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Girly Pink Skull Cake

Somehow, over the past half a decade, the iconic symbol of rebellion, mayhem and destruction has morph itself into an adorable emblem of girly fun. I’m not sure who does PR for the Skull, but BRAVO! This cultural make-over surpasses even Mark Wahlbergs move from the Funky Bunch to Oscar Nominee. My current cake creation was in celebration of my wonderful friend, (who is a symbol of Girly Fun times in my life) and her most recent birthday.

To start, I made a four layer lemon cake. I decided to make Mango Cream Cheese frosting because that is a favorite of the birthday girl. It was good, but the mango bits made the frosting a bit chunky and it wasn’t mango-y enough. If you like  mild mango flavor, here is the recipe. To mango it up a notch, you can add Mango Extract:

In a sauce pan over low heat, add 2 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup of butter and one large mango, diced, skin removed. Stir infrequently until the mango chunks are super soft and falling apart, about 30 minutes. I left this on the stove, semi-forgotten, while I gave Tater a bath, so you really don’t need to babysit it as long as the heat is on low and you stir it occasionally. Let it cool to room temperature, then puree in a food processor until as smooth as you can make it. The biggest rule for making cream cheese frosting is that your ingredients NEED to be at room temperature. You can’t cheat and try and trick your frosting, you’ll end up with a big mess the consistency of ground beef.  In a stand mixer, put 32 ounces of room temp cream cheese 2 sticks of room temp butter and mix well. Then add the room temp mango mixture and blend well. Everyone likes a different sweetness level on their frosting, I like mine closer to savory than overly sweet. I added about 1 cup of powdered sugar to this, taste and add more depending on your preference. I also added quite a bit of pink food coloring

pink-frostingStarting with a white 14 inch cake board circle (you can buy at cake supply stores or Michaels Arts and Crafts) I stacked up the layers with a hefty amount of frosting in between each layer. After that,  I iced the cake completely, this will be the first coat. Some call it crumb coat, because the cake crumbs will invade this first layer, and others (including myself) call it dirty ice, because it sounds more fun. Allow that to set completely, about an hour.

dirty-iceThe next coat is your final coat and it helps to sooth everything out and cover any bumps or holes in your cake. Think of fondant as that super shiny, thin bridesmaid dress that makes you look awful and shows every flaw, and you would never be caught dead it in it, let alone PHOTOGRAPHED in it over and over, if you didn’t really love your friend–and the final ice is the Spanx that allowed you to keep your sanity and hit on the cute bartender. The final ice is the compression garment of the cake world, makes everything look smooth and pretty.

cake-final-iceFondant is tricky and unforgiving. There are several different kinds of fondant, including homemade. The easiest to work with, although the yuckiest to eat, is Wilton’s. It would probably be the most accessible for you because it is the most widely carried. I do recommend using it for beginners because it is the most forgiving and will allow you to get a feel for fondant work before moving on the bitchier fondants. Just tell your guest that it is edible, but that you recommend they peel it off and don’t eat it. I used Fondx, actually pretty tasty but very soft and unforgiving. You can buy it in all different colors but I would recommend white and then color it yourself. Just use gel food coloring instead of liquid and if it gets too goopy, add powdered sugar. Then grab an unspecified amount (just gonna have to guess based on your cake size) and put on a clean surface dusted with powdered sugar. I used a softball size, colored hot pink

fondant-ballThen roll it as close to a circle as you can. I would highly recommend the use of a marble rolling pin.

pink-rolled-fondantSlowly  and carefully pick it up (you can use your rolling pin for assistance) and move to the cake. Here is a good picture tutorial from Satin ice:

Starting at the top, gently smooth the fondant. This will cause the bottom of your fondant to have bit of a ruffle effect

cake-fondant-precutTo cut the ruffle off, I use a sharp paring knife that I push the fondant a bit under the cake. A lot of people use a pizza cutter. Just use what works for you.

bottom-fondant-cutYou will notice quite a bit of powdered sugar left on your pretty cake. You can buy a brush at cake supply stores, I used a clean make-up blush brush. Just brush the cake until all the sugar is gone. You will still have a light layer. The next step is vodka! Not a shot for the weary baker, but a spray for the cake. Vodka is used in nearly every bakery to clean up cakes and give them a pretty shine. I use a small travel size spray bottle, probably intended to transport hairspray across FAA lines, but works really well in my kitchen. Just spray a light layer over your cake for a pretty, powder sugar free shine

cake-fondant-coveredI rolled a small hunk of white fondant on my cuttin’ surface and used a skull cookie cutter to cut out some decorations for the cake.

fondant-skulls-cut-outI used food coloring and a small artist brush to make a boy skull and a girl skull as well as left over fondant to make little bows

fondant-skulls-just-madeI decided that the boy and girl skulls made for a Hot Topic Wedding Cake look that I wasn’t diggin’ so I just used the girl skulls

fondant-skulls-no-mini-cupcakesAt some point in this decorating furry, I managed to make about 18 mini cupcakes and 3 regular sized cupcakes in black cupcake papers. I also ran out of pink frosting, as well as cream cheese, so I made Vermouth Whipped Cream. Sounds super hard and fancy, right? Not really. In a stand mixer, combine 2 cups heavy cream (or whipping cream, both will work just fine), 1 cup of sugar, 1 shot of vermouth and I added the pink food coloring. beat on high for about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Opposite of the cream cheese, the cream has to be chilled or you’ll be churning butter. Then spoon it into a large Ziplock bag for the cheater piping bag. Cut the corner off, about the size of your pinky nail. Then pipe the whipped cream on in a swirl pattern. Looks SO fancy and it’s easier and faster than any other frosting method.

cheater-piping-bagThen I sprinkled the cupcakes with small pink sugar pearls. I placed them on the cake board at the base of the cake, securing them the the Wilton’s Candy melts that I use so often for my pastry glue. Just put a small amount of candy melts in a glass bowl, microwave for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Smear a bit on the bottom of each cupcake and place on the cake board.

fondant-skulls-on-cakeThe top cupcakes I used a wooden skewer to secure in place, I didn’t want those babies going anywhere

cupcake-skewerI used those same Wilton’s candy melts in a Pirate Skull Pick Mold

and stuck two of them in each of the cupcakes to make a two sided skull topper

cupcake-topIt didn’t look quite done so I made some black fondant and cut out three hearts to add balance. DONE!! Happy Birthday Kelly!!


Easter Table Center Peeps


Peeps, love ‘em or hate ‘em, will always conjure up spring time memories of pastel plastic baskets and egg hunts on the back lawn. Even as a kid I was never a huge fan of sugar coated sugar in the shape of farm animals, but I would have been disappointed had I not seen a row of co-joined marshmallow quadruplets on top of my green plastic Easter Grass. This center piece (oh, excuse me, Center Peep) was made to bring those lovely memories into my current day celebration, a way to reminisce without the calories.


Materials (per one center peep)


One empty ribbon spool, about a half inch wide


9 Bunny Peeps (I used Yellow)


1 green chick Peep


Wilton’s Candy Melts (can be used in the color of your bunnies, or in white)


1 plastic squeeze bottle, like a mustard bottle (can be found most craft stores, restaurant supply stores and sometimes grocery stores)


1 wooden skewer


Hot glue gun, with glue


Sprinkles in the color of your bunny


Floral Foam


1 Terra Cotta pot (or any color that you choose)


1 sheet of tissue paper


Start by ripping the ribbon spool apart so that you just have the middle cardboard hoop




The hot glue the flat end of the wooden skewer to the hoop and don’t be shy with the hot glue, really slather it on for a strong hold.




The pull your bunnies apart and castrate them (yikes!) so that their bottom is flat




Then put about 3/4 cup of candy melts in the squeeze bottle. Put in the microwave for thirty seconds, remove and shake a bit. Repeat until candy is melty and squeezes out of the bottle easily.


Squirt a bit of the candy melts on the freshly exposed bunny undercarriage




Push against the cardboard ring. I made two of these and the easiest way to do it is to start close to the stick and crowd the bunnies close together so that all nine will fit on the ring.


The rim the exposed carboard ring with the candy melts. This makes it look prettier as well as provides a stronger hold for the rouge bunny. Before the candy melts dry, cover it with the sprinkles.




The take your green chick peep and cut a bit of an angle where his shoulder would be




Fill his cut with the candy melt and place him on the stick, a bit higher up that you might want so that the bottom half of the stick can go into the pot without a problem.


You can also add more candy melts when he is on the stick to make the hold better.


The cut a wedge of floral foam to fit snugly inside your pot




Put your foam into your pot and cover with the tissue paper, tucking the ends into the pot. Allow your Center Peep to cool completely before moving. It will take about 20 minutes. When you lift it up, support the head so that all the weight isn’t on the hot glue joint. Then skewer it all the way into your pot




Cover the tissue paper with your favorite Easter candy (jelly beans, mini candy eggs, pastel M&M’s) I just used candy left over from the Candy Buffet at Tater’s first birthday party.


All done!!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake


The adorable Miss Emmi turned 1 just a few days after Tater. Emmi loves the Very Hungry Caterpillar more that I have ever seen a kid love a book, it’s quite adorable. She’s that bugs #1 fan. So of course, her party had to follow suit. Tater and I spent Saturday afternoon hagnin’ out with Emmi and her fabulous mother and we made a cake.

First, I made a 20 inch 2 layer strawberry cake


The we covered it in cream cheese frosting and then a layer of white fondant and put brightly colored gumballs at the bottom


We then cut out three inch circles from another sheet cake, cutting off the rounded top and cut those circles in half


We frosted those half circles and then covered them in different shades of green fondant


We covered one of the cake circles in red fondant to use as the head


On went the body


Although Miss Emmi’s house is filled with every baby toy imaginable, the ladies spent most of the day playing on the stairs


Emmi’s mom was a quick study with the fondant and was able to make her name, Caterpillar legs, antennae and eyes as well as an adorable sun


And check out that mini smash cake, made by Emmi’s aunt. Very adorable!

Happy first year Emmi!

No-Sew Headbands With Interchangeable Decals


I love these. Not only are they so so so cute, they cost less than $10 in materials and took me less than 30 minutes. Plus, look adorable on Taters little head.

Materials, all can be found at a craft store:

Elastic stretch lace, large fancy buttons, less than a foot or marabou(I found this in the ribbon section), about 2.5 feet of ribbon, large snaps, felt circles (about 1 inch in diameter)


First, I cut the lace to the size I needed and hot glued the ends together. Although I was skeptical of this method, it worked great


I cut a small piece of the marabou, just enough to wind around the back of the pretty button. I lined the back of the button with hot glue and attached the feathers


Then glued the felt circle to the back of the feathered button and then one side of the snap to the felt. Make sure that the felt is glued to the button, not just the feathers


I glued the other side of the snap over the hot glued seam of the elastic. The decal will completely cover the seam.


I also had an idea for a button in the middle of a ribbon flower. I started with 4 strips of ribbon, 7 inches long each. Then hot glued the strips into loops


I hot glued the middles of the loops to make smashed loops


hot glued two smashed loops into an X shape


Glued loops behind the X, one in each direction


Then glued the button in the middle


then glued the felt on the back and half the snap on that


I glued half of a snap onto each headband. It really doesn’t matter which side you use for the decal and which side you use for the headband as long as you are consistent, so that each decal has the exact same side and each headband has the other.

I also made another decal, the same way as I did with the first black and silver decal. I love this one, red flower and black marabou, so pretty


Tater Turns One!



Our little lady, with a nickname of Tater Tot, is an entire year old! We had a bash at our place to celebrate her, as well as to commemorate our first year as parents. I obsessed over the every detail, my poor husband had to put up with a house covered in red and aqua crafting supplies for months! I was happy with how things turned out and  although there is a list of things I wanted to do but didn’t have enough time for, it was a great day. Of all the party offerings, my two favorite were the Tater tot/French Fry Bar and the Candy Buffet.  Both were huge hits.

Tater Tot bar!! Of course our Tater needed Tater Tots at her birthday party, it was an obvious paring. I made a cone holder for those deep fried nuggets of goodness

tater-holderI bought 30 treat cones  at Shop Sweet Lulu (

and they went much quicker than I had expected (we needed double that amount) and ended up using plastic cups as portable potato vessels. I made 3 sauces, Chipotle Ketchup, Blue Cheese Sour Cream and Garlic Aioli. Although the Blue Cheese Sour Cream was my fave, the Chipotle Ketchup was the runaway hit.

tater-tot-barI also had a selection of mini sandwiches, Pulled Pork Sliders on mini Hawaiian Buns, Caprese BLT Sandwiches & Pork Free Caprese Sandwiches (both on sour dough), and a childhood favorite of most Americans: Mini PBJ on white bread (crust-less, of course). I Also made fruit skewers and served them stuck into a half of a watermelon, in a way the reminded me of a 1950′s Luau.

food-tabletater-tot-bar-signThe Candy Buffet turned out exactly how I wanted (rare, isn’t it!). I spent weeks searching for red or aqua candy, used clear glass pedestal bowls that I already had, and bought a yard of Micheal Miller fabric to match the scheme.

candy-buffetI also borrowed the wording for the sign from a wedding blog and changed it a bit to fit a birthday party. I can’t remember the exact blog to offer credit.

candy-signI baked a two tiered cake that did not go as planned (my one “mini disaster” of the day) as well as two dozen cupcakes with edible pinwheel cupcake toppers. I posted a DIY for the edible pinwheels last week. The cake looked “OK” from a distance, but was mess up close. Tater seemed to enjoy it and that’s what’s important.

cupcakesdesserts birthday-girl-cake3-2   birthday-girl-cake2-2_0Over the dessert tables I had a Happy Birthday banner that I made out of paper circles and chipboard letters, as well as a Month by Month banner that I made with photos that I took each month of Tater in a corresponding onesie. My sister is a party throwin’ genius and made those adorable onesies, using them as decorations at my baby shower. One for each month all the way up to one year. I used the One Year picture on a separate banner over the food table with a picture of myself and one of my husband at one year of age. It was a great contrast for my guests to be able to see which features she gets from each of us.

birthdat-banner_0happy-birthday-banner-1month-onsie-banner-2month-onsie-banner-2-2_0claire-1-monthI made 15 paper lanterns, and posted a detailed DIY a few weeks ago. They looked great hanging over the food and dessert tables

paper-lanters2paper-lanterns1I also made a dozen tissue paper Poms, enlisting the help of my good friend Kelly, who did a lovely job. I found a great DIY on the Martha Stewart site:

I used 10 sheets of tissue each and was able to find 40 sheets for a dollar at the 99 Cent’s Only store, a very affordable, although time consuming, decoration project.

pomsI found some really great aqua and white polka dot table covers at Marshall’s for only $4 each

tablesI had two centerpieces on each table, one with a homemade pinwheel and red and aqua suckers, and one with chocolate covered strawberries and marshmallows. I found some really cute sugar ladybugs at that I loved and used on the strawberries.

pinwheel-center-piece choc-strawI half way attempted a photo booth but didn’t have enough time to really bring it together.

photobooth-2The favors that I made were one of my favorite touches! I used standard clothes pins, 1.5 inch wood circles, scrapbook paper and round magnets to make personalized favor bag holders that also doubled as a fridge magnet for the “photo of the moment” for all those parents who still love a printed photo on their fridge. In the bags, that I also found at, I put age appropriate toys.

favorsI am hoping to post a DIY on those soon, very easy and super cute. I love a personalized touch! I did the math and I believe that each favor clip cost me about 35 cents each.

Some of Taters adorable little friends who partied with us

emmi-2daniel-2london-1All in all, I had a great time and so did my little lady. She is an amazing little human and I am so lucky to be her mom, I hope that she will always know that. There are not enough parties to be able to express the celebration I feel in having her in my life.

Edible pinwheels


Over the course my event planning, my Daughters first birthday morphed into a pinwheel theme. Maybe because they are easy to make or just so darn cute, its hard to say, but the idea of making edible pinwheels just wouldn’t get out of my head. Edible pinwheel cupcake toppers!! Could it be possible? Oh, I made it possible. It was quite a crafting adventure from start to finish and if you plan to attempt these, I hope that you can learn from my mistakes.

First, although I know that printed and colored rice paper exists, I wasn’t able to locate any in the short time I had allotted for the task, so I started with plain white sheets of rice paper that I cut with a standard paper cutter:


To get the pinwheel in the right shape, you need a square piece of paper. I tried 4×4, 3×3 and 2.5×2.5. My favorites were the 2.5 squares, big enough to be put on an edible stick or to be used on its own. Because I wanted the pinwheels to match the red and aqua color scheme that I had going, I tried to paint the rice paper. Really, I wouldn’t advise this but if you want to attempt, it didn’t go horribly awry. I used a clean standard paint brush and put a small amount of gel food coloring in a small bowl. I put a small amount of vodka in another bowl. With all the squares on a sheet of wax paper, I dipped my brush just a tiny bit in the vodka and then mixed it into the gel just enough to make it spreadable. I then painted each side of the rice paper squares.


Then I painted the other side and covered the painted squares with wax paper and flattened them so that they wouldn’t curl


I let them dry overnight. To be honest, some didn’t survive. the ones that had too much food coloring stuck to the wax paper and tore when I tried to remove them. Not a pretty sight. I was able to save about 2 thirds of them, dried and ready for the next step. I have made so many pinwheels in the past few weeks that I just took out my scissors and eyeballed the cuts. But if you want to be a touch more accurate, you can draw a line from corner to corner, cut towards the middle leaving about 2cm between each corner cut. I just started at one corner and aimed for the opposite corner making sure to stop short of the middle


Then I attempted to glue to corners into the center, one at a time, using some store bought icing in a tube that I had on hand


It worked OK. I also made some royal icing and tried that as well. I was marginally more successful with that. I then placed sugar pearls in the center to cover up the ugliness left behind by the icing “glue”. Still, I wasn’t happy. The food coloring left inconsistent color variations and although technically edible, the excessive amounts of gel coloring left a flavor that I describe as “kinda yucky.” Next, I went back to the plain white squares of rice paper. I cut them the same way I did the red dyed ones but decided to “glue” the flaps to the center with melted white Wilton’s Candy Melts. MUCH BETTER!


I added the sugar pearls again to cover the mess. Although this process was much easier and faster than the painting fiasco, they looked too plain. I had some Disco Dust on hand, as well as a mini spray bottle. I found the mini spray bottle at the trial size section of Target, but you can also over pay for them at cake supply stores. I filled the bottle with vodka. A little side note about the vodka: my double mention of liquor as well as its residence in travel size containers isn’t because motherhood has driven me to alcoholic tendencies, it’s a common practice among cake bakers. Vodka will evaporate completely (not a trace of alcohol left behind so it’s safe for the little one) so it won’t water down color or dissolve sugars the same way water will. OK, back to the pinwheels! I just sprayed one spray of vodka on the pinwheels and then sprinkled them with the aqua colored disco dust. I tried two sprays and that made the pinwheel curl up and there wasn’t anymore dust that adhered then with one spray.


I loved them! I then decided to go on a mission to find some sort of edible stick to put them on. After wandering around the grocery store, I happened upon Pocky in the Japanese section of the market. YAY!! SO perfect, other than the fact that this is the one thing that deviated from my aqua and red color scheme, I was happy. Perfect size and actually yummy.


I glued these on the back with the candy melts as well and they looked perfect.

cupcakesSo my lessons learned are:

If you want colored rice paper, buy it that way.

2.5 inch squares are the perfect size for cupcake toppers

Candy Melts make better glue than icing

How To Make Homemade Paper Lanterns

I started making these a few weeks ago for my daughters upcoming birthday party and I’m at a loss for what to call them. Paper Orbs? Lanterns? Balls??? Whatever name they end up taking, they are really easy to make and turned out pretty darn cute.

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Competitive baking

I have a strong resolve to actual WIN a recipe contest some day. I only enter the big ones, Cooking channels, big time cooking magazines, national competitions, I don’t bother with the little guys. Possibly a very flawed strategy, but if I win, I want to win big. This year, I was a finalist in the Scharffen Berger/Tootii Foodie/Food Network Magazine Cupcake Adventure contest. Not exactly a win, but I am working my way towards the top. Here is the link as proof of my upward climb:

I know, I AM towards the bottom, but making the list made my week! Next, I’ll be attempting to "Make the List" for three other contest this year, more about that at a later time. For now, here is the recipe for my "I made the list" Cupcakes:

Churros Con Chocolate Picante Cupcakes


1 Stick of butter

½ cup filtered water

½ cup whole milk

¼ tsp salt

1 tbs sugar

1 cup all purpose flower

2 tbs cinnamon

5 eggs

Butter flavored cooking spray

Metallic Cupcake Papers

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp chili powder

Chili Chocolate Mousse:

¾ cup butter

2 tbs chopped red chili peppers, seeds removed

6oz of a Scharffen Berger 70% Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Bar, chopped

¼ cup coffee, brewed with Sumatra beans

¼ cup Chocolate liqueur

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar plus add. 2 tbs, divided

Spiced Whipped Cream:

1 tbs chopped red chili peppers, seeds removed

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg

2 tsp Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder

Make Churros:

Put the oven rack at the lowest position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a good quality saucepan, bring the butter, water, milk, salt, and sugar to a slow boil then turn heat to low. Add the flower and stir until combined. Move the flower mixture to a stand mixer and add cinnamon then each of the 5 eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined between each egg. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers (remove the paper liner and just use the metallic part), lightly pray each paper with the cooking spray. Drop two tbs of the dough into each cup. Mix the next 4 ingredients together in a small bowl. Add 1 tsp of the sugar mixture to the top of each dough filled cupcake paper. Bake until the top of the cupcakes have puffed completely, about 30-33 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Make the mousse:

Put the butter and the chili in a saucepan over medium low heat and heat until hot but not boiling, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes, then strain the butter removing the chilies and discarding them. Put the chocolate and the coffee in the top of a double boiler and heat until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the strained butter until well combined and then set aside. In a double boiler, beat the eggs yolks, chocolate liqueur and ¾ cups of sugar beat until the mixture is pale yellow and well combined. Remove from heat and continue to beat until thickened and cooled. Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir until well combined. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly add the 2 tbs sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently and slowly fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture using about ¼ of the egg whites at a time. Cover the mousse and chill for at least two hours.

While the mousse is setting, make the whipped cream. In a sauce pan, heat the chili and the cream until hot and steamy but not boiling. Stir over low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Strain cream, removing and discarding the chili, and then chill in the refrigerator until completely cool, at least two hours. Combined the cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and coco powder in a bowl and beat on high until set, about 4 minutes. Set aside.   Gently spoon the mousse into a piping bag with a metal tip. Most of the cupcakes should have holes in the top, revealing a large cavity in the center of the cupcake (like a popover). If no holes appear, make a small slit in the center. Pipe in the mousse into the center of the cupcakes, filing the cavity, refill the piping bag as needed. Top cupcakes with the whipped cream.