HOORAY!!! IT’S NATIONAL CUPCAKE DAY 2016!!!!

December 15, 2016

December 15th is National Cupcake Day!!!

So, of course, we’re celebrating at the Candy Lab—with an extra long lunch. (Not TOO long though. We’re very busy crafting new recipes and decorating ideas for our latest book.)

Make sure to take some time and celebrate everyone’s favorite little dessert today!!

By the way, you can go to the official National Cupcake Day site by clicking here.

Happy Cupcake making—and eating,

Alan and Karen

OUR “PEACE DOVE” CUPCAKE!

December 12, 2016

“Peace on Earth. Good will to men.” Important words to remember this time of year—and just about always. And to celebrate that very idea, we’ve concocted, what else, a cupcake—a “Peace Dove” cupcake.

As an early holiday gift to you, here’s the entire recipe:

To make our Peace Dove, start by attaching a doughnut hole to a cupcake (for the head), using frosting as glue.

Freeze it 15 minutes and then cover the head and cupcake in a smooth coating of frosting.

Gently roll the entire assembly in white decorating sugar to cover. Place the cupcake in the refrigerator while you prepare the wings and beak.

For the wings, snap one Pringle potato chip in half lengthwise. For the tail feathers, snap one Pringle chip lengthwise into quarters. Melt 1/4 cup candy melts in the microwave, stirring every 10 seconds, until smooth. Brush one side of each piece of Pringle chip with the melted candy. Sprinkle the soft melted candy with white decorating sugar to coat. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

For the beak, snip 2 small triangles from a circus peanut candy. For the olive branch, cut a green licorice lace into a 6 inch length and 6 small 1/2 inch pieces cut on a diagonal.

To assemble, use a small paring knife to make a small slit for the wings in each side of the cupcake and four small slits at the back side for the tail feathers. Insert the two wings and the four tail feathers in the slits.

Press the two circus peanut triangles into the front of the head for the beak. Add two dots of frosting to the head and attach M&M Minis for the eyes. Give each eye a white highlight.

Place the long piece of licorice lace in the beak and make six small dots of frosting along the lace at even intervals.

Add the small pieces of licorice lace and two or three white pearlized sprinkles to each dot of frosting to finish the olive branch.

And there you have it—a delicious desert that’ll warm your insides in more ways than one.

Peace everyone,

Alan and Karen

THE FIRST NOEL CUPCAKE CAKE!!!

December 11, 2016

We think of this Christmas project as our WORD CLOUD CAKE. You see: We were looking at the word cloud on our blog and noticed how the words and letters come together in such playful ways. So we decided we wanted to try some kind of word cloud-inspired cake. We played around and after a while—with Christmas in mind—we’d spelled out N–O–E–L.

Here’s how it all came together:

We began by making the letters, using a familiar Hello Cupcake technique. We took green spice drops—4 or 5 at a time—and pressed them together. Then we rolled them in one of two colors of green sugar—one lighter and one darker. Then we cut several of each letter out of each color, using alphabet cookie cutters.

Noel Cake-how to for blog

 

We also made a batch of bright green candy clay and cut some letters from that—just for variety.

We decided to make it a cupcake cake because they are so much fun to serve and eat, but you could just as easily bake a 9 x 13 cake and cut it into the tree shape. We took 11 cupcakes, frosted the tops with vanilla frosting, and laid them out on a tray in a tree shape (as shown). Then we placed the letters on the cupcakes in a playful pattern to give it the feeling of a word cloud. Finally we added a few decorative Sixlets in red and gold.

For the tree trunk, we used a Cadbury Flake chocolate bar—because it looks like tree bark. (Of course, if you can’t find a Flake bar, feel free to substitute with another chocolate stick bar like a Kit Kat or a Nutty Bar.)

And there you have it—one sweetly satisfying Christmas tree!

It was so much fun to make. And because we are so into word play, we’re looking forward to making more word cloud-inspired projects in the new year!

Happy Holiday Cupcaking,

Alan and Karen

UNWRAPPING OUR “BLOW UP LAWN SANTA” CUPCAKE!!

December 8, 2016

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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