UNWRAPPING OUR “BLOW UP LAWN SANTA” CUPCAKE!!

December 5, 2016
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Santa Claus is coming to town in all sorts of ways this season. At the mall! On TV! In movies! And of course, down your chimney!

But the most scrumptious Santa of all has got to be our BLOW UP LAWN SANTA CUPCAKE!! (This cupcake is dedicated to a neighbor of ours who had a little trouble keeping his Santa inflated all season.)

You’re gonna need frosting, taffy and ESPECIALLY spice drops for this project. Even Santa’s beard is made from rolled-out white spice drops.

For the entire ingredients list and recipe, click here!!

Happy Holiday Cupcaking,

Alan and Karen

SIMPLE VANILLA CHRISTMAS COOKIES!!!

December 3, 2016
vanilla cookie

In our quest to find EASY-TO-MAKE desserts with a BIG PAYOFF, we had to share this cookie recipe that came our way via our cupcake historian.

Every Christmas, for the past few years, our historian pal brings us a batch of ITALIAN VANILLA CHRISTMAS COOKIES that he makes himself, following his mother Anna’s recipe (which, to a large extent, was her mother’s recipe).  We always find these cookies incredibly addictive. And he never quite gives us enough of them. (Hint. Hint.)

They’re a very simple cookie, with just the right touch of sugar and vanilla. They taste great on their own, AND they’re also great for dunking.

Here’s our original VINE VIDEO (which can only be SIX SECONDS LONG). Here’s our historian demonstrating, in speedy Vine fashion, how these cookies come together.

For those who’d like to see the steps in a little slower fashion, here’s the full recipe:

Start with:

1 ¾ cups sugar (ever-so-slightly more sugar is okay)

2 ¾ teaspoons vanilla (a little more vanilla is good too)

6 eggs

Blend the eggs, sugar and vanilla together.

Then add 1 ½ cups Crisco. (Other shortening is okay, but Crisco works best.)

Mix until smooth. No lumps.

Then, in a separate bowl, sift:

6 cups flour (don’t overdo flour; better to slightly underdo)

6 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Then add the sifted ingredients to the egg blend. Mix thoroughly with whisk or wooden spoon. Then knead with hands till very smooth.

Roll strips of dough into “S” curved shapes. The strips should be on the smaller side, approx 1½ inches. Very big and plump strips will not cook through.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the oven.

Pull out when medium brown on bottom.

And that is that!

We promise you: you won’t be able to eat just one! And there’s a very good chance these cookies may become a holiday tradition of your own!

Happy Cookie-making,

Alan and Karen

OUR CRAFTY CHRISTMAS “BUBBLE WREATH” CAKE!!!!!

December 1, 2016
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Once the calendar flips to December, it’s non-stop Christmas at the Candy Lab. And this year, we’re really determined to keep up the good spirits!!

You might say we felt especially bubbly when we came up with this colorful variation on a Christmas wreath—A BUBBLE WREATH!!

It has some things in common with our EMOTIPOPS project. So if you’ve mastered that, this should be a breeze.

HERE’S THE RECIPE:

Begin with 2 FAMILY-SIZED FROZEN SARA LEE POUND CAKES.

Cut into 9 one-inch thick slices.

From the slices, cut circles of various sizes, using three sizes of round cookie cutters ranging from 1-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Cut as many circles from the slices as you can. Place them in the freezer to chill.

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Place a cooling rack over the wax paper.

Then take 2 cans of DUNCAN HINES CREAMY HOMESTYLE VANILLA FROSTING and divide it into 5 microwave-safe bowls.

Using McCORMICK ASSORTED AND NEON FOOD COLORING, tint each bowl a different color. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap to prevent drying.

Working with one color of frosting at a time, microwave the frosting, stoping to stir frequently until it has the texture of lightly whipped cream, about 10 seconds. (Don’t forget to take off the plastic wrap before you microwave the bowls!)

Remove some of the cake circles from the freezer (as many as you will want in a single color) and place on the cooling rack.

Pour melted frosting on top of each cake to cover. Let the frosting run off cake. Once it sets up a slight amount, use an offset spatula to transfer the coated cakes to another wax-paper lined baking sheet and place them in refrigerator to chill.

Continue with each of the other colors until you’ve coated all of the cake circles.

Remove the chilled and coated circles from the refrigerator and arrange them on a round platter large enough to hold the wreath. Alternate the colors and place smaller circles overlapping the edges of larger ones to make a full wreath shape.

Add SPREE candy to the tops of some of the cake circles to give the wreath one more size circle and an extra pop of color. (We didn’t use the purple ones. Those got eaten!)

Add a festive bow and your wreath is ready to serve.

Happy Cake-making,

Alan and Karen

 

HERE COMES POLAR PETE—OUR “CHRISTMAS BEAR” CAKE!!!!

November 28, 2016
Christmas Polar Bear

We’ve just completed Thanksgiving–and Polar Pete is already psyched for Christmas 2016!! Our cuddly, coconut-covered concoction is set to climb right up and take his place at the center of your holiday dessert table.

Pete is something of a holiday mash-up: combining the Polar Bear cupcakes in CUPCAKES, COOKIES & PIE, OH MY with the Christmas Bear Cake from CAKE MY DAY!

Here’s how it all comes together:

Bake four cakes in Pyrex bowls, two 12 ounce and two 1 quart bowls. Level the cakes and then using frosting, we glue the two smaller cakes (12 ounce) together to make the head and the two larger cakes (1 quart) together to make the body.

Use one Twinkie for each arm, removing 1 inch from one end, cut on a diagonal. For the feet use Ring Dings, and for the ears use Mini Golden Oreos.

Coat each of the parts with a thick coating of frosting and smooth. Press chopped sweetened coconut into the frosting to make a smooth fur coat. Place the coated pieces in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.

Place the head on the body cake using frosting to hold it in place. Insert a plastic straw through the center of the head and down through the body to hold it in place. Use frosting to attach the arms and legs, and secure each with a thin pretzel stick pushed through the part and into the cake. Press the ears into the frosting at the top of the head, using a dot of frosting if necessary, to secure.

The following parts are attached using frosting as the glue. The nose is a chocolate candy melt and the eyes are Mini Kisses inserted pointed end first. The pads on the feet are chocolate candy melts and the toes are mini Kisses inserted pointed end first. The fingernails are chocolate M&Ms pushed into the frosting on their sides. The buttons are green striped starlight mints. And the ribbon is cut from Fruit by the Foot that has been rolled out in red decorating sugar to adhere the sugar to the candy strip.

And there you have it. Of course, by changing the colors of his buttons and tie, Polar Pete works any time of year. He’s a bear for all seasons.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen

TWO “OH MY” CLASSICS FOR THANKSGIVING!!

November 21, 2016
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Turkey Day is almost here—which is one of our favorite times of year. After all, it’s a holiday that’s all about FOOD. We’ll both be hosting big gatherings of family and friends, and we’ve been putting out heads together, trying to decide just what our desserts should be. (There’s a lot of pressure when you’re the authors of HELLO, CUPCAKE!)

But meanwhile—as inspiration for you and us—we thought we’d remind you of two of our favorite Thanksgiving projects. They’re guaranteed to make your holiday company happy—and thankful!!

First up is a turkey, of course. BIG TOM—as we’ve named him—is basically a CHOCOLATE CAKE. The tail feathers are made from three flavors of candy clay: chocolate, white chocolate and caramel. The head is a cupcake frosted pale blue. You can find the completely succulent recipe on page 199 of CUPCAKES, COOKIES & PIE, OH MY!

Next, here’s a swell idea for dressing up your PUMPKIN PIE. Take a look at the photo below. It IS an honest-to-goodness pumpkin pie—not an attempt to fool your eye. But look twice at those autumn leaves—they’re actually made from pie crust!

Autumn Leaves-11

We painted them with an egg wash tinted with food coloring before baking. The rake is made from a bread stick and Fruit Roll-Ups. The tines are cut from pie crust too. The full recipe can also be found in OH MY!—on pages 191-193.

Hope these projects provide you with some great holiday inspiration!!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Season,

Alan and Karen

THE RETURN OF LARRY THE TURKEY!!

November 20, 2016
larry the turkey

Larry the Turkey has been with us all the way back to the beginning of our cupcake adventure. He was one of the original HELLO, CUPCAKE projects. And he’s always been one of our most laugh-producing and popular. (I guess everyone has some version of Larry the Turkey in their lives.)

So being in a nostalgic mood this holiday, we thought it was time for Larry’s return appearance—times two!!!

To make Larry, you’ll need a few cupcakes (we recommend pumpkin or spice), caramel frosting, scalloped orange or ginger cookies, candy corn and caramel jimmies.

The entire recipe is on pages 183-5 of our original HELLO, CUPCAKE!

Or you can find the recipe by clicking here.

TIP: Decorate your turkey bodies, heads, and tails the day before but do not assemble them. Instead store them separately on waxed paper and cover lightly with plastic wrap (do not refrigerate and do not seal the plastic wrap). The next day assemble them just before placing them out on your holiday table, using a small dot of frosting for the glue. This will prevent the cookies from getting soft or the head falling off before your party begins.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Alan and Karen

QUICK THANKSGIVING DAY COOKIES!!

November 19, 2016
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There are all sorts of complex Thanksgiving dessert recipes out there this time of year. But here’s just about the QUICKEST seasonally-themed dessert we could come up with for T-Day.

Let’s call them FAST FALL COOKIES!!!

Don’t blink while reading this easy recipe, or you’ll miss it.

Buy a pack of ARCHWAY GINGER cookies.

Cover them alternately with VANILLA AND CHOCOLATE FROSTING.

Then on top of  the frosting, place yellow, orange, red and brown SHIMMER-COATED SIXLETS AND PEARLS. (In some stores, you can actually find these colors in one AUTUMN-MIX package.)

Just follow the designs in the photo above. And there you are. One dessert down.

Now back to that complicated dressing.

Alan and Karen

HELLO, MUMMY!!!

October 24, 2016
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No need to fear. Your Candy Lab 2-for-1 HALLOWEEN SPECIAL is here!!

We’ve concocted two projects in one: a sweetly wrapped mummy and, for a little tomb-like atmosphere, we added an assortment of creepy, crawly spider web cupcakes!!!

Our mummy may look like a cake but it’s actually made of 6 chocolate cupcakes—plus some frosting and cookie crumbs!

For the recipes on both, click here.

Happy Halloween,

Alan and Karen

LAST MINUTE HALLOWEEN GHOSTS!!

October 21, 2016
chilly ghosts 2

OH NO! All Hallows’ Eve is only a few days away—and you haven’t made any holiday cupcakes yet!! Call it the NIGHTMARE BEFORE HALLOWEEN!!!!!

But have no fear! We’re here to save you with a fast Halloween project that’ll please as many trick-or-treaters as you need it too.

I mean, what’s more Halloweeny than ghosts!

These chilly phantoms are a breeze to make. Here’s the speedy recipe:

With a paring knife, cut a cone-shaped hole into the top of a CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE. (Put the small cut-out piece of cake aside. You’ll need it later.)

Cover the cupcake in CHOCOLATE FROSTING, leaving the cone-shaped hole unfrosted. Then roll the cupcake in a shallow bowl full of CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUMBS.

Place a 1 1/2 inch ICE CREAM BALL into the cone-shaped hole. Then put the cone-shaped piece of cake on top, flat side down.

Pipe a circle of WHIPPED TOPPING around the base of the cone cake. Pipe a smaller circle on top of the ice cream.

Then, to make the peaked ghost’s head, pipe a third layer of whipped topping (using a squeeze-release-pull motion).

Insert two matching CANDIES for eyes.

And there you have it: a quick concoction that really captures the spooky spirit of the holiday!!

Feel free to freeze or keep cool as you wish.

Happy Trick or Treating,

Alan and Karen

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: INTO THE WOODS!!!!

October 20, 2016
Dark-Forest-Cupcakes

This blood-curdling FOREST is one of our fave Halloween projects. We think it’s super-creepy and creative. And why wouldn’t it be?! It’s inspired by the work of one of the most fantastic filmmakers (and a personal favorite at the Candy Lab): TIM BURTON!!

These eerie trees are made from chocolate candy melts. And the soil is composed of Oreo cookie crumbs. For the FULL FRIGHTENING RECIPE, read on.

First, take 3 cookie sheets and line them with wax paper. Then draw a tree (about 4-inches tall) on another piece of paper, adding a 1 1/2 inch line below the base of the tree which will serve as the tree’s support. Place the drawing under the wax paper.

Take ONE CUP OF DARK COCOA CANDY MELTS and separate it into 3 plastic bags. Don’t seal the bag. Microwave each bag for 10 seconds—one at a time. This will begin to soften the candy melts. Massage the mixture and return to the microwave. Repeat the process until the candy is smooth. Now you can seal the bags, pressing out the excess air.

Snip a 1/8 inch corner from the bag and, following your drawing, pipe an outline and fill in the center.

While the candy is still wet, add ORANGE SPRINKLES to get the effect shown in the picture above. Place the tree into the refrigerator to set. Then repeat the process to make more trees. Each tree should take about 5 minutes to set.

After the trees are made, spread some CHOCOLATE FROSTING on top of a cupcake. Roll the top of the cupcake in a medium sized bowl in which you’ve placed 2 cups of GROUND CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUMBS. Repeat with your remaining cupcakes.

At that point, you can gently peel the candy trees from the waxed paper. Then place them on top of the cupcakes, into the chocolate frosting, until they stick. Repeat until you have as many trees as you’d like.

And there you have it: ONE PETRIFYING FOREST!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN SEASON,

Alan and Karen

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