Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Boo! Halloween Cookies and Pumpkin Carving

My mother-in-law asked me to make cookies for her, probably about 5 months ago.  She said whenever you want, when you have time.  So....it took me awhile.  But I was so happy I waited.  I know fall is her favorite time of year, as well as mine, so naturally it's my favorite themed cookie to make.
I could probably make 50 different versions of a fall leaf, the possibilities are endless.  I chose a "sponge" technique for these particular leaves.  Yes, it's slightly 80's, but you can't tell me that you didn't have some kind of sponged painting over a stencil somewhere in your house at one point.
I chose a darker ivory (Americolor Ivory) for the base color, squirted other fall colors onto a plate and  used wadded up paper towel to "sponge" on the cookie.

I thought about adding some red "blood" drops off of his fangs, but decided that was taking it a little too far and probably too gross for me. I know the giant spider cake I made had some blood, but I definitely can't handle any of that gory business. The last haunted house I went to was about 16 years ago and I hid my face in the coat of my friend's little sister the entire time. I also think I was scarred by watching Children of the Corn way too early.  

Piping and flooding the pumpkin in sections with some drying time in between gave these cookies a little more dimension.

We just carved our pumpkins last night. I'm so very spoiled.  My husband does things for me like cleaning out the inside of the pumpkin so that I was able to only partake in the fun part of carving. It was still a lot more work than I remembered. We both chose animals that Amelie is very into right now.  Johnny did an awesome job on the owl.  I picked a simple black cat with a mustache whiskers.

Of course Amelie wanted to "help."

Have a Happy Halloween Everyone!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Biggest Spider I Have Ever Seen!!!!

I had the privilege of making a birthday cake for a spunky little 5 year old, Kamy Picard.  She is probably one of the smartest 5 year olds that I've ever known.  I could have asked her what was wrong with the spider and she would have know.  Can you figure it out?
Yes, he only has 6 legs.  I finished making these 6 legs and just decided he was creepy enough (or I thought that no one would really care if he had two more legs.)

Kamy had a halloween themed birthday party this year and she wanted something scary on her cake.  To be specific, she didn't want cutesy scary. She wanted "blood and spiders" scary.  What is more scary than a spider eating a finger?  I believe she even asked for the piece with the finger on it.

Scary cake

I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe and made some fresh strawberry filling.  And then I had some fun.   The spider body is formed from a rice krispie treat recipe and covered with a marshmallow fondant. The spider legs are a fondant and gum paste mix rolled onto wire and then bent to form the legs.  The finger is fondant and the blood is royal icing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Pear Tree and Browned Butter Frosting Recipe. Yum!!!

I am lucky enough to have a pear tree in my back yard. I don't know why I say that with pride.  I didn't plant it. It's even growing in a nasty brush line across the back of our property.  I just think it's neat that  in the middle of all the junky, weedy bushes a pear tree grows and produces delicious fruit. I also love it because I can say that I get free organic pears.  There are only 2 people I know that would actually be envious.
I start watching it in August and in a couple of weeks time I'm nagging Johnny to help me pick the pears.  I guess I should say I'm actually asking him to climb the ladder and dangerously balance on one of the branches so I can shout, "no, this one!" or "no, that one!" as he chops at them with his pocket knife and I watch, and duck out of the way as they fall.  It's not my fault, I'm too short for the ladder to allow me to help at all.

This year I used a few of those pears to make an almond pear cake with a cinnamon brown sugar butter cream frosting.
I used this recipe from Country Cleaver and it had a great flavor. The only thing that I would change is to start checking the cake at 23 minutes instead of at the 30 minute mark.  Usually my oven bakes slightly slower that normal, but I would still recommend this timing for you as well.  The recipe uses a cooled browned butter.  Browned butter is exactly what it sounds like.  I browned my butter in a stainless steel pan so that I could accurately assess the color and it turned out just right.  It took me a minute to warm up to the nutty taste of the frosting but after a couple bites I was completely convinced.  This is a great cake and the flavors pair very well together. If you're looking to try a new cake with a new flavor, this is the one.
Of course I had to try to put a couple pears on top of the cake.  I piped some chocolate pear outlines and stems and let them harden so I could add them to the silly butter cream pear forest surrounding the top of the cake.

Browned butter frosting.

Browned butter frosting

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October Is My Favorite Month

October is my favorite month and not just because it is the month in which I was born.  I do love my birthday tho.  Some people ask that you not make a big deal about their birthday.  Not me.   I especially love it when it gets spread out over 3 or 4 events.  Dinner with this side of the family, dinner with that side, dinner with a friend, dinner with Johnny.  Oh, you want to give me part of my present early and then go out to dinner another day?  Sure.
 Anyways, I said October is my favorite month and not because of my birthday. I love October just because of the pumpkin bread, pumpkin farm, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin spice shakes and just about everything else that goes with fall.  We even successfully grew our own pumpkins this year. Of course there were only 3, the perfect number and I felt we needed even more.

I made a few of my favorite fall cakes in the last couple of weeks.  Johnny's cousin needed cakes for her house warming party.
A 12" red velvet cake with cream cheese butter cream frosting. I chose a c-motion border and added white fondant leaves with veins painted in gold luster dust. The gold sugared leaves are made from piped white chocolate, sprinkled with gold sprinkles.

Fall cake with gold leaves

Fall cake with gold leaves

A 12" yellow vanilla cake with butter cream frosting.  I chose a rustic frosting, and piped the same white chocolate leaves and covered them in fall colored sugar.  I loved these little acorns.  I dyed some fondant brown and orange-brown, shaped the acorns, rolled the tops in the fall colored sugar and painted some gold shimmer on the bottom. 
White chocolate sugared leaves, fondant acorns

A 12" carrot cake with cream cheese butter cream and butter cream frosting pumpkin decorations for the dentist office at which John's mom and aunt work.
buttercream pumpkins

And....my little pumpkin.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Camping and Cookies

I have a few summer pics to add to my blog o' memories.  I'm a little late, since it's October 3rd, but I've since learned that blogging takes a lot of time.
Every year (usually more than once a year) we go up north to Boulder Junction, WI.  It is my husband's one and only favorite place to vacation.  I used to love it, now I like it, and maybe not quite as much as he does.  What I used to love about camping was being able to get some exercise in while enjoying beautiful scenery.  I did go on a nice bike ride this past trip on my own, although I think I may need to rent some camping baby gear in the form of a bike trailer or backpack in the future.
Through my somewhat neutral ramblings here, I do have a point.  Nap time while camping is quite nice.  Naps for Amelie, that is.  Usually nap time means cleaning or yoga or something that I feel I need to do here at home.  There isn't much that can be done in a campsite, except maybe read.  I got smart and decided to bring my cookie decorating supplies up north this year.  It was simplified for the picnic table location, but enjoyable to look at a lake and decorate cookies.

cookies while camping
Thank you cake themed cookies for Aunt Patti

Camping and Cookies
Fourth of July cookies for the little girls. The spider was supposed to be a firework.

This is how Amelie enjoyed her s'mores by the campfire. She was strapped in her little pink coupe.

My niece Kylie's campground birthday party.

Fun at Trout Lake.