f Sarah Lynn's Sweets

Elmo Birthday Cake

I've decorated quite a few cakes over the past couple years. Of all the cakes I have made, though, the kids birthday cakes have been my favorite! Between bright colors and whimsical characters, it's hard not to smile when you are working on them. While character cakes can be difficult, it's a fun challenge to have.

It had been a while since I've made a kids cake, but I had one last week for a little girl's 2nd birthday. I had previously made treats for her first birthday including a ladybug smash cake and cupcakes. I also made bottle cap toppers for her dad's birthday. 

The girls birthday party was Elmo themed with pink and orange details. I looked around online for ideas and decided to decorate the cake with Elmo, polka dots, and a Sesame Street-style sign with the birthday girl's name and age. The Elmo took a couple tries to get right, but I think it came out looking like the beloved character.

To create this treat, I covered an 8 inch cake with buttercream and ironing it out with a fondant smoother and a non-pattern paper towel. I covered made small marble sized balls of pink fondant. I then created various sized pink and orange polka dots.

The front of the cake was decorated with a Sesame Street-style sign. The name was created with thin ropes of white fondant formed to create letters.

Of course Elmo was the main feature of the cake. He was made with fondant and edible markers. I used a printout of the character to ensure I got the details just right. You really have to pay special attention to even the minor details (for example, Elmo's fur) to ensure you capture the essence of the character.

I have another cake coming up soon, so make sure and check back! I also have some delicious recipes to share this week.

Star Wars Cake

It's a year of milestone birthdays in my family. My dad just turned 60, my husband is about to be 30, and my nephew will be 5 later this year! All these significant milestones mean special birthday celebrations. I'm still working on the details of my husband's birthday, but I'm thinking about an 80's themed party. I've been pinning lots of ideas on my Pinterest boards, but I'd love to hear your ideas as well!

For my dad's 60th birthday, we threw a Star Wars themed party. There was even Star Wars themed food and cake! I unfortunately don't have pictures of the party decor and food because I shattered my phone screen while prepping for the party. Sigh... I now have a new phone, though, and a sturdy safe case in place of my cute cupcake one. I learned that lesson the hard way!

While I might not have a ton of pics of the decor and food, I do have a few photos of the cake and fondant decor.

I love making cakes for my friends and family. I haven't had a ton of cakes over the summer, so it was great to have a new project. Of all the cakes I've made, the Star Wars decor was one of the more challenging ones I've worked on. Character cakes are more difficult than others because you really have to pay close attention to the small details, otherwise the characters just don't come out right. Trust me...you should have seen my first few attempts at Darth Vader and R2D2.

After experimenting some, I decided to go with R2D2, Yoda, Death Star, a Storm Trooper, and Darth Vader. A Star Wars cake wouldn't be complete without some light sabers as well!

I decided to let the Star Wars characters be the star, so I just did a simple round cake with blue icing. The cake was my go to chocolate recipe with buttercream icing. I topped the cake with the characters, and made some round gray fondant balls for the border of the cake.

Check back next week for an Elmo cake I'm working on!

Bourbon Ancho Chile Pork Chops

I started my blog just over two years ago, and was solely focused on cupcake recipes and sweet treats. Over time, my blog has evolved to include cake decor and fondant tutorials, crafts, and even quite a few savory dishes! My husband and I love to cook together and have recently started experimenting more with recipes. 

If you read my blog much, you know I love Food Network. I've tried out a ton of Pioneer Woman recipes (seriously...it's a lot)! Recently, though, we've been on a Bobby Flay kick. A couple months ago, I shared two Bobby Flay burger recipes, and his Ancho Chile fries. After enjoying those recipes, we decided to tackle something tougher. When we were on our honeymoon, we went to his awesome restaurant Mesa Grill in NYC. The bread, the appetizers, and dessert - everything was amazing! My favorite part of the meal, though, had to be my entree - Bourbon-Ancho pork tenderloin. 

We decided to try our hand at his recipe for the pork dish. To switch things up, though, we made pork chops instead of pork tenderloin. The crust worked well on them, and the Bourbon-Ancho sauce was perfect! We were disappointed at first, because it didn't seem to thicken up well. But the taste was spot on, and worked perfectly with the pork.

Bourbon-Ancho Pork Chop ingredients:
  • Spice crust:
    • 3 tbs ancho chile powder
    • 2 tbs brown sugar
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 tsp allspice (if you don't have all spice, use equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
    • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 2 lbs pork chop
  • Bourbon-Ancho sauce
    • 1 tbs olive oil
    • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup frozen thawed apple juice concentrate
    • 1 1/2 ancho chiles (or 1 tbs ancho chile powder)
    • 1 cup bourbon
Bourbon-Ancho Pork Chop instructions:
  • Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat
  • Pour in Bourbon and bring to a boil
  • Heat until reduced to a few tablespoons (~5 mins)
  • Add ancho chile powder, chicken stock, apple juice concentrate, black pepper, and brown sugar
  • Cook until reduced by half, about 15-20 mins
  • Heat tbsp canola oil in pan over medium high
  • Mix together spice crust for the pork chops
  • Cover both sides of the pork chop with the spice rub

  • Heat the pork chops to an internal temperature of at least 145F (for medium rare), we cooked them to 160F. Cook them on each side for a few mins and then flip, continuing cooking and flipping until finished.