QUICK THANKSGIVING DAY COOKIES!!

November 19, 2014
Celebration Pearls-11

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

THANKSGIVING x 2

November 18, 2014
Pull Apart Turkey-29

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.

We’ll get back to you with more suggestions. But right now we’ve got some more meal planning to do. And we’ve also got some leaves to rake!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Season,

Alan and Karen

WHAT WE’RE READING

November 14, 2014
cookie cutter

Every now and then, we like to share the books that excite us—especially when it’s something that might really please our blog readers.

So we definitely wanted to pass on our enjoyment of a new book by baker Patti Paige: YOU CAN’T JUDGE A COOKIE BY ITS CUTTER.

Her basic idea is really original. Patti shows how you can make any number of playful creations out of a single cookie cutter, simply by shifting your perspective a bit. Take a look at two cookies she sent us: a bat and a moon—both made from the same cookie cutter.

cookies

Pretty ingenious, no?

Plus along the way, Patti shares her favorite cookie dough recipes, and she offers all sorts of helpful baking tips and techniques.

If you like our books, we think you’ll really enjoy Patti’s.

Happy Reading,

Alan and Karen

A CANDY MAP, A JUICY FRUIT DRESS AND A TOOTSIE ROLL PURSE!!

November 13, 2014
MAP

We were going over all our pix from this year’s SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO and we found a few delicious items we’ve been meaning to show you.

Number one is the amazing CANDY MAP that was commissioned by the National Confectioner’s Association. It was about three feet long, and on it, every state in the Union was represented by a different candy. It’s fun to pick out the states, identify the candy and figure out why that particular candy was chosen.

For example, take a look at this close-up. WISCONSIN is represented by cheddar cheese Goldfish, and NEBRASKA by candy corn. We’re still trying to identify them all! (We just realized today that TEXAS is made of Fritos,  COLORADO of Kit Kats, and CALIFORNIA of Peach Rings!)

photo (2)

The Expo wouldn’t be complete without some nod to fashion. And this year’s stand-out was this JUICY FRUIT DRESS. It’s made of actual Juicy Fruit gum—and packaging.

juicy fruit dress

Last but not least is this scrumptious TOOTSIE ROLL PURSE, complete with Tootsie Pop wrappers.

tootsie roll purse

Just add some HIGH HEEL CUPCAKES and you’re ready for a sweet night on the town!

Hope you enjoy seeing these projects as much as we did. When it comes to snacks, there’s apparently no end to creativity.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen

 

CHOCOLATE STICK CAKE!

November 11, 2014
bow cake

We love to develop ambitious, mind-blowing projects. But at the same time, we love projects that are FAST and EASY!!

This CHOCOLATE STICK CAKE definitely fits that bill. It’s easy to assemble, and allows you all sorts of latitude.

Start with a standard 8-inch ROUND CAKE (single or double layer is up to you).

Give the outside of the cake a nice thick coat of CHOCOLATE FROSTING. This will act as your glue.

Then take some CHOCOLATE COVERED STICKS (like Ovation sticks) and break them into irregular lengths, leaving them all higher than the sides of your cake.

Then press the sticks vertically into the sides of the cake, like the pickets of a fence. Don’t worry about the irregular lengths. (The irregularity is fun on its own, but it also keeps this project simple. You don’t have to worry about getting them all even.)

Tie a colorful ribbon around the sticks, making a pretty bow in the front (which looks good and helps hold the sticks in place).

Cover the top of the cake with COLORFUL CANDIES, right up to the edge of the sticks. We used gumballs. But feel free to use M&Ms, jelly beans or whatever you like best.

And there you have it—a perfect little package ready to take to your next party!

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen

CAKE POPS FOR THE DIGITAL AGE!!

November 6, 2014
Emotipop-214

We think it’s about time for another HELLO CUPCAKE CLASSIC.

This week, the winner is one of our most popular projects from CUPCAKES, COOKIES & PIE, OH, MY! It’s what we call our EMOTI-POPS!!!

These pops were inspired, of course, by COMPUTER EMOTICONS. They’ve become so much a part of our language, they’re practically new words in and of themselves!

;-D means “a wink and a smile.”

< 3 means “heart.”

Etcetera!

(For further definitions, just ask your kids.)

Here’s how you make these digital-age delights:

Take a one inch slice of POUND CAKE. Cut two 1 3/4 inch circles—with either a cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Carefully insert the tines of a plastic fork into one side of the circle and then place them on the cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Divide 1 can (16 ounces) of VANILLA FROSTING into four microwavable bowls. Tint each bowl with different bright food coloring.

Working with one bowl at a time, microwave the frosting for about ten seconds. Take the cake pops from the freezer and dip them into the melted frosting. Refrigerate until frosting is set, about 20 minutes.

Tint some DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING with BLACK FOOD COLORING and spoon into a Ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal. Snip a very small corner from the bag and use the black frosting for the round shapes of each emoticon (mostly the Ds and other mouth shapes).

For the straighter shapes and dots, cut one piece of BLACK LICORICE LACE into 1/8-inch, 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch pieces. Then use tweezers and a toothpick to press them into the frosting of each cake pop to make the various eyes, noses, colons, semi-colons etc.

And there you have it: something that’ll definitely speak to the <3 of every kid in the neighborhood!

For MORE DETAILS, see page 138 of OH MY.

Emotipops-19

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen    :-)

THE COLORFUL STORY OF ELECTION CAKES!

November 4, 2014
Flag-feature size

Right on the heels of ELECTION DAY, we suddenly got a call from our cupcake historian. Clearly he was caught up in the spirit of the day. He was anxious to tell us about the history of ELECTION CAKES.

It turns out there was a time in American history when election days were days of CELEBRATION—when a community came together to embrace that unalienable right. The earliest election cakes were enormous affairs, commissioned by local governments, and made to feed the entire voting body.

The first homemade election cakes were more like spice cakes, followed by a sourdough version. These days, what’s commonly referred to as an election cake is more of a fruitcake in a Bundt-cake shape complete with nutmeg, raisins and clove. This version is also called a HARTFORD ELECTION CAKE, which dates all the way back to 1771. (Apparently, back in 18th Century Hartford, Connecticut, if a man voted a straight party ticket, he was given some election cake.)

Many recipes for the Hartford Election Cake can be found on line. But we figure ANY CAKE made in the right spirit makes a good election cake. And we certainly love the idea of the entire community coming together over VOTING AND DESSERT!

So we offer this RED, WHITE AND BLUE CUPCAKE CAKE as a new commemoration of election day, in the hopes that it’s a good one.

Here’s the All-American recipe:

Start with the base of the cake. Use standard sized cupcakes. Cover 3/4s of them in vanilla frosting. Cover 1/4 of them in blue-tinted frosting. Arrange them into a flag-shaped rectangle.

Then add mini-cupcakes (covered in red-tinted frosting) to the top of the white cupcakes to make the stripes. And on top of those mini-cupcakes, we placed Red Hots, Hot Tamales, swedish fish, red Twizzler pieces and red jelly beans. RED is one of the most popular candy colors, so we’re sure you’ll come up with something all your own.

The same goes for the white candies that make up the stars. We used white Good & Plentys, Sixlets, white M&Ms and Baby Tears. We even used Chiclets (for a little extra chewiness). So have fun. And enjoy your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of cupcakes!!

Happy Voting,

Alan and Karen

 

NEW “TODAY” SHOW CAKE!

October 31, 2014
today show

We love making cakes for the TODAY show. And we really wanted to make sure our latest cake was tres stylish, especially since it was for Today Show STYLE EDITOR Bobbie Thomas (seen here with Hoda and Kathie Lee).

We owe Bobbie a lot. She once invited us to do a fashion segment on the show, which resulted in one of our most popular projects : HIGH HEEL CUPCAKES. So of course we had to add some high heels to her cake. We bought the most fashionable cupcake liners we could find (mostly from Reynolds) and we used candies and sugar so that the cupcakes matched the patterns (daisies, leopard spots, polka dots, etc.). Very co-ordinated, no?

On the next tier, we placed a set of COMPACTS—which are actually store-bought chocolate-coated cookies filled with flattened pink marshmallows to imitate powder puffs.

For the top layer, we made LIPSTICKS from a rolled wafer cookie (cut in half for the base, and rod-shaped red licorice (for the lipstick itself). We painted the licorice with red food coloring to make it even brighter!

(You can find more on all these fashion-related projects in CUPCAKES, COOKIES & PIE, OH, MY!)

By the way, Bobbie’s name along the bottom was made from rolled-out spice drops which we then rolled in corresponding color sugar—which makes them REALLY VIBRANT!! Then we cut the letters out using alphabet cookie cutters.

It’s interesting the way the TODAY show works. We have to deliver the cake a day early so the producer and director can figure out its location and props and camera angles and lighting. This means a HARROWING DRIVE down to Rockefeller Center, over New York’s famous POT-HOLED highways, hoping all the heels stay in place (which they did not). Some of the crew meet us at the stage door to usher us in, after which we fix any mishaps. After the crew checks out the cake and the lighting etc., the cake is put in a big fridge and the next day—VOILA! It’s as if the cake just arrived! (We’re usually watching—relievedly—from the wings!)

The whole process can take a lot of work and time. But it’s definitely glamorous, definitely fun, and definitely worth it! And as they always say: THAT’S SHOWBIZ!

Happy Birthday, Bobbie!

Alan and Karen

LAST MINUTE HALLOWEEN GHOSTS!!

October 29, 2014
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

 

INTERVIEW WITH A MASTER!

October 28, 2014

We’re always so busy with our own books. But sometimes we get an offer we can’t refuse and take on a separate project. And that’s especially true when we get to work with somebody we love and respect as much as DORIE GREENSPAN.

Dorie is an amazing baker. Her credits go all the way back to her work with JULIA CHILD. She is the author of several bestselling cookbooks and a James Beard Award winner.

We worked with Dorie on her newest book BAKING CHEZ MOI (Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere). Alan took the photographs, and Karen styled the food for those photographs. Here’s a picture of the 3 of us together earlier this year:

al dor kar

Recently, Dorie sat down with us to discuss desserts, with a perhaps unsurprising focus on cupcakes. Here’s that interview:

When we were working on the photos for BAKING CHEZ MOI, we noticed some desserts that look suspiciously like cupcakes! Are we seeing the real Dorie Greenspan coming out? 

(Laughs) They look suspiciously like cupcakes to me too! And some, like the Limoncello Cupcakes, actually are cupcakes. Now that the cupcake craze has taken Paris by storm there are cupcakes everywhere. You can buy cupcake pans, cupcake liners, and there are tiny little cupcake shops opening up, one even just a few steps from my apartment. 

Some of these cupcake-like desserts are actually traditional French pastries. Isn’t that true?

The Financiers in BAKING CHEZ MOI are completely traditional. They were created in the late 1800’s, but today they look absolutely like a cupcake to a young Parisian. Also the Nutella Buttons and the Tiger Cakes, both are very Parisian and also look like cupcakes. 

What is the appeal of cupcakes to Parisians? 

In France, pastries are small. Even big cakes are low single layer cakes, and are very precious. So cupcakes, which are small, are very Parisian in style. You get your very own cute little cake to hold in your hand.

Have the French re-interpreted cupcakes in any way?

  American desserts definitely get adapted to the French style, smaller and a bit more refined. But I do see very traditional American-style cupcakes now and then. In the past I was seeing American-style carrot cakes everywhere. Cronuts have even made their debut in Paris. But now it is definitely the cupcake that you see.

Are there any Hello Cupcake-style cupcakes in Paris? 

Yes! In my apartment—because I have a copy of BONJOUR, CUPCAKE! (the French translation of HELLO, CUPCAKE!) on the shelf there. 

Is there a cupcake book in Dorie Greenspan’s future? 

I’ll leave the cupcake books to you two experts…unless you want to do it together!

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Well, Dorie, we may take you up on that. Meanwhile, thanks for the interview. We know how busy it can be when your new book is just released.

For more info on Dorie’s book, click HERE for her website. To purchase the book on Amazon, click HERE.

Here’s to great desserts the world over,

Alan and Karen

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