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World Cup Cake.

soccer ball cake

No, not a World Cupcake. a World Cup Cake. As in that thing you see every time you turn on any TV station or look at any social media site. The World Cup is omnipresent these days. And if you live in my house, you’d have to be dead in order to avoid it, as my fiance is absolutely-ridiculously-bordering-on-unhealthily OBSESSED with all things soccer, and that’s during the three off years between tournaments. So you can imagine what I’m dealing with here right now.

After about the 1 million trillionth conversation about “football” (a real soccer geek refers to it by it’s REAL name I’ve come to learn), I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I went off and did the one thing that would help restore my sanity and bring some normalcy back into my life: I baked a cake.

shapes of cake.

shapes of cake.

Now this was not just any cake. Not by a long shot. Yes, it was a classic vanilla, and separated into two layers. But these layers were different. One was a half-sphere, while the other almost pancake-like.

I began assembling the layers as I envisioned the finished cake in my mind, and coated them with a layer of the almond butter cream I had leftover from my dad’s failed cake-turned-cake sandwich.

the base coat.

the base coat.

Next, I busted out my giant tub of fondant, and started rolling a large piece to cover this mystery dome. Once I carefully placed the fondant atop the cake, I cut out my smaller pieces, and carefully began putting them in place.

there's really no escape.

there’s really no escape.

Once it was fully detailed and smoothed over, I added the finishing touch – a field to play on.

we've come full circle.

we’ve come full circle.

Once it was complete, I cleaned up, and left it conspicuously in the center of the kitchen table, so when my fiance arrived home just a few short minutes later, it was the first thing he saw upon entering the kitchen.

And that, my friends, is true love; no matter what part of the world you’re playing in. :).

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in cake, confections, Indulgences

 

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Cake Sandwich (With Almond Pound Cake and Maple Buttercream).

So I made this cake for my dad for Father’s Day. It was an almond pound cake. I wrote the recipe, and the batter was very good. But I made a mistake when I baked it – I used a loaf pan, and I should have baked it at a lower temp for a longer time. Instead, it started burning around the edges before the insides were even completely cooked. So, after seeing the finished product, I decided it didn’t pass my leaving-the-house test.

not up to snuff.

not quite up to snuff.

I was pretty bummed, because I knew it was a great tasting cake on the inside, and I really didn’t want to throw the whole thing away. So I wrapped it in foil, and stowed it away for the night. The next morning, I awoke with a brilliant idea. The cake is a loaf-shape. What do you do with a loaf? Why, you slice it and make sandwiches, of course! So, I would cut off the burned ends, and make cake sandwiches filled with icing! I quick whipped up a batch of maple buttercream.

sandwich filling.

sandwich filling.

I cut the burned ends off of the loaf, and began slicing the rest into bread-like slices.

the best thing since sliced bread.

the best thing since sliced bread.

I took two slices and spread an ample amount of the maple buttercream on one slice.

not your mama's sandwich.

not your mama’s sandwich.

I then assembled the slices into a complete cake and icing sandwich.

dessert for lunch.

dessert for lunch.

At this point, I realized, this sandwich might be too much for one person to eat in one sitting. So in keeping with the Small Indulgences philosophy, I sliced it in half, into two much more petite, but equally delicious mini-sandwiches.

a small indulgence at it's best.

a small indulgence at it’s best.

At this point, I ate one, you know, just to make sure it was ok…

love at first bite.

love at first bite.

This time, it definitely passed all of my leaving-the-house tests. And it made so many sandwiches, that I decided to wrap them up, and share them!!

sharing is caring.

sharing is caring.

And that’s how you turn what seemed like a bad cake into an awesome dessert to enjoy and share. It’s all about how you look at it. :)

 

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Red Cake, Pink Frosting.

DSC_0239

Over the weekend, I made a cake by request for someone – a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, covered entirely in rosettes. They needed it to feed about 40 people, so I made it two tier – one 8″ layer, and one 6″ layer.  The baked cake looked pretty rad (or should I say, “red”).

red is the new rad.

red is the new rad.

Due to that rich red color red velvet cake boasts, I decided it best to crumb coat the cake first, to keep the final iced creation free of red specs.

crumb free.

crumb free.

After the initial coating, I refrigerated it for a bit, and made the rest of the cream cheese frosting. I tinted it a very light pink, to make it more rose-like (and because pink is just flat-out pretty).

pretty in pink.

pretty in pink.

A rosette cake uses a lot of icing, thus the finished product was a little on the heavy side. So, be extra careful when picking it up and make sure you pack it in a sturdy box.

heavy petals.

heavy petals.

All in all, this cake was a success – you really can’t go wrong with the red velvet/pink cream cheese frosting combo. It’s also one I really enjoyed making. It just goes to show you – when you do what you love, you love what you do (and other people love it too). I think Dr. Seuss said that. ;)

 
 

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The Adventures of (stuffed) Grumpy Cat.

Last weekend my fiance, our close friend, and I took a trip out to the local Barnes and Noble. While wandering around, we came across a stuffed Grumpy Cat. I’m kind of obsessed with the unhappy little ball of furry cuteness, so upon this discovery, my wonderful fiance snatched it up and bought it for me.

Best. Present. Ever.

Best. Present. Ever.

I promptly gave my new favorite possession a prime spot in the center of the bed.

Grumpy Cat says, "no napping during the day."

Grumpy Cat says, “no napping during the day.”

But that wasn’t enough. Grumpy Cat (stuffed) was not satisfied with merely remaining stationery on a pillow. And so the adventure began the next morning, when our morning coffee was interrupted.

Maybe coffee will make Grumpy Cat less grumpy.

Maybe coffee will make Grumpy Cat less grumpy.

The coffee didn’t help. Next, our taste in music was insulted. Man, he’s grumpy. (The stuffed version is a he, fyi).

"I refuse to listed to your crap-rock."

“I refuse to listen to your crap-rock.”

The next day our water heater broke. Ugh. But no one was more upset then Grumpy Cat (stuffed).

A cold shower makes Grumpy Cat extra grumpy.

A cold shower makes Grumpy Cat extra grumpy.

I thought maybe some exercise would help improve his mood. Heck, it always works for me! But, alas, it only made things worse.

This running thing is for the birds.

“This running thing is for the birds.”

Maybe all Grumpy Cat (stuffed) needed was a friend. Everyone needs a friend, right? Apparently not everyone.

"I hate you."

“I hate you.”

I was starting to give up. I decided to let Grumpy Cat (stuffed) explore on his own and maybe that would cheer him up. He didn’t get very far.

"This may be a cat door, but it's certainly NOT a Grumpy Cat door."

“This may be a cat door, but it’s certainly NOT a Grumpy Cat door.”

As a last resort, I gave him a book to read, to hopefully take his mind off of his grumpiness.

"I don't see what's so great about this Harry Potter fella anyway."

“I don’t see what’s so great about this Harry Potter fella anyway.”

I give up. I should have known you can’t change a cat. :P

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Indulgences, life

 

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios Treats.

cheerio treats2

So the other day, a co-worker of mine said something along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be awesome to make Rice Krispies Treats with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios instead of Rice Krispies?” I responded with a resounding “YES!!” and then remembered I had a bag of marshmallows at home just waiting to be used. “I’ll make these tonight!” I declared. So when I got home, I made a beeline for the kitchen and started prepping ingredients. My fiance came home mid-prep, and wanted to go out for a run. So I left the butter in the saucepan (since it had to be melted anyway) and out we went. Upon our return, he noticed the chunk of butter in the pan on the stove, and gave me his classic raised eyebrow “what on earth are you doing now?” look. He was in for a very pleasant surprise.

I started with a box of Chocolate Cheerios and a box of Peanut Butter Cheerios (both of which are delicious on their own, but even better when combined). I mixed them with the marshmallow and melted butter and spread them out into the pan, let them cool, and brought them into work the next day. They were a raging success, and will be made again, I guarantee it.

Cheerios are the new Rice Krispies.

Cheerios are the new Rice Krispies.

We cut them into squares, and found them to be denser then the traditional Rice Krispies version, but the chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow combo was magically delicious, fo’ sho’.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter and Marshmallow, oh my.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter and Marshmallow, oh my.

The recipe is very simple. You just sub in Cheerios. But here’s the actual measurements I used, in case you want to give this quick and easy perfect-for-any-party treat a try on the fly.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios Treats.

What you’ll need:

1 bag (10oz) large marshmallows

1/4 cup butter

4 cups Chocolate Cheerios

4 cups Peanut Butter Cheerios

What you’ll do:

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Over low heat, add the bag of marshmallows, and mix until smooth. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Cheerios. Pour the marshmallow mix over top, and stir until all the Cheerios are completely coated. Grease a 13×9 baking pan, and spread the mix into the pan. Let cool. Cut into squares. Eat!

 

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I’m a Real Runner Now! (I think).

This past Sunday, I ran the Broad Street Run for the 3rd time. Even though it’s one of the most crowded races I run (40,000 runners!), it’s still my favorite. I love running through the city of Philadelphia, seeing the street lined with cheering folks, from all walks of life, playing music, shouting out support, smiling, and waving. Plus it’s pretty freakin’ amazing to run through the very same city that I’m usually driving through, stuck in some kind of traffic, not looking at anything but the bumper inches in front of mine. The Broad Street Run provides an entirely new perspective. It gives new life to the city I’ve spent so much time with my head down in. Every building, every cross-street, every person becomes a wonderful site worth savoring as I wind my way with the crowd from the North end of the city to the South. The neighborhoods that are so vastly different, are joined seamlessly into one, but the endless stream of runners, and spectators. It’s kind of a spiritual experience, I suppose.

Anyway, this year, something was different. Not with the race, or the city or the crowd – something was different with me. For the first time, I felt like a real runner – a competitive runner. Someone who actually knew what they were doing, prepared accordingly, and actually ran kinda hard. There were 3 main reasons for this:

1. I dressed properly. In the past, I’ve worn clothes that I could run in, but I always had some weird thing going on – a shirt that made me too warm so I had to hold it, keys that I didn’t know what to do with, shorts that rubbed me the wrong way, etc. But this year, I finally had the outfit down. I had the right pouch to hold my keys, the right armband to hold my phone, and the right clothes to avoid being too hot, too cold or too chafed.

dressed for success with my partner in crime.

dressed for success with my partner in crime.

2. I wanted people to get out of my way. For the first time in any race I’ve ever run, I found myself getting annoyed when I came up behind someone who was slower than me. In the past, I felt relieved when this occurred, and slowed down to their pace, giving myself a break. Not this time. The last three miles in particular, I was determined to keep the pace I was running, and found myself dodging folks left and right, doing Indiana Jones-like sideways jumps between two runners with little space between them, hopping up onto the sidewalk, and muttering “c’mon!” under my breath. I’m becoming a monster.

3. I beat my previous time (by A LOT). My fiance always said that I could run faster, and as much as I hate to admit it, he was right. Not only did I crush my previous time, I felt FINE. I was in no pain that day, no pain the next day, and I could even run again. In the past, it took a good few days before I even considered running again after running a race longer than a 10k. But not this time. I could have run again that same day. But I’m not that insane (yet).

What does all this mean? Well for starters, all that running over the past 4 years has really paid off. And all that thinking that I couldn’t run any faster – that was a load of mental crap. Anything really is possible, once you decide that it is. I just hope this doesn’t mean it’s time to sign up for a full marathon. Yikes.

 

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Indulgences, life, running

 

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Cupcake Decorating Teacher for Hire!

cupcake class flyer

 

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The Lamb Cake Gets a Makeover.

DSC_0215

Easter was over a week ago. I know. I’m a little behind…again. But seriously, this time I have a legitimate excuse – I have a wedding to plan! And although I’m writing a week late, I did actually make the Lamb Cake for Easter, I just haven’t had a chance to tell the world about it yet. This is the 4th year of the Lamb Cake; the 4th year since my Aunt Cetta gave me the lamb-shaped pan, and I decided to make it my job henceforth to bake the traditional Easter Lamb Cake every year going forward.

the pan where it all started.

the pan where it all started.

Over the years, the Lamb Cake has evolved, Year 1, I was just learning how to make this thing happen. Year 2, I played around a little and made some adjustments, Year 3, I had a near disaster, but managed to save the Lamb and maintain good form. This year, I was tired of the same old Lamb. I wanted something a little different. Plus it was also my fiance’s (I’m still getting used to saying that) birthday, so I wanted to make the Lamb out of things that he would like. He’d been asking me to make him a red velvet cake for a while now, so, I seized the opportunity to make the inside of the Lamb red velvet. Why didn’t I think of this before! Anyway, with red velvet insides, I needed something that worked on the outside. Instead of piping the Lamb with swirls of buttercream, I flat-iced it with a thin layer of my signature buttercream , then coated it with coconut flakes.

flakey.

flakey.

The coconut complimented the red velvet innards quite nicely, if I do say so. I put the Lamb in a box, and we carted it off to my parents’ house for Easter dinner. When it was time for dessert, I added a little something extra, to make it a little more birthday cake-like.

birthday lamb.

now it’s a party.

We devoured it as usual, until only the head remained (I will not subject you to the gruesome photographic evidence).

Until next year….

 
 

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Two Cookie Cakes, One Recipe.

I’m all about saving time and reducing waste. So last week, when I realized I had to make not one, but two cakes for two entirely separate events, I started thinking of ways I could somehow lessen the work and the waste, while still pleasing both cake recipients. Event #1 was my anniversary; the recipient of this cake being my boyfriend. Now at first I thought maybe I would just make him a batch of cookies – he absolutely adores my chocolate chip cookies. Event #2 was my dad’s birthday; the recipient of this cake being (obviously) my dad. My dad is not a dessert fan, but he does have a few things he enjoys – gingerbread, lady fingers, cookies.. COOKIES! There was the common thread. But I had really wanted to make my dad an actual cake that I could write on….COOKIE CAKES! And so it was written.

My standard chocolate chip cookie recipe made two cookie cakes – one 10″  and one 8″. As they cooled, I started mixing up some colors for the decorating portion of tonight’s show.

the colors of the wind (or icing).

the colors of the wind (or icing).

I decided to use the larger cake for the anniversary, for two reasons: 1. like I said, my dad doesn’t eat too many sweets, and 2. I wanted to eat some too. I went with the blue theme for this one.

i guess that's why they call it the blues.

i guess that’s why they call it the blues.

I went with a complimentary dark purple for accents and writing.

complimentary.

complimentary.

Don’t for a second think that I wasn’t thinking ahead here. For my dad’s cake, I chose light yellow.

they call me mellow yellow.

they call me mellow yellow.

Which also looks great with a dark purple.

purple planning.

purple planning.

Both cakes were a hit! My boyfriend liked his so much, he ate a piece for breakfast.

the breakfast of champions.

the breakfast of champions.

And then asked me to marry him. :)

must've been something in the cake...

must’ve been something in the cake…

I guess it’s true what the say about the way to a man’s heart. ;)

 

 

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Tres Leches Cake: Three Times the Awesome.

tres leches

Last month, my boyfriend took me to a Mexican restaurant for my birthday. It was absolutely fabulous – possibly the best Mexican restaurant I’ve ever been to, and I have been to many (too many). From the sangria to the dessert, it was to die for. Here’s a glimpse of the gloriousness:

heaven on a plate.

heaven on a plate.

Anyway, for dessert, we split a slice of Tres Leches Cake. Now, I’ve had this cake before, and always loved it, but this was one especially grand. It was so moist, perfectly sweetened, and wonderfully light all at the same time. It was at this moment I decided I needed to make this cake at home.

Having never made this cake before, I needed to find a good base recipe to start with. I began searching my books and the ‘net, and eventually settled on this one.

I knew going in that my first attempt at this mouth-watering food-coma-inducing dessert was not going to be anywhere near the perfection I had at the restaurant. But you know what? It really did turn out pretty darn good. I started by gathering up the three major players: the milks.

the three musketeers.

the three musketeers.

Next, I made the cake, pretty much exactly as the recipe dictated, except I added the dry mixture in larger amounts that two tablespoons at a time – I pretty much divided it into fourths and added 1/4 at a time. It worked just fine, as you can see.

the canvas.

the canvas.

Next, I poked holes in it, allowed it to cool, than doused it with the milks until it couldn’t take it anymore. (Tip- put a sheet pan below the cake to catch all the excess milk mix when you pour it over the top – it was the best idea EVER and there was literally no milky mess to clean up at all.)

drowning in milk.

drowning in milk.

Next, I whipped up some homemade whipped cream to use as the topping.

whip it good.

whip it good.

Once it was whipped to stiff peaks, I applied it to the cake.

top that.

top that.

For me, this just wasn’t enough. It needed something more. So, I mixed up some cinnamon sugar, and dusted the entire thing with it.

a dust of sweetness.

a dust of sweetness.

The result: a Tres Leches cake that won the hearts of many, and could definitely hang with the best of them.

one of the cool kids.

one of the cool kids.

Now that I have the cake down, my goal is work towards that unforgettable piece of awesome from the restaurant. You know what they say – practice makes perfect. So everyone I know may be enjoying practice cakes for a while. I do believe this is not such a bad thing. ;)

 
 

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