Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Cupcakes

My husband's office has a white elephant gift exchange for their holiday party every year.  This year he convinced me to make some festive cupcakes (along with some extra ginger snaps and sugar cookies we had lying around) as his gift.  Of course he brought all of the cupcakes (not just the ones for the gift) in to munch on during their pre-party meeting.  Which meant no left overs for me.  Sad day.  Guess I'll have to make more... Anyway, the flavors of choice were Peppermint Mocha and Spiked Egg Nog.  Here they are.

I was fully expecting the Peppermint Mocha to be my favorite.  I have become a big fan of the Starbucks version this year.  For the mocha part, this cupcake has espresso powder and coffee incorporated into the chocolate batter.  As for the peppermint, there is pure peppermint extract in the whipped cream cheese frosting and crushed peppermint sticks in the batter and garnished on top for an added crunch.  Mmmm...and they were a hit!
Surprisingly though, I rather enjoyed the Egg Nog cupcake.  For this reicpe I took the vanilla recipe I've been using lately added a sprinkle of nutmeg and replaced 3/4 of the milk with egg nog.  (Which was store bought, not home made.  Can you even make home made egg nog???  I don't know.)  There is a tiny bit of spiced rum in the batter as well as just a touch in the whipped cream cheese frosting, but barely enough to taste because I didn't want it to be over powering.  Finally it is garnished with ground cinnamon.  So pretty!

While making these I couldn't help but remember my first drink of spiked egg nog, quite by accident, when I was about 13.  Blech!  I think it had brandy in it, not rum, and a lot of it.  BUT, this egg nog cupcake was good.  Really.  Really.  Good.  I may or may not have hoarded "a couple three" (as they say in MN) that didn't fit in the cupcake containers.  ;)

Experimenting with these recipes was fun and very successful.  You should try it.  And have yourself a sweet and satisfying holiday season!

Monday, December 12, 2011

K+E Wedding

K+E were married this past weekend at the beautiful Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood, MN.  It was the perfect December day for a wedding; crisp and clear, but "warm" (for a MN December day at least).  Standing in the ballroom looking out over the frozen lake at sunset was serene.  The reception hall was decked out with ivory feathers, purple calla lilies, willow branches, and strings of white lights.  The cake and cupcakes echoed the modern, yet elegant feel with whimsical roses and a touch of iridescent purple pearls.  Hope you enjoy!
 The small two tiered vanilla-almond cake had roses on the top and sides to match the bridesmaids ivory rose bouquets, and black ribbon wrapped around each tier.
I kinda felt like I was standing on a boat.  Do you see it???

 The cake at sunset.
Cupcakes at sunset.

 The beautiful bride with her cake.
 The Lakeside Ballroom.

Top of the cake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy 96th Birthday Commander Bob!

Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Earlier this week I had the pleasure of making a birthday cake for a man who was serving our country on that day.  Bob is a retired Navy Commander who celebrated his 96th birthday on Monday.  Although I've never met him, let me just say it was an honor be a part of his day.  Really.  An.  Honor.

 Chocolate sailor hat cake filled with vanilla-almond butter cream and covered in white fondant.

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Fondant anchor and life saver toppers.

Happy Birthday Bob!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More October Wedding Photos

I got a surprise email from my October bride this week with awesome pictures of their cake and cupcakes.   I had to share.  Photos by Britta and Dave at Milestone Photography 2011.

 This is my favorite.  It looks like the cupcakes are having a conversation. Hehe.  Cute!

 Oh these pictures are so much better than mine!!!  :)

 The back of the cake... Although fondant flowers are fun to make, nothing beats fresh flowers on cakes!

Thanks to my bride and  Milestone Photography for sharing these pictures with me.  Love them!  :)

Monster Truck Birthday Cupcakes

Happy 4th birthday to Conner who loves monster trucks!  Vanilla Bean and Double Chocolate cupcakes are topped with fondant monster trucks, fondant monster truck tires, and checkered flag picks.  How fun and colorful! 


 Photos by Linda Johnson.  Thank you!

Cute as a Button

Here are some baby shower minis from earlier this month for baby "O."  They are white almond with almond butter cream, a favorite at church especially for baby showers.  These are topped with fondant buttons.  Believe it or not, we didn't talk about design at all, but the colors and buttons on the cupcakes matched the napkins and other decor!  :)


Monday, November 14, 2011

Pirate Cupcakes

A couple of pictures from the pirate cupcakes I did a few weeks ago for a little boys first birthday.  It was the weekend of Halloween and I was told they had the house decked out with pirate decor.  Even mom and dad dressed up.  How perfect!  These are chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla-almond frosting, and fondant pirates, gold coins, and a ship named after the birthday boy.  So cute!

(Thanks again E for the pics!)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Recipe! Chocolate Coffee Cupcake

I am really excited to share a new and ORIGINAL recipe with you!  If you've ever spent much time in the kitchen, especially baking, you know that things don't always go as planned.  Especially if you're not following a tried and true recipe EXACTLY as written!  Right?!?  Or is it just me??? 

Anyway, for this recipe I combined elements from the red velvet and the chocolate cake recipes that I typically use.  And it actually turned out amazingly...on the first try!  Yay!

I baked these for a friend of mine who recently hosted a party to promote her new business selling Thirty-One bags.  She invited me and another friend, who is an Arbonne consultant, to the open house in an effort to promote our businesses too.  What a generous and genius idea!  I love when women support other women in their endeavors!  :)

Chocolate Coffee Cupcake Recipe:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs instand espresso powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 cup cold brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp distilled vinegar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, the first six listed above. 
In a 4-cup measuring glass, if you have one, because it just means simpler clean up, add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a whisk.
Add the wet to dry and stir vigorously with a whisk until all the lumps are out (but be careful not to over mix - which is why I don't use a mixer for this one).  You should however start to see air bubbles, from the vinegar and baking soda reacting.  Yay chemistry!
Fill 24 standard cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake in a preheated 350dF oven for about 20 mins or until the tops bounce back when gently pressed.  (Why waste a toothpick?)

I topped these with coffee butter cream (2 sticks unsalted butter, 2 Tbs coffee, 1 tsp vanilla, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar) for an additional coffee punch.  They would also be good with whipped cream or just plain vanilla butter cream.  Sprinkle some sifted cocoa powder on top, or place a chocolate covered espresso bean at the peak of the frosting swirl (as pictured) and you have yourself a cup-a-joe cupcake to start your day!   ...or end your evening in this case.  Either way...  

I'd love to hear if you try this one.  Enjoy!  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rockin Sweet Sixteen for K

I don't know about you, but I, personally, am SO grateful that 16 has passed and gone for me.  (As is my mother...quite frankly, in case you were wondering.)  But this lucky girl turned the big  1-6 in style this week, sharing rock star themed chocolate and white almond cupcakes with her class mates after lunch.  Complete with zebra print, hot pink, and music notes (all by specific request) and a little glitter and glam, these cupcakes could tempt any girl to want to relive that rite of passage.  But only for as long as it takes to eat that cupcake.  Then we want to be right back here in 2011 with our coffee and our laptops, our true friends and stable relationships.  Just sayin.  ;)

First, a few pics.  Then read on for a few how-to's. 

 These of course were home shots...
...and the following...the ones I really love...were taken by the birthday girl herself, in the midst of her teenage world.  I love the laminated lunch table in the background.  And can't you just sense the chaos that is about to ensue?  :)

How-To's (Some day I'll take pictures of these for a proper tutorial.  Heck, some day I might even have a camera again!)

The zebra fondant circles and music note stars were done with an edible in marker. You can find the markers at your local hobby store or even that big box store that sales cake stuff, whose name we won't mention (nor dare I admit that I occasionally shop there...). Simply roll out and cut your fondant, let it dry a bit, and pretend you're 16 again bored with the teacher's lecture, and doodle!

For the oh so glamorous glittered letters and numbers, again, roll out the fondant and cut your shapes/letters/numbers and let dry.  Then take a small paint brush that you only use for food, dip it in a little light corn syrup and paint it on the shape.  Then sprinkle with colored sanding sugar.  And ta-da!  Glitz!

Happy-Rockin-Sweet-Sixteen to K!  :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wedding N+C

I had the honor of baking for the beautiful fall wedding of N+C this weekend.  Their reception was held in the Cityscapes Ballroom at the Radisson in downtown Fargo.  The bridesmaids wore red dresses and carried a mix of roses, dahlias and hypericum berries.  Gold pumpkins and candles adorned the different bars and buffet tables at the reception.  The mix of browns, golds, reds, and burgundies were perfect for a fall wedding.

To accent the decorum, the happy couple chose a vine/leaf theme for the white chocolate cake filled with raspberry butter cream and frosted with vanilla butter cream.  It was wrapped in brown and gold ribbons and topped with fresh dahlias.

Oh, natural light is so pretty on food!  As you'll see for the cupcakes, the spot right above that table, was not so kind, and given my lowly photography skills, I didn't know what to do to compensate...  

They also chose two types of cupcakes to feed their 200+ guests.  The first flavor featured was the carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting and candied ginger strip perfect for fall?  I loved the matte gold liners for those too.  The second choice for cupcake flavor was Ghirardelli white chocolate with fresh raspberry butter cream.   Some were topped with white chocolate curls and others with candy raspberries.  Yum yum! 

I have to admit, I was a little nervous setting up for this one.  Even though I arrived an hour and a half before the cocktail hour, there were a handful of people in and out watching as I arranged the cupcakes on the those enormous tiers (which I've decided I NEED!  I got 248 of the 252 cupcakes on there!  Woo hoo!).  One old lad even tried to snatch a cupcake as I was taking pictures!  I've never felt the urge to swat at a hand so badly.  Just kidding of course...or am I?  Anyway, I ran away from there with only a few pictures to share with you.  And of course, I didn't shoot any at home before hand this time. 

In other news, I am STILL waiting on my new camera!!!  So thank you to my friend Heidi again for loaning me your camera....again.  Thanks.  :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Firetruck Birthday

One VERY special little boy celebrated his fifth birthday last weekend with a tour of the fire station, fun with LOTS of friends and family, and of course, fire truck cupcakes!  We had so much fun touring the fire house.  The fire men were all very friendly and kind considering 17 kids plus their parents invaded their surprisingly small space.  They gave the kids an informative demonstration and, best of all, let them play in the trucks!  Then everyone joined us here for present chaos and a sugar rush...before I sent them home for dinner...with whistles.  :)  

I used The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe again here from The Cupcake Project.  It's sooo good!  Most cupcakes have chocolate frosting, by specific request, and a few have with vanilla almond butter cream...because I just like them better that way.  The toppers are all made from a mix of commercial and homemade fondant.  I'll admit, I don't do red homemade.  It's just too

 The fondant fire truck design is not an original design of mine.  I found it on a google search.  But I did make them all by hand.

A friend with an actual camera took these photos while I tended to party hosting duties.  I have good friends! 

I think that wall makes everything in this room look orange.  In two days though, that will change....  :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Princess Cowgirl

The title says it all doesn't it?  I loved this birthday party theme for a little 2 year old who was described to me as "spunky."  She has a pair of pink cowgirl boots she wears all the time.  I would too, if I had a pair.   :)

The cake is The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe from the Cupcake Project's website.  I was SO excited the try it so I made extra batter into cupcakes for me.  :)  I've made so many different vanilla cake recipes, but this one really lives up to its name.  I'm so glad someone finally found IT!

The cupcakes are pink velvet with cream cheese frosting.  The tiaras and flowers on the cupcakes were made from candy melts and a squeeze bottle.  I like how they all have their own "personality." 

 The large tiara on the cake is fondant and the boots are fondant covered rice crispy treats with frosting and fondant decorations.  They were a challenge to make for me.  I don't consider myself any kind of sugar artist.  But if I were a 2 year old and saw those on my cake...and was told I could eat them too...well I'd be tickled pink!  (teehee)

If you haven't noticed, I made a "light box" for photographing the cakes at home.  I'm not really sure if I like it.  I'm kind of fond of the wood grain of my table (and even sometimes all the boy clutter) in the background.  I'd love to hear your feedback.  Thanks ya'll!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wedding M+A

I am excited to share some pictures from the wedding today!   You may recall the post from the tasting we did back in August...well here's the final product!

The cake is white almond with vanilla-almond butter cream and marshmallow fondant flowers.  I don't know why the pictures turned out so yellow here.  They were true to their natural color at home...scroll down...and I tried to fix it digitally, but obviously it didn't work.  So just know that the cake was actually white.  I still have so much to learn about photography!

 Chocolate and white almond cupcakes.  Most with butter cream, a few fancy fondant covered.

 They were displayed on a long candy buffet.  Fun!

 And a few more I took at home...

As takes an a few thank yous: Thank you Jules and Mel for helping with the boys; to Heidi for courageously entrusting your camera to me while I await the arrival of my new one; and last but not least, to the hubs, for being ever so patient with me this week. 

And of course, congratulations to M+A on your nuptials!  Thanks for letting me be a part of it!  :)