Monday, January 21, 2013

Monkey Baby Boy Shower!

This weekend I had the awesome opportunity to make a baby shower cake. Upon casual mention of being in need for a cake for a special occasion, I turn casual browsing of cakes into obsessive compulsive searching for something spectacular, to see if I can execute cuteness! 

This occasion's adventure involved mention of monkey cake pops. After establishing a theme, I saw these standard monkey decorations and decided I would turn it into sugar! It turned out to be the perfect time to try making homemade fondant, which I've been wanting to tackle for awhile. I know very little about fondant still, except that it tends to taste like nothing or blah, and usually can be a little pricey at the store. I take a lot of pride in doing things from scratch as much as possible, so I searched for fondant options and found things here and there about marshmallow fondant.

And oh my goodness, it was completely wonderful! There were a lot of rules and long winded explanations of how to go about this process on the internet, but seriously all it consisted of was microwaving a bag of mini marshmallows with a couple tablespoons of water, until it become damp. I mixed for a little, then tossed this in my Kitchenaid with the dough hook and powdered sugar. I didn't really measure too well, just kept slowly adding the sugar until the mixture formed a solid mass that came off the side of the bowl, similar to mixing bread dough.

Then, voila! You end of with this little beauty!

Crazy, right?! 

As an extra added bonus, it tasted great! How can you mess up marshmallow and sugar though, right?! Well, you probably can, but I've been fortunate to not have any issues with that yet.... ;-)

Unrelated to the fondant directly, the mat that the fondant is sitting on top of is a pastry mat from The Pampered Chef. No words can express how much easier this makes rolling out fondant, cookie dough, pie dough....sometimes I feel like a baking snob with all my kitchen gadgets, but honestly, it just makes things so much easier, and if it makes it easier to do what I love, then I don't think there is anything wrong with that! =)

Then, this happened....

This will give your fingers a work out, but it's fun to watch the dye mix into the fondant. A little color dye will really take you a long way! Then, this is how the magic happens....

I had my fondant, my color dye and the picture I was hoping to replicate. Time to do my thing! Definitely the most creative I've had to get in this whole cake making journey of mine. It was delightful! 

Another great thing about this is you can make it ahead of time and store until you are ready to use. If you wrap it up really good and keep in a dry spot, it will last you up to 3-6 months. 

I felt pretty proud of my first fondant go around! There is always so much I learn every time I bake, and once I finish one project, my mind is right on to the next! Yes, I have two and a half months to plan a super cute, yummy Christening cake for a cute little munch and over half a year for a special little peanut's first birthday cake, but I just can't help it, the possibilities are endless and it makes me so happy to be doing something I love!!!

The saddest part of all of this? When this happens....

Okay, not sad, but bittersweet maybe? Ha! I can't help it, I spend so much time planning and baking and creating, and then it is gone. Which is the point, but it becomes a part of you. Happy that it was fun to do and people enjoyed, but sad that it's all over....

I don't mean to toot my own horn or anything, but I really wish I had a piece of that cake right now! HA!

Okay cake lovers, it's birthday cake time now!!! Stay tuned for what's to come after this weekend!!!

Goodbye for now, from all my little monkey pop friends!! Creating some little penguin pop friends for them sometime this week...  ;-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012 Christmas Cookies

Happy New Year!!! I hope this post finds you well in 2013, warm and cozy and stuffed silly of Christmas cookies! I sincerely have been missing those 4 days straight I spent baking cookies...

Italian Christmas cookie platter- Italian Twists, Ricotta Cookies, Almond chocolate chip biscotti, almond spritz and cuccidati.

I'm working on creating a link to a picture page of cookies, as I've done for the cake pops. Because everyone knows that just because it's not the holidays anymore, doesn't mean that sometimes you still don't need a delicious, comforting platter of all your favorite cookies!

The festivities began with some cream cheese cookies, which is a pastry type cookie filled with preserves (here I choose strawberry and pineapple preserves). The recipe came from my grandma.
My most favorite cookie, the peanut butter blossom! Always a mistake not to make a double (or triple!) batch.
Grabbed this ginger cookie recipe from my #1 muffin at my Christmas cookie swap! Smaller and less chewier than hers, I'll work on perfecting the deliciousness for next year.  ;-)
Grandma's sugar cookie recipe here. Always a crowd pleasure! The delightfulness of my airbake baking pan bakes a perfect cookie every time!
Strawberry preserve thumbprints here. Melted in my mouth shortly after getting out of the oven- the chopped up peanuts and strawberry jam are a perfect pb&j moment!
Only the beginning, the first tins of cookies to be delivered!
Grandma's Italian Twist cookies came next, decorated with a buttercream recipe from class.
Followed by more decorated sugar cookies.
My first "out of class" attempt at biscotti. I went with almond chocolate chip. Would love to make again soon!
Almond spritz cookies, made with my electric cookie press. Totally fun to make these, but a tad bit of work!
Speaking of a cookie that takes some work, the Italian cuccidati was last! Imagine fig newton-y. Not for everyone, but definitely for meee! =)

The cuccidati were for an order, as well as the Italian cookie platter at the top of this post. I'm already looking forward to next year and what other cookies I can add to the mix!!

So much to look forward to in 2013, so many baking intentions I have! Excited to see what my next baking year holds! Thanks so much for reading my blog, and for your baking business- it brings me so much joy in my life!