Sugar Rush!

Continuing our journey through what I like to call “Birthday Season,” we have Meg’s birthday! Every year is a challenge to come up with something different and fun, and I’m pleased with the result of this year’s cake. Lauren and I decided to play on her love of candy and sprinkles and all things sugary.

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We started with a base of homemade funfetti- basically a white cake with tons of sprinkles tossed in.

IMG_0215A 6 in. tier with two layers, ready for vanilla buttercream filling.

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Sprinkles and Meg’s favorite jellybean- the Starburst jellybeans.

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We might have overdone the sprinkles- but as Meg would say, “There is no such thing as too many sprinkles.”

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Yup, we did- or actually, Lauren did- we took the frosted 6 in. tier and rolled it in sprinkles!

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This vision came together piece by piece. We had an idea for the two tiers, but wanted something fun for the top. I had been wanting to experiment with decorated slabs of chocolate, and thought this was the perfect topper for this project. Above is a photo of melted white chocolate with some food coloring mixed in, topped with pink and red heart sprinkles and pink edible glitter.
IMG_0196Once the chocolate dried, I used cookie cutters to cut a heart and circle out of the chocolate.

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Another experiment: pink and yellow tinted white chocolate mixed together, topped with nerds, sprinkles, and edible silver dragees. A note for anyone who tries this- I believe I spread this mixture on a silicone mat so that it didn’t stick. Parchment paper also works well. 

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The resulting white chocolate cut outs were pretty! Some were a little fragile but the good thing about chocolate is that you can glue it back together with a little more melted chocolate 🙂 You’re probably wondering how we attached these to the cake top.

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We made them into lollipops! (of sorts) I’ll add that Lauren turned into a candy-maker and made some actual lollipops using a similar technique to the white chocolate, but melted jolly ranchers instead and threw in all the fun toppings.

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The finished cake- a toothache waiting to happen! The smaller tier was a 4 inch funfetti cake, filled with vanilla buttercream, and covered in careful arranged Starburst jellybeans. Lauren did the legwork there.

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We managed to arrange all of the lollipops on top in varying heights for some visual interest. I piped a small border of buttercream dots between the layers and at the bottom of the 6 inch tier.

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It was a small cake, but sometimes I think “personal” size is more fun. If you look closely, you can see the candles, but it’s hard to tell with all of those colors! It was probably the sweetest cake I’ve ever made- no pun intended- it smelled like sugar! Happy Birthday Meg!!

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Fro Yo!

This cake endeavor was a lesson in planning, for sure. This past weekend was Megan’s birthday, and Ghiya and Lauren and I were brainstorming what to make for her. She loves cake… ice cream… the color pink…the Nittany Lion… and so on. Somehow we decided on a giant Yogurtland cup, because Megs gets ridiculously excited when we go for fro-yo after work. It’s the little things, ya?

For those who haven’t experienced the self-serve probiotic delight that is Yogurtland, here are a few reference photos, that my best friend Google found for me.

Look at all the flavor choices! Variety often throws people for a loop and the biggest challenge is deciding…

Yum… Here we have a fruity concoction.

Megs specifically requested strawberry shortcake. My plan started with a basic white cake with vanilla buttercream and slices of strawberries. Look at this beautiful arrangement done by Lauren:

I was intending on using my giant cupcake pan to mold the bottom of the YL (Yogurtland abbreviation) cup, and the cupcake swirl for the “yogurt.” Unfortunately, the proportions would’ve been off; the “cup” part too small relative to the “yogurt.” This is where pre-planning would’ve come into place. That, or having extra ingredients on hand.

I ended up using a 9″ round pan… Three times for three layers to make it tall enough… And Ghiya definitely had to stop by the store more than once that night. Thanks G, you rock.

Here’s the layer- white cake, buttercream, strawberries:

While I was tackling the construction, L and G got to the tough part! They made the white fondant for the cup, and then started on the lettering that would go on the outside. Check out this progression… they pulled up a photo and worked off that, coloring the fondant and everything!

They used my square and circle cookie cutters to get the exact shapes. It was pretty amazing.

Love the leaves 🙂

Here is the “cup,” coveredin fondant and chillin’ in my freezer.

 Here’s the “yogurt”- the swirl part of the giant cupcake mold!

Here is the swirl on the giant cup, starting to pipe pink pink frosting to represent the strawberry flavor that Megs never fails to get when we go to YL.

L’s great observation: the YL cup needs a lip! To achieve this, I rolled out some leftover white fondant into a long rope.

Then smashed it onto the circumference, and flattened it out to look like the cup.

Some finishing touches: added a thin amount of fondant at the bottom to clean up the edge, G used piping gel to stick the letters on the side, and we smoothed out the yogurt for a nice texture and filled the cup with Toy Story 3 gummies as “fruit.” We can’t forget the sprinkles. Megs can’t live without sprinkles.

We took the cake to a tapas place in Old Town called Iruna for her happy hour. They had terrific service and even cut and served the cake. Here’s a cross section photo:

See all the strawberry goodness? 🙂

I just had to put this photo on, to show how big this cake was! Also, that is a real Yogurtland spoon. Biodegradable plastic and green? How could I resist from collecting them?

Happy Birthday Megs!

Sprinkles!

I’m usually not a fan of sprinkles- on anything- even if they are decorative and cute. Maybe it’s the utilitarian within, but they don’t serve a purpose, nor do they taste good. Maybe, just maybe if that crunch is desired, but they only seem to be awkward when juxtaposed with light, soft, decadent cake and smooth buttercream frosting.

Sprinkles the cupcake store, however, is a different story. As mentioned earlier in a post about Kara’s Cupcakes in San Francisco, Sprinkles really was one of the more impressive “professionally” baked goods. The cake was moist and dense, while still maintaining a good balance between sweet and too sweet. The simple buttercream was a nice touch without being overwhelming.

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Below are pictured the two cupcakes I tried when I went for the first time in June: Chai Tea and Pumpkin. Both along the same flavor profiles (spicy!), they were pretty tasty. However, I made the mistake of diving into the pumpkin first; it was a little stronger than the Chai and I couldn’t taste the subtle spices after that. Like drinking orange juice and then eating an orange after, I guess.

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I went back today to taste test some more, and decided that, though the texture is really nice- moist and chewy- it has an over-arching starchy flavor, and was surprised to learn that the texture really varies by flavor.

I tried a regular vanilla, peanut butter-fudge, and red velvet cupcake… probably due to the ingredients, but vanilla was definitely the driest, peanut butter a little better, and red-velvet: simply melt-in-your-mouth. Still had a weird aftertaste though, and that would be my only complaint. That, and I couldn’t tell that the frosting was cream cheese… It was just a wee bit sugary, but it wouldn’t have that “corporate-baked-good” feel if it wasn’t overly-something, know what I mean?