Guess who had a full day of work and was still behind on writing cards and wrapping presents and still had not made Christmas Eve dessert by Friday afternoon on December 23?  MEEEEE!!!  That break I had the week before was more like a short gasp of air; there was so much to do @ the office before everyone else was trying to escape for the holidays.  Fun.  When I got home I couldn’t even think about making dessert @ the time and just rushed to wrap all the gifts for Vin’s family and tried to @ least sort out gifts for my family.  I took a break to give Vin the rest of his presents (super awesome knife cufflinks, shoes, tickets to see pro bull riders @ MSG,  Japanese thermal long johns).  Our romantic pre-Christmas dinner @ Maloney and Porcelli was my gift to him the day before (I don’t care if you’re vegetarian; you MUST get the crackling pork shank!).  Vin gave me mine super early: I got a second 6-quart KitchenAid stand mixer (I have now christened them Thing 1 and Thing 2) and some neat baking pans a week before Christmas =P

I woke up early on Christmas Eve to get started on the cake balls.  I had a clear vision in mind for this Christmas dessert, and it was basically making really fancy, hand-decorated cake balls that were to resemble ornaments on this wooden tree stand I bought from Godiva last year.  The tree came with wrapped chocolate truffles, but those are long gone and all that remains is this simple wooden display.   Although these aren’t my favorite things to do, I admit I’m getting quite adept @ making cake balls now.  Plus, I had some leftover cupcakes from last weekend, and what better way to salvage dry cupcakes but to process them into cake ball dust?

White cake ball with red and green Christmas trees

I took out a Godiva truffle to gauge what size to roll out the balls (1 Tbsp scoop) so that the wooden tree display would cup the balls ever so snugly.  I had a bit of candy coating leftover from last month’s wedding favor order to cover a few balls, and broke open a package of white candy coating to make different colored “ornaments”.  I made the white balls first one @ a time: dipping, setting them to dry, artfully arranging Christmas tree sprinkles, and wash, rinse, repeat with the remainder of the yellow and green coating.  The candy coating dries rather quickly (man, I thought the white coating was fickle… no way, the green coating dries super fast!), so I couldn’t just dip a few balls @ once or the decorations would never stick.  And I couldn’t just throw all the sprinkles on or it would look like crap.  These were delicate, handcrafted, ornate cake balls with a coating that dried pretty damn quick.  I’d liken this to decorating a Fabergé egg, but on speed.  haha

The three final designs were:  white balls with red and green Christmas trees, yellow balls with clear/red/green sugar sprinkles, and green balls with white snowflake sprinkles.  I WANTED to make a fourth design: red balls with crushed peppermint sprinkles, but my downfall was not having actual red candy chips. I thought I was being sooooo innovative and smart by adding red food coloring to the white coating after making several white balls…  but I overheated the candy by just a tad and didn’t have enough time to fix that mess.  It was 1055 am and Vin was already hovering over me to pack this up and get ready to go, so I just brought a not-so-Christmassy variety pack of balls.  I mean, yellow?  Come on now… =/

Hand-decorated cake ball Christmas tree

We set it up @ the T house and it did look nice. Someone said it was a really great cake ball dispenser and Vin’s crazy cute nephew Patrick was very adamant on having a “gween ball wif white snowfwakes!!!”  I made extra balls to refill the empty spots on the tree and hoarded some to bring to my parents’ house for Christmas Day.  My mom, dad, and grandma had never had one before and said they were good, my sister and her boyfriend were quite familiar with my baked good experiments, and my brother just popped the whole thing in his mouth, grinned, and ate it.  =P

And with that, I give you the end of Christmas 2011 baking. (Phew!)

Happy 2012!

Things @ the office are JUST starting to slow down as we’re approaching that holiday lull where nothing gets done b/c frankly… everyone I need to  harass work w/is out on vacation.  Normally, I like being super active and multi-tasking, but it was getting a bit out of control.  The breathing time is quite welcome b/c I needed to get my crap together for the holidays, too!

I’ve been staying up late and using ANY free time I have @ home to organize gifts to ship out to faraway friends and family and addressing our awesome, one-of-a-kind Christmas postcards using Vin’s photography.  I figured we should have two sets made: one for “adults” and one completely nonsensical, weird set for people who are OK with our unique sense of humor =)  I spent a LOT on stamps and shipping gifts this past week, but thanks to baking orders and selling stuff on eBay, it wasn’t a big deal.  After bypassing the ridiculous line @ the post office on Saturday to send out 10 boxes of gifts to friends and family (thank youuuu, Click ‘n Ship!), Vin and I went to the supermarket to pick up ingredients for baking time.

chocolate minis with red peppermint frosting and vanilla minis with green vanilla frosting

This weekend’s order was very important.  A very nice woman found my site online and asked if I could make cupcakes as Christmas presents to deliver to her loved ones in LI since she wasn’t able to visit them for the holidays.  I definitely couldn’t say no.  We decided on making a mix of chocolate cupcakes with red peppermint frosting and vanilla cupcakes with green vanilla frosting.  I made a dozen minis to deliver to each house and added Christmas sprinkles to make it more festive.

chocolate minis with eggnog frosting and chocolate frosting

Then I also made a bunch of chocolate cupcake minis with chocolate frosting and eggnog frosting.  And then meticulously placed more Christmas sprinkles on these, too.  (I seriously love being able to use all these cute sprinkles!)

I made some extra chocolate minis and brought in leftover eggnog frosting to bring to co-workers.  I didn’t have time to decorate before bringing them in to the office, so I rushed to squeeze every last drop of frosting on the cupcakes and put one Christmas tree sprinkle on each during my lunch break.  There were a lot of gift baskets and store-bought baked goods out in the office, but I’m glad everyone still had room for my cupcakes.  =)

 

 

PS.  After I take the baked cupcakes out and let them cool, I dump them out on cooling racks and then line then up to make room for more batches. As I was straightening up the chocolate minis, I saw that one of the cupcakes kind of looked like it had my initials.  I swear I didn’t try to make it look like that!  I thought I was seeing things so I showed Vin and he said, “Yeah… it DOES look like there’s ‘KT’ on it!”  oooooooohhh… it’s a sign I was meant to do this, huh.

 

Here's lookin' at you, kid...

On off weekends, Vin and I catch up on all the shows we missed during the week and one day, we got reeled into watching “Along Came Polly” with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston.  It’s not a must-see, but there’s a memorable scene where the man-of-a-million-voices Hank Azaria shows up as this jacked up scuba instructor in a Speedo with a super thick French accent who tries to assure Ben Stiller nothing will happen to his new wife.  He’s like, “Louban [Ben Stiller’s character’s name is “Reuben”], look to me in my eyeballlluuuuhhh, I promEESE you I take care of LEEsa…”  When Vin imitates Hank Azaria and says that line, it makes me laugh and I was reminded of it when I made these cake balls.

I wanted to make these last weekend for Halloween but just didn’t have time.  There was too much going on @ work for both of us and we just weren’t that into it this year.  No parties, no dressing up… total lameness, I know.  We didn’t get that many trick-or-treaters last year, so I only bought one regular bag of candy in anticipation for the holiday. Vin and I didn’t get home till close to 8 on Monday night and all the kids were done trolling for sugar by then, and since no one showed up we’re stuck with a bowl full of Whoppers, Reese’s PB cups, Take 5s, KitKats, and Jolly Rancher lollipops.

bloodshot crazy eyes

We had some time yesterday before heading to the T house so I decided I’d try out these eyeballs.  Just b/c Halloween is over doesn’t mean I can’t still make weird cake balls, dammit!  I wanted to test  out some sizes and designs for cake balls anyway b/c I have a wedding favor order to fulfill and wanted to triple check they’d fit in the favor box with a fondant design on them, too.  I took out some homemade fondant and colored and rolled tiny chunks of it, then cut out circles for the iris and pupil pieces.  I made an assortment of brown, green, blue and yellow eye parts, and as soon as I put the brown eye pieces on the cake balls, I started giggling to myself.  I laid out the pieces to make a crazy yellow eyeball and hand painted some gel for the bloodshot eye vessels.  That made me chuckle, too.  I made a bunch of different colored eye sets looking in all different directions, and I kept cracking myself in the kitchen.

Cake eyeballs and eyeball parts

Vin hears the giggling and thinks I’m chatting with my sister online and we’re making silly jokes. It’s almost time to leave (he likes getting to his parents’ super early so he can play with the dog) and he comes into the kitchen while I’m still laughing to myself and he’s all exasperated and goes, “Baby, you’re TOTALLY not ready–oh cool!!!” when he sees what I’ve been working on.  Then he heads straight back into the office to get his camera to take pics.  I grab his 80s computer guy/pedophile glasses and put the yellow googley eyes behind them and I’m laughing hysterically @ my creation while Vin’s snapping away.  It just looks too funny AND freaky @ the same time.  I go and get my glasses and put the other eyes behind them.  They look creepy, but I think it’s so hilarious and I’m so proud of myself b/c they DO look realistic. I brought them over to the T house and Vin’s fam thought the balls were fun, too.  His mom looked @ me like I was nuts for making creepy edible eyeballs, but she smiled and it was a loving look that said “no wonder my son loves you.”  <3

Fleur de lis cake ball

I also did a few quick prototypes for the wedding favors, and they came out just the way I wanted so I was extra psyched about this cake ball experiment.  =)

Coconut banoffee pie

Oh, and I decided to make a variation of banoffee pie, but this time I made coconut whipped cream instead of regular whipped cream. That sh*t was GOOD.  I brought 2 little pies to the T house and Vin’s brother and his wife loved it.  They ate one and took the other home.  Vin’s OK w/that just b/c he knows I have the rest of the homemade coconut cream and toffee @ home in the fridge and can make him his own deconstructed coconut banoffee pie parfait later. haha

AND, last but not least, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if I could help out with baked goods for a play she was involved in, and I was more than happy to oblige.  The play is “The Laramie Project” and proceeds from the sale of the cupcakes are going to support a great cause.  I made a whole bunch of mini cupcakes with colorful frosting and delivered them to the director herself on Friday.  My friend told me the cupcakes were awesome.  I’m just glad I could help out and benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation and Interweave.  The last performances of the production are next weekend (November 12-13) so check it out if you have the chance.

A rainbow assortment of cupcakes

Next weekend and week after will be cake ball mania @ my house.  And then it’s Thanksgiving and it’ll be cream puff mania.  And then it’s Christmas.  And sometime in-between now and New Year’s I hope to get some sleep.  Even better if I was sleeping AND catching some rays on a nice, warm beach, but thanks to Paul Sarbanes and Michael Oxley, the odds of that happening before year end are mathematically impossible.  And now, it’s the end of Sunday funday…

Beach cupcakes and cutting cake... complete with shells, sand, and sea!

After this weekend’s baking project, I wish I were on a nice beach instead of creating mini edible vacation scenes.  A friend of a friend is getting married and the theme of her bridal shower: her honeymoon in the Caribbean.  As soon as I heard that, I had the perfect idea in mind.  I suggested doing a beach theme: half sand and half ocean with a couple seashells scattered on the cupcake.

Fondant starfish

This was one of my more organized baking endeavors. The execution went just as planned (save for one minor design kink, but that’s what test cupcakes are for) and I finished an hour ahead of schedule.  The baking went smoothly, the frosting wasn’t a complicated fiasco, and cutting and shaping the fondant was a breeze.  Why?  B/c I used my homemade fondant for this.  I really don’t know why I keep thinking that MAYBE using ready made store bought fondant would be better; it’s like I keep going back to it thinking it’ll be easier and faster than making my own, thinking that hey, maybe this overpriced factory processed fondant will work this time, maybe it’s changed for the better and won’t try to piss me off so quickly or be so difficult… but no.  Purchased fondant is just like that bad relationship you can’t get rid of until you meet this NEW wonderful home made fondant and learn to open up to it.  How’s THAT for an analogy, eh?  Life lessons AND pretty baked goods all in one website.  hahaha

Spending the day at the seashore... rather, spending a day recreating a whole bunch of tasty seashores.

 

 

Back to the cupcakes.  I rolled out homemade yellow fondant and punched out stars and then hand shaped them into little starfish.  I felt like the tiny starfish wasn’t enough, so I cut out forms to hand shape into those skinny, long, swirly-looking shells (kind of like conch shells… but not…).  I took a couple of the “reject cupcakes” (smaller or misshapen cupcakes) and used them as test subjects.  I frosted half of the cupcake and then patted brown sugar on it to resemble the “sand”.  (BTW, graham cracker crumbs will also work, but the texture of brown sugar is much closer to sand.)  Then I piped wavy rows of  blue frosting for the water, and then pressed one of each shell onto the cupcake.  It looked pretty much as I imagined in my head  =)

 

The beautiful arrangement at the bridal shower... it looks fantastic! (Photo credit: one of the bride's friends took this shot.)

 

 

 

I was also requested to make a small cake for the event in the same design as the cupcakes, so I cut out larger stars to shape into bigger starfish.  I pressed the brown sugar on the cake first, then piped the ocean waves.  And I used extra icing to “glue” the fondant shells onto the top and side of the cake.  Pretty cute, right?  I was happy about how these came out.  The bride texted and said they were amazing and perfect and my friend (one of the maids of honor) said they looked awesome and tasted delicious.  I think I can say from the sound of things, this was a job well done.  haha

 

 

Putting extra frosting, cupcakes and fondant stars to good use

 

 

 

I punched out extra stars and made some extra cupcakes to donate for this West Islip Family day event.  They’re going to give my cupcakes out as one of the prizes and my cards will be passed out.  I’m not really looking for more business or press around here since I’d like to be out of this house soon, but I have a ton of cards so I might as well distribute them.  Couldn’t hurt, right?  And I don’t feel too shabby about helping a good cause, either.

Taking a hiatus from baking for a couple weeks.  This has been too exhausting with work.  I need to recharge…

Things have been quite hectic these past few weeks so I’m just posting a quick blurb.  I’ve actually been doing a lot of baking, but a massive workload has been dumped upon my desk so I haven’t been able to take pics or write anything witty or creative about the goods.  Here’s a rundown of the past 3 weeks:

bright red batter --> dark red fluffy baked goodness

1) My lovely friend C asked for angel food cupcakes again for her 29th birthday (she looks 24, people  ;o) and of course, I couldn’t refuse.  She requested almost double the amount from last year, and this time requested half with vanilla frosting and half with chocolate frosting.  Done deal, woman!  C was kind enough to meet up with me @ my office for the pick up, and I felt like a d*ck for not being able to celebrate with her b/c of my workload.  =(  But I think this time around the angel food cakes came out better than last year’s batch.  I can tell b/c Vin ate all my extras… even the test “rejects”.  He said they were like eating fluffy marshmellows.  haha  I was in such a rush that day that I didn’t even remember to snap a cell phone shot of the goodies.  *sigh*  So stupid of me.

2) Our friends J and D just got engaged a few months ago and I baked red velvet cupcakes for their engagement party.  I made cream cheese frosting for this event and tried to make half of it appear to be fall colors, but homemade cream cheese frosting is fickle; I wanted a nice bold, orange color and ended up getting a peachy orange.  Meh.  The lovebirds and their guests liked them and said they were great so I could care about the color.  It was a last minute request so as long as they tasted fine and looked half decent… it’s all good.

engagement cupcakes for J & D

 

3) My little brother and sister’s birthdays were the end of September, but since my bro was coming to town this past weekend for Geekfest 2011, we had decided to wait to celebrate their birthdays later.  (And by “little” I’m making a reference to the age order.  I’m the oldest but I’m also the runt of the group and I have a mild Napoleon complex so I pull rank and still call them “little”  =)  I don’t quite remember the exact details that led up to this situation, but a few months back, I asked my sister what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday and somehow we were talking about being old and if she was cake decorating, then her cake would look like a My Little Pony taking a poo.  Really.  Don’t ask.  We discuss really random things and I think the two of us take the cake (pun!) when I say we can really talk about anything.  haha  So… since I didn’t have the time to sculpt a My Little Pony out of fondant or molding chocolate, I just bought this little cake topper thing from Amazon.  I had left over cake batter from the previous week’s red velvet engagement cupcakes, so I made a little 4″ filled cake with cream cheese frosting.  The top of the cake box caved in and smushed the top of the cake so I did a quick fix and covered the edge with shaved chocolate.  It didn’t look half bad for a speedy on-the-spot repair.  In went the plastic figurine, and I brought a little sandwich bag of chocolate frosting for the poo and made a little blob by the tail.  It looked weird as hell and you wouldn’t get it had I not mentioned the odd backstory, but eh, it was funny and everyone liked it.  haha

Left: chocolate frosting in a Ziploc bag... looking like a sandwich bag (which, by the way, is a perfect MacGyver substitute for a piping bag) of poo; Right: a plastic My Little Pony taking a dump on a mini red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and messily strewn chocolate shavings

My little bro (he’s almost 6 feet tall and if he didn’t have such a baby face, he’d make a good linebacker) has a thing for pies.  I don’t know why he’s obsessed with pies, but since I’m a caring and thoughtful big sis, I made little banoffee pies for him instead of cake.  Last month, a girl friend and I checked out this place in the Village that was apparently known for this British dessert made of banana + toffee.  I got a slice to go and it was really tasty!  And I realized it was super easy to make for those times you’re in a time crunch (I was working on my sister’s cake the same time I was prepping the pie)!  I was in a bind so I bought ready made graham cracker crusts, but I still made the toffee, sliced the bananas, whipped the cream and hand shaved the chocolate.  You pretty much dump those ingredients into the pie crust, refrigerate, and eat.  As long as my brother and sister liked their speedy birthday baked goods, I was happy.  It was a nice way to end our family dinner  =)

Mini banoffee pies... I should've taken a pic of a half-eaten one to show the layers =/

4) We had our open house the day after my sibs’ birthday dinner.  I figured it wouldn’t hurt to sweeten the pot (another pun! I’m on a freaking roll!) for potential buyers checking out the house, so I made about 4 dozen mini red velvet cupcakes when I made my sister’s mini cake.  I used the last of my cream cheese frosting batch and made quick ghetto swirls on all those minis.  A few of them looked sloppy, but eh, I was being speedy since I needed to set them out quickly (what else is new these days?) and plopped them onto my glass cake stands.  Vin made a nice little sign and laid out my baking cards and napkins, and we rushed out the door so the realtor could work her magic.  She told us later that the cupcakes were a hit and that quite a few people were really interested in the house… but we haven’t heard anything since  =(   We’re just waiting for those offers to come rolling in.  Any day now.  C’mon, people… my house is realllly nice…

I’m pretty much spent.  I have a bridal shower order for this weekend and wedding favors for the same beautiful bride-to be, then making mini cupcakes in support of a rising actress friend’s play, but other than that I can’t really take anything else on with the borderline suicidal workload and all the extra effort needed in keeping the house neat and clean.  Such a Catch-22 getting all this business now and I have to turn people down b/c of my real job.  Meh.  I was thinking of making something pumpkin-y for Halloween, but who knows.  Aside from these projects, I’ll probably just be baking for Thanksgiving and Christmas family holiday dinners… and catching up on sleep.  And I’m kiiiiinda sick of red velvet now.  =P

Hello Kitty cupcake

It’s been a year since I started this so-called biz.  How do remember the date?  It’s been one year since I made custom Pinkalicious cupcakes for a coworker’s daughter’s birthday.  This year, Hello Kitty cupcakes were requested.  Due to time and budget constraints, I had to think about how to make some basic cupcakes that still clearly screamed cutesy Japanese white cat without going overboard.  (BTW, did you know that Hello Kitty is 37 years old???)

The abstract art idea popped into my head after browsing the ThinkGeek catalog (I love the stuff from that store!) and seeing a tee shirt that was a play on Hello Kitty.  It was just a white cube with the trademark bow with the headline “Hello Schröddy” and that was perfect for a cost-effective cupcake design.  I got a kick out of the physics joke about Schrödinger’s cat, too (yes, I wholeheartedly embrace my nerdiness).

A crackly and "eh"-looking experimental first bow... which is why it's called a "test bow"

I made a super light vanilla cake batter and whipped up some white vanilla frosting for basic swirl designs.  That part was easy.  Making the bows turned out to be a bigger undertaking than I expected, even when I used *gasp* ready-made fondant.  Yeah, I know… I said I’d never use it again, but I was in a pinch.  And in hindsight, MAYBE I should have just made my own.  The bright red fondant-from-a-tub was the perfect color, but it dried up soooo quickly.  After rolling out the fondant, I was barely able to cut out shapes for three bows @ max without the fondant starting to crack.  WTF?  I had to toss a chunk of it out b/c the fondant was rock hard and useless, so I just rolled out a small ball of it and cut a few shapes @ a time.  I don’t have bow-shaped cutters and had to improvise so I used circle cutters that were two different sizes: a tiny one for the middle of the bow and the sides are actually pinched-in larger circles.   After making about ten of these, I realized I left out a little nub on each side of the bow but decided eh, I was over it.  They look pretty close though, right?  The fondant dried within minutes, so I immediately placed each bow on the corner of each cupcake.

There you have it: abstract Hello Kitty cupcakes with signature red bows.  So simple and yet so kawaii!  And I saw a pic of  a really happy birthday girl loving her cupcakes =)

An army of totally cute cupcakes

Pig sprinkles atop a hot pink cloud of frosting

Labor Day weekend signifies the last weekend of summer, and most normal people spend it chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool being all lazy, but we were the anti-thesis of beach bum, BBQ-ing, beer guzzling couch potatoes.  We had just signed the papers to sell our house on Thursday, and we had people coming to view the house Friday.  I was let out of work a few hours early on Friday for the holiday and had originally planned on baking cupcakes and making frosting for Vin’s little niece’s 2nd birthday party, but I rushed home to re-organize some clutter @ home before the potential buyers came. (Cross your fingers!  They really liked the house!)  I was too pooped to even think about baking by the end of the night, so I woke up early on Saturday to do everything before the party @ 2.

Chocolate cupcakes with hot pink vanilla-raspberry icing and pig sprinkles

The theme for Penny’s birthday was pink pigs in honor of the petting zoo animals that were coming to her party.  I knew I wouldn’t have time to plan for and decorate an entire pig cake, so I promised cupcakes instead.  The birthday girl had asked for chocolate and hot pink, so chocolate cake and hot pink frosting she got.  Vin’s sister had requested about two dozen cupcakes, and the batch of cake batter I made was enough for 37 (perfect for exactly 3 dozen cupcakes for the party and 1 test one to cut up into tiny bites to analyze and eat).  I decided to turn the extras into “adult” cupcakes… not anything with genitalia shapes (if I did, I wouldn’t be posting pics!), but added some booze and caffeine  =)  I was like, “hmmm….” and whipped up some Kahlua-coffee-mocha frosting for the extra dozen; the icing was a little melty b/c of the liquor, but it tasted really good!  AND, to top it off,  I just so happened to have pig-shaped candy sprinkles for the cupcakes.  Tiny white pigs were carefully placed on the hot pink frosting and one little pink pig was put on the grown-up cupcakes.

Chocolate cupcakes with Kahlua-mocha frosting

Both versions of cupcakes were well-received; both kids and adults loved the pink frosted cupcakes, and I clearly didn’t make enough of the coffee-Kahlua ones.  Oh well.  Next time y’all should get in on that limited edition stuff faster.  Baked goods + booze = fun time for grown-ups @ children’s parties.  haha

Now it’s back to cleaning and sorting our junk… I’d love to be able to get rid of half of my things, but that’ll happen when pigs fly.  Sorry, I had to say it  =P

Happy birthday, Penny!

(I had technical issues with my hard drive so this post is a week late.  As they say on Spartacus, “Apologies!”)

Vin’s brother hit a milestone birthday and I knew I HAD to make something better than last year’s cakeAt the same time, I was crrrraaaazyyy busy with work and other events so I needed to make something with impact, but nothing TOO complicated.  Vin emailed me this really cool shot of a clean white and vibrant rainbow cake and I knew I had to make it.  I know it’s totally ripping off someone else’s idea, but it just looks awesome.  I had to save this for a special occasion, and FT’s birthday was perfect for it.

Rainbow Pac man... I should have cleaned off the cake crumbs and wiped up the frosting smears before this was taken =/

I made a crapload of basic white cake batter then divided it into 6 containers.  (I think I’ve come up with the perfect white vanilla cake recipe.  Extra steps make it time consuming as hell, but it’s so worth it!)  Then I added food coloring to each plastic container (ROY G.  BV–no indigo in this cake) and mixed in the color by hand.  I only have two 8″ round cake pans so I couldn’t prep all the pans at once.  I wanted Red to be the base layer of the rainbow cake, so I made this layer a little thicker so it could support the rest of the cake.  Assembly was easy: cake layer, white frosting layer, cake layer, white frosting layer… wash, rinse, repeat till out of cake layers.  Then I dirty iced it, let it sit in the fridge overnight, and then put the final crisp white frosting layer on the next morning.

My pails of "paint"

From the outside, this looks like a clean, simple, plain @ss white cake.  I mean, I feel like I did a REALLY nice job making the edges perfect and smooth.  BUT, that can’t be an all boring white vanilla cake b/c 1) it’s a milestone birthday; 2) FT’s a really creative and artsy guy and would probably consider this cake “blah”; and 3) everyone expects more from me @ this point in the game.  I can’t blame them; I would be pissed @ myself too if I presented a mediocre, bland-looking cake right now.  AND, I’d also be pissed if I gave boring birthday presents.  I LOVE picking out the right gifts for people, and knowing his love for Alice in Wonderland, I got FT a set of tumblers with John Tenniel illustrations… in January.  haha  When FT was about to blow out the candles, everyone asked what kind of cake it was, and I said, “You’ll just have to wait till it’s cut,” and someone even asked if the cake was going to ooze blood or explode.  haha  Maybe next time.  But still, everyone was pretty surprised.  I was looming over FT while he cut the cake to make sure the layers looked OK; I’m so technical about this that’s all I care about.  Everyone else was like, “Ooohh it’s so colorful!  It’s so summery!” and in my head I was thinking, “yeah that’s nice… I need to check to make sure everything is clean and even or I’ll be mad @ myself.”  haha  I didn’t eat any (I had a bite of one of the extra cupcakes to make sure it was ok) and was told that this was “the most amazing tasting and looking cake we’ve ever had.”  Awww, shucks.  =)

After the candles have been blown out, it's just a plain white cake... OR IS IT???

My co-worker (expert mochi reviewer) also asked me to make a small birthday cake for her husband, so I used some of the extra batter to make a psychedelic little cake with yellow filling.  (Side note: her birthday is coming up later this month and I will make her something for that, too.)  AND, it was also my friend J’s birthday (SO many August birthdays!) and she had requested, “All I want is one cupcake from you!” and so I made some trippy rainbow cupcakes with the last of the batter.  In return, she showed me off to her office mates and booked me for birthday cakes for her family.  What a good friend.  haha

Left: A mini filled birthday cake; Right: Half a dozen birthday cupcakes

I have to say, this rainbow layer cake is perfect for recent NYS news (gay marriage!), kids’ parties, anyone who loves color, or any all around fun person that deserves a cool surprise in cake form.  Actually, this would be pretty cool for weddings, too.  It’s got the clean white look on the outside and the beautiful splashes of color inside, and it would be AMAZING in multiple tier form!  Any takers on a rainbow wedding cake?  I just want to have a reason to make it and see how awesome it would look as a massive multi-tiered cake!

Rainbow cupcakes before icing

Happy birthday, FT!

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…