A VERY SPECIAL VALENTINE’S CAKE!!

February 3, 2016
Heart Valentines Day Cake

Don’t let your eyes fool you. This 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

A COOL NEW PENGUIN PROJECT!!

January 31, 2016
penguin-01

We’ve made penguin cupcakes before–but never one this easy or this much fun! They’re the COOLEST.

Here’s how we made them:

Start with vanilla cupcakes. (We like to make them in foil liners.) Frost the cupcakes with a generous dollop of vanilla frosting.

For the head, using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, trim about 1/2 from one edge of an OREO cookie. Place the trimmed cookie at the top of the cupcake, hanging over the edge by about 1 inch. (You’ll want to leave enough cookie seated on the cupcake so it doesn’t fall off.) Using the serrated knife, saw a second OREO cookie in half crosswise. Place one half of the cut cookie on the cupcake, cut side facing out, to the left and another on the right of the head to make the wings.

Cut 1 inch from a piece of red Fruit by the Foot. Pinch the fruit leather at the center to make a bow. Place the bow tie at the neck. Snip a small triangle from a circus peanut or an orange fruit slice. Use a dot of frosting to fasten the orange triangle to the head OREO for the nose. Add two dots of vanilla frosting above the nose and add black pearls or other small black candies for the eyes. Add four orange banana candies, two left and two right, for the feet. Finish the penguin by adding a row of three candies to the body for buttons.

We created these adorable penguins a month or so back for a Cookies for Kids Cancer event. Cookies for Kids is a fantastic group that raises money to fight childhood cancer. Here is a link to find out more about how you can help this amazing organization.

http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org/

 

Happy decorating,

Alan and Karen

HEART CANDY CUPCAKES!!

January 29, 2016
Valentine heart cupcake messages

VALENTINE’S DAY is right around the corner. And we couldn’t let that day go by without offering a special sweetheart project or two.

Here’s one of our favorite heartfelt recipes. For one reason or another, it has never appeared in any of our books.

Start with sugar cookie dough from the refrigerator case in your local supermarket. (We think the Pillsbury brand works great!)

Roll out the dough. Then use different sizes of heart-shaped cookie cutters to create the shapes. (You can re-roll the scraps to make your dough go further.)

Bake according to the package and let cool.

Once cooled, frost your cookie. Then, before the frosting hardens, dip them into pink or red decorating sugar. Let the sugar set up for a few minutes.

Then begin piping your sweet messages using a tube of chocolate decorating frosting.

Place your hearts on chocolate frosted cupcakes, pointy side down. We like to use a pretzel stick behind them, to hold them up. But you can also lay the hearts flat on the cupcake.

Of course, feel free to pipe on whatever special messages and pet names you and your loved ones share. (We’ll keep ours a secret. They’re a little embarrassing.)

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Alan and Karen

OYSTER MADELEINES—FROM THE FANCY FOOD SHOW 2016!!!

January 27, 2016
OYSTERS AND PEARLS MADELENES

We just got back from this year’s WINTER FANCY FOOD SHOW in San Francisco. And we had a great time as usual. There were so many great vendors, so much great food, so many great fans. We saw amazing new ideas in sweets and decorating: Chocolate coated wafer cones for baking, pattern printed candy for decorating, and baking cups that were so exciting you hardly need decorations at all. Watch for posts on these products in the following weeks.

During our days at the show, we always develop lots of projects at our booth. We have to think fast. And we rely more than ever on quick and easy ideas. One of our favorite easy projects from this year’s show are our OYSTER MADELEINES.

OYSTER MADELIENE

It all started at Whole Foods, where we were shopping for supplies. We spotted some madeleine cookies—and instantly we had an idea! All they needed was a graceful mound of pink frosting and a pearlized gum ball to transform them into great looking oysters and pearls. And we didn’t have to do one bit of baking.

It’s really challenging to come up with the easiest possible idea. Give it a try sometime as you roll through your local market.

Meanwhile, just for the record, here’s a pic of the two of us manning this year’s booth. We’d love to see you at the show some year.

BOOTH

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen

THE SOUND OF CUPCAKES!!!

January 23, 2016
Musical Instruments-006642-2

The word “CUPCAKE” is music to our ears. And here’s a project that brings that sweet idea to life. We made this trio of musical instruments using three jumbo cupcakes and two standard size cupcakes. But you might want to modify that number to match the size of your own personal cupcake orchestra.

For the larger instruments, the violin and the guitar, we placed a jumbo and a standard cupcake side by side on a small plate. We cut a Famous Chocolate Wafer into small pieces and used the pieces to bridge the open areas where the cupcakes touched and make one continuous figure-8 shape of the two cupcakes.

We used frosting to secure the cookie pieces and then frosted the entire top of the cupcakes and smoothed, chocolate for the violin and tan (half chocolate and half vanilla) for the guitar. For the banjo, we simply frosted a single standard size cupcake.

For the necks of the instruments, we used sections of a Kit Kat bar. For the violin and the guitar, the Kit Kat bar pieces are simply pressed into the frosting to secure. The Banjo neck extends further so it needs an extra piece of Kit Kat bar beneath the neck to hold it up.

The final details were made from frosting (strings), Cheerios and Pearls (tuning keys), chocolate jimmies (string saddle), and orange colored Sunny Seed Drops (banjo brackets).

Note for note, these cupcakes hit a major chord!! And they’re guaranteed to harmonize with your family’s sweet tooth.

Happy Cupcaking,

Alan and Karen

A TERRIFIC TV TIP FROM THE CANDY LAB!

January 18, 2016
british baking show

If you have Netflix, we have a TV tip for you: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW! It’s one of the smartest, funnest, most informative cooking competition programs we’ve seen in a while. It’s really been the highlight of our winter streaming experience so far!

A lovable group of amateur (but very knowledgeable) bakers all meet in a big white tent for ten weekends in a row and compete in three bake-offs each week with one cook eliminated every week. Somehow this show manages to avoid all the silly, trumped up melodrama of so many recent cooking shows. Yet it manages to be totally entertaining, AND you really learn a lot: not only about baking techniques but also about the interesting differences between American and British baking tastes and nomenclature.

The judges are Mary Berry, the grande dame of British baking, and Paul Hollywood, a British celebrity chef and quite a taskmaster. The contestants are a terrific bunch that vary wildly in age and experience.

We guarantee you’ll learn to love them all—and you’ll get plenty of inspiration. Give it a look.

Happy Baking,

Alan and Karen

LET IT SNOW, MAN!!

January 16, 2016
snowman-03

Chilly Snowman Cupcakes* will brighten your winter doldrums. Whether you are buried under snow (or desperately awaiting your first flurries), January is the perfect snowman making time. This sweet fellow is made from your favorite cake recipe and baked in a silver foil liner. Let the cupcakes cool completely before decorating.

Here is how we made them:

Frost the top of the cupcake in a generous mound of frosting and smooth to round the top.

Place white decorating sugar in a wide shallow bowl. (You want it to be wide enough to accommodate a regular size cupcake with some wiggle room!)

Hold the cupcake by its liner (gently, don’t squeeze too hard or the cupcake might POP out of the liner). Roll the frosted top in the white decorating sugar. Now press the sugar to smooth and round the shape. (You can do this with your fingers or a small offset spatula.)

For the hat: use a small serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to trim opposite sides from a Famous Chocolate Wafer cookie. The cuts should be on a slight angle to narrow the bottom of the shape. (See photo.) One of the trimmed pieces will become the brim of the hat; hang on to the other in case of breakage.

Make a slit in one side of the coated cupcake by inserting the knife at the edge of the liner and pushing it into the center. Insert the narrow end of the Famous Chocolate Wafer into the slit. Add a bead of frosting where the cookie meet the cupcake and attach the brim piece of the cookie.

Add another bead of frosting where the brim meets the hat and attach a row of Pearl candies in any color. We chose CHILLY blue for the winter season!

Next, add eyes using dark round candies. (We used BLACK SIXLETS, but M&Ms, SKITTLES, or any small dark round candy will work.) Add a row of smaller candies for the mouth. (We used BLACK PEARLS.) For the nose, trim a small narrow triangle from a CIRCUS PEANUT or an orange slice candy, or you can shape it from orange taffy such as TOOTSIE FRUIT CHEWS, STARBURST, or LAFFY TAFFY.

And there you have it. Your first snowman of winter 2016, with or without snow in the forecast!

Happy decorating!

Alan and Karen

*Adapted from Frosty Mugs page 200 What’s New, Cupcake?

PRETTY IN PINK: OUR SLEEPOVER BED CAKE!!!!

January 9, 2016
pink bed

Here’s a great project for a SLEEPOVER PARTY. After you try it, we think you’ll agree: Making your bed has never been more fun!

We made this sleepover cake using store-bought Sara Lee Pound Cake. But you could just as easily shape the bed from a homemade cake baked in a loaf pan or a layer cake cut to size.

Before frosting, trim about 1/4 of the cake from one end and set aside. (This will become the support to hold up the headboard.)

Frost the cake with a generous layer of pink frosting and add Pearls, Sixlets, or other sugar decorations to create the design for the coverlet and add a row of candy for the trim at the bottom.

For the headboard, we used graham crackers glued together with melted white chocolate. We coated the entire headboard with a layer of the melted white chocolate, pressed a straw into the soft coating to create the diamond pattern, and added white pearls to create a chic upholstered look. We edged the headboard in chocolate Ovation sticks and gave it knobs made from mini gum balls. Next frost the reserved 1/4 section of cake and use it as a support to hold the headboard at the head end of the bead.

The final (and we think best) part of the cake is the glamorous pillow roll decorating the bed. To make it, we attached three marshmallows end to end, and trimmed each end of the pillow roll with a circle of white iridescent pearls.

Want to make this a real party cake? Prepare several small bed cakes ahead of time, including the headboards, and let your sleepover guests decorate them. That should give everyone something sweet to dream about.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen

NEW YEARS BUBBLY CHAMPAGNE CAKE!!

December 31, 2015
Champagne glasses-blog1

Here’s a special CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE to bring in the NEW YEAR!!

We call it our Bubbly Champagne Cake—not that there’s any real champagne in it. But there ARE fluted glasses made from snack cakes and cookies coated in chocolate, overflowing with faux champagne created with shimmering Sixlets, gumballs, and Pearls.

For the complete recipe, read on:

INGREDIENTS:

Vegetable cooking spray

Two 9-inch round cakes, made from devil’s food cake mix

2 cans (16 ounces) vanilla frosting

14 vanilla créme-filled snack cakes (Twinkies)

1 bag (12 ounces) yellow candy melting wafers (Wilton)

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons white nonpareils (Wilton)

1/2 cup white pearlized small candies (Pearls)

1 bag (12 ounces) white candy melting wafers (Wilton)

14 rolled wafer cookies (Pirouettes)

7 Vanilla Wafers

Blue neon food coloring (McCormick NEON)

3/4 cup white pearlized round candy-coated chocolates (Sixlets)

1/2 cup white pearlized mini gum balls (SweetWorks)

 

  1. Using a knife long enough to go all the way through the 9-inch round cakes, slice each in half horizontally to make a total of four layers. Place one cake on a 9-inch cake round and using the first can of vanilla frosting, spread a layer of frosting over the top of the cake. Add a second layer, taking care to keep the layers level, and spread a layer of frosting on the top. Continue with the next two layers to make four layers. Give the top and sides of the cake a crumb coat of vanilla frosting and place the cake in the refrigerator to chill. Spoon the remaining vanilla frosting from the can into a ziplock bag (take care that there are no chocolate crumbs in the frosting). Press out the excess air and seal the bag
  2. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Spray a wire rack with vegetable cooking spray and place on top of the lined baking sheet. Place a snack cake flat side down on a work surface. Cut a ¾-inch piece crosswise from one short end and discard. Transfer to the wire rack, flat side down. Repeat with the remaining snack cakes. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer to chill, about 30 minutes.
  3. Place the yellow candy melting wafers in a microwave-safe bowl with the vegetable shortening. Microwave, stirring every 10 seconds, until smooth. Spoon the melted candy over the tops of the chilled snack cakes to cover completely, allowing the excess candy to drip onto the wax paper. Sprinkle the bottom of each snack cake with a few of the white nonpareils and pearls while the yellow candy is still wet to look like a line of fizz rising from the bottom (see photo). Refrigerate the coated snack cakes until set, about 5 minutes. Gently remove the snack cakes from the wire rack, trimming any excess candy drips from the edges, and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Cut the pirouette cookies in half crosswise, to make pieces about 2 inches in length. Cut the vanilla wafers in half, crosswise.
  5. Place the white candy melting wafers in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, stirring every 5 seconds, until smooth. Dip the trimmed end of a coated snack cake 1/2 inch into the white candy melts to create the lip of the champagne glass. Allow the excess candy to drip back into the bowl. Return the snack cake to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining snack cakes. Dip each of the pirouette cookies, and halved vanilla wafers in the melted candy, and place them on the wax paper lined baking sheet. Place the coated pieces on the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill.
  6. Tint the remaining can of vanilla frosting light blue using the neon blue food coloring. Transfer the chilled cake to a serving platter. Spread a thick layer of blue frosting all over the cake and smooth use a large frosting spreader. To make the bases for the glasses, place the candy-coated vanilla cookie halves at the base of the cake, cut side against the cake, on the serving platter, about 1/2 inch apart. For the stems, press a pirouette cookie into the frosting above each vanilla wafer, coated side facing out. Attach a snack cake, white end up and flat back side against the cake, at the top of each cookie stem, pressing into the frosting to secure. Return the cake to the refrigerator to chill, about 20 minutes.
  7. Once the cake is chilled, snip a small (1/8-inch) corner from the bag with the white frosting. Pipe some of the vanilla frosting on top of the snack cake champagne glasses, adding some frosting down the sides of the snack cakes to look like overflow. Press some of the white candy-coated chocolates, the small candy pearls, and the mini gum balls into the frosting on top of the test tubes to look like bubbles. Press a few small candy pearls and nonpareils into the drips of frosting on the sides of the glasses and sprinkle a few at the base of each glass.. Sprinkle the remaining gum balls, candy-coated chocolates, and small candy pearls on top of the cake to cover, using any remaining white frosting in the bag, to secure. Add white candles and serve.

Makes 24 servings

champagne glasses-blog 2

Here’s to health, happiness and lots of GREAT NEW DESSERTS in THE NEW YEAR!

Alan and Karen

THIS YEAR’S EXCELLENT “ORNAMENT” CAKE!!

December 21, 2015
Ornament Simplified

We wrap up this year’s flurry of holiday ideas with a fabulous EDIBLE CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENT CAKE!!!!. Our final holiday project is a simplified version of our TREE TOPPER CAKE in CAKE MY DAY!

An Ornament Cake is a beautiful way to top off your end–of–year hosting. And it’s so pretty it can be used as the centerpiece of all your Christmas decorations. It serves up to ten—twelve if you serve it with peppermint ice cream!

How we did it:

First we baked a cake in a 2 quart Pyrex bowl. A standard cake mix batter fits this size bowl. (Complete instructions for baking a bowl cake can be found in the BOWL ME OVER chapter of CAKE MY DAY! Be sure to read “BAKING IN GLASS” on page 293.)

Place the baked cake on a wire cooling rack and let the cake cool completely before decorating. Once cooled, place the cake on a piece of cardboard cut to fit.

Coat the entire cake with a generous layer of vanilla frosting and smooth to make the shape as round as possible. (The frosting helps fill in gaps or cracks.)

Hold the cake by the cardboard on the bottom and hold it over a baking tray lined with waxed paper. Press hands full of pearlized red decorating sugar (Wilton) onto 2/3 of the round cake (see photo), letting the excess sugar fall into the lined baking tray. You can gather the sugar from the waxed paper and use it again if you need more to completely cover the frosting.

Switch to a clean sheet of waxed paper and baking tray, and this time press green Candy Crumble (Celebration by SweetWorks) into the other 1/3 of the round cake. Press the green Candy Crumble up to the edge of the red sugar to make a straight line across the cake where they meet. (You may need to pipe an additional line of frosting where they meet to make sure the green candy will adhere right up against the red sugar.)

Use a round cookie cutter to mark a circle in the center of the red portion of the cake. Using a sharp paring knife, follow the circular mark to remove a cone of cake about 2 inches deep. Frost the inside of the cone shaped cavity with vanilla frosting and smooth. Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes (no more) so the frosting will firm up before the next step.

Tint a small amount of vodka warm yellow using yellow and red food coloring. Using a small craft or paint brush, paint the inside of the frosted cone shape with the tinted vodka.

Add yellow pearlized Pearls around the perimeter of the painted cone. Pipe a line of vanilla frosting along the line between the red and green coatings and add a row of green starlight mints across the cake.

Working with a cupcake baked in a yellow liner, make two small holes in the bottom of the liner about 1 1/2 inches apart. Push a thin pretzel stick into each end of a 7 inch piece of yellow Twizzler. Push the pretzel sticks into the holes in the bottom of the liner. Frost the top of the cupcake with vanilla frosting and add it to the top of the ornament. (You may need to use a support such as a Golden Oreo with a dot of frosting under the cupcake to hold it in place.)

And there you have it. The Halls have been Decked!

Wishing you and your family the greatest of holidays!!

Alan and Karen

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