A SIMPLE FLOWER CAKE—AND CUPCAKES!!!

May 3, 2015
Celebration Kooky Bananas-02

Here are a few more flowery projects for SPRING!! They’re super easy to make—and we think they’ll be perfect for our first outdoor gathering of the season, which is coming up.

We found an assortment of candies at Party City that really helped pull these projects off.

For the project at top, start with a pound cake and frost it white. Pipe petal shapes in your favorite colors on top of the cake. Then spread them smooth with an offset spatula. Outline each petal with color-coordinated Pearls. Add three Pearls and six banana candies in contrasting colors to the center of each flower. Place extra light and dark green banana candies between some of the petals, at their edges, for the leaves. Add blue banana candies end to end to the bottom edge of the cake. And there you have it. A Springy cake if we ever saw one!

Celebration Baby Tears-24

Secondly, we turned a couple of cupcakes into BLOSSOMS. This project is so simple. It’s what we like to call a PRESS AND PLAY project! The entire recipe is right there in the picture (above). Simply frost your cupcakes and apply your candies as shown. We used an assortment of Baby Face Tears, Pearls and larger Sixlets. We even created a butterfly using the same candies, we just added lines of chocolate frosting for the antennae. Of course, feel free to use whatever candies please your sweet tooth.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen

A SWEET AND EASY BOUQUET FOR SPRING!!

May 1, 2015
Celebration Flowers-15

SPRING is busting out all over (finally). So to help celebrate our favorite time of year, we’ve thought we’d present some flower projects. Here’s a very simple Spring decorating idea we like to call POSIE POPS.

We began with a Vanilla Wafer. We covered the flat side with melted white chocolate. Then we pressed the top of a Popsicle stick into the white chocolate. We added a drop of melted white chocolate to the stick and pressed the flat side of a SECOND Vanilla Wafer against it, until it stuck. (The melted chocolate makes for a stronger bond than frosting would.) We added dots of white chocolate to the front of the cookie and attached Celebration flower candies to it. And now you’ve got a tasty Spring bouquet!

If you’d like, you can also pipe out little green leaves, as we’ve done here.

To display, we filled a small glass with Pearl candies and placed the pops within in.

We’ve got new ideas blooming all the time. So watch this space.

Happy Spring,

Alan and Karen

OUR WONDERFUL WINDMILL CAKE!!

April 27, 2015
Windmill Cake-25

Not every one of our crazy cake projects ended up in CAKE MY DAY! We always have more ideas than we can fit between the pages of a book. So it’s great that we can bring them to you on the blog.

We figure, since the tulips are up, it’s a great time to debut this particular cake-that-got-away: our Windmill Cake.

We forget what originally inspired us to create it. Perhaps we’d just gotten back from East Hampton (which has a famous windmill). Or maybe we were just listening to “Windmills of My Mind” (the Dusty Springfield version, of course).

This Windmill is one of our most ambitious projects—so, before you begin, hold onto your hats (and not just because it’s gonna get windy).

Here, for the first time anywhere, is the entire recipe:

 

INGREDIENTS

2 family size (16 ounces each) frozen pound cakes, thawed (Sara Lee)

1 can (16 ounces) plus 1/4 cup chocolate frosting

1 cup vanilla frosting

1 oatmeal cookie, 3 1/2-inches (Archway)

5 plain bread sticks, 5 inches long (Angonoa’s)

1 can (1.5 ounces) red decorating spray (Cake Mate, Wilton)

1/2 cup white candy melting wafers (Wilton)

2 rolls (.75 ounces each) red fruit leather (Fruit by the Foot)

1 vanilla chocolate filled sandwich cookie (Milano)

1/2 cup small assorted jelly beans in stone colors like tan, brown, and brick (Jelly Belly)

4 cups multi rice cereal (Chex)

1 small brown decor

1 red gum drop (Dot)

1 pretzel square (Snyder)

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spoon the vanilla frosting into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Place the pound cakes on a work surface. Spread some of the chocolate frosting on the bottom of one cake. Press the other cake, bottom side against the frosting, and sandwich them together. Place the stack vertically on a work surface, seam side facing you, and cut a 1 1/2 wide x 3-inch high triangle from opposite corners along the long sides to taper it. Bevel the four long corners to round the shape. Cut 1/2 inch from the top to make it level. Reserve the trimmed pieces of cake.
  2. Insert a drinking straw at an angle through both cakes. Repeat on the other side. (They will cross in an x-shape through the center of the cakes to stabilize them.) Trim the drinking straws to make them flush to the cake. Place the cake on a piece of cardboard cut to fit. Spread a thin crumb coating of the chocolate frosting on the cake, filling any gaps, to smooth. Transfer the cake to the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
  3. Cut 1 bread stick in half, crosswise. Place the reserved cake trimmings in a bowl and crumble. Mix the cake crumbs with 1/4 cup of the chocolate frosting. Press the cake mixture on top of the oatmeal cookie to make a dome shape. (This is the top of the windmill.) Insert one of the cut pieces of breadstick into the side of the dome, spinning it to loosen the hole, and remove the bread stick. (This will be the opening for the sail support.) Freeze until ready to use.
  4. Place the remaining 4 bread sticks on a piece of waxed paper. Spray the bread sticks with the red decorating color to coat.
  5. Place the white candy melts in a ziplock bag. (Do not seal the bag.) Microwave for 10 seconds to soften. Massage the candy in the bag, return to the microwave, and repeat the process until the candy is smooth. Press out the excess air and seal the bag.
  6. Snip a small (1/8-inch) corner from the bag with the melted candy. Using the melted candy, pipe an outline of a sail shape on a clean sheet of waxed paper. (The sail should be about 4 inches long by 1 1/2 inches at the widest end, and 1/2 inch at the narrow end. See photo.) Fill in the outline with more melted candy and smooth. While the candy is still melted, press a red coated bread stick on a long side of the sail shape. Repeat to make 4 sails, always positioning the breadstick on the same side. Transfer to the refrigerator to set, about 5 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the sails from the waxed paper. Arrange the sails on a clean sheet of waxed paper in an X shape, with the narrow ends coming together at the center. Reheat the candy melts in the microwave, massaging the bag, until smooth. Pipe some of the melted candy on top of the bread stick ends to connect them at the center of the X. Place the chocolate non pariel on top of the melted candy. Return to the refrigerator until set, about 5 minutes. Invert the assembly, reheat the melted candy as needed, and pipe a large dot of melted candy at the center where the bread sticks are attached. Press the cut end of the remaining bread stick upright into the melted candy, to secure. Hold the bread stick in position for a minute or two or until it stands in the upright position without support. (TIP: you can also use a crumpled ring of foil wrap to hold it in a stationary position while it sets.) Refrigerate until ready to use.
  8. To make the roof tiles, unroll the fruit leather, cut the length in half crosswise, and press the 2 strips together to get a double thickness. Cut the strip, crosswise, into 1 1/4-inch lengths. Using pinking shears, create a zig zag edge on each section of fruit leather.
  9. Remove one third of the sandwich cookie, crosswise, to create the door.
  10. Snip a small (1/8-inch) corner from the bag with the vanilla frosting. Transfer the chilled cake to a serving platter. Pipe a band of vanilla frosting 1 1/2-inches high around the base of the cake. Press 3 rows of jelly beans, lengthwise and close together, into the frosting to secure. Spread some chocolate frosting on the rest of the chilled cake and smooth. Attach the cookie door, cut side down, on the seam side of cake just above the rows of jelly beans. Starting at the bottom of the cake, adjacent to the door, press cereal squares close together in a row around the cake. Add a second overlapping row. Continue adding overlapping rows of cereal squares, to cover the sides of the cake, leaving the top of the cake plain.
  11. Spread some of the remaining chocolate frosting on top of the chilled oatmeal cookie/cake assembly and smooth. Starting at the base of the dome shape attach the red roof tiles, zigzag edge down, pressing into the frosting in overlapping rows, to cover the dome.
  12. Pipe a dot of vanilla frosting on the cookie door and attach the brown candy as the door knob.
  13. Place the dome on top of the cake, making sure the hole in the dome faces forward.
  14. Just before serving, carefully remove the sail structure from the waxed paper. Insert the end of the bread stick attached to the back of the assembly into the hole created in the side of the dome, securing with some of the chocolate frosting. Add the red gum drop on the top of the dome. Arrange the square pretzel on the platter in front of the door.

Makes 16 servings

We’d really love to see how your windmills turn out. So if you’re up for a challenge, make sure to post your results on our Facebook page.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen

THE ALAN AND KAREN TV SHOW!!

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.

Enjoy!

Alan and Karen

BUNNY’S HAPPY BIRTHDAY CUPCAKES!!

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

CHOCOLATE OREO ICE CREAM CAKE!!!

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:

INGREDIENTS

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)

 

PANS

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

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  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

HELLO CUPCAKE CLASSIC: RAINBOW TROUT!

April 18, 2015
Rainbow-Trout-Cupcakes

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

SHELF AWARENESS!!!

April 17, 2015
KINOKUNIYA BOOKSTORE

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

 

OUR PERFECT CAKE RECIPE—PLUS A GREAT INTERVIEW!!

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

SPRINGTIME CAKE AND CANDY PARFAITS!!!

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

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