Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Perfect Size

I recently had a test that required me to consume a lot of liquids and to also keep those liquids inside of me for awhile.  I know that's not a great opening line.  However,  it was enough time for me to think about size. Size of body organs, capacity of these organs, serving sizes of beverages, serving sizes of cakes. It doesn't take very long for my mind to circle around and land on something sweet.  And by sweet I do not mean this enormous KFC bucket-like sugar pond.

I was curious to find the largest size fast food beverage after my experience that morning.  This is 64 ounces, or a half gallon. Of course I had to look up the capacity of a human stomach, and then the bladder.  We all come in different shapes and sizes so there is no accurate answer, but I at least know now that I can barely hang on to a 17 ounce bottle of water.  I'm having a hard time picturing someone at a drive thru balancing this on their console, drinking it with a straw long enough to reach the bottom, and consuming it without bursting.
Back to the sweet destination that my original thoughts landed - cake serving size.  In the cake world a party serving size is usually 2"x2" and a wedding cake serving size is 1"x2".  Which explains why at a wedding reception I'm always eating the scraps from everyone else's cake at my table.  I'm sure, like the drink above, everyone has their own preference when it comes to cake serving size.  Even though I bake a lot of cakes and cookies, I don't actually indulge daily with beautiful, nutritionally dead treats unless it's for a special occasion, or if I want to  have to trim your cake to level it.  Somehow cakes and cookies taste so much sweeter this way. So when I do indulge, a 1"x2" piece of cake feels like a prank.
But beyond the size of the slice of cake you'd like to eat, what is the perfect size personal cake? And I don't mean the size that you would eat if you are trying to be "good."
I previously made some petit fours that you can see here.  I would not survive on only one.  My smallest cake pans are 4" in diameter.  Waaaay to big.  Below is an example of my first try at a pretty little fondant ruffle cake in a 4" diameter for a friend.  Also below, very large individual size cakes for a boys basketball team.

fondant ruffles

basketball cake

Of course the easy answer is the 3 or 4 different sizes of cupcakes that you have to choose from.  I do love a good cupcake, but it's not the same as eating your very own mini cake.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pretty Little (Green) Things

In case I never mentioned it, the "glue" in my blog's title was supposed to be about my crafty adventures which seemed to have fallen along the way side to be replaced by toddler crafts and games. Sensory bins, painting, play dough, sticky wall art, foam creatures with googly eyes, pom-pom shooters, home made cardboard train tunnels, and on and on. Just to prove my point: here is our homemade multi sensory play dough.  Green of course, gold glitter, and scented with peppermint essential oils. 

It was about time I took a few minutes to craft and I've missed making jewelry, luckily I had a little pinspiration.
I haven't worn a lot of jewelry lately, and my style has changed a bit. Somewhere along the way I had to protect my ears from little hands wanting to rip out my earrings. Not to mention you might get a few weird looks if you wear any type of chandelier earrings to a mommy/toddler play group.    
I love the versatility of this simple necklace. Any ribbon can be used to coordinate with an outfit and paired with any strand of beads, pearls, chain, etc. It only takes 5 minutes to make.  I've had my eyes on that fresh mint color for this spring and this was the perfect way to use it.  All I had to do was double up the chain and link it with a crimping bead on one end.  Then loop the two ends together with ribbon and tie your bow. Ta da! You're done.
It's not a very professional picture, but you'll get the idea.

Everyone has their own "jewelry" in some form.  For Johnny it would be his lures and right now for me, my cake sprinkles.  I'll share with you a couple of cakes adorned with said sprinkles.  I made this cake for Johnny's grandma - some mint colored,very easy, sloppy, rustic frosting with added ruffled fondant flowers.  Or in the cake decorating world they would be called "fantasy" flowers as they don't resemble any one particular flower.  I've made all sorts of "fantasy" flowers with my great imagination, they're so much easier.  You just don't really know what to say when someone asks you what type of flower they are.  So, I wanted you to see that this cake wouldn't look quite as pretty without it's "jewelry."  Some simple yellow sanding sugar and yellow non-pareils. Custom made yellow non-pareils I might add.  Colored sugar and non-pareils are very easy to make yourself with food coloring.  

Simple silver sanding sugar and silver non-pareils.

Gold crystals sprinkled on white chocolate leaves and gold luster dust painted onto fondant leaves.

Luster dust, disco dust, pearl dust, sanding sugars, non-pareils, jimmies, anything to add a little sparkle. 

This is a tiny sampling out of my bin to show you some of what is available to a cake or cookie decorator.  You've probably all heard of the sanding sugars, jimmies (bottom left), non- pareils, and those little fall leaf decorations. In the top right you'll see gold "crystals"; bottom row shows pink luster dust and green disco dust.  Luster and pearl dusts can be applied dry with a brush to dried royal icing or fondant/gum paste for a little bit of shimmer. They can also be mixed with a clear alcohol to apply as details for a more opaque concentrated appearance.  Disco dust can be applied to royal icing while wet or brushed on a slightly moist fondant for extra shimmer.  There is a little disco in this dust...so a little shimmer goes a long way.
It's a good idea to pay attention to the fine print if you choose to adorn your sweets with any of these alluring, tiny sprinkles.  Some of them have been rated as FDA approved for consumption and others are labeled simply non-toxic.  We all know crayons are non-toxic but most of us don't choose to snack on them.  It is a little bewildering that anything labeled non-toxic is marketed to be used on an edible substance.  I choose to use  non-toxic trimmings in small amounts on items that I know will be removed from the cake or cookie itself, and edible embellishments on those that will be consumed.  Unfortunately I don't believe everything approved by the FDA is actually safe for consumption, especially if it sparkles, but I will take my chances for an occasional indulgence.

A couple cute little cookie sandwiches for St. Patrick's day.  I made some of the same four leaf clover royal icing transfers as I did last year, paired it with my favorite chocolate cookie recipe and filled them with a fresh mint frosting.  I think I was just yearning for a summer garden when I chose this recipe.  The fresh mint in a frosting is a bit different than your peppermint flavoring from a bottle, so you have to prepare your tastebuds for it, but I enjoyed it.

Fresh Mint Buttercream Frosting:

1. Process about 20 mint leaves with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a food processor until      sugar is moist. 
2. Cream this sugar mixture in a mixer with 1 stick of unsalted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and beat until creamy. 
3. Gradually add 3 cups of powdered sugar.  
4. Beat for one minute and add up to 1/2 tablespoon of cream if the mixture appears too thick to spread.

I hope you enjoy something green this next Monday!