Eyeball Cake Pops

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For a Halloween party this past weekend I was tasked with bringing something sweet– last year I made iced pumpkin cake balls, which were a rousing success, so I decided to revisit the idea and try again with a different theme. Eyeballs!

This time I started off with a regular box of white cake mix, doctoring it up with some sour cream in place of the water– in this case 1 1/4 cups of it. This really is necessary to make the cake batter thick enough to properly fill the wells of the cake pop maker– otherwise the batter is so thin that when it rises it just overflows, rather than doming to fill out the ball shape.

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Once my cake balls were cool I popped them in the freezer for a little while to firm them up a bit while I prepared my coatings.

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Hidden Pawprint Cake

So remember how last year I let my daughter tell me what she wanted her birthday cake to look like? This year I didn’t even have a chance to ask– she handed me a sketch one day and informed me that this was what I’d be making. It had three tiers (!), was decorated with berries and green icing, and had a fake warning on the outside saying that it most certainly did NOT hide any surprises inside… or did it?

Apparently she decided that what she wanted was a hidden pawprint to surprise her guests. It had to be pink, and it had to show only when the cake was cut into. While I had a general idea as to how to get this done, I turned to the internet and was happy to find a tutorial to give me some details as to how it could be accomplished! Here it is:

I’m not going to bother posting too many step-by-step instructions because honestly, the video is pretty good at explaining what to do.

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Iced Mini Pumpkins

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Happy Halloween, everyone!

My daughter’s class is having a Halloween party and has requested parent contributions to the menu– naturally, I volunteered to bring a dessert item, and asked her what she’d like me to make. After a little debate about ingredients and logistics, we decided on pumpkin muffin balls decorated to look like pumpkins. And I can’t wait to tell you about an awesome discovery I made with regard to decorating icing– but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I started off with my standard pumpkin muffin recipe, omitting the white chocolate chips and nuts. I doubled it, and baked up the batter in my trusty cake pop maker.

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Planet Cookies

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I recently co-hosted a baby shower for a friend of mine, who was expecting a baby boy. Seeing as she and her husband are huge Star Wars fans, we decided to make the shower space-themed. Of course I was in charge of desserts, and one of my contributions was this batch of planet cookies.

I started off with my favorite chocolate cutout cookie recipe, which I cut into circles of varying sizes and baked. Then I made a batch of my cream cheese fondant and tinted it yellow, blue, green, and red.

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Flower Macarons

flower-macarons

This is really just a mini-post about a technique I tried out for dressing up macaron shells. Sure, you can use food coloring to tint the shells pretty pastel colors, and you can make teddy bear faces, but did you know you can also apply many wet-on-wet icing techniques to make pretty designs on them before baking?

To make these flower macarons I tinted my batter into several different shades. I started by piping a small “kiss” of batter, about 2/3 the diameter of the finished macaron. I let it spread a little, then piped another “kiss” in the center of the circle of batter in another color and let it flatten out.

Then I took a toothpick and drew a line from the outermost edge of the batter to the center. I cleaned the toothpick and drew another and another, until I had a five-petaled flower design. Then I used my final color and piped a tiny dot in the center.

flower-macarons-process

Adorable, no? You can do a marbled effect by dragging your toothpick randomly through blobs of color, or drag a toothpick through tiny dots to make hearts. The design doesn’t distort much at all in the oven, so have fun!

 

Rainbow Cupcakes

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Nothing gets a preschooler excited quite like rainbow-colored food. Even better if it’s rainbow-colored dessert. So when I found myself with some extra frosting (as one does), I decided to color up some white cake mix and make rainbow cupcakes for my daughter to take to school to share.

A few tricks to getting those layers nice and even on the inside– first, remember to make different amounts of your different colors– more for the color on the bottom (since it’ll spread out and up the sides) and progressively less for the colors in the center. Second, use piping bags to put your batter exactly where you want it– no more mess with spoons!

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Rainbow Pasta

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Like I’ve said before, I love making cute lunches for my daughter to take to school. It’s fun coming up with creative ways to make food look interesting, and one of the easiest things I’ve done is to make rainbow pasta. It’s just pasta, dyed with food coloring.

The great part is, you don’t have to cook it in special water or anything like that– just cook your pasta as usual. While it’s cooking, take a few drops of liquid food coloring or a tiny dab of gel food coloring and put it into a plastic sandwich bag. Put in a tablespoon of water to dilute the pigment. The water really is necessary, or it won’t coat the pasta evenly.

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Then, when the pasta is finished cooking and still warm (doesn’t have to be right out of the pot, but you should do it within 5 minutes or so), put it into the bag, seal the bag, and toss it around until the colored water has coated the pasta.

rainbow-pasta-combine

And that’s it. Serve immediately and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for as long as you would regular pasta. If you do multiple colors, it’s best to store them separately so the dye doesn’t rub off onto other pieces of pasta.

Note: I find that red, yellow, green, and blue work best for coloring pasta, though yellow is kind of subtle. Purple/violet does NOT work well. Seriously, it turns the pasta this unappetizing grayish color– no one will want to eat it. So just skip that one.