Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lego Star Wars Birthday Extravaganza - Part 4

  So this is going to be a long post.  I want to share with you how I decorated my cupcakes and the little cake for my son.

  I used to make large cakes and it was okay but I hated cutting it up and asking each person "chocolate or vanilla" and then the mess and left overs.  So for my friend Staci last year I made her son a tiny little cake to cut and cupcakes for everyone else.  I think it worked great.  And it was so much faster for me.

  So for my son I did the same.  Also I had a cute Lego man mold we got at the Lego store that I needed to use.  It makes tiny little Lego men and he wanted to make ice cubes.  I did not have 100 years to make enough ice with it so we made cupcake toppers with them.  But don't worry I found a Lego block mold and started making ice a few days before the party ( not enough, but what can you do)

All ready to start.

  I used white candy melts and tinted it with americolor soft food gel.  You cannot use the gel by itself as it is water based and it will cause the chocolate to seize, so I got this stuff that they make called color flow.  You mix your gel colour with this first then add it to your candy melts.  Works great and you do not need to have all those candy colours, just the gels.  Saves you in the long run.  So I used electric yellow as that is all I had and I used a plastic bottle.  I filled the mold and popped it into the freezer for about 10 minutes then popped out the little candies and repeated that until all the chocolate was done. 
Plastic bottle I use, make sure to tap the mold on the table to get any air bubbles out.

  I showed my son and he was all "you need to draw on them and make them look real"  So, um, yeah.  I took edible markers and tried to draw on them just before I put them on the cupcakes, in a later picture.  Obviously, when you see them, you will know I am not an artist, but whatever, he will not be too scared by this right?
I made them a few days ahead and kept them in this container until I was ready to decorate them.

  I also wanted to make printed toppers for the other cupcakes and my mini cake.  I got an edible printer a while back, if you check out Kopy Kake you will see a listing of all the printers that they make food grade ink for.  I wanted one for a long time, but thought it would be too costly for just me to do stuff on.  But I kept checking out the weekly flyer's and found one on sale at Walmart for $35.  You need to have a printer just for this as you cannot go back and forth with regular ink, it would not be safe to eat if you did.  So I got the printer and my mom as an early Christmas gift ordered me a set of ink and I got the paper at the bakers warehouse. 
The picture printed out on icing paper.

  I got hubby to look up some good picture on google of Lego people and he found a great picture and printed it out for me.  He does it because I find my printer makes the pictures way too dark and he knows how to do it and make them bigger without them getting all wonky.
Fondant gum paste all rolled out.
   So once I printed them out, I let it dry then cut them into strips to make it easier to work with.  I wanted to make them stand alone, so I used fondant and gum paste.  I read on sweetopia that she uses half fondant half gum paste to make her decorations.  She does this as the fondant tastes better and the gum paste dries harder.  So I thought it was a great idea.  I use pre made fondant that I get at the bakers warehouse and I use the Wilton powder since you only need to mix what you need.  I then rolled it out on wax paper.   I usually use my counter and a fondant mat but my kitchen and dining room table are all covered with party stuff right now. 

I then used a food paint brush to brush water onto the rolled out dough then placed my print out strip on it and smoothed it with my fingers.  Make sure you have dry hands or it will cause the ink to bleed. 
Super cute cutter.
  I then used my cute Wilton fondant cutter to cut them out.  You can use a pizza wheel, and I used to, but it was so big and this one is so small and easy to use.  Anyway I cut them all out and put them on a wax paper lined baking sheet to dry out so they were hard and easy to put on the cupcakes.

  I should mention that I also had the idea to make letters of my sons name to put on the cake, they were okay.  I painted them with luster dust that I had mixed with a few drops of vodka.  I saw that on one of the decorating shows and had been dying to use it.  The vodka dries up very fast and you are left with shinny stuff.

  I made my usual butter cream.  I made it on a post before, here.  It is so easy and tastes great.  If you wanted to make it chocolate just mix in some cocoa powder with the icing sugar.  Anyway I left the icing white to frost and fill his mini cake.  Then I divided the rest into three and tinted it to go with the colours I had picked out.  I used three disposable piping bags with three different jumbo tips.  The only reason was so I did not have to stop and clean the same tip over and over.  This also allowed me to get three different textures on the cupcakes.  It sort of makes me look fancy, no one knows it's because I am lazy.
See that drawing on the Lego men?  Yeah I sort of wish you didn't.

  Then to top the cupcakes just push a Lego man or topper onto the frosting while it is still wet, do not let it crust over.  Then they are all done and ready to be put out.
The three different tips I used.
   For his cake I just used another print out on icing paper and cut it to fit the cake, put it on and then made boarders and stuck the extra Lego Men I had around the outside.  I stuck his name on the boarder and there you go.  It may not be cake boss, but my guess is he will not even eat it.
The picture before I cut it down.

I know it looks ugly, but just you wait.

See all good.
  True fact, my kid hardly eats my baking.  He will help me decorate cupcakes like crazy.  Even asking for an "in case" cupcake.  ( you know, in case he wants another.  He made that up I kid you not) And then, either it sits and dries out for a week before I toss it, or he makes me take the icing off.  Sigh, I love him but really?

My crappy cake pop stand, I know I have no idea what I was thinking when I painted it.

My cupcake stand, I painted it myself.

  So just a little post party update.  My kid did not eat his cake, he did ask me to unwrap him a cupcake and he ate the Lego man on top.  So all this and he ate none of it. Sigh.

  So now on to some new things.  I got a Whoopie Pie cook book I am dying to try out.

Lego Star Wars Birthday Extravaganza - Part 3


   Okay so I am sure you are getting board with all my Lego posts, but it is the only thing I have been doing for a while now, so I have nothing else to share.  And trust me this is exciting stuff, if you are are a 7 year old boy. Okay maybe not, but stick with me here, I did some fun stuff.

  Today I will tell you about the cake balls I made, a short and simple post, then tomorrow I will wow you all with my cup cake and cake decorating skills.  ( or just make you want to eat a cupcake, I am not too picky)  I tried some new things and want to share with you how it all turned out.

  Anyway I love cake balls, if you have not noticed by the blog name or anything.  I first started making them after reading about them and following Bakerella.  I fell in love and have not stopped making them.

  Now to get full details and instructions with really good pictures, go to her site, here I just do the basic, and my pictures are nothing to write home about.

  So I wanted to make chocolate cake balls, because those are my favorite and since I make them, I make what I like.  I do think my son likes them too, but it's not like it's his party or anything.  What?  It is?  Fine, I will Star Wars them up or something. 
Sticks in and ready to dip.
  Anyway, I made a box cake mix, and once cooled crumbled it up into my kitchen aid mixer.  I blended it with half a can of chocolate frosting and then used my larger cookie scoop to make balls.  I let them cool in the fridge for a half hour then rolled them.  I put them in the fridge over night. You can also freeze them but I found this made my candy coating crack, so the fridge works better if you have the time.  If not, freeze for like 20 minutes then move them to the fridge.

  I worked a few cake balls at a time, so they would not warm up.  I used big lollipop sticks as these were the larger cake balls.  I also wanted to make these the "right" way, meaning the were all round and not the "lazy" way where I just dip them put them on paper.  I got Styrofoam at the craft store to use, and I keep any flat pieces I get in boxes to use. 
Amazing and incredible action shot!

  I melted my candy coating in the microwave at 30 second intervals until it was melted and smooth.  I took a lollipop stick and dipped the end into the coating then pushed it half way to 2/3 into the cake ball.  I let it set for half a minute or so then take the ball and dip it into the bowl of melts.  I sort of twirl the cake pop around after it is dipped to get the extra coating off.  Once I think it is good I stand it up in the Styrofoam and let them dry at room temperature.  I always turn on a fan to blow around to help them set faster. 
All dipped and just drying off.
 I used to put my cake pops into the fridge but I found it caused a lot of cracking and when you took them out condensation on them.  So I just make sure they are in a baggy or sealed properly and put them in the basement on my craft table.  It is cooler down there and they will keep.  There is really nothing in them that would go bad in a day or so. 

Stars turn anything into "Star Wars" things right?
  So to Star Wars them up I got these little star glitter thingies from Michael's, with a coupon of course.  I could have just sprinkled them on as I dipped the cake balls, but that gets tedious.  I would have to dip a ball then stop and sprinkle.  So I used a plastic bottle and drizzled on some of the left over candy melts, then sprinkled as I went.  It was faster and easier.  And if one of the cake balls does crack this allows you to drizzle over the crack and seal it up and make it look like you know what you are doing.  Or sort of.  Either way it means more chocolate so just do it.
These scream Star Wars, they also got everywhere and I had to pull out the vacuum.
We could call them Galaxy balls or something.
   I will show you in my wrap up post the lame cake pop stand I made.  Sigh, I read on another blog where the lady made these really cute wooden stands.  If she had only shared that like 3 months ago, I might have thought about making them.  As is I just glued two cake dummies together and painted them.  Wait until you see the colour I picked out, I don't know what I was thinking at all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lego Birthday Star Wars Extravaganza - Part 2

My attempt at Lego cookies.
  So I usually like to send something home with the kids after my sons party.  This year we are only having 3 kids, plus my son.  But I still wanted to do something special for the guests.  I had seen this a while ago and I remembered and figured it would be perfect. 

 So I got hubby to print out a head to make a template and I used a take out container to trace it onto and there you go.  Now after I baked mine I thought they looked all wonky and what not, so I think if I ever do them again I will just do a large rectangle.  I must not have the cookie template cutting jean or something.

The printed out picture, my wonky cookie and the black icing ready to outline.

Outlined and starting to flood.
 Anyway, I followed what Sugar belle said and outlined my cookies in black.  I used the glaze from Amanda and tinted the icing with ameracolor black.  I used a Wilton #4, because I wanted a nice thick line.  I piped the boarders and then made some more glaze in a yellow, with just a drop of orange.  I thinned it out and used plastic bottles to flood my cookies.

Flooding in progress.

   I flooded the little top and bottom sections first, then went back and filled in the rest.  I use this stick to help move the flood icing around. I have read that royal icing really needs an hour or so between sections to stop them from running together.  With the glaze I find 10 minutes is all you need as it starts to crust right away. 

I use a toothpick sort of thingy to pull the icing right out to the edge
   Once that was done, I did not let them dry, I just went back and put on eye balls and smiles.  My son gave me a few Lego heads to look at, and then I gave them right back to him.  I said "mommy doesn't know how to make them that nice"  And he told me it was okay, they looked "nice" anyway.  Sigh.

  I left them to dry for two days, and then I put them into these cookie bags I got at the warehouse, but mine are clear and bigger.  I tied them with curling ribbon and there you go.  If I had thought of it sooner I might have made some tags or something, but you know, I always think of these things after the thought. I also keep all my shoe boxes because these cookies stand up well and it holds them in place.  It is also a great reason to buy more shoes.  ( as if you need a reason.)

All wrapped and ready to go.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lego Star Wars Birthday Extravaganza - Part 1

Mini Lego Block Cookies.
    So we got home really late on Tuesday night from our birthday trip to Great Wolf Lodge.  We crossed the boarder before we came home to do some shopping.  I got a few things, but I was really excited to find all these different chocolate chips and a few super cute cupcake stands.  I also managed to find party stuff at the store to fit with my son's Lego Star Wars theme. So all in all a good time
  On Wednesday I got up and while my son played I got to work decorating cookies.  I had two cookies I had baked and frozen a week or so ago and wanted to get them iced.  I find that the larger cookies need a good 48 hours to dry.  I think because the glaze I use takes much longer to dry out than royal icing.  Which is fine, since once the icing is on the cookie it helps to keep the cookie moist.

  So today I will share with you how I made the small Lego block cookies that are going to be out for the party.  I started with my small rectangle cookies that I made using Amanda's recipe. 

Boarders all piped using a Wilton #2.
   I then made the glaze that is also on that link and tinted it with americolor in Blue and Super Red.  I filled two piping bags, disposable of course, with the thick icing.  I used Wilton #2 tips to pipe out the borders. 

Flooded cookies.
   I then took the left over icing and thinned it with milk until it was nice and thin.  I filled plastic bottles with the icing and flooded the cookies, using a tooth pick to get the icing to the boarders.

All done.
   I then used the thick icing to make 6 dots to look like the Lego thingies. I know, technical I am not. 
  I then left them to dry.  I will post how they look all nice and set up on one of my trays in my party wrap up. 

   Next up I have cake balls, large cookies, cupcakes and a cake to make and share.  So it should be a full week of baking and blogging.

  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Birthday cupcakes, Zombie style!

Happy Birthday?

  My little man turns 7 next weekend.  And I was so lucky to have an almost Halloween baby.  It is my favorite holiday, which really isn't a holiday in the total sense of the word, but you know what I mean.  So I knew from the day he was born that I would be having all these Halloween themed birthdays for him.  Up until this date I have had 0 Halloween themed parties for him.  Darn kid has his own ideas, I will have to work on that.

  Anyway, this is to be the first year since he turned 1 that we are having an at home family only party.  The first year we did it at home with family and friends and I said never again.  I had to clean, and when I say clean, I mean tidy up, because I never really clean.  Not even for family.  So every year since I have rented out a play place, a community centre or what ever.  Anything not to have to clean.

  Then this year, I thought I would ask my son if he would like to go to Great Wolf Lodge instead of a big party.  I thought, less hassle, no planning and I get to wear a bathing suit.  That last part was really a con to the whole thing, but you have to do what you have to do to get out of cleaning.  So that is what we are doing, going away and having just a small family party at home.  So there will be some cleaning.  Oh and baking, lot's of baking!

  So since his birthday is the weekend of Halloween I thought we would make treats for his hockey team the weekend before.  I found this really cute zombie cupcake set at winners.  Because nothing screams happy birthday like zombies. 
Zombie cupcake kit.

  So I made regular old chocolate cupcakes from a mix, because I like the taste, and it was easy.  Most kids don't know the difference between a mix and scratch, or at least mine can't so that is how we are going to do it.

  I made the cupcakes smaller, so I got a full 24 out of the mix and then made my own frosting.  I love butter cream to decorate cupcakes with. It is simple and it requires very few ingredients.  Also I never measure, I just know what I am looking for. So I will tell you approximately how I do it and you can go from there.

My super easy butter cream icing.

Approx 1 cup butter
Approx 3/4 cup shortening
2 TBS of vanilla *
Approx 5 cups of icing sugar
milk as needed

So I start by creaming the butter and shortening.  Once they are mixed I add my vanilla* and some milk, maybe 1/4 cup of milk to start. Then I add the icing sugar a cup at a time until it gets too thick to mix, then I alternate milk and icing sugar until I get the amount of icing I want and it is the consistency I like.  I like it thicker so I can pipe it on and it will hold a nice shape.  Thin it out a little if you are using it for a cake or filling.

*if you want to be fancy you can use vanilla bean paste instead, it adds a stronger flavour I think, and it makes white icing look neat with all the bean flecks.  Since I usually colour my icing I don't use it, only for white icing.  Just my preference.

All set to decorate.  If you have these cupcake wraps, put them on before you ice the cupcake, less mess.

  I coloured mine green with Americolor soft gel food paste in electric green. ( this is the store where I usually order mine from.) Then I used a large fluted tip in a disposable piping bag.  I use disposable bags so I don't have to wash the real bags and couplers.  It is just to save time, and I am all about the time saving.  I start on the outside of the cupcake and make a spiral towards the middle.  You sort of overlap the icing to get it to look like it is rising.  Hope that makes sense.  Then I took these cute Wilton bone sprinkles I found at winners and sprinkled those on.
From the Wall O' Sprinkles.

  The kit had all these zombie parts, I waited for the icing to crust a little so if the paper parts touched they would not get too greasy.  My kid put the parts in and I made up the cupcake sleeves.  And there you go.

A simple swirl and sprinkles.

My son putting the body parts.  He complained there were not enough heads.

  Since I had to hand them out at hockey I packed them in these little boxes I got at the warehouse.  They are a little pricey, about 75 cents each for the box and insert, but it makes for an easy delivery.   I think the kids really liked them and it was easy to make for him. 

  Next week for his actual party I have cookies, cake pops, cupcakes and a mini cake to make.  So I will share those after it is all said and done.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Wall O' Sprinkles

The wall, not the best lighting, but you get the idea.

  I have a small obsession.  Okay fine, maybe small is not the word, but I am not totally consumed by it. Yet.  Anyway.  I really like sprinkles.  I don't really know why.  I think it is the colours and the fact that they add so much and take such little effort.  Either way, the sprinkle is my friend. We know how to get along.

  I usually get my sprinkles at the bulk store, the bakers warehouse or at winners ( like big lots in the states) because I may love sprinkles, but I will not pay full price for them. 

  I have two 8 litre tubs of the things, or I did before the Wall happened.  I used to love digging through them when my son had a play date or I was going to let him decorate something.  I would make these plates of sprinkles all nice and let the kid go to town. Some got on the cupcake and come ended up on the floor but most he just ate, which is fine I guess if that is your sort of thing.

  I really wanted a way to have a little fun and see them more, so I decided to display them some how.  I have seen on many shows and websites where they have those great jars filled with candy and such and I dreamed of a house big enough to do that.  Then reality set in and I figured I had to work with what I had.  So when I was at Ikea one day I found these. They were perfect and for the price I could not complain.

  So I got them home, cleaned them out and filled them.  All while Hubby was at work or coarse.  I was thrilled, how cute and candy store like.  The next day this happened when I got my email at work.

Hubby: so now I see why you got all those containers.

Me: I know right!  Aren't they great!

Hubby: um yeah, great.

Me: What do you mean? They are awesome, I am awesome, I am like the Martha Stewart of sprinkles!

Hubby: right...

Me:  You will learn to love them, you just need to embrace the sprinkle!


I waited a little while then

Me: Have you embraced them yet?

Hubby: no, not yet.

  Then he changed the subject. So I think he likes them, I mean he hasn't said anything else about them, so that means he has finally embraced them!  Or he is hoping I get some other new idea and they go. Little does he know I am starting a trend here, he will thank me for it later when we are in all the magazines with our Wall O' Sprinkles.  Then I can say "I told you so!" It will be so sweet!
I only have 20 jars, I just need a bigger house.

  Anyway I just wanted to share with you all now, before I become famous for it, the homage to the sprinkle. 

  And just so you know, my Mom and Aunt said they liked them, so that totally counts as a success!

Pumpkin spice muffins and simple cake balls

My first prop picture!

   I usually don't make more than one thing a week unless I am making things for someone, so this week is not normal.  I made those cookies earlier in the week and today I made these muffins.  The reason being it was a pumpkin muffin and I think pumpkins need to be baked with before Halloween.  I said that to a co worker and she said it would not matter.  But it does to me, so two things this week for my friends at work.

  On my favorite message board Two Peas in a BucketI asked about some food ideas people had found on line and really liked.  Something simple.  What I shared was someone mentioning on face book how they loved frozen green grapes.  And I tried them and really liked them too.  I did not get many responses,but the one I got was great.  The girl said she made muffins with a cake mix and canned pumpkin. 

  Genius I thought.  I mean I love box mixes and I have never made anything with pumpkin before.  I was not sure though if it would be something I would want to make, it just didn't seem homemade.  ( says the girl who loves boxed cake mix)  But I have to measure water, oil and crack eggs with a cake mix at least.  But then, another girl said she added an egg to help bind the mix and add some protein.  That was it, I was sold.  Cracking an egg makes it totally home made.  So I decided to try these out and they were so fast to make, taste really great and they are totally "home made"

The three ingredients.  The egg makes it totally home made.
   So here you go.

Super easy pumpkin spice muffins.

1 box spice cake mix
1 14 oz can of pumpkin *
1 egg

Pre heat your oven to 350 **
Mix all three ingredients until fully incorporated and place into prepared muffin pan***
Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean

My first action shot, using a large ice cream scoop to get even sized muffins.

  *I could not find a 14 oz can of pumpkin, so I had to measure out 1 3/4 cups of it, and I bet it was closer to 2 cups.  But it was still all good.
**I have a convection oven and find 25 degrees cooler works well for my oven, so if you have a regular oven use 375.
***by prepared I mean cupcake liners, you could do it without but the muffins were so moist it was just easier this way.

  I really enjoyed how moist and yummy these were.  I think if I was to make them again I would make a cream cheese icing or glaze to make it more desert like.  I like muffins but try to stay away as I should not have too many carbs.  But a cupcake, that is okay.  I know it makes no sense, so don't even try to figure my logic out.  Hope you enjoy.
And now I want to quickly share with you some simple cake balls I made last week.  I didn't think it was enough information for a whole post.  So here it is. 

I made some simple chocolate cake balls and dipped them in melted candy coating and placed them on wax paper to dry.

I did not need them fancy so I just used some more melted candy melts and some itty bitty leaf sprinkles to decorate.  Let the dipped cake balls dry, drizzle on the melted candy coating and sprinkle on the leaves before the candy hardens.

I always have extra candy on the sides, so to get them in a nice shape I sort of tap them around the edges to get the extra candy to snap off.

And here they are all packed up to go. I put a layer of parchment on the bottom as I find they tend to leak a little oil and that is just the icing and stuff heating up.  So they are not oily, just a little moist.  So yummy.