Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dr. Seuss Cupcakes

It's Dr. Seuss' birthday on March 2nd. I heard that Lakeshore Learning was doing a Dr. Seuss birthday party with crafts and storytime for the kids, and I got into the Dr. Seuss spirit and wanted to try to make some cupcakes inspired by this great author and have some friends over before heading down to Lakeshore Learning for the crafts.

I knew I wanted some of them to be with green eggs and ham. That was my favorite Dr. Seuss book growing up. I couldn't think how to make the ham. Then it came to me--cake balls. I actually have never made them before, but have wanted to try them out. Super easy. Just bake a cake in a 9x13 pan, let it cool, then crumble it up, and mix a tub of icing in with it. Now comes the fun (and somewhat messy part)--roll the mixture into balls, or whatever shape you need (mine are cute little hams). Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

Then take candy melts in whatever color you choose (I of course picked green). Melt them in a microwave on 20 second intervals, stirring inbetween. Then have fun dipping. A spoon with a toothpick to help push the balls off the spoon worked just great for me. Once it is dry you can take a knife and trim the excess chocolate off the cake balls. That is your basic cake ball.
Now here is where I started to have some creative fun--a dot of white candy melts in the center for the bone.
and some painted lines to give it the Seussified ham effect. (I used some brown food coloring paste mixed with a little clear vanilla--the Food Writers that Wilton puts out didn't seem to write at all on the chocolate candy melts)
Just frost some cupcakes in chocolate and add a couple of eggs made from blobs of melted white and green candy melts, and voila--Green Eggs and Ham
The Cat in the Hat cupcakes were super easy. I found this idea on line. First you need some kind of red, round candy. Red lifesavers work great, but I opted for the red cinnamon discs from Walmart. They were perfect for the hat.
I just layered them with blobs of vanilla icing to get these cute little hats.

I definitely would eat these in a box, and I would eat them with a fox. I would eat them here or there. I would eat them everywhere! How about you?

Why stop there? I needed an excuse to purchase a bag of my favorite candy--swedish fish. (I have been craving them for a couple of weeks and needed a definite sugar fix). Why not include them in my set up--you know, incorporate the "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" theme. No blue fish to be found, but I'm fine with just red.

And I just had to throw in a hidden Mickey on one of the cupcakes. Call it my signature statement (that I'm kind of just starting, so maybe I can't call it a "signature statement" quite yet). Hopefully Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss liked each other, or they may not have been too happy with my incorporation of their two worlds.

Thank you for having a birthday, Dr. Seuss. It gave me a good excuse to be creative this weekend. It is such a destresser for me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Cupcakes

I'm on a cupcake kick. I blame the book 101 Cupcakes for this. There are just too many scrumptious sounding recipes in it. I feel the need to try them all. I tried 2 new ones for these cupcakes: Black Forest Chocolate and Chocolate Mayonnaise.

I took one chocolate cake mix, divided it into 2 separate bowls, and made a half-recipe of each flavor. So easy. This book is great . . . well, almost. I struggled with her Chocolate Mayonnaise recipe. I followed it exactly, but all it called for was the cake mix, mayonaise, and a little bit of water. When I mixed it all together it was a solid glob--nothing like a normal cake batter consistency. Strange. I don't know--maybe this is how it is supposed to be--but I was skeptical, so I turned to google, and found other Chocolate Mayonnaise recipes. They all had a little more water and some eggs, so I added in the eggs and water, and it turned out perfect.

I did follow 101 Cupcakes suggestion to use a cream cheese frosting with the Chocolate Mayonnaise cupcake. She was right--those 2 flavors tasted fabulous together.

I piped some hearts with white candy melts dyed pink. Just the right touch, don't you think?

Black forest has always been one of my favorite flavors, so I was way excited for this recipe (did you know that Blue Bunny used to put out a Black Forest yogurt--I ate it every morning for over a year--scrumptious!--then they discontinued production of that flavor--Catastrophe!--that was a sad day at my house when I found that out).

I made a whipped chocolate ganache for the icing that I piped on with a large star tip, making a cup in the center that I filled in with extra cherry pie filling. Can you just say Heavenly?! Totally my favorite--although everyone else I talked to like the chocolate mayonaise better--go figure. I didn't tell most people that it was Chocolate Mayonaise until after they tried it because I didn't want them to be biased before hand (I mean really--who would have thought Mayonaise in cake would taste good, but it totally does--trust me).

Well, with a few minor adjustments to at least one of the recipes, these cupcakes turned out great, and I will definitely mark these recipes as keepers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Surprise

I got him good! I totally surprised my husband for Valentine's Day with this cake. He had no idea I had made it (I totally lucked out Saturday night too--he said he'd probably get done studying around 9:30 at night then come home--I frantically decorated the cake--I finally finished at 11:15pm, hid the cake, and hurried and cleaned up, and he walked in the door at 11:25pm--studying took longer than he thought...well, come to find out he was making me a cute Valentine card at school which took him longer than he planned, and totally surprised me too with that and a voucher to go to a nice Italian restaurant--yes, I'm obsessed with anything Italian).

I saw this idea online, and just had to make it. It was too cute to pass up. I made a double fudge chocolate cake in my heart pan, filled it with chocolate ganache, covered it in a thin coating of vanilla icing, then white fondant, and then with different colored fondant hearts, cutting them out so they would fit snuggly together and look like overlapping conversation hearts.

Then I took an edible food writer marker and wrote the messages on the hearts, and finished it off by putting real conversation hearts around the bottom. A cake almost too cute to eat...but don't worry, we cut right into it after dinner and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sidenote: Conversation hearts through the years:
"Call Me" (1980s), "Email Me" (1990s), "Text me" (2000s), "Tweet Me" (2010s). What will be next? We'll just have to wait and see. (Chris thinks "Beam me up Hottie" is a definite possibility)