Turn Old Cake into Croutons


Have you ever had to throw away a cake or cupcakes?  It happens a lot to me, and it seems like such a waste! Well don't worry, I have a yummy solution - sweet croutons!
You can find my recipe at Consider Me Inspired. I'm excited to be this week's Saturday Spotlight blogger! Check out my guest post to see how to turn old cake into croutons!

Don't forget to check back soon for my farm cake, and follow me on social media sites (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for a sneak peak! I'm starting it today, so I'll have a sneak peak soon!!

Inspiration in Progress #11


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Andes Mint Brownies


If you've spent much time on my site, you know it is full of dessert recipes (and lots of cake decor). When searching through my recipes, you will find tons of recipes for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and even a few specialty drinks and pies.  But one thing that is completely missing on my blog? Brownies! I will admit that's because they aren't my favorite of desserts.  As I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge chocolate fan (I know I'm weird). I do like it when mixed with other flavors like caramel or peanut butter, and I actually really like my go to chocolate cake recipe with a buttercream.  But, brownies are obviously very chocolatey and just have never been my favorite. I will say, though, that I did enjoy a bite of today's treat!!

I decided to make brownies for two reasons - first of all I hadn't tried them yet and wanted to share a recipe for brownie lovers out there, and secondly (and most importantly), my husband loves them.  For him, the more chocolatey a dessert is, the better. He's been working so hard lately at his job, and has spent days off helping me with my recent cake decorating jobs. I really wanted to make something special just for him! For my first brownie, I decided to go simple, yet with a twist on a traditional brownie.  I wanted to incorporate his absolute favorite chocolate treat - Andes mint!  You may recall I made him some Andes Mint cupcakes for his birthday last year.

These brownies are so simple to make, I started with just a box mix.  I decided to bake them in a 9x13 pan to make them thinner, thinking it would have a better mint to brownie ratio. These brownies may be simple to make, but they are loaded with flavor and a total transformation from a regular brownie.  I've seen similar recipes on Pinterest and various sites, but the recipe I used comes from Taste of Home.

Andes Mint Brownie ingredients:
  • Brownie mix
  • Ingredients per box mix directions (typically oil, water, eggs)
  • 2 boxes of Andes mints (4.67 oz boxes)
Andes Mint Brownie instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 325F (350F for dark pan)
  • Prepare brownie mix per box directions
  • Grease pan and pour in brownie batter
  • Bake per directions on box
  • A few minutes before finished cooking, start unwrapping all the Andes mints 
  • Chop up 5 mints to use for a garnish (I had some leftover mints from a third box, so I ended up using 10 for the garnish)
  • Once taking out of the oven, carefully place Andes mints all along the top of the brownie (careful it's hot!)
  • Place back in the oven for 25-30 secs or until candies melt
  • Spread melted candy all along the top
  • Set on wired rack and cool brownies
  • Once cooled, top with garnish and ENJOY!


So what kind of brownie is your favorite? I'd love to hear from you about what your favorite brownie recipe includes! If you have a delicious brownie recipe, I'd love to feature it on my blog sometime.  Leave a comment or send me an email, and I will check it out! 

Elephant Birthday Party


Today, I'm bringing you a post full of elephants!  If you follow me on one of my other social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter), you probably caught a sneak peak of my weekend project. This past weekend I made treats for a little boy's first birthday party. His mom wanted simply designed cakes with various shades of blue, and elephants.  She sent me a picture of an invitation she was basing the decorations on.  I went with that elephant character and came up with a cake, cupcakes, and a smash cake.

There's a lot of work that went into these cakes!  First up is the large birthday cake. I wanted a simple design, but needed it to fit with the theme.  

Main Cake




I started out by creating a fondant elephant centerpiece. This needs to be made at least 24 hours in advance, to be completely dry.

Elephant centerpiece:
  • Start by using black food gel and white fondant to create gray fondant
  • Roll out fondant to around 1/4-1/2 in thick
  • Cut out the basic shape of the elephant using an Exacto knife or spatula (you can do by hand or printout a template to use)
  • Use a spatula to smooth out edges and clean up.  You can smooth out cracks by rubbing on water or shortening
  • Roll out a thin piece of fondant for tail and attach using gum glue (balls of fondant dissolved in 1/4 cup water)
  • Add some white fondant to the grey fondant to lighten it up and roll out to approx 1/16 in
  • Cut out shape of the elephant ear 
  • Attach ear to the elephant using gum glue
  • Roll blue fondant out to 1/8 in and cut out circular base
  • Attach elephant using gum glue

  • Add dot for an eye using a black edible marker
  • Let dry at least 24 hours
I baked the cake the evening before the party.  Here's the steps I used to finish up the cake:
  • Once cooled, cut cake in half and fill (I used a fudge filling)
  • Cover cake with blue buttercream
  • Set elephant on top of cake before buttercream hardens
  • Roll blue fondant to 1/16 in
  • Cut out circles in the fondant using small cookie cutter
  • Add the blue dots on to top of cake (if icing has hardened, apply dot of water to back of circles)
  • Add a little more blue food coloring to leftover buttercream to create a darker tint
  • Using tip #12, create buttercream border for the bottom of the cake
Elephant cupcakes



I started these by making cupcake toppers a few days before (just need to dry at least 24 hours).

Cupcake toppers:
  • Roll gray fondant out to around 1/16 in
  • Cut out elephants using a template and an Exacto knife (I freehanded the shape on cardboard)
  • Using cookie cutter, cut out "1" shape
  • Roll out blue fondant to 1/16 in
  • Cut out ovals for balloons
  • Using the rope technique, roll out white fondant to create a "K" (or whatever letter you are using) and balloon string
  • Attach "K"'s, balloon strings, and balloons to elephant and "1" toppers using gum glue

The night before the party I started finishing up the cupcakes:
  • Bake cupcakes and let cool completely (I let sit out all night)
  • Pipe buttercream on using 1M tip
  • Lightly press cupcake topper on top of icing, pressing down the icing some and attaching the topper
Elephant smash cake



My final cake was the smash cake!  This didn't require much fondant, so no work in advance.  Here's how I created the cake.
  • Bake a 6 in cake (I like that size for smash cake)
  • Let cool completely
  • Cut cake about 1/3 way down
  • Fill and cover cake with buttercream
  • Find a picture of an elephant you want to use and print it out to the desired size
  • Make sure the picture is flipped backwards of how you want it facing on the cake (ex: the cake topper I made had the elephant facing left, so I printed it out with elephant facing right)
  • Place piece of wax paper over top of the printed picture
  • Fill ziploc bag with piping gel and cut off corner
  • Trace the shape of the elephant onto the wax paper with the piping gel
  • Flip the wax paper over and CAREFULLY place down on cake
  • Rub the wax paper area with the piping gel to attach it to cake
  • Slowly peel back wax paper 
Piping gel on smoothed buttercream to serve as an outline
  • Fill piping bag with gray icing and tip #12
  • Fill in the lines of the elephant with the icing, slowly moving around and applying a constant pressure
  • Using tip #3, finish details, such as eye (black icing), tail (gray), and balloon string
  • Using tip #12, pipe balloon using blue buttercream 
  • Again using tip #12, create a border around the base of the cake
  • To finish up, roll out fondant to around 1/16 inch in blue
  • Use letter cookie cutters to cut out name and place on cake
Hope you enjoyed these tutorials!  I had a blast making the cake, and the family seemed to enjoy it. Make sure and check back this week for a yummy Andes mint brownie recipe!  I won't have an Easter cake to share this weekend, BUT I do have another birthday cake to make.  I'm excited as this is my third weekend in a row to make a cake!! So check back next week for a farmed themed birthday cake I'm making for my sister's father-in-law.  Don't forget to follow on Instagram or Twitter for a sneak peak of the cakes!

Heavenly Treats Sunday - 42nd Link Party! (co-host)

Welcome to 

42nd Link Party! 

I am so glad that you decided to come on over and link up your YUMMY dessert.  Each week I find so many YUMMY treats you out do yourselves each week! Thanks to all of you that make this Link Party successful, each week I meet new people, awesome blogs and you leave so many wonderful comments!  

 Thank you again!
_______________________________________________

Today I have a wonderful Co-Host 


Sarah Lynn from Sarah Lynn's Sweets

Sarah Lynn's Sweets is a blog all about sweet treats and desserts! You'll find delicious recipes and creative cake/cupcake decor ideas on the blog. From simple recipes and decor ideas, to more complicated fondant techniques, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Make your way over to her awesome blog, she shares so many yummy desserts, here is one of her delicious treats!

Dreamsicle Cookies

Ways you can connect with Sarah Lynn 

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~Heavenly Treats Features~
Features from Link Party #41

Aprons 'n Pearls
Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge


The Pretty Bee 
 Double Chocolate Mini Muffins (Vegan)


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Chocolate Chip Cookies


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Please check back next week to see who is featured!

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Cincinnati and Dreamsicle Cookies


A couple weeks ago I got to enjoy some time in Cincinnati.  I rode up with my husband and his friend who were attending a conference. While exploring around the city, I got to visit one of my favorite foodie places - Jungle Jim's!  Among other things, I stocked up on orange cake mix, which is hard to find at our local grocery stores.  You may recall my last trip to Jungle Jim's, which inspired the Orange Dreamsicle cake.  Though, I've mentioned the store before on my blog, once is just not enough! Don't worry, I will get to the cookie recipe (shown at bottom of the post).

Inside the front entrance of store

Jungle Jim's is amazing and a must go place for any foodie!  I can honestly say I've never enjoyed spending two hours in a grocery store before Jungle Jim's. But their 200,000+ square feet of store is full of anything and everything food related.  They have all your typical grocery aisles, but with hard to find flavors and unique items mixed in with your regulars.  Then you get to the specialty sections.  Among them are a honey section with local honeys from all over the country, a soda area with hard to find and specialty drinks from all over, and a massive hot sauce and spices section. My favorite is the soda section as they have a brand of cream soda that I love, but can't seem to find where we live. They also have groceries from all over the world and have them arranged by region and country. It's like you are traveling around the world going down the aisles. Then you get to the section that I spent the most time in - the kitchen and baking tools.  They have a large selection of unique and creative kitchen tools and baking supplies. I walked away with just a few items, but a huge wish list for next time!

As if that wasn't enough to excite the foodie in me, I then heard that Bobby Flay was in town! Apparently he was in Cincinnati for the opening of Bobby's Burger Place at the casino.

My favorite food network chef - Bobby Flay!

Now let me just say, I'm a huge Bobby Flay fan. My husband and I enjoy all his shows on Food Network.  Whether it's a show where he's a judge or a cook, we love it! We went to his Mesa Grill restaurant in NYC on our honeymoon.  I was worried we had such high expectations that maybe it wouldn't live up to them, but the food was just as amazing as we had hoped! Standing in the aisle in Jungle Jim's, I had to remind myself that I needed to leave and go pick up my husband and his friend. I should probably not leave them stranded and take a detour to try to meet Bobby Flay.  But, his new restaurant just gives us yet another reason to return to Cincinnati!

Do you have a favorite item at Jungle Jim's, or a favorite Bobby Flay show/restaurant?  I'd love to hear about it!

Ok, enough of my gushing on Bobby Flay and Jungle Jim's! The real reason you checked out my page was for my recipe.  These cookies are light and delicious!  The cookie is a citrus twist to the popular Cool Whip cookie. I've seen tons of Cool Whip cookie recipes all over Pinterest.  The Cool Whip and orange cake mix combination gives a Dreamsicle-like flavor and something you have to try! You won't believe how light and fluffy these cookies really are.  This recipe is SO easy, but packed full of delicious and creamy orange taste!

Dreamsicle Cookie ingredients (makes 24):
  • 1 box orange cake mix
  • 8 oz Cool-Whip
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (for rolling)
Dreamsicle Cookie instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Mix together cake mix, Cool-Whip, and egg
  • Form balls with a spoonful of batter and roll in powdered sugar
  • Place parchment paper on cookie sheet
  • Arrange dough on cookie sheet (I ran out of parchment paper)
  • Bake 10-12 minutes

Don't forget to watch for my Elephant cake sneak peaks this weekend on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook! I'm also participating in my first blog link party as a co-host this weekend.  Make sure and come back to link up to Pamela's Heavenly Treats Sunday Link Party.  The party will go live at 6 AM on Saturday, March 23.  I'd love to have you join in!  

Garden Party - Part 2


Today I'm bringing you the second half to my Garden Party posts.  If you checked out my last post, you found decoration tutorials for the garden cupcakes, smash cake, and cupcake flower pot signs.  Today, I'm following up with the recipes I used.  Again, you want the cakes to be just as delicious as they are beautiful.  I really appreciate when people say they taste as good as they look, and strive to always have cupcakes that are creative and delicious. At the end of the day, most people want something that tastes good.


As I mentioned, I had 60+ cupcakes besides the smash cake.  I ended up baking 4 different types of batter. For two of the cupcake flavors, I used my go to chocolate and vanilla recipes.  For the last cupcake flavor, I went with strawberry.  I enjoyed my previous strawberry cake recipe, but it was pretty labor intensive and there were some strawberry chunks in the cake, that not everyone enjoys. I decided to try a simple, but delicious, doctored cake mix for the cupcakes.  The strawberry flavor was not quite as strong as expected, but delicious when paired with a strawberry buttercream. I had already decided I wanted to pipe roses on the strawberry cupcakes, so I needed pink buttercream anyway - perfect solution!

Here's my recipe:


Strawberry Cake ingredients:
  • 1 box Pillsbury strawberry cake mix
  • 3 oz strawberry Jello gelatin (small box)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
Strawberry Cake instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Mix cake mix, milk (replaces water in recipe), oil, and eggs (one more added from box directions)
  • Beat in gelatin and mix until no lumps
  • Lin muffin tin with cupcake liners
  • Fill liners 3/4 full
  • Bake 15-18 mins
Strawberry Buttercream ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 8-10 tsp prepared strawberry Kool-aid or fruit juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
Strawberry Buttercream instructions:
  • Beat together shortening and butter until light and fluffy
  • Mix in vanilla and Kool-aid (starting with 8 tsp)
  • Beat in powdered sugar adding around 1/3 lb at a time
  • If to dry, add additional Kool-aid, 1 tsp at a time
That just left me with a smash cake to bake.


Now the birthday girl was having a reaction to eggs, so I was attempting an egg-free recipe.  I decided to start testing out recipes early that week.  I had a lot more trouble than I expected!  I tried out around FOUR recipes, each one I found issues with texture, taste, or both.  Finally I found a super easy recipe on Pinterest that worked really well.  All it takes is Sprite and Funfetti mix!  You may have seen this "Skinny Funfetti" recipe online, I found it through the blog Six Sister's Stuff. I thought the birthday girl might enjoy the sprinkles from the Funfetti when smashing into it.  This recipe doesn't require any added milk, butter, eggs, etc, so it is healthier.  You can even use Sprite Zero or Diet Sprite.  

It's pictured here with white cake mix for a test run, but went with Funfetti for actual smash cake

Eggless Cake ingredients:
  • 1 box Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix (or white)
  • 12 oz Sprite
Eggless Cake instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Prepare cake pan/muffin tin (whichever you want to use, they make great cupcakes too)
  • Beat together Sprite and cake mix until no lumps
  • Cook per box directions for your size cake/cupcake (or use Wilton's baking time/batter chart)
Hope you've enjoyed this two part series on my blog!  Hopefully you've found some delicious and creative ideas for your next party.  I'm really excited about a post I just finished up for Friday - light and fluffy DREAMSICLE cookies!  You have to try these! I've also already started working on toppers for this weekend's elephant cakes for a little boy's first birthday.  Make sure and follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for a sneak peak of the elephant cakes this weekend!

Garden Party - Part 1


What a busy weekend! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have caught my sneak peak of my garden treats. This weekend I had lots of yummy desserts to make to celebrate a special one year old girl. The party was garden themed, so our friends asked if I would make the flower cupcakes I had featured last Spring. She also wanted a smash cake for the little girl to enjoy. It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it so see everyone enjoying the garden treats! I always get nervous watching people look at and eat my creations, but they were a big hit!

There were so many details and parts to these treats, that I decided to split the ideas and info into two posts.  The first will focus on decoration aspects - cupcake details, smash cake, and some other garden decor. Later this week, I will provide a post with some new recipes I used for these treats.  So make sure and check back for an egg-free "skinny" cake and a strawberry cupcake with strawberry buttercream.

First up, let's start with the cupcakes.


I started baking the day before as I had 60+ cupcakes and a smash cake to finish. Then bright and early the morning of the party, I started decorating. I felt like it was my own private version of Cupcake Wars! My husband made a pretty great assistant smashing up Oreos and cutting marshmallows! But, the day wasn't without incidents.  It seemed like everything I worked on had something go wrong.  Thankfully most of it was easily fixable like falling marshmallow petals or a piping bag bursting. You can find a tutorial for making the three flower cupcakes here


When I made them last time, I used canned icing.  My buttercream worked much better, except for the sunflowers.  I actually used real hard decorator's canned icing last time for the petals so they were extremely stiff. Unfortunately, the icing doesn't taste very good and they were super brittle.  This time I used the stiff version of my buttercream.  The petals drooped a little, but were still really cute and tasted a lot better. I'm making these again in a few weeks so I'm going to try to add even more powdered sugar and try to get them a little stiffer.

Next up, the smash cake!


After finishing the cupcakes, I started working on the smash cake.  I had looked around online, but hadn't really found an idea that I loved for this special cake.  Finally, I decided to try and come up with my own.  I was a little nervous to see how the idea translated from my mind to cake, but I think it turned out cute!  The cake is simpler to make then it looks, when you have the right tools.  Below is the tutorial for the cake. Unfortunately, I didn't get a lot of pictures as I was under a time constraint and trying to really focus on the task (especially after numerous issues in the kitchen).

Garden theme cake directions:
  • Cut out fences using Cricut Cake (Cake Everyday cartridge) and Wilton sugar sheets in white or brown (you could cut out using Exacto knife and printed template if you don't have a Cricut)
  • Bake cake and cool
  • While cooling, smash up a couple Oreos into a fine powder
  • Once cooled, slice cake in half and fill with buttercream (I used pink for a girly surprise when she dug in)
  • Cover cake in light blue buttercream and smooth out
  • Place fence pieces around the side of the cake
  • Cover the side of the cake with a paper towel or wax paper to prevent Oreos from getting on the sides (pressing against lightly so as not to make indentation)
  • Add crushed Oreo pieces to the bottom section of the top of the cake to create the dirt look
  • Remove the paper towel
  • Create a fondant flower using pink and yellow fondant with the Wilton button flower cut and press set, or a cookie cutter
  • Place flower an inch or two above the dirt
  • Put some green buttercream in an icing bag (with a coupler if possible) and use the grass tip 351
  • Pipe icing to look like grass all around the edge of the cake and along the top of the Oreo "dirt"
  • Change the green piping bag tip to #3 (or start a new bag) and pipe a line from the dirt to the flower
  • If you'd like to add a leaf, use the tip #352
  • Finally I used some pink buttercream and tip #3 to pipe her name across the top, the open space was left for a candle added at the party

I had one more item I made for the party.  I wanted the guests to be able to easily determine which cupcake was which flavor.  So I found some cute clay flower pots from Michaels and filled them with crushed Oreo. I printed out signs that said the flower and flavor and taped them to cake pop sticks I had.  I stuck these down in the Oreo dirt, making cute garden signs.

Here's a close-up of one of the pots.


I used PicMonkey to create the signs.  I found cute clipart of a sunflower, blue daisy, and rose.  I added an overlay banner and text that read "Sunflower Chocolate Cupcakes," "Blue Daisy Vanilla Cupcakes," and "Rose Strawberry Cupcakes."  Not only did this help the guests, but it added some cute decor to the table.



Hope you've enjoyed these decor ideas!  Check back in a couple days for the recipes I used.  After all, you want the cake to be as delicious as it is cute!  I also have another first birthday part to bake for next weekend, so check back for elephant and blue themed cakes for a one year old little boy!