One Cake to Rule Them All: A Valentine Birthday Cake.


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My mom’s birthday is two days before Valentine’s Day. Every year, I make her a cake, and I try to make it exciting and different each year. Last, year, I did this one. This year, I decided to use these heart pans that my aunt gave me that I had yet to use, and was always hoping for a reason to use them. Well, what better reason than a birthday cake for my favorite lady, which also happens to be right around Valentine’s Day??

I went with an easy coconut cake, because that’s my mom’s favorite. I actually used Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water this time though, in both the cake and the icing – something I’d never done before, but it wound up working out fabulously.

coconut water

living la vita coco.

I baked the cake in the heart-shaped pan, and it just looked so cute, cooling on the rack, in all it’s heart-shapey-ness.

i heart this cake.

i heart this cake.

Next, I frosted it with the coconut water frosting. It was very….white.

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white iced.

Next, I added fresh coconut to the sides.

coconut siding.

coconut siding.

Then, I started decorating. First the border and the main flowers, all in pink, in honor of Valentine’s Day.

pretty in pink.

pretty in pink.

Then, I added the birthday wish, in dark chocolate.

they say it's  your birthday.

they say it’s your birthday.

And finally, I added a few more minor embellishments.

cake: complete.

cake: complete.

Once the cake was complete, I brought it over to my mom’s house to surprise her. She in turn, made me take half of it back home, like she always does. 🙂

one half of this will be mine.

one half of this will be mine.

Happy birthday and Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom. Hope you liked your (half of) cake! 😀

 

 

 

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Heart-shaped Chocolate-dipped Sugar (sort of) Cookies with Sprinkles.

 

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I love making Valentine’s Day desserts, which is funny, since I really don’t love Valentine’s Day. But I do love making things that are pink, or red, or heart-shaped – or better yet – all of the above! I had this sugar cookie recipe made with Monk Fruit in the Raw that I was dying to try, and this heart-shaped cookie cutter that I had yet to use, so I decided on heart-shaped sugar (sort of) cookies for this year’s V-Day Small Indulgence of choice.

the main ingredient.

the main ingredient.

I followed the recipe pretty much down to the teaspoon, except that I added one thing – red food coloring. I wanted my cookies to be pink and swirly – and I figured a small amount of red food coloring would do just that. I wound up with dough that looked a little like a human heart. I figured that meant I must be on the right track.

the tell-tale heart dough.

the tell-tale heart dough.

I chilled it for a few hours, then rolled it out and cut it into heart-shapes. The result was swirly pink hearts, just as I had hoped!

pretty in pink swirls.

pretty in pink swirls.

I let them cool, and then thought that although they were cute as they were, they needed something more. So I melted down some milk chocolate, and dipped them. Oh, and added some festive sprinkles, while they were still wet.

dipped and sprinkled.

dipped and sprinkled.

I chilled them for a bit, then packed them up, and shared them with my fiance, my parents, my friends, and my co-workers. I guess I really don’t mind Valentine’s Day that much after all – it gives me the chance to spread the love, by doing what I love.

all you need is love.

all you need is love.

I suppose it’s true what they say: love actually…is all around…and in cookies.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

A Birthday Cake to Fall For.

I made a birthday cake last week, but this was no ordinary birthday cake. I was tasked with creating a “Fall” birthday cake – made up of the flavors and colors associated with this time of year. The only requirement was not too much orange. Sounded like something I could do (and enjoy very much, what with my fall baking obsession and all). The cake itself was to be pumpkin spice (yay!), the icing was to be pumpkin buttercream (DOUBLE yay!), and the decorations were to be in fall colors. It was a half sheet cake, so it’s not the smallest cake, but it’s not the biggest either. So, here’s what I came up with.

falling for cake.

i think that possibly maybe i’m falling for cake.

For the flowers, I started off with red, and then slowly mixed in yellow as I went along. It created a subtle and well-blended color shift.

color blend.

color blend.

I also tried a new recipe for the “rose icing” as it’s sometimes called. I found it to have a better consistency than what I was previously using. Good thing I wrote it down.

the rose knows.

the rose knows.

In the end, I was pleased with how the cake turned out both flavor-wise and decoration-wise. And who knows, you may find me teaching some decorating classes come next year….time will tell… 😉

 

Mummies and Spiders and Eyes, Oh My!

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I made some Halloween cupcakes today, for no real reason or purpose, other than it’s almost Halloween and I felt like being creative. I baked up two dozen apple caramel cupcakes, which, although quite tasty, kinda reminded me of that apple cinnamon oatmeal from the pouch I used to eat as a kid. In this case, the cupcakes were to serve more as a canvas anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned, and besides, I liked that oatmeal. I decided to do four different Halloween-ish designs.

Design #1: Pumpkin.

the obvious choice.

the obvious choice.

I had recently made these same cupcakes for a wedding, and I still had some of the candy corn pumpkins left over, and I wanted to put them to some good use. So I did.

Design #2: Mummies.

mummy is so yummy.

mummy is so yummy.

A friend had posted a pic of similar cupcake mummies to my facebook page, and I thought they were just so darn cute, I had to try them myself.

Design #3: Spiders.

is that a spider on your cupcake?

is that a spider on your cupcake?

I had done these a few years ago, but with mini Oreos. All I had were a bunch of regular Oreos in the cabinet, so I opted to try these using those this time, instead. Plus, I had a tub of cookies and cream frosting leftover from that same wedding a couple weeks ago (I made Oreo cupcakes for it as well), so I busted it out,slathered it on, and slapped a giant killer Oreo Spider on top.

Design #4: Eyeballs.

Eat with your eyes...

eat with your eyes…

I was thinking of these the other day when I was telling a friend I made eyeball cupcakes like 6 years ago, using a green lifesaver for the retina. I had no lifesavers, but I did have a ton of light purple icing…so that happened.

All in all, I think they turned out pretty cute, and I think I’ll bring them in to work to share with my coworkers on Halloween. Let’s just hope they all liked that cinnamon oatmeal in the pouch as much as I did growing up….

taste like...oatmeal?

tastes like…oatmeal?

90 Years of Cake.

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This past weekend, I attended a birthday party for my Aunt, who is turning 90 (how awesome is that???). I was tasked with baking her a cake. As you know, I love baking cakes, so I was thrilled to get a chance to do it. At the same time, I was a little nervous. Here was a woman who in her prime was an amazing baker herself (she’s the one that gave me all the baking pans, including the infamous Lamb Pan), and she has had 89 other cakes to compare this one to. I had two pieces of knowledge that could give me an edge over at least some of the previous cakes – I knew she loved chocolate, and that her favorite color was purple. So, I went with that, and here’s what happened.

90th cake

Because the cake was for a party, it was kind of big (a half sheet cake). We had to clear out the entire bottom row of our fridge to make a space for it!

that's one big cake.

that’s one big cake.

I did have a lot of fun making all the flowers though. First, I mixed the icing until I came up with the perfect shade of purple.

and it was all...purple.

and it was all…purple.

Then, I started piping flowers. As I went along, I mixed in some plain white, so they wound up being varying shades.

shady.

shady.

My aunt loved it. I really don’t know how it stood against the 89 other cakes, but really, that doesn’t matter. She loved this one, and she was happy on that day. And that’s really what life’s all about, whether you’re 90, or 38. 🙂

Cupcake Decorating Teacher for Hire!

cupcake class flyer

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. 😉

 

The Making of a Birthday Cake: One Cake’s Story on How it Became a Birthday Sensation.

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So, I made a birthday cake for my mom – her birthday was yesterday. As I was making it, i took a ton of photos and documented it’s progress from generic un-decorated cake layers, to celebrated birthday star. Here is one cake’s journey, in photos, from average unknown plain jane, to birthday stardom.

Stage 1: assemble the layers.

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Top one layer with buttercream, spread it out evenly, and place the other layer on top.

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Stage 2: Ice the entire cake.

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Smooth it out, but be sure to save some icing to color for decorating.

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Stage 3: adding shell border and flowers.

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Color your icing as you see fit. I chose a kind of mauve-y tone for the flowers and border, and a light green for the leaves.

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Stage 4: Personalize.

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This cake was for my mom, so I added the appropriate message.

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Stage 5: eat and enjoy!!

More Fun With Chocolate Pumpkin…

pumpkin cake

I was so pleased with how the Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins turned out, that I decided to use the same recipe to make a birthday cake for a friend (minus the cream cheese filling). I made a small 6 inch cake, cut into two layers, and iced it with a chocolate buttercream. I went extra light on the chocolate in the main icing, and used a more chocolate-y darker icing for the piping details to make them stand out, giving it that kind of two-tone effect.

it's deeper shade brown.  yeah, yeah.

it’s deeper shade of brown. yeah, yeah.

Being that the cake was, in fact, made with pumpkin, I thought I’d add some pumpkin-themed decorations as well. So I crafted a small pumpkin out of fondant, and surrounded it with fondant leaves in fall colors. I forgot just how much I love playing with fondant…it’s like edible Play-Doh. I guess in theory, actual Play-Doh is edible. At least, I think most kids have eaten it at some point. But either way, it’s not as tasty as fondant.

fall fondant fun.

fall fondant fun.

So, The cake turned out pretty close to the way I had envisioned, and I proudly presented it to my friend on his special day. And then we cut it, ate it, and lived happily ever after (for at least the rest of the day).

Symphony in Cinnamon Maple.

My friend’s birthday was the other day, and I wanted to make a cinnamon maple cake with maple buttercream, since he was a big fan of the last one I made. That one included banana and was in cupcake form, and this time I wanted to try it minus the banana, and as a small cake — 6″, to be exact. I also got to thinking that I really hadn’t done much in the realm of cake decorating over the past few months, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to bring something fancy to the table. I always wanted to try my hand at a rosette cake, so I went for it.

a white icing waltz.

a white icing waltz.

Not only did this cake wind up looking rather pretty, but it tasted pretty darn good, based on the feedback I received from those who dared to sample it, in all it’s rich, billowy, sweetness.

a maple concerto.

a maple concerto.

Something about this cake reminded me of music – classical music, to be exact. Possibly the way each rosette just flowed seamlessly into the next, like a melody or a symphony by Strauss. Maybe it was the way the cake and icing complimented each other so well, like an operatic soloist who sings with the music, yet creates a unique and beautiful melody in her/his own right. So yeah, this cake was kinda like that. 🙂