M's gift box of pink, purple, and white cream cheese frosted cupcakes

One of my girlfriends from college is getting hitched next month to one of the most thoughtful guys I’ve ever met and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them!  And M has always been super supportive of my baking and has been waiting to try a cupcake, so her bridal shower was the perfect occasion to bring some nice baked goods as party favors.  Luckily there weren’t any objections from the maids of honor about red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

I fell a little behind schedule this week because of work, so I didn’t make the frosting until Thursday night and didn’t bake till Friday night.  (I had to leave for the shower on Saturday morning!)  I colored some of the frosting to be hot pink and purple, and personally I thought the color combination looked pretty nice with basic star piping.  However, the addition of gel color made the frosting liquidy (again, I REALLY have to look into some powdered coloring…) and I was so nervous and paranoid about the icing melting in this ridiculous heatwave that I watched my bag of mini cupcakes like a hawk on the LIRR.  Then once I got off the train, I had to carry my shopping bag upright and maneuver my way around airheaded beachgoers and silly tourists who liked to stop mid-stride in front of me (Penn station really brings out the best in me, if you can’t tell).  I was holding my bag of goodies like Golum… all shifty-eyed and jumpy and scowling @ people who wanted to knock into “my preciousssses” and finally made it outside to get a cab (yeah RIGHT I was going to take the subway with these!).  Luckily I didn’t have to wait long and the cabbie wasn’t stingy with the A/C, so I made it to the restaurant without any damage to the goods and I could cool it with the freaking out.  Not even one little bite-sized cupcakes flipped over or had its frosting smear.  Yay!

Display of mini red velvet cupcakes with ever-so-slightly melty cream cheese frosting (Deb, I totally swiped this photo from you! =)

I helped the maids of honor set up the mini cupcakes on the tables and gave the beautiful bride-to-be her own take home box of red velvet cupcakes with pink, purple and white cream cheese frosting.  The feedback from the table was that these were good, fluffy and not grossly sweet!  I was really happy everyone liked them, and most importantly, M liked her own personal box of cupcakes and said (via facebook) “your cupcakes were soo goood. 🙂 ♥”   Congrats again, J +M… love you guys and can’t wait for the wedding!!!

Set of mini red velvet and cream cheese cupcakes

Remind me to not carry baked goods between the months of June-September into Manhattan on the crappy LI train ever again.  It’s too much of a high blood pressure adventure and my little heart can’t take too much excitement.   haha (I’m not doing this unless you’re really really special to me and/or I’m delusional from heatstroke.)  Cross your fingers that this is the last summer I’ll be transporting cakes and frosting on the LIRR…   =P

Vin’s bro got married last year and he and his wife are expecting a little baby boy in a month.  They’ve decked out the baby’s bedroom in this nice yellow and got these cute elephant-related bedding and decor for little Timmy’s arrival.  Since their theme was quite obvious, I wanted to create cupcakes for my sister-in-law’s shower that had elephants… and yellow.

My test elephant on a red frosted cupcake; the final cupcakes had green frosting.

I guess the best thing to do was make cake toppers for the cupcakes.  I made batches of blue, grey, and yellow fondant (there goes 2 pounds of confectioner’s sugar) and had extra green frosting from the Sesame Street cupcakes so the toppers would stick.  I already had alphabet cookie cutters for the “T” for “Timmy” (“Timmahhh!”) but I couldn’t find a decent elephant shape that didn’t look weird or would fit on the little cupcakes.  Necessity being the mom of invention and me being of creative and adventurous spirit, I hand cut my own elephant shape.

A few months ago Vin and I were browsing HomeGoods and I was scouring the kitchen/bakeware section for fun new things (I have a tendency to buy cool sprinkles and rarely have occasion to use them so if anyone would like anything with cute sprinkles, please ask!) and I came across this random set of cookie cutters from Italy.  There were letters, numbers, generic shapes like stars and hearts, holiday cut outs, a few animals, etc. etc.  I bought this mostly b/c it was supercheap (plastic instead of metal), there were a lot of cutters (and b/c the size of the letters and numbers would fit perfectly on cupcakes.

I scanned the box to see if they had an elephant for me… there was one, but it just looked odd and was too big anyway.  And then I did a double take.  Included in this box of cookie cutters were a few dinosaurs.  There was a brontosaurus.  Its head and long neck were PERFECT FOR AN ELEPHANT’S TRUNK!  I cut out 3 small fondant circles and made a test cut of the dino head in the fondant then laid it out.  The original idea was to see the elephant’s head straight on using 2 circles for the ears, one as the head, and then the trunk.  It was cute, but way too big for the cupcake.  I rearranged the pieces so that the elephant would be facing the left and 2 circles would be used as the ears.  Not only did it fit better (the trunk was hanging off the side but it was kind of cool like that), but it actually looked more “realistic”.  Quite happy with the outcome, I was… which really was no surprise since I’m a genius and all.  =)

Fondant cake toppers

The next steps were a breeze.  Rolling out the yellow fondant then cutting out circles to be the base for the toppers wasn’t bad @ all, and punching out little “T”s were easy.  I assembled the toppers and stacked the layers on paper plates to stabilize in the fridge for a day.  I actually couldn’t attend the baby shower b/c we were heading upstate for my best friend from high school’s wedding party (<3 you, K +P!), so I had to bring all the naked cupcakes, the green icing, the toppers and a piping bag to Vin’s parents’ house to put everything together.

In the end there were 14 cupcakes with blue “T”s and 14 with elephant faces, and I threw in some chocolate minis with plain green icing.  I didn’t have a chance to get final close up shots of the cupcakes before the shower.  (I guess I’d better teach myself how to use the SLR to take my own photos.)  I heard the party was fun and that the cupcakes were enjoyed (phew!).  Can’t wait for little Timmy!!!

Photo of the baby shower table set up

Close up of the Sesame Street-themed cupcakes

This is one insanely hectic month for me.  Looking @ my baking calendar, I think I’ll just schedule sleep for when I’m dead.

Last weekend I was on vacation with some girlfriends (we were being patriotic and celebrating July 4th in PR) and I came back to busyness @ work (yay for quarter end) and braced myself for all my baking projects.  This weekend’s order was for a neighbor’s cute little boy’s huge Sesame Street-themed birthday.  By huge I mean 7 dozen cupcakes and a dozen minis.  I had offered to make the frosting into faces, but I’m kind of glad they just opted for basic designs b/c this was a pretty big order.  (Maybe one of these days I’ll make a slew of Sesame Street character faces.)  The oven was hot from 1130 am to 230 pm b/c trays kept going in and out.  (Our next oven must have a window so I can peek without having to open the door AND must have rack spacing that isn’t so darn close to the heated wires.)  I ended up making more than 10 dozen chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, along with 24 minis, and almost 2 gallons of frosting.  And as usual, I made Vin try everything and got feedback like, “It tastes like chocolately deliciousness” and “The vanilla is even better than the chocolate!”  That’s my kind of feedback  =)

Running out of table space...

After divvying up the frosting into 4 bowls, I mixed gel food coloring into the icing and tried to match the colors of the hand crafted cake toppers: green, blue, red, and yellow.  Red was the toughest since the plain version of the gel tastes the grossest and I had to use a lot of color.  There just has to be a better option besides Wilton’s “No taste Red” b/c it still does come up bright enough.  I went through a whole container of yucky plain “Red” and all of a “No taste Red” and ended up with a slightly pinkish-red.  Maybe it’s time to explore powdered coloring…

I put basic swirls on the little cakes and just stacked them in clamshell containers.  I was staring @ 15 very colorful cupcake boxes and wondered how the hell they would all fit in the fridge, along w/all the extra cupcakes, too.  I think I spent a good half hour going through all our cold food and condiments, tossing out half-eaten jars of pickled something-or-others that were God knows how old (well, OK not more than 2 years old since we moved in in 2009), cramming plastic take out containers of leftovers in the crisper and deli meat drawers, and stacking smaller cans on top of jars and larger canisters of food.  I made use of as much space as I could and stacked things up until I was able to fit all the cupcakes and quart containers of frosting in the fridge.  I warned Vin that I basically hid everything and if he needed any food to let me know.  And now we know the max amount of cupcakes my refrigerator can handle!  =D

I brought them over to my neighbor’s house and helped her put in her hand-crafted cupcake toppers.  She ordered these cute custom toppers that had her son’s name on them and pictures of Big Bird, Oscar, Elmo…  and she glued them to lollipop sticks and tied ribbon on them.  We stuck them in the cupcakes and arranged them on a stand while her son sampled the goods.  =)  It looked fantastic and I heard it was a fantastic party!

Colorful cupcake display

Next week’s project: baby shower cupcakes…