Sometimes, a girl needs a good challenge.  Something she really needs to do b/c it’s fun and rewarding even though she barely has time to breathe… or b/c she’s just mental.  I’d like to think this is a little of both  =)

Mardi Gras cake ball set

A while back, one of my friends referred her engaged friend to me and suggested that I do her wedding favors.  (To be consistent, R also recommended me to do the baked goods for the bridal shower.)  Her friend was planning a Mardi Gras-themed wedding and wanted party favors that could double as escort cards.  I got really excited about being hired to do this and had sooo many ideas, I kinda went overboard in making suggestions.  haha  But the lovely bride-to-be and I finalized the favors to be cake balls.  This would probably be best option for easy transport and set up since the guest list had about oh, I don’t know…like, 400 guests.  Other options would have been nice, but just for the sake of making things easier for organizing and alphabetizing purposes and having gone through last minute things on my wedding day (i.e., sorting escort cards while getting my hair done an hour before the ceremony), I wanted to make things go as smoothly as possible for her.  So we decided to have cake balls and small cube favor boxes and labels.

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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

Cupcake rose garden

The rose cupcakes actually weren’t what I originally had in mind.  I’m somewhat annoyed so just look @ the pictures while I quietly sulk about it.  All I’m gonna say is if the day ever comes that I can no longer make buttercream roses in my sleep, that’ll be the end of the world.

"Earth day" birthday cupcakes

Note to self: requests for blue + green swirl frosting = cupcakes that look like “Earth”.

Rose cupcakes

Hrpmh.

(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!

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

This is one way of killing two birds with one stone… giving your parents an awesome birthday present and giving me business @ the same time.  hahaha  My friend Danny wanted to order a birthday cake for his parents (what a sweet son he is!) and was open to any ideas. So I asked what his parents liked: what kind of cake (one likes vanilla, the other likes chocolate cake), what frosting flavors (vanilla and chocolate-raspberry), what colors they liked (green and yellow)… so I had this wild, ambitious idea to make a checkerboard cake instead of making one boring layer of chocolate, one blah layer of vanilla…

On the outside, this is a normal 9″ three-layer cake with my trademark roses in yellow (I really should learn how to make other things out of frosting  haha) and basic border design in green with standard white vanilla icing and freehand “Happy Birthday” in yellow.  (My apologies to Danny’s parents; “Mom + Dad” didn’t fit after I wrote “Birthday”.)  However, on the inside, this baby is CRAZY awesome.  Once you slice it, you’ll see a delectable raspberry-chocolate frosting in-between layers of…  a checkerboard made of cake!  Not too shabby, eh? EH?  =)

I was SO glad Danny’s family liked this!  ¡Feliz cumpleaños, Senor y Senora V!

I must have not been thinking straight last week because I took on a double order for Saturday.  During one of the most insane work weeks ever. While practically OD’ing on precautionary vitamins and supplements and Citrus Flavor Lozenges 18 Pieces even when I had the slightest tickle in my throat because I was surrounded by sniffling and sneezing and coughing people.  I had absolutely nooooo time to be sick!  Four dozen cupcakes had to be baked and decorated by noon on Saturday. And I had to be able to focus on work!  And I had to clean the house!  Over ambitious, much?  haha

I was planning to deliver these in my cupcake carriers and be a pain and make people take their naked cupcakes (I didn’t have wrappers that fit mini cupcakes!) out of the carrier case so I could bring it back home with me right then and there.  On Thursday I was thinking to myself, “thank goodness I have TWO of these carriers!” but I got lucky.  REAL lucky.  Like Clint Eastwood asking if I felt lucky except I’m not a homicidal maniac thief with a death wish. Anyway, the cake boxes and cupcake clamshells and wrappers and bags I ordered were delivered!  Therefore, I could be somewhat professional and package these babies proper for my orders! I put “The Cake Dealer” stickers on the cupcake boxes for the perfect finishing touch! Yay for basement storage!

I made white and pink vanilla frosting on Thursday night and baked super light and moist chocolate cupcakes on Friday night.  60 regular cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes, to be exact.  I actually had half a bite of a mini cupcake and made Vin eat the other half since my tastebuds were off from snorting ingesting all the confectioner’s sugar and flour that flew out of the mixer.  He said it tasted awesome; since the man doesn’t love chocolate (let alone most desserts), I figured they really did come out well!

Two dozen regular cupcakes were for a family friend’s niece’s party.  The birthday girl sounded like a wicked cool kid because she wanted skulls and punk designs. Hello? Just what I like, too!  So I did some freehand piping of skulls on 1 dozen and some girly/punkish designs on the other dozen.  I was told that the girls loved the cupcakes and I now am booked through November 13 because of this order.  haha

The other order was for a dozen regular cupcakes and a dozen mini cupcakes with roses for another girl’s birthday party.  I finally got the frosting consistency to be perfect and not melty @ all, but I should have started making the roses a day in advance because my wrist and forearm got really fricking tired churning out 24 frosting flowers all @ once.  I mean, it was so stiff it was hard to squeeze!  (Yes, I did purposely set myself up there  haha)  But, I gotta say, they came out looking pretty good! And I was so glad the girl’s mom said the girls went crazy over them and thought they were so beautiful and delicious.  Awww… my temporary wrist pain was totally worth it.  =)

My final frosting-related feat of the day was making one last rose for a birthday cupcake for a friend.  I received the rest of my packaging order after dropping off the other 2 orders so the signature hot pink/black/white ribbon was missing (dang!).  But not for Jaime’s birthday cupcake!  I carefully placed it in one of the 200 Chinese food takeout containers I just received and finished it with a bow.  Voila! C’est parfait!

Happy birthday to all you October babies!



I started making roses for the hell of it this past spring, and the cake decorating just took off. These cupcakes (and mini cupcakes!) were a result of a frosted flower-making binge. The pink ones were almond-flavored, the purple ones were raspberry flavored and the white frosting was coconut.



My sister turned 24 this year. She is my confidante, my partner in crime, and yet she somehow keeps my head from floating off into the clouds. Sometimes she acts like the responsible, levelheaded big sister… and then she’ll suddenly say some ridiculously airheaded comment that makes me crack up with an uncontrollable “BWAHAHAHAHAAAAaaaaa” laugh. haha

Her dinner party was on a Friday night, so during the week, I spent a couple hours each night on her little cake. First, I baked the cake and cupcakes. The following night, I made frosting and the roses. On Thursday night, I was sooooo freaking frustrated because it was so hot and the icing was just melting… even with the A/C blasting. I had 15 seconds from the time I took a chilled rose out of the fridge to the time I could place it on the cake before it would turn to complete mush. This was a painstaking, surgeon-like process, but c’mon… it’s for my sister.

After using the best flowers for her cascading cake motif, I still had quite a few decent roses left over. Popping these babies on cupcakes was muuuuuch easier than being McGuyver and strategically (and quickly!) placing cascading roses on the cake before the frosting blew up. I mean… melted.