Love Birds


Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and I decided to get a jump start on decorations for a special cake.  My niece's birthday party is a couple days after Valentine's Day, so I will be busy with preparations for her cake that week. I was trying to decide what kind of decorations I wanted to do for our cake.  I ended up choosing a penguin theme for the cake.  My husband and I have both loved penguins ever since we were little.  We even had a penguin cake topper on our wedding cake! I'm sure we had a few people confused since it wasn't a winter wedding, but it was special to us.  

The topper is made out of fondant and includes two penguins, a heart, some polka dots, and a iceberg.  The side of the cake will have polka dot details shown below, I have purple and pink dots punched out and ready to go around the edge of the cake.  I saw the polka dot border around the edge on a wedding cake recently, and thought it was very cute. I haven't obviously finished the cake yet, but I wanted to share the idea in case you wanted to do something similar for Valentine's Day.  I'm planning on making a 6" cake and covering it with sky blue buttercream.

The penguins are actually made up of pretty simple shapes.  Here's a tutorial for making the adorable love birds.

Love Bird Cupcake Toppers
  • Start with black fondant. It's easiest just to buy black rather than trying to tint it.
  • Roll out a ball the size you would like of the penguin's body. Pinch the sides of it to make it into an oval shape.
  •  Roll a smaller size ball of black fondant for the head.
  •  Before attaching the head, make a few marks on the top of the body to make it rougher and help it attach better. Attach head to body with gum paste (few pieces of gum paste or fondant dissolved in 1/4 cup of water).
  • Next, make the flippers for the penguin.  I started with a long piece rolled out and then shape into a triangle.
  •  Attach the flippers with gum paste.  Use the back of the Exacto blade to push the flipper into the body, this helps to seal it and make the flippers more stable.
  •  Roll out gold or yellow fondant to just below 1/16". I used the cap of the edible marker to cut out a semi-circle shape. Attach to body of penguin using gum glue. You can make indentations for the toes if you would like using the Exacto knife.
  • Using the same color fondant as the feet, cut out a triangle shape for the beak and attach to the face using gum glue.
  •  Roll out white fondant paper thin and cut out an oval shape with the Exacto knife. Attach to penguin using gum glue.
  •  Roll out two small balls of white fondant for the eyes.
  • Mark a small black dot on each eye using an edible marker.
  • Attach to penguin head with gum glue.
  • Repeat the steps to make a second penguin.
  • Make accessories for the penguins to personalize them (bow, scarf, hat, etc). 
  • Roll out fondant about 1/16" and cut a cloud-like shape for the iceberg.
  •  For additional details, you can make pink dots and a heart.  I made the heart starting with a circle and then pinched the bottom.  To make the top of the heart, I used the back of the Exacto blade and made an indentation.
  • I'm going to finish my cake by attaching pink and purple polka dots around the bottom of the cake.  The smaller pink dots are cut out using the lid of the edible marker.  The larger purple dots are cut out using the smallest Wilton round cutter.

Hope you enjoy the topper tutorial, I'll post pictures when the cake is finished on my Facebook page.  Make sure and like my page to see the finalized cake pic and pics of the finalized Super Bowl cupcakes. If you are adding me and have a baking blog or business page be sure and let me know.  I love adding other fellow bakers and bloggers and sharing ideas!

Super Bowl Cupcakes


Today’s cupcake toppers are in celebration of this weekend’s Super Bowl. I wanted to finish the toppers early so I could share the tutorial before the weekend. I'm not a huge sports fan, but usually watched the Super Bowl - at least for the commercials. Several years ago, I actually joined a fantasy football league that my dad and brother-in-law were in because they had an uneven number and were just going to make a fake team otherwise.  They joked that I would do about as well as the fake team, so I decided I had to join and prove them wrong.  I knew basically nothing about football, but to all the guys' surprise - I won!  That Super Bowl they attended their party in pink shirts I made that said "I Got Beat By a Girl in Fantasy Football." To be honest, I can't remember what teams were playing that year, but it was the best Super Bowl ever.  

I may not be in a fantasy football team this year, or bringing shirts to make the guys wear, but we are planning to go to a party this weekend.  That was as much of an excuse as I needed to make some fondant toppers.  I'm currently job hunting, which can be exhausting, so I like to take a break and do something fun. Hopefully the cupcakes will be a hit at the party (no pun intended). I'm planning on covering the cupcakes with green buttercream icing made to look like grass (using the Wilton 233 tip) and placing the football and logos on top. 

The only thing left to decide is the flavor of the cupcake.  I've made chocolate ones a lot lately, and am trying to think of a fun, festive flavor.  I'd love to hear your suggestions!  Let me know what your pick for a Super Bowl cupcake flavor would be.  You can leave a message here or on my Facebook page.  I'll post some pics after the party and let you know which flavor was chosen.

Below are my tutorials for the various toppers.  I started out doing better taking pictures, but got into it and slacked off again.  But, I've got enough that you can get the idea of the steps. Enjoy!

San Fransisco 49er Cupcake Toppers:

  • Print several copies out of the 49er’s logo and cut out different parts.


  • Roll out black fondant to 1/16 in.
  • Cut out the largest shape from the black fondant with an Exacto knife using the print-out as a guide.


  • Dye fondant gold (mixture of yellow, brown, black, and white) and roll out to 1/16 in.
  • Cut out the middle shape of the gold fondant with an Exacto knife using the print-out as a guide.
  • Cover the back of the gold piece with gum paste and stick to the black fondant.
  • Dye fondant maroon and roll out to 1/16 in.
  • Cut out the smallest shape of the maroon fondant.

 

  • Cover the back of the maroon piece with gum paste and stick to the gold fondant.
  • Roll out white fondant paper thin.
  • Cut out the SF shape and attach to the maroon fondant with gum glue.


  • Mark the outline of the SF with a black edible marker.




Baltimore Ravens Cupcake Toppers:
  • Print several copies out of the Raven’s logo and cut out different parts.
  • Roll out gold fondant (same coloring as before) to 1/16 in.
  • Cut out the largest shape from the gold fondant.


  • Dye fondant purple and roll out to 1/16 in.
  • Cut out the smaller raven shape of the purple fondant.
  • Cover the back of the purple piece with gum paste and stick to the gold fondant.
  • Dye white fondant and roll out paper thin.
  • Cut out beak shape and small circle for the eye.
  • Attach the beak and eye to the purple piece with the gum paste.
  • Roll out the fondant paper thin.
  • Cut out the "B" shape from the gold fondant and attach with gum paste.
  • Mark the lines of the beak, pupil of the eye, and additional details with the black edible marker.



Football Cupcake Topper:

  • Dye fondant brown for the football, with a mixture of brown and copper.
  • Roll fondant into ball and shape sides to make a football.
  • Roll out white fondant into long thin rolls.
  • Attach to sides of football with gum glue.
  • Cut three small pieces of the white fondant to make the stitch marks on football.


Math Can Be Sweet


Today's calculator cake is a special treat for any math lovers out there (yes, we do exist).  I had been wanting to do a math cake for a while, but hadn't found the right occasion. I was going to do it for my husband's birthday, but went for a UK basketball theme instead.  I don't find a lot of occassions for math cakes, as most people aren't as big of nerds math enthusiasts as my husband and I!  Believe it or not, my favorite subject in school was always math, I especially loved calculus.  Thankfully someone else in our family is a math person as well, so I had a great excuse to make a math cake.

My sister asked me a few weeks ago if I would make a calculator or math cake for her husband's birthday.  He is a high school math teacher, and she thought he would like that theme.  I looked around online and found what I expected - not a lot of math cakes out there...  I decided to create my own, and came up with some ideas.  This cake has three basic techniques used - piping, fondant decor, and Cake Cricut work.   I have tutorials for all three, as well as the recipe for the cake.  My brother-in-law is a big Oreo fan, so I did a chocolate cake with a Oreo cookies and cream buttercream. 

Fondant work - Calculator

My first step with the cake was working on the calculator.  I started this about a week in advance, as I knew it would take time to create and dry.  You should allow at least 72 hours for a large piece like this to dry before putting it on the cake.

When creating a detailed fondant object like the calculator, I like to use the method of working with a print-out and Exacto knife. 
  1. I printed several copies of a picture of the calculator, scaled to the size I wanted for the cake.
  2. I cut out the basic shapes for the calculator from the printouts (the overall shape, the screen, the area around the screen, the various shaped buttons, etc). These will serve as templates to cut out the fondant pieces. 
  3. I rolled black fondant out to approximately 1/8".
  4. Using the exacto knife, I cut out the basic calculator shape using the printout as a template.
  5. I rolled out white and black fondant to 1/16" and cut out the respective buttons using the buttons from the printout as a template.
  6. I dyed white fondant the gray, green, blue, and yellow shades I needed for the remaining pieces.
  7. I cut out the screen, buttons, and remaining pieces.  I again used the printouts as a template.
  8. Using gum glue (mixture of gum paste or fondant and water), I glued the pieces onto the calculator base.

You could leave the calculator as shown above.  But to finish it off, I used an edible marker to fill in some details on the buttons and screen.

Cricut Cake work - "Happy Birthday Jason" and numbers


Much to my excitement, my Christmas presents this year were centered around cake decorating and baking.  I received a PINK KitchenAid mixer and a Cricut Cake Mini.  I had seen a little about the Cricut Cake, and my sister uses the regular paper Cricut.  Once I tried it out, though, I was hooked!  It is so easy to make professional and detailed items for cakes.  I got three cartridges filled with all kinds of objects, texts, borders, etc.  I definitely wanted to try it out for this cake. There weren't a lot of math themed symbols and objects, but I was able to cut out the "Happy Birthday," "Jason," and the numbers.  I think the items take the cake to a more professional looking level.  I'm not the best at piping text, so this will come in very handy!

You can read more about the Cricut Cake on Cricut's website, or find them at most local craft stores.  I haven't tried using rolled out fondant in the cricut yet, but love using the Wilton Sugar Sheets.  They work just like paper, and are perfect for the Cricut Cake.

Piping work - Digits of pi

 

No math cake would be complete without a mention of pi!  I decided to finish the cake off with a tribute to the number by writing just a few of its digits around the cake.  I used the #12 tip in a piping bag to do this.  The best way to pipe text or numbers is by keeping the tip at a 45 degree angle from the surface you are piping on.  You should keep the tip just above the surface, as you continue piping it will rest down on the icing or cake board.  Keeping the tip slightly above will keep the icing from bunching up.

Another good tip is to use thin icing with a little piping gel mixed in.  THe piping gel adds elasticity to the icing and keeps it from cracking.  You may notice that some of my numbers cracked.  I didn't have all my tools with me and did not add the gel.  My icing was also a little too thick, I should have thinned it out.  A smaller tip (#1, #3) also help if you want finer writing on a cake.

The Cake Recipe
Chocolate cake ingredients:
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Cake Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine all dry ingredients
  3. Add eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla into batter.
  4. Beat batter at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in boiling water  - batter will be thin.
  6. Generously spray cake pan and fill with batter.
  7. I uses an 8 inch round cake 3 inches thick and baked it for about 50-55 minutes.
  8. Let cool before icing

Cookies and Cream Buttercream ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 8 tsp milk
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 4-5 crushed Oreos
Buttercream directions:
  1. Combine Crisco, butter, vanilla, and milk.
  2. Beat until mixed well.
  3. Add powdered sugar about 1/4-1/2lb at a time.
  4. If too thick consistency, add additional tsp's of milk.

Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends


Today I have another fondant cupcake topper to share.  I love getting to try out new characters and designs for toppers! These would be great to make for your child's party! Using fondant, gum paste, and an edible marker I created the following template.


I decided to stick with that design and make a few adjustments.  Below is a simple explanation of how I created these train toppers.

Materials Needed:
  • White fondant
  • Black fondant (or black dye)
  • Red, blue, and green dye (or colored fondant)
  • Gum paste (pieces of fondant or gum paste in a small container of water)
  • Paint brush
  • Wilton round cookie cutter (largest of set of three - or whatever size you are going for)
  • Exacto knife
  • Tbs measuring spoon
Directions:
  1. Start by kneading and working through a ball of white fondant about the size of a large marble (if using colored fondant for the train then knead that and skip step 2).
  2. Using a toothpick, add icing color gel (desired color of train) to the fondant and work through with hands.
  3. Roll out the fondant to around 1/16".
  4. Using the round cookie cutter, cut out the larger round circle for the train body and set aside.
  5. Knead through a combination of equal parts black and white fondant to achieve the desired gray color for the face.
  6. Roll out the fondant to just under 1/16".
  7. I didn't have a cookie cutter the size I wanted for the face.  I found a tbs measuring spoon was just about the perfect size. I did shape it up a little using the Exacto knife as it was a little big.  Once you cut out one size you like, let it harden and then it can be a template for future cutouts.  Exacto knives work great for cutting around the edge of a shape.
  8. Dip the pain brush in a little gum glue and cover the back of the gray circle with it.
  9. Attach the gray circle to the center of the colored circle.
  10. Roll out a small amount of white fondant to be paper thin.  
  11. Use the exacto knife to cut out the shapes for the eyes (the edible marker lid made a great template for the eye size).
  12. Attach the eyes to the gray circle using gum glue and the paint brush.
  13. Allow the topper to dry for a few minutes before moving on.
  14. Using the marker, color in the pupil for the eyes.
  15. Draw eyebrows above the eyes
  16. Using the character as a template, draw the mouth/nose area to complete the face.
  17. Roll out black fondant about 1/16" thick
  18. Cut out a rectangle for the smoke stack and attach with gum glue.
  19. Let dry overnight and then attach to cupcakes with icing.
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial of my Thomas the Tank Engine cupcake toppers!  

Cherry Coke for Dessert


Today's recipe may be the simplest I have ever posted.  It has just TWO ingredients and takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.  This cake does not include eggs, milk, or oil.  The secret ingredient?  Coca Cola!  I've seen Coke cake before, my husband loves it at Cracker Barrel.  It's usually the consistency somewhere between a cake and brownie. I had seen a few recipes online with lots of steps and ingredients.  Things have been a little hectic lately with job hunting, and I was just looking for a quick dessert to surprise my husband with.  I kept looking around online, and found a recipe for a simple Coke cake using just coke and chocolate cake mix! 

I found the recipe at Kirbie's Craving and decided to make a couple adjustments.  The first change was I decided to go with cupcakes, it seemed quicker and the recipe had mentioned it might help as the cake tended to be crumbly when cutting slices.  I also decided to go for Cherry Coke, one of my husband's favorites! I wasn't sure how strong the cherry flavor would come through, but thought it might be a nice twist to a more traditional coke cake.

My next step was to decide what I should top the cupcakes with.  I'm not a big fan of chocolate icing on chocolate cupcakes, too much chocolate for me!  I know that may be strange, but I've never been a huge chocolate fan.  I like a little, but with something else to complement it.  I was looking through icing recipes, but wanted something a little lighter.  I was trying to think of a flavor that would complement the cherry as well as the chocolate when it hit me - ice cream! 

The cupcakes were a big hit with my husband.  The cherry flavor wasn't too strong, but definitely detectable.  The ice cream was a wonderful combination with the flavors.  You could even turn it into a sundae by adding chocolate sauce and a cherry on top!


Cherry Coke Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 12 oz Cherry Coke

Cherry Coke Cake Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Mix cherry coke into cake mix until there are no lumps.
  4. Bake for 16-20 minutes.
  5. After cooling, top with ice cream and any additional toppings and enjoy!

 



Fondue for Two


Happy New Year!  I can hardly believe it is already 2013!  It seems like it should just be mid 2012 still.  Last year was one of the most eventful and crazy years I've had.  In 2012 my sister and her family adopted my adorable nephew, I got married, my husband and I bought a house, my husband lost his job, I left my job, we moved to a new state, and we sold our house!  It was a year of change and new beginnings.  One of my new beginnings was starting this blog!  It was my New Year's resolution to get more involved in making cakes and cupcakes.  I started this blog to keep up with my recipes and document my progress and creations.  I've come a LONG way this year and learned a LOT! I've taken three Wilton courses which has taught me so many skills and methods for cake design!  I can't wait to see where this blog and my cake creations go in 2013!

I hope you and your family had a great New Years Eve and a wonderful holiday season.  I had plans for a couple special cakes, but neither came to fruition.  I was planning on making and sharing an Italian cream cake recipe for Christmas.  But, my family had a stomach bug going around during the holidays, and I decided to wait on the cake.  My poor husband had Jello for both meals on Christmas day! I ran out of time to make my New Year's Eve cake due to some travel plan changes.

I always get a little sad when the holidays are over, especially Christmas.  It seems like the holiday season is such a special time with friends and family, then it ends and there's lots to clean up and do.  We were gone for a week visiting family and then a few more days going to a wedding out west.  We got home on New Years Eve with mountains of laundry, tons of gifts to unpack, and Christmas decorations that needed to come down. But we decided to let most of that wait (I did unpack some) until after New Year's Eve.

For years, I've had in my head that I wanted to get all dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant or party for New Years.  So far I've never actually done that, but maybe some day!  This was my first New Years that I didn't spend with my family.  My husband and I had plans with some friends, but bad weather caused them to change. We decided to do something special since we were staying in and make some of our favorite food. My husband prepared some delicious steaks for us, and I was in charge of dessert. We also made it a bit fancier with some sparkling strawberry juice and 2013 glasses for a toast.


I really wanted to use my new PINK KitchenAid mixer I got for Christmas, but didn't feel like getting into a real involved dessert.   I decided we should try a fondue night as a special treat.  We used to live near a Melting Pot and went there for special occasions.  There's not one near us now, so we decided to create our own fondue!

There are various ways to heat up and serve chocolate or cheese fondue.  We have a small 2.5 quart crockpot that can be used, though it takes quite a while to heat up the chocolate (we discovered that last night).  There are also lots of fondue specific pots you can find at retail stores.  About a year ago, we happened to find a cute item perfect for two for fondue.  It's a mug, complete with skewers and tealight, that heats up the chocolate and serves as a cute container for the chocolate (see picture below).  We did find you need to stir pretty often so it doesn't burn.  The mug method is probably not the best if kids are involved (as there is an open flame), but it's perfect for two adults.

Crockpot version              Tea light mug version

When eating fondue, there are countless options for dipping flavors and items to dip.  We decided to go simple and just melt Ghirardelli white chocolate chips.  You can look at the Melting Pot menu or recipes online for flavor ideas.  We also enjoy a white/dark chocolate mix and chocolate with caramel.


Here's some ideas for dipping flavors:
  • Plain chocolate (milk, dark, white)
  • Combo chocolate (mix two or more chocolates)
  • Chocolate with additional sauce (caramel, peanut butter, marshmallow creme)
  • Chocolate with mix-ins (candy pieces, nuts, fruit, etc)
Ideas for dipping:
  • Pretzels (rods or sticks work best)
  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Pound cake (or any other firm cake that won't fall apart)
  • Cheese cake bites (best to dribble chocolate over as it tends to fall apart)
  • Brownie pieces
  • Cookies (soft or hard)
  • Marshmallows
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Graham cracker sticks

Fondue for Two ingredients:
  • Chocolate (chips or bars specifically designed for melting work best)
  • Dipping items
  • Matches (if using a tealight method for fondue)
  • Skewers
Fondue directions:
  • Heat up chocolate in fondue mug or crockpot
  • Stir chocolate frequently and add in any mix-ins
  • Cut up any dipping items that need to be and create plate of dipping treats.
  • Once the chocolate gets to the desired consistency, blow out candle or put Crockpot on warm.
  • Dip and enjoy!!
Thanks to all my readers who have stuck with me in 2012, and I hope you keep checking in during 2013! Don't forget to like me on Facebook for additional pics/ideas/posts.  Have a Happy New Year and I hope 2013 is the best yet!