April 25, 2015

If you ever wondered what an ALAN AND KAREN TV SHOW might look like, check this out! It’s one of the videos from our multi-city Satellite tour. (A Satellite tour means we stayed in one place while they beamed us by satellite all over the country!)

It was a wild, occasionally wacky experience, doing so many morning shows and local talk shows ALL IN ONE DAY. (Whew!) But it did give us a great opportunity to stretch out and do some long segments. We were not only able to show lots of CAKES. We also got to show what kind of HAMS we can be, given the right circumstance.


Alan and Karen


April 23, 2015
Bunny's Birthday Party

Today was a BIG DAY at work. It was the birthday of one of our Candy Lab dogs BUNNY!! And, of course, LUCKY was there to share the fun.

(For those who don’t know, that’s Bunny, Karen’s Wheaten Terrier, on the right. And that’s Lucky, Alan’s Schnauzer, on the left.)

We couldn’t let the day go by without decorating a couple of birthday cupcakes for Bunny—although she isn’t very good at blowing out the candles. She seemed to want Lucky to do it for her. (Bunny always keeps an eye on Lucky just in case she gets too close to her kibble!)

Still, they’re great dogs and always ready to pose for the camera.

Of course, we were the ones who got to eat the cupcakes. But we made sure our pets had some nice dog-appropriate b’day treats of their own.

And it did get us thinking: By the time the next canine birthday rolls around, maybe we can develop a cupcake recipe that’s good for our pups. That gives us till Halloween, which happens to be Lucky’s birthday.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


April 20, 2015
Oreo Cookie Cake-26

WE LOVE OREOS!! Who doesn’t? But to us it is more than a tasty cookie. It is also an ingenious DECORATING TOOL!

So to celebrate this American classic, we decided to develop a GIANT OREO CAKE!! To demonstrate their versatility, we incorporated actual Oreos in the recipe using them in two different ways. First we chopped Oreos and added them to the ice cream center, and then we crushed more Oreos and used them for the chocolate crumb coating. It was really fun to make—and now we feel closer than ever to one of our favorite cookies!

Here’s the complete recipe, in black and white:


1 recipe chocolate cake batter (cake mix or your favorite scratch cake)

24 chocolate creme-filled sandwich cookies (Oreos), divided

2 pints vanilla ice cream, softened

1 can (16 ounces) dark chocolate frosting

1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip)



2 (9 1/2-inch) fluted tart pans



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of two 9 1/2 inch tart pans with waxed paper. Spray the bottom and sides of pans with vegetable cooking spray.
  2. Prepare the chocolate cake batter according to directions on the box. (TIP: Try substituting buttermilk for the water to get a better flavor and texture.) Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tart pans. Spread the batter to the edge of the pans and smooth.
  3. Bake until firm and until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean: 24 to 29 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Invert, remove the pans, and cool completely. Remove waxed paper. Trim the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife to level. Place the cake layers, bottom side up, on cardboards cut to fit. Transfer the cakes to the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
  4. Coarsely chop 10 of the chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos). Spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with vegetable cooking spray. Line the pan with a sheet of plastic wrap allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Place the softened ice cream in a large bowl, and fold the chopped cookies into the ice cream to combine. Press the ice cream mixture in an even layer into the prepared cake pan. Bring the sides of the plastic wrap up and over the ice cream. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour.
  5. Spoon 1 cup of the chocolate frosting into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag.
  6. Place the remaining 14 chocolate sandwich cookies in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. (Do not worry about the cream filling. It will disappear into the crumbs.) Or place the cookies in a large ziplock bag, do not seal the bag. Use a rolling pin to finely crush the cookies. After crushing, place the cookie crumbs in a large bowl.
  7. Working on one cake layer, spread a thin layer of frosting around the side and just over the top edge of the side.
  8. Hold the cake by the cardboard partially over the bowl of crushed cookies and gently take some cookie crumbs from the bowl and press them into the cake’s frosting to cover the sides all around the cake. Place the crumbed cake layer on the work surface. Take the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick and press it into the cookie coated frosting to accentuate the ridges of the tart pan. If any of the frosting becomes exposed, repeat the crumbing to cover. Return the cake layer to the freezer.
  9. Spread a thin layer of chocolate frosting over the top and sides of the second cake layer to cover. Use a toothpick to score a 3 by 4 inch oval in the center of the cake. Snip a (1/4-inch) corner from the bag with the chocolate frosting. Pipe the outline of the scored oval. Using an OREO cookie as your guide, pipe the word OREO in the center of the oval and add dots and dashes on top of the cake to mimic the design of your favorite cookie.
  10. Hold the cake with the piped design by the cardboard, bring it over to the bowl of cookie crumbs and gently take some cookie crumbs from the bowl and press the crumbs into the frosting all around the side of the cake to cover. Sprinkle an even layer of the crumbs on top of the design piped on the top of the cake to cover. Use a small brush to gently remove any excess crumbs. Place the cake on the work surface. Use the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick and press into the cookie coated frosting on the sides to accentuate the ridges of the tart pan. If any of the frosting becomes exposed, repeat the crumbing to cover. Return the cake layer to the freezer.
  11. Spoon 2 cups of the thawed whipped topping into a ziplock bag. Snip a 1 inch corner from the bag.
  12. Place the first cake layer (the one that has only been crumbed on the sides) on a work surface. Unmold the ice cream and remove the plastic. Transfer the ice cream to the center of the cake layer. Pipe a thick, about 1 1/2-inch diameter, line of whipped topping around the outer edge of the ice cream. (It should cover the cake layer just to the edge.) Return the cake to the freezer to chill at least 30 minutes.
  13. Use a spatula to remove the second cake layer (the one with the OREO design) from the cardboard and transfer it to the top of the ice cream/whipped topping layer. Return the cake to the freezer.
  14. When ready to serve, let cake stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, to soften slightly, before cutting.

Makes 20 servings

For all those kids out there who eat the middle first, here’s a pic of the inside of the cake! It shows the ice cream/chopped Oreo cookie center and the whipped topping border. Yum!

Oreo Cookie Cake-stuffing

Happy Decorating (and Oreo-eating),

Alan and Karen


April 18, 2015

Just the other day, we were asked to make some of our RAINBOW TROUT cupcakes. They’ve always been one of our most popular projects. And I guess with the first flushes of warm weather, folks are already thinking about their summer vacations.

So we thought we’d share these fishy characters with you. Besides, we haven’t blogged about a CUPCAKE CLASSIC in a while!

You can find the entire recipe on our Duncan Hines page by clicking here.

See you lakeside,

Alan and Karen


April 17, 2015

One of the most fun things about publishing a book is ACTUALLY SEEING THE BOOK IN THE BOOKSTORE!

And it’s even more exciting when it takes you by surprise! I remember shopping in a bookstore with a young nephew and tripping upon some of our books on the shelf. He was pretty much shocked—and refused to believe it was actually us!

I guess we expected (and hoped) to see CAKE MY DAY at BARNES & NOBLE. But we were really surprised to come across a tableful of them at COSTCO. And we were very pleased to see them at the amazing Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya, right near Bryant Park in Manhattan. But there we were, right on the shelves next to A DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE FOOD. (See photo above.)

Thanks to every brick and mortar outlet, big and small, for the support. Even in these internet days, we couldn’t do it without you.

And remember: Support your local bookstore!

Alan and Karen



April 13, 2015
Deli Chicken-assembly 1

Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel newspaper interviewed us a few weeks ago. And the interview turned out so well, we wanted to share it with you. We covered all kinds of stuff, from our thoughts on fondant, to why we think of ourselves as “candy detectives.” AND we reveal our favorite go-to food choice in the Milwaukee area!!

PLUS as a special bonus, the Journal Sentinel also published our PERFECT CAKE RECIPE—featuring our secrets for creating a sturdy base cake for your decorating projects. (Of course, in CAKE MY DAY style, it starts with a box cake mix.)

We want to thank Kristine M. Kierzek for the great questions. And a big shout out to all our fans in Wisconsin!!

You can see the interview and the recipe by clicking here.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


April 11, 2015
2 parfaits

Spring can be PARTY TIME around the Candy Lab. We have several birthdays to celebrate (including Alan’s) and a few graduations. And heck, sometimes we just want to invite the neighbors over to celebrate flowers, sun and the rise in temperature!!

So we thought we’d take a break from our book launch and work up some easy, breezy party ideas. This was our favorite: CAKE AND CANDY PARFAITS!!

Here’s how we made them:

To make a candy and cake parfait, you’ll need a straight-sided glass. Ours was about 2 1/2  inches at the top and tapered down to about 1 1/2 inches at the bottom. That’s important because you will be cutting cake rounds to fit in the glass.

Using Sara Lee Pound Cake, cut the cake into 1 inch slices. We used two size cookie cutters, a 2 inch and a 1 1/4 inch to cut rounds from the slices of pound cake. (But you will need to match your cutter size to your glasses.)

Place one of the smaller slices in the bottom of each glass. Top the slice with a layer of frosting. Next add a layer of candies. (Sixlets were perfect for this because their chocolate centers are soft on the tooth and because the candy coating doesn’t melt in the frosting.)

Now add a larger round to each glass, and top with another layer of frosting. Finish off the parfaits with a sprinkling of color coordinated candies.

We added a Pirouette cookie and a big gum ball for a little extra pizzazz!

These little parfaits are perfect serving–sized portions and EASY TO MAKE AHEAD OF TIME. Keep in mind that you can use any color combo, making it easy to coordinate your parfaits with the color theme for your party.

parfait close up

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


April 9, 2015

BIG BIG THANKS to the delightful Danica Lo at GLAMOUR for her savvy shout-out to CAKE MY DAY!

We knew someday we’d become fashionistas!!

Right now, you can read Danica’s sweet review on the Glamour Living page. There, you can see our tantalizing TOASTER CAKE and further peruse our PINEAPPLE CAKE (which, of course, looks like a real pineapple). Simply click here.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


April 7, 2015
Work Boot26

This is one of the breakout projects from our new book CAKE MY DAY! Somehow we always knew this WORK BOOT CAKE would become a fan favorite.

As a result, we’ve had this stop-action video ready and waiting to go.

Check it out:

The actual recipe can be found on pages 243-45 of CAKE MY DAY!—right between the BEDAZZLED CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE and the RAIN BOOT CAKE!

More videos to come,

Alan and Karen



April 7, 2015
crumb coat

Since writing Cake My Day! we’ve realized the trouble CAKE CRUMBS can cause when decorating cakes!! (Not as big a problem on cupcakes because they are so much smaller.) Nothing is more annoying than getting cake crumbs ALL MIXED UP in your frosting. They can leave your otherwise yummy cake looking like its covered with freckles! Many of you may already know how to handle this problem, but if you’re asking yourself: WHAT WOULD HELLO CUPCAKE DO?–Here’s the answer:

We apply a THIN layer of frosting first, sort of like applying a primer before you paint. This layer is called a CRUMB COAT.

After smoothing the crumb coat out (the photo above shows how thin and smooth, you should be able to see your cake through the crumb coat), we refrigerate the cake for 10-15 minutes to firm up the thin coating of frosting. The crumb coat acts like glue, holding the crumbs in place. So when we remove the cake from the refrigerator, it’s ready for whatever frosting or other surface treatments you need to add.

This is ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT when you’re FROSTING THE EDGES of a cake, where crumbs are more likely to get mixed in.

And there you have it: Smoothness–and your baker’s rep–restored!!

More tips to come,

Karen and Alan