Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Corny, but Cute!

ok, ok.. I couldn't resist this one.

Stolen from the pages of Hello, Cupcake YET AGAIN.... I used a bag of assorted yellow jelly beans, a few more yellow starbursts, and some black decorating sugar to replicate their cupcake-on-the-cob.
Theirs, of course, came out better then my first stab over here.. but seriously. this was too easy to be this cute. and like I said.. for my first try.. they're pretty believable.
Next time I try these, I will for sure use less frosting, and work on the spacing of the jelly beans better... try to get it spaced better.
I could totally see these as a fun thing to bring to a summer BBQ. or a thanksgiving/autumn treat if I were to use darker jelly beans.. (like making Indian Corn) and try to find something to replicate some husks. but hey.. if you like lemon... these are just a cute way to pay homage to corn!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Piece of Cake

so I forgot to mention that the cake I made for Danny's party was a three layer cake. I had bought a cutting tool a few weeks ago... the kind that helps you make level layer cuts.

I decided to alternate chocolate cake layers with a vanilla layer, and used a chocolate pudding filling.

While the tool helped to make a very even-looking cake, and the three layers looked really cool when sliced... I have to say the pudding was a little goopy inside, and left the remaining cake and slice a teeny sloppy looking.

perhaps a thicker filling or using a hot knife to make the slice? or having the cake be cold at the time of cutting? maybe it's something that can't be helped... or I just need to learn to cut a slice better. not really sure.. but it's something I certainly don't mind investigating a little further.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Birthday Boy

Yesterday we had a little party for my son. He turned two this week, and while he doesn't use a lot of words, he THOROUGHLY enjoys singing along to a variety of songs.

One song he particularly enjoys is "Old MacDonald". He loves mimicking the animal sounds and the simple "E-I-E-I-O" refrain. Consequently, we decided to go with a barnyard/farm theme for his party. While I have no problems eating meat, I prefer to think of farms as places where animals LIVE, and we harvest vegetables from... so Danny's cake and accompanying cupcakes focused on veggies.

Now, a while back, I had played with some gumpaste in attempt to practice making fruit/veggie cupcake toppers. as cute as they did turn out.. I was overall left a little disappointed. Gumpaste , while edible, isn't exactly TASTY. and it's HARD. like break a child's tooth HARD. Imagine, then, my delight when I read the book Hello, Cupcake. Not only did it feature a garden-party cupcake for me to replicate.. but the authors suggested taking ready made candies and ingredients to make into the vegetables.

The result? amazing. I used starbursts and m&m candies, licorice, cornflakes and graham crackers in conjunction with some home made cake and frosting, a little melted chocolate and color gels... and I managed to produce the following.

Now, I still wouldn't allow my 2 year old birthday boy (or his 4 year old sister) to eat the starbursts-turned-veggies.... but in a few years I could totally see them eating every little bit of the cupcake, and still having teeth left to brush when they were through.

Lessons Learned: heating the starbursts in the oven worked better than the microwave. Also? best tip EVER??? rolling the 'carrots' in cinnamon after I made the decorative growth lines made the carrots look OH-SO real. and LOVED the idea of coating the cornflakes in green frosting. the 'leaves' looked truly authentic.

I'm not saying I'll never use gumpaste again.. but for basic colors and for items for kids? the reshaping of chewy candies is really the way to go!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Let them eat PIE

so one of my favorite things about November and December is the ABUNDANCE of cranberries. Fresh, red, beautiful tart CRANBERRIES!

Naturally, when I see them at my grocer's, I can't help myself and pick up a bag or two. then I make a beeline for the apples... and get home to start baking.

My girlfriend made a french Cranberry-Apple pie a few years ago, and I have been smitten ever since. between the streusel-crunch topping and the intermitten tart cranberries, I firmly believe I can not make a plain apple pie ever again.

The recipe she passed on to me was a photocopy from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook, but I have found this recipe online to be identical. If I was in the business of sharing my secrets, I'd tell you I ALWAYS double the amount of streusel topping and omit the nuts.... but the best way to bake (at least as far as I have found) is to taste and see and tweak as you like.

Anyway... if you're looking for a sure-fire hit to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner... this is a winner. enjoy... and let's all give thanks for the cranberry!

Lessons Learned: I have been LOVING the little pie tins. Not only do I increase the number of pies I can get out of one batch of filling, but the SIZE!! so nice! Perfect for hitting the spot when you have a sweet tooth, but don't want to be eating the same dessert all week.

These tins can be found in the grocer's under the label of 'pot pie' tins. They're deep dish, so 1/4 of this pie is a generous portion. try them out... they even serve well to bring to a friend's house for coffee or little thank you gifts.