February 26, 2015

COLOR COORDINATION is always a good idea when you’re planning a party.

Lately we’ve been designing party cakes and cupcakes to echo the colors and patterns of products we find at various party stores. After all, if you going to match your napkins, paper cups and tablecloths, you might as well match your desserts.

For this particular project, we started with a ten-inch round cake. We covered it in vanilla frosting. And then we took some shimmer-coated Sixlets and carefully lined them up to match the paper tray liner.

Easy as that! And we’re sure you can accomplish a similar effect with jelly beans, M&Ms and lots of other candies. Try checked and polka-dotted papers too, for a real challenge!

Give it a try! We bet it elicits some ohhhhs and ahhhhs!

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


February 23, 2015
Wafer Cookie House

Setting up a CANDY BAR is all the rage for parties and showers these days. And to give it REAL IMPACT, we’ve got a great recommendation: ADD A DECORATED CENTERPIECE!

We created this show-stopping WAFFLE COOKIE centerpiece while in Germany recently. And we coordinated our design with the candy colors in the beautiful apothecary jars and giant martini glasses that surrounded it.

The house is crafted from large sheets of waffle-textured cookies sold in grocery stores in Germany. (We also found them here in the USA, but more on that later.) They are used for a variety of European-style desserts—usually for a torte made of sandwiched wafer cookies—and most brands are imported from Poland.

To craft the house, we cut the shapes for our walls, roof and gable from the waffle sheets using a serrated knife. A gentle sawing motion works best. If you press too hard you might shatter the cookie. If you prefer a centerpiece that can also be served as dessert, you could make this a CAKE. In our newest book, Cake My Day! (you can preorder it now, publication date is March 24)  you will find a Cake House design created from layers of 9 x 13 cake.

To assemble the walls of the waffle cookie house and to attach the decorations, we used chocolate candy melts. (We steered clear of using frosting because we felt the waffle pieces might warp from the moisture.)

Then we used dots of the melted chocolate to add the candies to the center of the waffle dimples to create patterns, doors, windows, gable accents, etc.

This is one project that gives “HOME SWEET HOME” a whole new meaning!

We even made a mini version from cookies, which we turned into an edible birdhouse for our display.

Waffle Bird House

By the way, as promised, here are three brands of Waffle Sheets that you can find on AMAZON.

Tort Wafers
Waffle Cookie Sheettort wafers thick

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


February 22, 2015
almost homemade buttercream

How would you like to have a PRIVATE CUPCAKE CLASS with the HELLO CUPCAKE team?

You can bid on a special Cupcake Clinic with the two of us. And help us raise funds to fight kids’ cancer (together with the COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER organization).

We’ll teach you—and 7 of your friends—some of our favorite tricks and techniques. And everyone is guaranteed to leave with some great projects and a signed copy of one of our books!

Just click here for the details.

Maybe we’ll be seeing you—in person—soon.

Alan and Karen


February 21, 2015
alan and karen

A NEW book means NEW author photos. But while we always know how to make a cake look good, when it comes to us….that’s a different story.

Our publisher said, “You can’t keep using the same photo from when BILL CLINTON WAS PRESIDENT!!” But we were hesitant. Karen worried about her hair. Alan worried about his lack of it. So we decided we needed some gentle handholding and asked our photographer friend Jorge Madrigal ( to come to the Candy Lab. We thought we would feel at ease in our own work space.

The photo session started like they all do. We were VERY STIFF and had FROZEN SMILES on our faces. It wasn’t until Karen pushed Alan off his stool and pretended to hog the camera lens that we started laughing and loosening up. A few minutes later Alan held a big pound cake in front of Karen’s face while the camera snapped. That really got the ball rolling.

Several hours later (poor Jorge) we reviewed the images on the back of the camera and realized PANDEMONIUM had overtaken the shoot. We had portraits with us holding towering piles of cakes BARELY balanced on plates, a long series of us racing around with frosting STREAMING out of piping bags…

That’s when a wise photographer steps in and and says, “BEHAVE YOURSELVES FOR ONE MINUTE, PLEASE!” Jorge handed us the Work Boot Cake which just happened to be sitting nearby. He deftly guided us around the Candy Lab until he got a beautiful color background, and then snapped about six perfect portraits of us proudly showing one of our favorite projects from the book.

We all looked at the preview screen and knew immediately that THE SHOOT WAS OVER. Besides, all that ham and baloney had made us very hungry.  And off we all went to our favorite restaurant in town, Las Brisas, for a celebration of tacos and a JOB WELL DONE! Thank you, Jorge!

Hope everyone likes our new “official” picture.

Alan and Karen

CakeMyDay_blogClick to pre-order



February 19, 2015
starry cake


For example, here’s a little test we did this morning using Sara Lee Pound Cake, a star shaped cookie cutter, and a devils food chocolate cake batter.

We poured a little batter in the bottom of a ring cake pan. Then we placed our stars cut from the pound cake in the pan, cut side to cut side, so they were all oriented the same direction around the ring. (That way each time you slice it will cut crosswise through a star shape.) We poured the remaining batter over the stars to cover and evened it out.

Bake as directed on the chocolate cake recipe. Your cooking time may vary a bit but ours was right in time with the directions. Cool the cake completely before slicing and serving.

You may get one or two cuts that land between pieces of pound cake, but most of ours came out with a PERFECT STAR SHAPE on the inside!

Wouldn’t this be a terrific award for the Stars in your household—-or those attending your Oscar party on Sunday?

Meanwhile, for more info on how to purchase CAKE MY DAY!, click here.


Happy Baking,
Alan and Karen


February 16, 2015
Candy Crumble Blonde germany

Can you guess who inspired this delicious doll cake? We created it while attending the ISM sugar fair in Germany—and we couldn’t wait to show everyone at home. (Hint: We were inspired by one of our favorite TV shows.)

Time’s up. Believe it or not, this cake was inspired by big, blonde, woman warrior BRIENNE OF TARTH, our favorite character from GAME OF THRONES! We almost went with a KHALESSI cake. Then we considered TYRION LANNISTER. But mighty Brienne won the battle this time. (Do we sound like GAMES nerds? That’s OK—because WE ARE!!!)

Brienne was really fun to create and assemble. Here’s how we did it:

More and more, we teach and demo on the fly, and that has made us really appreciate a whole new aisle in the grocery store. That is, the snack and cookie aisle. We can’t always bake cupcakes and cakes to take on the road (and we know you don’t always have time to make them either). That’s when all those interestingly shaped packaged snacks and treats become especially useful.

To create the shape for our Brienne of Tarth doll, we started with a basic pound cake from the bakery section of the grocery. We removed a slice from one end and then trimmed the corners to create the shoulders. We shaped the two corner pieces we’d removed to create the short arms.

For the legs, we found German snack cakes that looked almost like good old American Twinkies, but a little more square in shape. The head is a jumbo sweet muffin also from the bakery case. And the hands and feet are made from store bought cookies, cat tongues for the hands and chocolate covered square shaped cookies for the feet. So you see, Brienne is totally assembled from the bakery and the snack aisle at the grocers.

The decorations we used are pretty simple. We gave all the cakes and snack cakes a coating of vanilla frosting except for the large muffin which we frosted pink.

The pink arms and blue pants are made from Candy Crumble (a crushed vanilla candy we discovered at ISM) and the red and blue buttons are Pearls, Sixlets, and Mini Gumballs. We gave Brienne an Ovation Stick belt, and candy hearts for a bow tie.

For the face we used Baby Tears (nose), Sixlets (cheeks), Red Banana (mouth), and black Sixlets (eyes). And for her signature hair? Yellow Banana candies! Her little Westie companion (new next season?) is made from a cupcake with frosting for fur. (See the Westies recipe from our original Hello, Cupcake! book.)

And there she is, the bold Brienne: ready for whatever comes at her from Winterfell, King’s Landing or beyond The Wall!!

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


February 15, 2015

Red carpets! Fashion police! A glut of must-see films! Yep, the OSCARS are only one week away. So here’s a project for any big award party you might be throwing. After your guests take a bite, you might find yourself feeling: “They like me! They really, really like me!”

The coveted statue itself sits on a cupcake–and it’s made out of a creme wafer, a pretzel and a malt ball. Better than gold, if you ask us.

The complete recipe can be found on our Duncan Hines page. You can find it by clicking here.

Give it a try. You might win the award for BEST CUPCAKER.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


February 12, 2015
valentine2 germany

Clearly, we were already thinking about Valentine’s Day while we were at the Sugar Fair in Germany a few weeks ago.

We were invited to Germany to help man the SweetWorks booth, where we busily greeted fans and improvised new projects. And we quickly worked up 2 Valentines dessert projects we think might help if you’re in a time crunch.

One of the great things we learn when we decorate on the fly is how to create projects that have a lot of impact using whatever baked goods are available from the grocery store. Germany posed a special challenge because the dessert treats there are so different from the ones in our stores. It was a bit like “Grocery Store Games” with the two of us racing through the aisles, grabbing any and every treat that looks like a good possibility.

The project at the top of this post uses a store-bought rectangular cake we found. We covered it with vanilla frosting. Then we added an assortment of Sixlets in pink, black, white and red. We laid them out in a pattern of hugs and kisses (Xs and Os). Then we placed the cake on a piece of heart-shaped felt—to complete the presentation. Easy as that!

The project below is reminiscent of the much more ambitious HEART CAKE from our last post. But it’s actually a gathering of store-bought treats: marshmallow topped cookies, cupcakes, small cakes, and cookies. Some were already frosted. Some needed frosting. And some we sandwiched together with frosting. Once again, we covered them with various patterns of Sixlets, Pearls and Gumballs in Valentines Day colors. And we placed them on a red felt-shaped heart. Simply follow the photo—or come up with your own great variations!!

Valentine Cookies germany

We hope these speedy projects leave you plenty of time for other Valentines Day activities.

And we’ll be back soon with more of our projects from Germany.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


February 9, 2015
Heart Valentines Day Cake

Don’t let your eyes fool you. This brand new Valentine’s Day project might look like a box of candies. And…well, it does contain candies. But it isn’t a box.

The heart shaped box itself is a RED VELVET CAKE. (Take a look at the photo below for a revealing view of the cake inside.) And the edge of the box is crafted from Fruit by the Foot. In fact, the entire project is edible! Even the paper wrappers are made out of chocolate!!

Heart Valentines Day Cake-sliced

How did we do it?

Divide the batter for a red velvet cake between a 9 inch square baking pan and a 9 inch round baking pan. Bake according to the recipe and let cool completely.

To create the heart shape:

Place the square cake on the lower portion of a large serving platter, positioned like a diamond. Next, cut the round cake in half, crosswise. Place one half of the round cake flat against each of the upper sides of the diamond, cut side against the diamond, using vanilla frosting to secure. Give the entire cake a crumb coating of frosting and place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up.

To create the chocolate paper wrappers:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Place chocolate melting wafers in a microwaveable bowl and heat for 10 seconds. Stop to stir. Heat for another 10 seconds and stir. Continue until all of the lumps are melted and the chocolate candy is smooth, about 30 to 40 seconds total. Using mini muffin liners as a mold, coat the inside of about 36 liners with chocolate to cover completely (you may want to make extra in case of breakage). Place each coated liner on the prepared baking sheet. Pinch about a dozen of the coated liners together to create the crumpled paper wrappers. Place the chocolate coated wrappers in the refrigerator to set, about 5 minutes.

To create the red edging around the heart:

Using red Fruit by the Foot, unroll one entire roll and bring the two ends together and fold it in half crosswise. Press the two side together to make a thicker strip of candy that is half the original length (if your candy is not sticky enough to hold, use a drop of water or two to make the two sides adhere). Repeat with three more rolls of Fruit by the Foot. (You may have a bit more than you need but you can trim it to fit later.)

Once chilled, frost the top of the heart with vanilla frosting, and smooth. Starting at the top of the heart shape in the center, press one strip of the red fruit roll against the side of the cake, pressing it into the frosting to secure, and work your way around the upper curve of the heart. At the end of the first strip, continue adding the next strip of fruit roll to the side. Repeat with the remaining fruit rolls to create the band around the heart shaped box. Trim the end of the last strip to meet where you started the first piece. Add a row of red Starburst Mini Chews all around the outside of the band.

To add the finishing touches:

Carefully remove the chilled chocolate wrappers from the paper liners, and place them in the heart shaped box and to the side of the box. Fill the chocolate wrappers with an assortment of red and pink candies.

And there you have it.  Of course, don’t forget to add lots of loving care.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Alan and Karen


February 8, 2015
Cake My Day! cover final

Presenting the entire CAKE MY DAY! cover—front and back!  The book is at the printers and almost on the shelves of your bookstore!

This time it’s all about CAKES!!! And we’re so excited because that means even more canvas to fill, more candy to use, and lots more decorating fun!

Just take a look at the Unbaked Alaska Monster on the cover. Not only is he adorable, but he also has a scrumptious marshmallowy cooked frosting for the furry outside, a chocolate layer cake on the inside, and he’s even filled with ice cream and chunks of chocolate!

And the Work Boot on the back cover is one of our favorites because we didn’t even have to bake it. Sara Lee did it for us! (Who wants to spend time baking when you could start decorating right away with yummy store-bought pound cake?)

The official release date is MARCH 24TH!! That’s only 8 WEEKS AWAY! And to make sure you get it ASAP, you can pre-order it now at Amazon (by clicking here), Barnes & Noble (by clicking here) and Powells (by clicking here).

As we get closer to the big release, we’ll be showing you some exclusive projects that came this close to making the cut! That’s okay; we like having never-before-seen projects to show our family of blog readers!

We hope you’ll have as much fun with our cakes as we had making them!!

And a reminder to our cupcake fans…just remember, no dessert is safe from the Hello, Cupcake! fun!

Happy Cupcaking (and Cake-making),

Alan and Karen