Friday, October 22, 2010

Minnie Mouse Birthday Party

(Update: To see another Minnie Mouse Zebra Cake that I have done recently go here)

I can't believe it--my little girl is 2 (well, as of this Sunday). Where does the time go? We threw her a Minnie Mouse birthday party last weekend to celebrate--a little before her birthday but I'm just getting a little too pregnant, and didn't want to risk having a baby when her party was scheduled for.

Ever since we went to Disneyland in April and her Grammy bought her a Minnie Mouse doll, she has been obsessed with Minnie Mouse. I saw this idea of combining a Minnie Mouse theme with zebra and LOVED it--especially because my little girl loves animal print too.

I was super excited to try making these different Minnie treats. Continue below for tips on making the Minnie Caramel Apples, Minnie Cake Pops, Minnie Mouse cake (with a zebra cake batter) and Zebra Pretzels.

Before you can have a party, you need invitations. I designed these in photoshop, and added a little bow on the head after printing them.

I also found a pattern for these darling Mickey/Minnie Zebra party hats online here. It just takes a little time printing them, cutting them, and sticking in the ears, but they are super cute.

Minnie/Zebra Birthday Cake:
I had seen this idea a while ago that I have been wanting to try--Zebra Cake batter. When you bake it and cut into the cake, it is supposed to have zebra-looking stripes. All you do is make a vanilla cake batter, divide it into two portions, and add cocoa powder to one of the portions making it brown. I also added pink to the other portion to have some pink to go along with the party, but I think it would have turned out a little better leaving it the cream color it is originally.

How you put it in the pan is the trick. After greasing and flouring a pan (and if you are me, putting parchment paper down too because you're extra paranoid your cake will stick), you start layering the cake batter. Start by putting 3 TBSP of one color down in the center of the pan and allow to start spreading on it's own. Then pour 3 TBSP of the next color on top. It will spread out on it's own, and cause the layer underneath to spread out too. Continue alternating colors pouring 3 TBSP back and forth.

After using up all the batter, you should end up with something like this in your pan.

Once you bake it, and cut into it, there should be a zebra-ish pattern. I wasn't too happy with how mine turned out. I was hoping for a little better design, but I had fun trying. To see a great version of the zebra cake as well as the recipe I used, go here.

Decorating the actual cake was my favorite part. I made the head out of rice krispy treats using a sports ball pan, and covered it in the black chocolate fondant I had left over from a previous cake. The ears and bow were just a fondant/gumtex mixture that I allowed to dry hard before sticking in the head. The rest of the fondant detailing is pretty self explanatory. I loved my little girl's reaction when she saw the cake for the first time. She kept yelling "Minnie Cake!" over and over.

Minnie Mouse Caramel Apples:
I saw a show about Mickey treats they make at the Disney Parks during the summer, and one of the items they make were Mickey and Minnie caramel apples. I just had to try them myself.

Before anything, you need to prepare your apples. Thanks to my friend Alisha, I found out what that actually meant. There is a layer of wax on the apples from the store. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and quickly dip the apples into the water, then wipe off the wax. This will allow the caramel to stick better. I used 6" dowel rods that I sharpened at one end as my apple sticks.

Next comes the dipping in caramel. Melt some caramel in a double boiler. I used some homemade caramel I had made earlier. That recipe can be found at the end of this post. Dip the apples, then put in the fridge to set while you prepare your chocolate.

Now here is where I varied from what I saw on the show. They stuck marshmallows on caramel for Minnie's ears. I tried that . . . and they kept falling off. So I tried using some leftover melted chocolate from my cake pops to glue them on . . . only about half worked. Finally I resorted to using toothpicks. I am so glad I did. It made the dipping in chocolate a lot easier--I didn't have to worry about ears falling off.

Melt a few bags of dark chocolate candy melts. I didn't have enough to actually dip the whole apple in, so I resorted to pouring the chocolate over each apple in a glass bowl using a liquid measuring cup, allowing excess to drip off, and then pouring the remaining chocolate back into my glass measuring cup to do all over again with the next apple.

To do the skirt you will need 3 things--white candy melts, melted, white candies (I used the York peppermint pieces--you'll have to figure out what to do with all the blue ones leftover . . . that shouldn't be too hard. . . yum!), and pink sanding sugar.

Dip the bottom of the apple in the white chocolate, place the candies in the chocolate, then pour the sugar over and allow the excess to fall off.

Add a little bow, and voila--Minnie Mouse Caramel Apples.

Minnie Cake Pops:
I found this idea on Bakerella's website. They are cake balls on a stick with candy melts as ears dipped into chocolate. Luckily I found some black candy melts at Michaels since it is Halloween time. (You can dye dark chocolate melts black, but beware--the Wilton black food coloring contains water and may make your chocolate seize up. I've run into that problem before.) These were a little more difficult than I expected--ears kept falling off and chocolate was kind of thick and hard to get the excess off--but I managed to get a few descent ones.

For full directions, see Bakerella's instructions here.

And last, but not least . . .

Zebra Caramel Pretzels:
My husband and I love to make these chocolate caramel pretzels for Christmas presents, we usually sprinkle crushed up butterfinger or skor bar on top, but I changed it up a little to get a zebra look.

First take some of the homemade caramel, roll it out into ropes, and wrap it around your pretzels (I like the Snyders of Hanover pretzels).

Next, dip in white chocolate and allow to dry. In the meantime, melt some black chocolate melts and put in a ziplock bag. Snip a tiny portion of the corner, and drizzle over your pretzels to make look like zebra stripes.

Super cute, and super yummy!

Add some containers with matching candy, and you are ready to go--a Minnie-Zebra dessert table.
Now, I can't end without showing you a couple pictures of my cute girl. Here she is with her cake saying she is "2."
And here are all the kids. Let's just say it was quite an adventure trying to get them all to wear their hats and sit down at the same time for a group shot. This was the best we could do. They sure are a fun group of kids, though.

Homemade Caramel Recipe:

This is a recipe adapted from the Licorice Caramel Recipe found in Candymaking by Kendrick and Atkinson
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Butter a 9-inch square pan and set aside. In a large saucepan combine the sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, butter, sugar, and salt. Plac over medium heat ad stir until well combined.
Clip on candy thermometer, and cook, stirring constantly to a firm ball stage (242F if at sea level, 232F in Salt Lake/Provo area, and 237F in Las Vegas area--if you live somewhere else you'll have to do the boiling water test to find out the difference between the boiling temperature at your location vs. sea level to adjust). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into pan and allow to stand at room temp over night.