all four sides then you can "pleat" the top working from the back of the cake to the front. Repeat this with the top tier. I trimmed the top tier with a roll of white fondant so it would adhere the top tier to the bottom one and create a nice clean line. Let this set up for about an hour to set the fondant then add your bow.

The bow is also very easy to do. I rolled out red fondant into 12 inch strips that were 2 inches wide. I then adhered it to the top tier with a bit of water and draped it down the side. I used a fondant tool to "tuck" the end in on the bottom. Then after I had both side ribbons on I began the bow. I rolled out a 9 by 2 inch wide strip and then cut that in half, leaving me with 2 4-1/2 inch wide strips. Then I folded the ends toward the other end to make the loop. I placed these on the cake where I wanted the bow to be at it's widest. This means there was about a 3 inch gap between these first two loops. I repeated this step two more times placing the loops a little closer each time. Finally I took a 4-1/2 inch strip and folded the ends in to the center to make the final loops and placed that into the center of the other loops. A final 1 inch strip crossed this last bow to finish it off. 

The plaque was a bit easier. As I have mentioned, Duff's fondant in red and black is my favorite but it's very very soft. That is the challenge of this type of fondant so you have to move everything very carefully because it stretches. I rolled out the red and used cookie cutters for the letters and heart making sure to keep them fairly thick so they would hold their shape. Then I rolled out the black into a 4x4 square. I then placed the red shapes on top with water to glue them on and then trimmed the black down so it was even on both sides.  Then, very very carefully, I picked the plaque up, using an offset spatula, and turned it over in my hand to paint on a bit of water. This is also a time to be very very careful since the black "bleeds" onto your skin and will most certainly stain your cake. So be very careful placing it on the cake and make sure you don't have any on your fingertips when you go to press it down on to the cake. 

Tomorrow I will be featuring this cake in a Valentine's Day Wedding party plan over at the Cherry Party Blog so I hope you will check back tomorrow and see how beautiful your wedding day could be!

Also don't forget to check in on our Facebook fan site for daily tips and crafts. Right now we are featuring Valentine's Day tips but we will also have Super Bowl tips too in the next two weeks so stop by each day for your tip or craft of the day!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy Sunday! For the past week or so we have been talking about Valentine's Day crafts and treats to make over at our Facebook Page so, on this week off for me, I decided to show you a super easy cake for you to make for your family! 

This was one of those situations where I experimented for you so you won't make the same mistakes that I did. I made a strawberry cake with lemoncurd buttercream frosting. Now that alone is like a Pink Lemonade. Unfortunately when you added the chocolate M&M's to the mix it wasn't quite as good. After all, a Chocolate Pink Lemonade doesn't sound good. It wasn't awful tho' and once we  learned to just pick off the M&M's and eat them first and then eat the frosting with the cake it was very good! If I were to remake this cake I would pick a plain vanilla frosting instead of the lemon to get a chocolate covered strawberry taste instead! After all, it doesn't matter how pretty your cake is if it doesn't taste as good inside as it looks outside!

Because of the chocolate candy on the outside I did not fill this 6 inch cake. You want to balance out the sweetness or you end up with a toothache type of over sweet. I then covered it in the slightly soft lemoncurd buttercream. This was the second lesson I learned. The soft icing, while being good enough to eat by the spoonful, isn't really stiff enough to hold up the heavy candy so they slid just a little bit in the frosting. Either adding more powdered sugar to firm up the frosting or using a different recipe for the frosting would work.

The rest of this process was, well, a piece of cake. I separated the candy colors and started out making the heart shape on top. Then I circled the top with another color and filled in the open space with another color. For whatever reason I ended up with a lot less white in the candy bag than the other colors so I decided to alternate the upper and lower bands with the white and dark pink. Then it was just two more bands of the light pink and the red and I was done. It really was a quick and easy process.

Now you could absolutely cover the cake with the candy in a much tighter pattern so that you could barely see the icing underneath but that does make the cake harder to cut. I wanted a simple pattern for all of you to copy that is quick to put together, doesn't cost a lot of money to make (the cost of the candy adds up quickly!) and is easy to serve in pretty slices. 

If you end up making a version of this (or maybe cupcakes on this theme) please do send me an email with your photo so I can see it too? I love to see what you guys come up with!

Next week begins my work on my demo cakes for a Bridal Faire this upcoming year. I always take 2 weeks off to play and then use the last two weeks in January to work on these new designs. Can't wait to show you the first one next Sunday!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

 Happy Sunday! Now that the holidays are past there will be little family gatherings over the next few months along with the holidays of Valentine's and Easter. Cupcakes, like the lemoncurd buttercream topped goodies pictured above, will be on a lot of our tables. Cupcakes are mini works of art as well as being self contained bites. They are easy for kids to eat by themselves as well as easy enough to put on a plate and eat with a fork for the more adult in your crowd. 

But how to serve a cupcake has come a LONG way in the past few years. Presenting your little treat has just become more elaborate and fun with all of the options you have now, even at your local grocery store! 

 How cute these little laser cut baskets would be for your Easter table. Just bake the cupcake in a plain or color coordinated liner and then add the frosting once you slip it into the basket.

 Themes have become very popular. Dress up your little one's Dino Birthday party with these themed liners! So cute!
But "cute" may not be what you are going after if you are making "Dinner Party Cupcakes". You can go very elegant instead with these black and gold liners. Top with white icing that has been sprinkled with large grain gold sugar and you have a very elegant cupcake indeed.

 Yup, I mentioned Valentine's Day too. There are so many cupcake liner options out there for you to choose from it was very hard for me to just pick one to share! Strawberry cupcakes with pink tinted frosting would be perfect!

 As you saw with my New Years Eve cupcakes, a foil liner is an easy way to give your cupcake a little glam without much effort. Foil use to be only available in silver but now it's in every color you can imagine!
 But colored foil isn't the most impressive innovation to come to light in the past few years. Cupcake collars are now the rage. These laser cut beauties add class to any cupcake creation. Bake in a plain liner, frost and then after the frosting has set up just wrap one of these around your cupcake and secure. Beautiful.

 The cupcake liner and wrapper industry are aware of the newest fad of cupcake towers at weddings. Each year they come out with new items specifically for weddings. So be ready to have to make some hard choices if you go this direction with your wedding!

This leads me to "Picks". These little plastic cuties are the easiest way to add a bit more punch to your cupcakes. These booties are just made for a baby shower!
But picks don't have to be cute, they can be elegant as well. These amazing butterflies would look gorgeous on a cake or on your cupcakes! 
The real beauty of picks is that they only cost a few dollars for 12. So you can add these cute little Easter picks to your cupcakes for only a few cents each!

 And you will be able to find them for any holiday or occasion! From Valentine's Day to Graduation to New Years Eve. You will be able to find a pick set that is perfect to embellish your cupcake.
I saved my favorite for last...I totally fell in love with these adorable little sea creature picks! Now I'm dying for an excuse to make blue and white frosted cupcakes just so I can use these cuties to decorate them!

The best thing about all of these is the cost. It really doesn't cost much more to have really decorative wrappings and toppings for your cupcakes than the tried and true pastel liners and sprinkles on top. I have a local "cake store" that I frequent plus Michael's Craft store and even my grocery store that I can shop in and find really cute cupcake stuff. But online I shop at Global Sugar Art for those items I can't find near me. They have a really extensive selection for cakes and cupcakes and chances are good that you will be able to find anything and everything you need for your next party!

I'm on "vacation" this week but promise to whip together something fun for next week to share. This is the time of year I get a break from cake work but also the time I have to play with new techniques! Make sure to stop by our Facebook page for daily tricks and tips! See you next Sunday!