What I do while I figure out what to do next . . .

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

A Little Mermaid in Your Life

This was my first attempt with gum paste.  I wasn’t sure what the right medium would be for all the sea and sand creatures, so I bought fondant, gum paste and marzipan.  I’ve never worked with modeling chocolate, but that is TOTALLY on the list – just need to convince my husband that what he needs more than anything for his birthday is a cake which allows me to express my love for him in modeling chocolate.   But back to the mermaid.  Everything is edible except the Barbie torso and head and I am only moderately scarred from frosting the naked Barbie boobies.  I made all the sea creatures, coral and sea shells the evening before so the gum paste (the final winner) had time to harden.  I do need to do some more tests on keeping the colors vibrant because they do tend to mute in the gum paste as it dries.  Even with all that done ahead.  It still took 1 1/2 to 2 hours to just assemble the cake.  Thankfully, it was very straight forward and we had no structure issues to deal with.  Plus the Birthday Girl was THRILLED!

Tanks for the memories

Ok – this was an AWESOME cake.  I earned so many Mom points for this one. And I totally winged it!  I felt like I really owed him a win after the cake collapse of 2008. (More on that later – suffice it to say — I needed to do some research on structure and karma).  I was called out by a friend on the fact that there were no in process pictures of my last cake– and how could I PROVE I really did it.  But there were no pictures of the cake collapse either and I admitted that one. But just for her, I am submitting the token – crumb coat in the fridge pic into evidence. Everything is edible except for the army guy.  I wanted him to look realistic and I am still at the level of Simpson looking molded figures – and I’m ok with that.  I was really happy with the gum paste that I used for the large gun and hatch.  The mottled way that it took the color as it dried, worked with the camoflauge look I was going for.  Boy child did not like the taste of fondant at age 7 – and even though it might have made the cake look better.   I was more interested in making the cake taste the way the child wanted it to.

Nailed it!

From the look on his face, I’d say I nailed it 🙂

Also, for me, no party is complete without the coordinating cookies.  The kids really love them, and I think they really add to the theme.  Plus they make ME happy.  They also make me have to exercies A LOT the week after a party.  SOOOO worth it!




Not a Cake

So, it’s not a cake.  But it’s made in a loaf pan.  And you COULD make a cake in a loaf pan.  Plus I made it this week and it’s totally a kind of cool thing to have made and SO THERE.  Completely stolen off Pinterest.  Somebody repinned this Honey Beer Bread.  And it looked really yummy.   And I had all the ingredients and and nothing to do so . . .

 It is a gorgeous looking loaf and it looks EXACTLY like the picture!  The top is  wondefully crunchy.  The inside is a BIZARRE texture.  It is spongy.  Chewy.  Something.  Kids loved it.  Hubby thought it was weird.  But he ate it much later in the day – I think it is an “eat right away” sort of bread.  But then again he ate 2 pieces??  And the kids ate it fine for snack the next day.  It think he expected more beer or more honey taste.   I think I will totally do it again – it takes literally 5 minutes to whip up and it makes the house smell all hoppy and nice.

Honey Beer Bread:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer  – I used Bass Ale
  • 4 Tbsp. (half stick) butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a  9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan with parchment paper and nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.  (pop your honey in the microwave 10 seconds to make it easier to incorporate)
  5. Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan.
  6. Spoon the batter into the pan
  7. Pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.  (Use a pastry brush to spread it around if you’d like.)
  8. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Serve immediately.


Holy Chocolate Heaven Batman

I didn’t even use to LIKE chocolate and I CHOSE to drink Chardonnay.  But then you turn 40 and all of a sudden dark chocolate and Port start calling your name.  Why fight it?  It’s AWESOME.  So I went in search of the PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE.  You know the one.  The one that tastes better than the one out of a box that no one admits they use but that you actually do get to take credit for.  Yeah.  That one.  Found it.  Unfortunately, I am mostly convinced that the reason that it was so good was this tin of Godiva Dark Chocolate Truffle Hot Cocoa that I found in the cupboard – a hostess gift left undiscovered (ok maybe for years) so it may have magical properties than can never be duplicated.  But just know it really was worth the weight I put on.  And it is good enough and satisfying enough that you can eat one piece and be happy.  But I snuck back for extra slivers when no one was looking just cause . . .

I’m going to make it again.  A LOT.  But, I also going to change things.  First of all the cake kind of looks like a flat brownie out of the pan.  I like a little more height and PRESENCE.  So either I am going to make three  8″ layers instead of the two 9″ that the recipe called for.  Or I am going to go with the seriously small pans that make more of a statement with lots of layers and height.  Also I need a new cake stand.  That one is concave in the middle and it makes my cake look deflated.  Which bothers me.  I don’t think the couple of raspberries that I plopped in the middle (to disguise the divot) do the job.  Plus I have 4 kids and only 3 raspberries and, well, you know CONFLICT arose. 🙂

RECIPE:  Adapted slightly from Hershey’s Recipe

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons  baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare two 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and mix lightly
  5. Add milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  7. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool  10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.
  10. Cool completely.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract


  1. Melt butter and pour into bowl of stand mixer
  2. Stir in cocoa
  3. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk
  4. Beat to spreading consistency
  5.  Stir in vanilla




Feeling Pinky

Well, it started with my 7 year old wanting a “dog party”.  Which is fine, except I’ve already done a dog party.  Not as much fun FOR  ME :-).  Thankfully, as we browse the pages of Birthday Express, she decides that a pink poodle pajama party (ok I added the pajama part – I’ve done a regular party) is really the way she wants to go.  And it’s not that she isn’t a cuddly kid that wouldn’t love a regular dog.  But she is kind of a “jazz hands” type of girl and she needs a little pizazz with her parties.  She has also requested that I pronounce fondant the way The Cake Boss” does.  So it’s not just me with the issues 🙂  Thank god for Pinterest. Can you say INSPIRATION???  I have a whole little board full of ideas, some I’ve stolen from my Valentine’s board because hey, pink is pink.  And thankfully, most of the people invited to the party haven’t heard of Pinterest yet and I can get all the credit for not only execution, but the imagination too!

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