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I’ve kind of been taking a break from baking. It hasn’t been intentional, it’s just the way the cards have landed lately. Between my car getting totaled (without me in it, luckily!), finding mold in my apartment, dealing with job stress, dealing with TMJ issues, dealing with more job stress and now, finally, apartment hunting… you could say I’ve been a bit preoccupied.

Even with my world spinning slightly off of its axis, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few different cakes/ cupcakes since my last post. Here’s what y’all missed:

whimsical college graduation cake

My good friend from college asked me to do a graduation cake for her younger sister. Within this cake, she asked for a variety of elements to be included. See if you can find them all: a grad cap, UC Davis colors, Banghra (Punjabi) dancing, elements of “college life,” and something relevant to dental school. This cake was a challenge, but very fun and every bit of whimsical as I’d hoped it to be!

 

25th birthday cupcakes (1 of 2)

bootie cupcakes (2 of 2)

In January, my friend R threw herself one hell of a 25th birthday party. She asked me to provide a variety of treats including 2 types of cupcakes (shown above), a few trays of chocolate whoopie pies and 1 large cupcake cutting cake. The vanilla cupcakes were topped with a marshmallow cream frosting, and decorated with handmade chocolate accents and edible glitter. The red velvet cupcakes were frosted with a thick swirl of classic cream cheese frosting and decorated with fondant butts.

Yes, butts. You heard me right. When I accepted this order, R had mentioned that she’d been working out really hard for the last year or so, and wanted everyone at her party to, “have a piece of my ass!” I love her confidence, enthusiasm and the fact she’s so secure in her own skin! You go girl!

PS – These toppers would be great for a bachelorette party too… πŸ™‚

 

TokiDoki birthday cake

In March, my buddy G asked for a couple of cakes. For his wife’s birthday, he asked for a small, super chocolatey cake. He mentioned that TokiDoki is one of her favorite things, so I did some research and designed a simple cake with hand cut fondant TokiDoki accents.

Two of his friends also happened to have a birthday during the same week, so he asked for a casual cake for the guys to take on a weekend trip. I knew that this group of guys were all die hard Giants fans, so I couldn’t resist surprising them with a hat cake. Just like my earlier hat cakes, it was decorated in fondant with hand cut accents.

Giants hat cake

 

My cousin, M, is an incredible kid and I was super excited when her mom asked me to do her birthday cake a couple weeks ago. Along with the cake, she was going to be surprised with new archery equipment for her birthday. I designed the cake to go along with her fabulous birthday present, making the archery target out of fondant and the arrow out of gumpaste.

archery-themed birthday cake

 

A couple of weeks ago, one of my neighbors emailed and asked if I could do two dozen chocolate cupcakes for one of her employee’s birthdays. She requested the cupcakes to be as chocolatey as possible, and decorated in a “dog” theme. These hand cut fondant decorations might be my favorite cupcake toppers to date!

birthday "pupcakes"

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Halloween was 2 days ago… Thanksgiving is less than a month away… and Christmas is a month after that. It’s safe to say that pumpkins are on everyone’s brain!

Is it orange enough for pumpkins?

I got an order last week to make some halloween inspired cupcakes, but the trick was they needed to be Happy Hour-inspired cupcakes (AKA: FULL of booze).

So how do you combine pumpkins and booze?!

I did some research… and then some thinking… and then some more research… before I finally decided that a spiced rum would be the most complimentary alcohol to pumpkin treats. I finally decided to make Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple and Rum based on a recipe from the Cupcake Project.

Fresh out of the oven!

I topped the cupcakes with Martha’s trusty swiss meringue buttercream that had been flavored with a heavy dose of spiced rum. Combined I thought the cupcakes tasted just a hair on the buttery-sweet side. They were really good, but maybe just a bit rich for my liking. In the future I’d consider adding a hint of maple syrup to the buttercream to enhance the flavor in the cupcakes and to mellow the afterbite of the rum. πŸ™‚

OmNoms indeed...

That night I baked 2 dozen Pumpkin Rum cupcakes, 2 dozen Irish Delight cupcakes, and 6 dozen pumpkin whoopie pies. The whoopie pies were absolutely adorable and alcohol free…

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies... Mini-sized of course!

… but I think I was most proud of the cupcakes. The flavors were spot on, but the fondant pumpkins and witches hats really made them shine!

Fondant pumpkins & witches' hats atop Pumpkin-Rum cupcakes.

Finished Irish Delight cupcakes

Lots of OmNom Treats... πŸ™‚

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Photos by Maurice Trudell

What I couldn’t tell you in my last post is that I had a surprise party planned for Reese on the night of his birthday. His favorite food is Mexican, so I conspired with his mom & BFF and succeeded in throwing a fabulous fiesta in his behalf. Best part? He had NO FREAKING CLUE!

Surpriseeee!

Along with a diverse menu of Mexican inspired appetizers, I decide to create a margarita-flavored cupcake for dessert. And yes, I used tequila. PLENTYYYY of tequila!

One table full of food! What you don't see here are the bowls of rice and beans, and the 6 (yes, there were 6) different dips & salsas!

A tower of Margarita Cupcakes!!

I’m not the hugest tequila fan, and because of that I rarely drink margaritas. Several hours were spent on the internet looking at not only cupcake recipes, but reading about the history of margaritas and the elements that this classic drink was composed of. I learned quite a few new things, and came to the conclusion that a “original lime” flavor would work best for my needs.

Baking with alcohol can be very tricky as much of the flavor bakes off in the oven. To add more flavor, many bakers will actually brush their baked (and cooled!) cupcakes with the liquor of their choice… I’ve done this before, and honestly, haven’t been a fan. I decided the best way to infuse more margarita flavor into each cupcake would be to fill each of them with a lime filling that had a heavy dose of tequila.Β I was envisioning a lime curd that had the texture and density of that of a lemon meringue pie filling, but tasted fresh and tangy – exactly like a margarita should!

Food Networks’s site lead me to aΒ recipe for a lime curd tart by celebrity chef Ina Garten. I used Ina’s lime curd recipe as a starting point, and kind of experimented from there. She calls for about 1/2 cup of fresh lime juice (about 4 fresh limes), and I juiced 3 limes and used tequila for the 4th. Oops. πŸ™‚

For the cake I used a basic vanilla buttermilk cake recipe and added the zest & juice of 3 limes and a couple of tablespoons of tequila. This recipe is similar to what I came up with. Most of the tequila baked out of the cupcakes, but when I paired them with the lime curd I found the fresh, tangy taste I’d been dreaming of!

So cute!

Most of the margarita cupcake recipes that I’d seen all used a rich swiss meringue buttercream to finish the treat. I was hesitant to use this kind of frosting because it is so incredibly buttery and rich – I wasn’t sure how that would pair up with the tequila and lime. It actually ended up tasting pretty good! Again, I used a heavy hand when flavoring the frosting, but I think the richness of the frosting balanced well with the citrus flavors. The buttercream was piped with a large french star tip, and then topped with a slice of fresh lime.

All in all, the party was a huge success! Great friends, lots of food, and a very surprised birthday boy. πŸ™‚

Lu-Siesta. Hah.

**Other recipes from the party that I’d recommend: Β Margarita Chicken Skewers andΒ Shrimp Cocktail – Veracruz Style.

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