It was a birthday cake kind of weekend.

You’d think I’d be busy enough with food while working as a pastry chef in a restaurant, but clearly that isn’t the case. Going from being covered in flour at work, I come home to get covered in powdered sugar. “You have flour on your face,” is a comment I receive regularly at work. “The day must end in Y!” is my typical response. They don’t always tell me though, and sometimes I’ll end up going around half the day with flour smeared all over my face and no one telling me. Sometimes I think the other chefs leave me hanging on purpose for their own personal entertainment. Touche, fellas.

One friend’s husband turned 40, and she wanted a birthday cake with humor and personality. She sent me a pic of something someone else had made that was on the internet, and the concept was filled with sarcasm. Naturally, I loved it.

fire cake

The firetruck even lights up and makes noise. I made sure to tell my friend to push the buttons when they lit all the candles for the full effect of the cake.

Apparently though, it wasn’t as funny as I thought it was, considering I had to EXPLAIN the humor behind it to both my dad and my husband. The conversations were almost identical.

“Is he a firefighter?”

“Uh, no. The firetruck is on call because there are so many candles on the cake. You know, because he’s 40. Over the hill. Because there are SO many candles. Get it? Do you not get it? Come on, you HAVE to get that. It’s funny!”

“Yeah, I get it.”

Men…

The other cake I made was for a set of adorable twin girls who were having their first birthday party. Mom wanted pink roses on their cakes, and sent me a picture of the faded color rose cake she found. The faded colors weren’t as obvious in the one I made, but if you look closely you can see that the top shade is lighter than the bottom.

FullSizeRender

Every time I walked through the kitchen after they were finished, I’d stop and stare.

“They’re just so pretty,” I’d say out loud. No one was listening.

table shot

(Photo by Angela McCall, Happy Clicker Photography)

These little boards that Mom’s friend made were so cute and creative to go along with the cakes that have little tidbits of info on them.

smash cake

(Photo by Angela McCall, Happy Clicker Photography)

Cutest. Smash cakes. Ever.

baby girls

(Photo by Angela McCall, Happy Clicker Photography)

But the smash cakes aren’t nearly as cute and sweet as the birthday girls. They did a great job smashing them. Happy birthday, girls!

Poop Emoji Cake

Over The Hill birthdays give you the opportunity to go over the edge with funny gifts. Which is why this is one of my favorite sections in a party store to look at, because there’s usually something good enough to make me laugh out loud. This cake had the same effect.

Two sisters-in-law and my husband all turned 40 within one month of each other. What’s crazy about this is that my brothers are 6 and 9 years older than me, but we ALL married spouses born in 1977 within a month. All of them also have dark hair and blue eyes. Weird. Well, we’re weird, so it does make a little bit of sense.

Two days before a dinner gathering around the last birthday, my mom asked if I was available to make a cake. The idea of this cake had actually popped in my head a few days before, thinking of how funny it would be to make this.

Coincidence?

I think not.

This cake was meant for my sister-in-law. They’re soulmates.

If she did have a problem with it, we could always use the excuse, “Well, you married Michael, so we knew SOMETHING was wrong with you.”

She’s from New Jersey and is always willing to give you a very honest answer…even if you may not like that answer.

“Tracy, how did you like this dessert?”

“It was cheesecake. Eww.”

That’s when I knew something was wrong with her. Cheesecake is da bomb dot com, and I threatened to strap her up in a straightjacket and throw her in a padded room. She shrugged her shoulders and smiled.

Originally, we were going to get together at their house to grill out for dinner, but she preferred to go out to eat. When my brother told me this, I started laughing.

“So, I have to bring the cake in the restaurant?”

“Yeah…is that a problem?” he asked.

“No (starting to laugh hysterically), it’s not a problem.”

He had NO idea what the cake looked like.

“Is it a family friendly cake?” he asked.

“Um, yes?”

I laughed out loud for the next few hours, imagining walking through a very busy local restaurant with this cake. This was going to be fun.

We pulled up in the parking lot, and I turned the cake to face out so everyone could see it clearly. As we were getting out of the car, I saw a couple of ladies with their kids standing on the sidewalk. They were chatting away, until one of them saw the cake. She stopped mid-sentence, “Oh my gosh! Look at that cake! That is hilarious!” The lady she was chatting with turned and starting laughing.

This continued as we walked through the restaurant, and people started taking pictures of it before, during, and after dinner. I saw a few people roll their eyes, but the majority of people enjoyed a good laugh at this crappy cake.

poop-emoji

The top tier was made in a doll cake pan, and is a dark chocolate cake packed with mini chocolate chips, covered with chocolate icing (of course). The eyes, mouth, and letters are made out of fondant. The bottom tier was a 2 layer 9 inch pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing. I decided to make two of the birthday girl’s favorite cake flavors since she is officially over the hill.

Happy 40th Birthday, Tracy! You’re old as crap!

Sesame Street Birthday Party

Some days, it feels like the days and weeks drag on, and then… BOOM! My baby boy turns 2. This all goes along with my cousin’s perfect description of having young kids, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

He’s not 2 weeks old.

Not 2 months old.

TWO YEARS OLD.

Where has the time gone?

I’m sure the mothers whose babies are turning 40 would snort at me because I have NO clue what it’s like for time to go by so quickly. On my birthday last year, my mom told me how she just can’t believe that her youngest baby is having her 7th anniversary of turning 29. Fine, maybe it’s me who refers to my birthdays as anniversaries these days, but that’s not the point. The point is that she remembers when I was a cute baby. A curious child. A sarcastic tween. An incredibly moody teenager. A partying college kid.

When my daughter’s 7th birthday rolls around later this year, all of the same feelings will happen again. It’s a continuous cycle that happens multiple times a year, each time my husband and I looking at each other and saying, “They’re growing up SO fast,” with pure amazement like neither one of us has already said this 100 times before, even when it’s just five minutes earlier.

We also said this last year at his Pirate First Birthday Party we threw for him. Honestly though, getting through that first year is a major accomplishment, so you better believe there was a big party. “Who serves alcohol at a kid’s party?” my brother asked as I passed around a special cocktail to some of the adults. “I’m not serving the kids alcohol!” I yelled at him.

This year was more low key. In fact, the only person who wore anything relating to Sesame Street was me in my Cookie Monster t-shirt… Because Cookie Monster is AWESOME. I even made Cookie Monster Cupcakes a few years ago because he’s so awesome. My cupcakes were in the March 2017 edition of  Story Monsters Ink magazine because you can’t go wrong with Cookie Monster. Should I say Cookie Monster and awesome again in the same sentence? COOKIE MONSTER IS AWESOME. Moving on.

sesame-street

This year’s cake was MUCH smaller than last year, but it served its purpose…

To look ridiculously cute and fill our bellies with sugar so that we could all sugar crash later in the day. Mission accomplished.

This is a 4 layer 10 inch round Blue Velvet cake. What? Blue Velvet? What the heck is that? It’s Red Velvet cake with blue food coloring instead of red. Yes, you CAN do that. It’s covered with cream cheese icing. I ordered the Elmo and Cookie Monster cake toppers from Amazon, made the 2 out of chocolate using a chocolate mold and lollipop stick, and made the rest of the decorations out of fondant.

The birthday boy loaded up on bubble toys. I don’t think I have EVER seen so many bubble toys, and he loves every single one of them. They catch his attention for about two whole minutes before he moves on to something else, only to return to the bubbles thirty seconds later. The attention span of a toddler is always entertaining, and you never know how long it will last.

Maybe next year he’ll understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but this year he’s happy with bubbles.

Pirate Birthday Party

Click HERE to watch the slideshow!

It’s hard to believe our son turned a year old, but I was prepared to throw him a pirate party.  Every time my husband would pick on me for going “overboard” (ha ha, get it?), I would scoff at him and say, “He’ll remember this party for the rest of his life!”

Since a baby’s first birthday party is more for the adults and older kids than the birthday baby himself, it gives me an excuse to throw a blowout of a party.  First, the construction of the cake.  It had to be good.  It had to be massive.  It had to be amazing.

IMG_6672

Two weeks before the party, I got started on the cake topper, which was a treasure chest made out of rice krispie treats.  I bought a box of 16 treats, then put them all together to start the construction.  Here is the base and the top.

IMG_6674

After they were put together, I slathered some icing all around the sides and top.  The brown fondant was rolled out using a fondant roller, then cut into strips and wrapped around the treats to give it a real look of wooden planks.  The only thing I would do differently with this is use chocolate icing as a base, so there wouldn’t be any white specs of the buttercream underneath the fondant.

IMG_6690

The gold coins were made out of fondant as well.  I rolled out white fondant, using a small circle cutter to cut out the shapes, then painted them with gold food coloring.  This took several coats.  After the coins dried completely (couple of days), I layered them on top of the treats.  Skewers were cut to fit, and placed horizontally through the top section of the treats to secure them together.  More icing was piled on top and smoothed for a rounded look, then covered with the strips of fondant.  Toothpicks were stuck in the back side of the base of the chest, then the top part of the chest was placed on top of the toothpicks and coins.  The toothpicks secured the top part to the bottom.  The chest was placed on a small cake board, then cut to fit.  Dowel rods were placed in the top tier of the cake to prevent the chest from sinking into it (that thing was pretty heavy when finished).  Graham cracker crumbs were used as “sand” and the seashells were made out of chocolate using a seashell mold.  The jewels are plastic, and I used the majority of the jewels in the package for making treasure bags (along with plastic gold coins, plastic jewel rings, beads, and candy).  The treat bags were hidden in the back yard for the kids to do a treasure hunt, which they loved!

IMG_6691

The treasure map on top of the chest is also made out of fondant.  I rolled out the fondant, then cut it to shape using a paring knife.  An edible black pen was used to draw on it.

IMG_6686

Finished cake!  It literally weighed over 40 pounds…so it was transferred from one place to another only for pictures.  The bottom tier is a 3 layer 12 inch cake, and the top tier is a 4 layer 10 inch cake, the entire cake is vanilla with buttercream icing.

IMG_6693

The pirate skull, 1, anchors, and sharks are all made out of chocolate, using chocolate molds.  The red stripes and black cannon balls on the bottom tier are fondant.  The decorations on the top tier for the ocean are buttercream icing.

baby cake

Here is our little pirate, digging into his smash cake.  It was a 4 inch cake covered with buttercream and chocolate icing.  Go ahead and take a bite, big guy.  It’s your day.

IMG_6698

And, here we are with the pirate ship cake pops.  When I originally saw these, I got all excited and just HAD to make them…but wanted to add a little more than the original image I found, which only had the red and white stripe sails.  We went to our local arts and crafts store, which is where I found the card stock red and white stripe paper, along with black paper and the skull and crossbones stickers.  The cake pops are chocolate, covered with milk chocolate.  None of these were left at the end of the party.

2016-02-22 10.17.40

Speaking of chocolate, how about some chocolate lollipops?  I started working on these a week before the party.  Since there were several different colors of chocolate, it was more time consuming than just using one solid color.  I melted the different colors of chocolate separately, and used a toothpick to detail the colors, setting the molds in the refrigerator for the chocolate to set in between each color.  Time consuming, but worth it in my opinion.

Alex is 1-0356

Here’s the dessert table, which also had chocolate chip cookies (made small and thick to look like gold nuggets), and peanut butter ritz cookies made with yellow chocolate to resemble gold coins.

IMG_6676

Oh, and while we were at the arts and crafts store, silly me made the mistake of walking past the bird houses and came across this one.  It ended up in my cart, along with paint brushes and paint.

FullSizeRender

I was very happy with how it turned out, and used it as a table centerpiece for the party.  We’ll put it up in the yard since the party has passed for our visual enjoyment to watch the pirate birds play in their new pirate ship house.

12744645_10153934731162288_8523827432841632933_n[1]

Here was our menu for the party.  I decided to print out copies and place them around the house so I didn’t have to repeat myself 20 times going over everything there was to eat. Almost all of the food items served at the party are included in my upcoming cookbook!

IMG_3458

The photo prop was bought for pictures like these.

IMG_6700

And who doesn’t love an inflatable pirate?

family pic

It’s not a pirate party if you’re not dressed as a pirate, right?  Exactly!  ARRRRGH!!!

Frozen Birthday Cake

Frozen…the movie that literally every mom knows.  In fact, I bet every mom knows every single word to the song “Let It Go.”  Backwards.  Maybe even in Chinese.  I’ve gone as far as getting the sheet music and downloading background music to play it on my flute.  The things we do for our children.

2015-08-09 10.50.50

Our daughter turned 5, and she’s been talking about her Frozen birthday cake and party for the last several months, so I knew it had to be something good.

2015-08-09 10.51.01

“Frozen” is a frozen buttercream transfer.  The snowflakes are made out of fondant, a variety of different shades of blue and cut out with a snowflake cutter.  I rolled out the fondant and cut the snowflakes out several days before putting the cake together so the snowflakes could harden.  I watched this video to learn how to do a frozen buttercream transfer.

2015-08-09 10.54.19

The 5 is made out of chocolate using a chocolate mold.  The “ice” is made out of hard candy (see recipe below), and the cake toppers were purchased from Amazon.  In all honesty, you can use any figurines you please for placing items on a cake for decoration, just make sure they’re nice and clean before placing them on the cake.  Nobody wants cooties.

2015-08-09 10.55.13

The cake was a 10 inch 4 layer white almond cake with buttercream icing…and I’ll have to say it was a big hit.  There’s nothing like having a Frozen birthday pool party in August.

Hard Candy Recipe

3/4 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups corn syrup

1 cup water

1 tablespoon extract (or candy flavoring)

food coloring (takes very little, 1 drop of sky blue recommended for this)

In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water, cook on medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Turn heat to high, do not stir, and wait until mixture reaches between 300-310 degrees.  Candy thermometer (digital thermometer is fine) is a must for this.  When mixture reaches desired temperature, remove from heat and stir in flavoring and coloring.  Spray a cookie sheet with butter spray, spread candy mixture out into a thin layer.  Let set to cool and harden, break into shards and place on cake.

Princess Castle Cake

Over the weekend, we threw a birthday party for our daughter.  It’s still hard to believe she’s already four years old.  Anyway, several months ago I had asked her what kind of cake and party she wanted, and since she’s really into princesses, this was naturally the theme she picked.  So, I started thinking, and asked, “Do you want a princess castle cake?”  Her eyes lit up and she cried, “Yes!  A pink princess castle cake!!”  Done.

While constructing the image in my head, the idea of towers sounded wonderful.  But, with graduating from culinary school the week before and forty million other things going on, I wasn’t able to pre-make any of the towers.  I attempted to make some thicker towers, but half of them didn’t turn out well and were leaning quite terribly.  The first picture here is a rough draft of the cake.  I liked to call this the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I thought it was appropriate.

IMG_1730

Anyway, the lopsidedness of this cake had me all up in shambles, and I couldn’t handle showing off a cake like this.  The middle tier was the lopsided part, but after it was all put together and the icing was too soft (it was ridiculously falling down on the sides), I decided to redo that part and go with it.  Even though my daughter loved it, I was already making excuses in my head as to explaining why we couldn’t take the cake out to the porch for everyone to sing happy birthday so she could blow out the candles.  Plus, I knew that sleep from massive anxiety of my perfectionism would really get in the way and practically ruin the whole ordeal.  No, I’m not kidding.

So, off went the two towers and middle tier…and into the trash can.

Kaitlyn's 4th

The second tier was redone, new icing was made…and I was extremely happy with the end result.  The flowers were pre-made out of fondant and set out to dry and harden for easy handling putting on the cake, then I put a little dot of white icing inside each flower for color contrast.  After looking at some other castle cakes, the vines going up the sides looked interesting as well.  The water is made out of piping gel, and the little bridge was also made out of fondant that was set to dry.  I cut an empty toilet paper roll in half to prop it up for 24 hours so it could dry completely and hold its form.  I bought the package of princesses as toppers, and they also double as a present.  She loves them.  The flags are made out of fondant (also laid out to dry) and attached to skewers.

The bottom tier of the cake is a 6 layer 14 inch Neapolitan cake…so it was chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cakes layered twice for the total of six layers.  The top tier ended up being a 4 layer 6 inch cinnamon cake.  We took the leftover cake to her school this morning, and they were quite happy.

IMG_1735

Ahh, the dessert table.  I decided to stick with three items this year to make it easier, and since the cake was so massive (it literally weighed 40 pounds), only three items worked out great.  The other two items included sugar cookies cut in the shapes of hearts, crowns, and high heeled shoes, and of course some Oreo Truffles drizzled with pink chocolate instead of white chocolate.  The sugar cookies and truffles disappeared during the party, leaving only a couple of tiny little survivors on the table.  I’m not really all that big into decorating for parties, other than using the basics, so that’s how it was here.  Table decorating kit, a couple of table cloths, and balloons.  Oh, and the piñata.  Overall, it was a great turnout and the kids seemed to have a blast.

Oh, and the best part?  Our little pumpkin will become a big sister in February…

Erskine College Cake

It’s that time of year…Graduation!  Whether it’s kindergarten, high school, or college, this is definitely a big part of the year.  Everyone’s babies are growing up.  With this particular cake, I really like the theme behind it.  Mom and daughter were announcing what college she’s decided to go to through this cake at her high school graduation party.  Ohh, the suspense.  It was a very cute idea, and this definitely lit a fire under my bottom to try two new things that I hadn’t done before…a frozen buttercream transfer and petit fours.

The first experiment was the petit fours.  Over the years, I’ve been asked quite a few times if I could make those, but the answer was always, “No, I have never made those.”  Well, after this last time of being asked, it was finally time to buckle down and give it a shot…and I’m really glad.  The graduate absolutely loves petit fours, and the two local bakeries that the mom usually went to was booked solid with other graduation cakes and goodies.

IMG_1480

So, we started talking about the design of the cake.  First, I did a search for Erskine College cakes…but didn’t have any luck there.  Okay then, starting from scratch.  As we looked over the website and I was getting ideas for colors and how to decorate the cake, she asked me if I could put the emblem on the cake.  Since I had never done a real transfer on a cake, this made me nervous, but had seen it done before on several YouTube videos, and knew it was time to give it a shot.  The most helpful video was the one made by Wilton, so I followed her lead.  Overall, I was very happy with how all of this turned out, and am excited about doing this more in the future with different designs.  The flood gates have been opened.  Click HERE to watch the Wilton video.

IMG_1482

For the petit fours, I stuck with the school colors and made them simple.  It was a good thing and bad thing when I was making these though, because after I trimmed the cake down for the petit fours, I couldn’t stop eating the leftover cake scraps.  Click HERE to watch the video that helped me most with petit fours.  The base poured fondant over the petit fours is a light yellow/gold color, along with the deep red and black for the school colors.