I love squirrels!! The icon that is, I don’t want to pet a real squirrel or anything like that, though I do find them fascinating to watch…anyways, here’s a super cute place card idea for your next fall event or Thanksgiving. We assembled and used them for Canadian Thanksgiving this year. Beside our little brown friend is a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing and a little fondant pumpkin topper. First a word about the pumpkin toppers, then about the friendly picketing squirrels….The cupcake toppers turned out so cute! They were really fast and easy to make. I found the idea and tutorial by Nikki here on Catch My Party. I just mixed up some marshmallow fondant (melted marshmallows, icing sugar, water and vanilla) and rolled out little balls, scored them with a knife and popped a clove in the top…..that’s all!After I baked a pumpkin pie, I had a cup of pumpkin puree left, so I made up my traditional pumpkin and cream cheese recipes. They were easy cupcakes and baked while the pumpkin pie baked, then just added the icing and fondant pumpkins at the last minute before serving.So I found the pumpkin topper idea on Pinterest, but this next idea was my own idea (I have to make a distinction because my kids are always asking if it’s a Pinterest idea or my own idea! heh heh). Ikea has a cute set of woodland cookie cutters that includes this little squirrel. A batch of The End-All for Chocolate Cookies Recipe from Lilaloa was perfect for little brown fall squirrels. I was in a rush when I was making them, so I don’t have step by step photos. But it’s easy, just cut out squirrels, and for every squirrel cut out a circle (plain or scalloped) for a base. Before baking, add a toothpick to each squirrel, sliding it under the head and poking it through the little hand, so it looks like the squirrel is holding the toothpick on his shoulder. Bake them up, and when they are totally cool, use some melted chocolate candy melts to ice the squirrel to the base. It’s probably a good idea to add the signs to the toothpicks before “gluing” the squirrel to the base. You can just tape the place card to the top of the toothpick. Then it only took a line of melted chocolate on the bottom edge of the squirrel, then a few moments of slight pressure holding it onto the base to assemble. Here they are, being assembled by my sister….The squirrels were my idea, but I did see another fun idea on Pinterest that I really wanted to try….chocolate acorns! I found a great tutorial here on Once Upon a Pedestal for these candy acorns. They looked so cute! But I couldn’t find the same kind of peanut M&Ms that she used….and I didn’t have Tootsie Rolls, so I used chocolate covered almonds and brown fondant (another idea to add to my Chocolate Almond Ideas!!). And I asked my daughters to make them while I was working on Thanksgiving dinner! (remember, everything’s done last minute around here….)The table settings looked really cute with a cookie squirrel, a chocolate acorn and a fall leaf doily at each place….I used the same set of cookie cutters and same idea to make a stand up chocolate moose, too….kinda hard to see, but he’s in the middle by the cornucopia.Mr. Squirrel and his friends were a hit!! But he didn’t stick around very long…..Any squirrels that did linger around too long, and Mac the Moose, were sadly (or more like, deliciously) turned into another dessert with the leftover real whipped cream from the pie….leave overnight in the fridge, and voila!Who knew squirrels and moose could taste so wonderful?? 😉
El Primero de Mayo! It’s May today…I’ll bet many of you are having a day off work…I guess I don’t need to point out that I’m not. Heh heh. Someone’s gotta bake cakes, even on holidays.
I was doing some research on what exactly is celebrated on the first of May, but have run out of time to post about it (I’m sure that’s a relief!!) Needless to say, many things are celebrated in many places today. There you go.
I made a cake today….to celebrate all the good stuff in May. It also happens to be the 7th year anniversary of AntiguaDailyPhoto, a site with the most gorgeous and interesting photos of Antigua Guatemala. So here’s a big Happy Anniversary to you!! And some cake…..
If the parrot cookie on top of the cake looks familiar, it is because I posted about it yesterday. I entered it in Lilaloa’s “think outside the cookie cutter challenge”. I made the flowers yesterday, too. So today I just had to make a delicious cake. 🙂
I had some more blank cookies that I had made for the challenge…so I challenged my kids to think up something to create out of the “diamond ring” cookie cutter shape. I think they came up with some pretty creative ideas!! I melted up some candy melts and they decorated the cookies themselves…Hello Kitty…A good idea Lightbulb….A happy kid of some sort…. 🙂And Nemo the fish!!Yes, yes they are creative kids! Wonder where they get it from….?!
Well, after all the cake and cookies….I feel a diet coming on tomorrow!! 😉
Have a festive Month of May everyone!
I had been thinking for a long time that a Hello Kitty party would be fun, but here are the two things that made me feel really inspired to go ahead and go for it!!
My photos of the mug didn’t turn out so great, but really the mugs were my inspiration for the party. The girls have had them for years, and I am always seeing them! The mugs have Hello Kitty with ice cream cones and candy, and they are done in these pastel colors. So I decided that the colors for the party would be mint green, pastel pink and red, oh! and chocolate instead of black! And that it would be a Hello Kitty Sweet Shoppe kind of theme! Following are some easy how-tos for some of the Hello Kitty stuff we did for the party. Links to sources and how-to posts are in red letters, so just click on them!
(An Aside: my friend over at Paper Glitter did a Fab-U-Lous Hello Kitty Sweet Shoppe party for her daughter! It’s amazing! I decided to go with my mug-inspired homemade party this time, though. If my printer had been working, I would have printed some of Paper Glitters’ gorgeous Sweet Shoppe Party printouts and this sweeeeet stationary set! Linnette makes the most adorable things for parties! But my printer is on it’s last legs 😦 )
So mint and pink and red….and a little white cat! A package of pastel card stock from the dollar store made a quick and easy backdrop. Just tape the pages onto the wall with painter’s tape so they won’t stick forever! (We were able to print out one black and white kitty and my youngest colored it in. We found it on this site of coloring pages).
The little Kitty banner was so fast and easy to make. Check out the How-To here for a quick and easy Hello Kitty banner.
And now for the party table set up!We found some bubble tea in just the right colors…they looked super, but just are not my personal cup of tea! I made a plate of Hello Kitty crackers…um, those weren’t so fabulous, but might work out with a different recipe.Some easy party balloons in the shape of ice cream cones for the party table. Just add some “cherries” and sprinkles! There’s a quick how-to at the end of this post hereEverything was finally put together….with the Hello Kitty Cake, too!
I made a Pocky Cake and added Hello Kitty peeking over the top! Her whiskers are made out of Pocky, too. I posted about what a Pocky cake is the other day, what a quick way to decorate a cake!!The salad bowl was really a flash of genius, if I do say so myself!! So fun and tasty, but super easy to make, too!
Here’s the post about the Hello Kitty Fruit Salad Bowl containing my favoritist sweet salad ever! (I know that’s not a word! but it’s yummy)
My birthday girl!!! No girl is ever too old for a Hello Kitty party!!It was a whole lot of sugary pastel colored sweetness, with a few Japanese and Korean treats thrown in! The only things missing were these Hello Kitty strawberry treats!! They were easy to make, but just didn’t make it to this party, haha! The link for the how-to is here.
Today I thought that someone somewhere might just be wondering what a Pocky cake is. Was it you? First of all, do you know what Pocky is? Have you ever eaten this tasty little snack? It is quite popular around our house. 🙂
Pocky is a Japanese snack food that is found all over the world, but especially popular in Japan. This sweet snack is made of small sticks or “rods” that are almost the size of drinking straws (a bit smaller) and are made of biscuits covered in chocolate. That would be biscuit in the European meaning, more like a crisp cookie dough. I personally think that they are quite like pretzel rods covered in chocolate-like coating. They are crisp and fun to crunch on. I always like to check out what wikipedia has to say about all these types of things, haha! So if you are that interested, click here: wikipedia to find out more about Pocky snacks, and even how to pronounce it!
Wherever you live, you can probably find and buy Pocky at Asian supermarkets, or online, like from sites like this one: Asian Food Grocer, where they have all sorts and varieties of Pocky. In Canada and the United States they can also be found at other stores, such as HEB and Walmart. That’s where I ended up buying them, Walmart. (Though they were also at the T&T Asian supermarket close by my house). I found a very large bag of them at Walmart, more like “bulk” packaging, so I went for that instead of buying about 10 small boxes. Here’s another photo from the Asian Food Grocer:
When I was looking up this Pocky stuff, I also found out that there is something called Pocky cake, which is a cake shaped to look like a Pocky stick. But that is not what I meant to post about today. I actually mean a Pocky covered cake. Have you seen one before? I have seen photos of them going around on Pinterest. Especially a pink Pocky covered cake that just looked so sweet.
For my daughter’s birthday, I decided that a Pocky covered cake would be so perfect, she loves Pocky! It makes for a clean and simple looking cake…and a super easy cake too, I found out! The photos I had seen online were of plain layer cakes, like with only a layer or two, so that when the cake was cut, you ended up with a regular piece of cake with these tall Pockies sticking up on the side. It seemed a little strange to me, so I decided to make the cake as tall as the Pocky sticks. I was testing things out a bit first, so had bought some strawberry Pocky and some chocolate. I found out that they are not quite the same size, the strawberry is shorter. Both snacks have a very strong smell. Not being partial to strawberry smells, I went for the chocolate covered ones! I acutally did some math for this one….I laid out all the Pocky sticks from one box and measured to see how much area they covered…then did primitive measuring and math to figure out how many boxes of Pocky I would need to go around my cake. I was using a 6 inch cake pan…..anyways…..blah blah blah math blah…….it turned out that when I bought the bigger bag, all my figuring was in vain anyways….but it did just barely turn out, with not a Pocky to spare! I think you would need about 10 boxes…maybe 12 to be on the safe side, though. Or one bag from Walmart plus about 2 extra boxes. Something like that!! (I’m only going on and on about it in case you are reading this post because you want to make your own Pocky cake!)
It’s really easy, after you have all the Pocky bought!! Bake a cake. My cake was several layers high, and ended up measuring just over 5 inches high. Stack the layers and frost with icing, such as buttercream. Buttercream worked out very nicely because it wasn’t too gooey….it was just the right consistency to hold the sticks of Pocky, without bulging out between them. Then start slapping on the Pocky!! It was that easy. They didn’t need to be supported nor held. I decided to go with the cookie part at the bottom. They are quite uniform, so I didn’t do any chopping or anything, just put them on…all around the cake. It wasn’t necessary, but I decided to tie a ribbon around the whole thing at the end.
And there you go!! (at this point many people type in Wa-la!! But I will never do it! I might think Voila! to myself, but prefer to type a less fancy “and there you go”) Your cake is finished. And it looks so cool! And I have to mention that it smells wonderful! The Pocky have a very strong chocolaty smell, so it was nice to have a cake that had it’s own powerful “perfume”!! 🙂
I think that was the fastest cake I’ve ever decorated! But I never seem to just let things “be” I must always go for that extra little fussiness…that one extra little touch….so I added a Hello Kitty head to the top of the cake!! More about that later…..P.S. One last little bit of Pocky trivia from wikipedia: The “Pocky Kiss” is the eastern equivalent to the western “Spaghetti Kiss” bet ya didn’t know! 😉
I’m sure that you have asked yourself this question at some point…how many cool things can I make with chocolate-covered almonds? Or more specifically, how can I make cupcake decorations and toppers for cupcakes with delicious chocolate coated almonds? I know that I recently pondered that profound question. And yes, please feel free to ask…why did I ask myself that question? Maybe you have already guessed the answer, particularly if you have a child in school who at some point has suddenly brought a rather large cardboard box (with a nice handle) full of smaller boxes of chocolate-covered almonds and has announced that they must all be sold as an important school fundraiser.
Yes, we have chocolate covered almonds for sale! I’m afraid that last time we went through this, we bought the whole box and ate them all. For sure I don’t want to do that again, so I started looking around for ideas to use these candies….as decorations on cupcakes. Surely there are many other ways to use them, but I’m only interested in bakedy bake baking stuff right now….so I checked around. And I made a list. Yes, I am weird that way. And one day baked the cupcakes, and finally finally got around to testing out all the fun ideas. All 13 of them!
I wanted you to have some cute ideas, so that you’ll buy chocolate almonds from us and we’ll get rid of the whole boxful. Or better yet, order some cupcakes from me, and I’ll make sure that they have some chocolate almond toppers!!
And there you have some ideas for having fun with chocolate covered almonds. I had fun yesterday, can you tell??
Some of my favorites…If you would like the how-to for any topper, just let me know. They were all made with chocolate covered almonds, some had chocolate chips on them and some had nonpareils (for eye pupils). They were all put together with candy melts, or melted chocolate. Pretty easy!! About half of them, like the mouse and the choco cat, were my own brainwaves…oh, and the ugly moose…he needs some work! Below I listed the ideas I saw as photos pinned on Pinterest. You can find the pin or blog link that I found each idea at by clicking on the highlighted words (none of them have instructions FYI):
bees, there are some really cute ideas on this blog
penguins, there are a lot of pins for these penguins, but I found the blog source! there are a lot of other great ideas here too.
“everything that’s wonderful is how I feel when we’re together…” it’s about spending time together. And in this case it happens that the kids and I were spending time making a cake together. Some little person figured that we should “play home-school” on Saturday and had mapped out the whole day including gym, matematica, recess and craft class. Why does it feel so ironic that this same little person complains every morning about having to go to school all day?
We did play school (though I explain every time that Home-schooling is really a very different thing, and that playing school one Saturday is not at all the same thing as home-schooling). It was real old-fashioned one-room school where each child had their own “slate” to write on: what a novel idea! Some matematica was involved (I write it that way because that’s how the little person says it) and some figuring and whatnot, but best of all was the “baking/craft” class! I decided I’d let them play with some fondant and we could put together and decorate a cake (and then eat it up for snack time of course!).
I cut the layers for the cake, then the younger kids helped me fill it. We were experimenting, so one side of the cake was filled with jam and the other side was filled with buttercream icing. This said to explain the fondant squiggles on the edges of the cake plate….I wanted to know which side was filled with what when it came time to cut the cake…
First a short demonstration of how to roll the fondant out and cover the iced cake in a smooth-ish layer of fondant, then everyone set about coloring their fondant and making flowers and snails and leaves and braids. Being the perfectionista type, of course I decided that I would be the one to put the flowers on the cake (and tweak a bit here and there)….what can I say, I can’t help myself. So we worked together to create this colorful masterpiece….Colorful is definitely the right adjective! The colors all turned out quite bright, not quite that pastel look I had in mind, but I’m fine with bright colors….and they tasted just as good to the kids!(I took some of the swirly “braids” and rolled them into usable flowers.) This is actually marshmallow fondant, not the traditional almond kind and it’s for sure not playdough (no matter how much it resembles that stinky stuff!!)We had a few tools to play with. Each of the kids worked for awhile on flowers while I was busy making stems and leaves….And then (almost as soon as we were done decorating) time to cut and eat the cake!!The iced layers looked the best, but the jam-filled side tasted the best!!I just need to work a bit on the jam filling technique….but this colorful cake sure tasted great!!!A little birdie friend even flew down for a peek at the cake…Hmm, gotta go now, after looking at these photos that last piece of cake is definitely calling my name!
Looking forward to spring in the middle of winter: it’s that kind of cake. I find myself fascinated with the monarch butterflies….and after checking at the store, I decided to try making some myself…..I needed some butterflies, not just to cheer up a dark and blizzardy winter, but I needed butterflies to come and sit delicately on the yellow and black cake that was taking shape in my kitchen.
So this is what I’ve been working on this week…with no time at all for posting on the blog! 🙂 A cake, a birthday cake for 2 ladies who are turning 50! I found some inspiration and then went for it. Working with fondant isn’t my favorite… but felt inspired enough to try it again. There’s a great site that explains how to make marshmallow fondant and work with it here. I haven’t used traditional fondant, only made my own…and apparently it’s waaaay yummier than the traditional kind!
First I started out making some butterfiles with royal icing…An enjoyable task…trying to copy a real monarch butterfly with royal frosting. The worrisome part was trying to figure out how to attach them to the cake, since I don’t have any special wire. But Henry came up with a great food-safe way to do it! 🙂 They were fun, and did look like butterflies!! But super fragile! I made extras because I knew I would break some in the decorating process….which I did. Even though it was inevitable, I still felt a little shocked to see the splattered, more like shattered, butterfly on my floor. 😦 (The kids wanted to eat it but I said NO for various reasons!)
Then on to the baking, which always takes longer than I think it will. Especially when I’m trying out a new recipe. Make that recipes. The first batch of 3 layers wasn’t going to work, so I had to move on the next recipe…and it’s a keeper. I wanted some pizzazz for inside the cake, so went with some color and citrus flavor. Lemon, vanilla and orange hints inside the colorful cakes. Belive me, I did a lot of taste testing!Next comes the fondant covering….which went ok without too many glitches. I worked on the cake topper, so it would have time to firm up while I worked on the cake. Little swirly roses and “pearls”Covering the layers in fondant takes some time and finicky work, but I think that the part that took the most “brain” work was the structure inside the cake. I like to make cakes and just stack them up, and serve them at my house. But when a cake needs to be transported and arrive in one piece, there needs to be some sort of internal structure. That makes me feel like an engineer, or even an architect. The local craft store didn’t have much to offer me, so I used lollypop sticks (new ones, with no lolly of course!) So the next layer needs to have a supporting base that sits on these internal pegs or whatever the technical terms are.Once I had that all figured out, then comes the fun part of decorating! At the back of the cake, kind of discreetly and hopefully with a bit of class, I added the word “fifty”. Hope that was the right touch. I didn’t know if they’d want a large shiny 50 on top of their cake…And here are the rest of the shots from my rushed, improvised photoshoot. I hurried to finish the cake so I could photograph it in daylight, which disappears very rapidly around here at this time of year… and a few “bonus ideas”