Get Well Soon Red Velvet Cake with Basketball “Court” Frosting

Baking date: October 21, 2018

The head coach of our high school girls basketball team — who is also head of the rec basketball league for ages 5 – 19 — recently had bypass surgery.  While I know that dessert is not necessarily what the doctor ordered for post-op recovery…well, I just can’t help myself.

I reached out to his wife to find out his favorite kind of cake. Turns out his (and maybe his wife and daughters) favorite is red velvet. So a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting was in order.

I started by making Trisha Yearwood’s recipe for red velvet cake. For the frosting, I used canned cream cheese frosting.  When it comes to canned frosting, I do not have a favorite, though I will gravitate to anything that is on sale.

I wanted to do something special with the cake and decided to decorate the top like a basketball court. I tried to think of something unique that would make it look like a court and I immediately thought of sugar wafer cookies. So I iced the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting and pressed in the full cookies in an alternating pattern to represent the hardwood of a basketball court. I cut some with a really sharp knife for the areas where a partial wafer was needed.

Here’s the top of the cake. I used cream cheese frosting colored royal blue to spell out the message, and some colored black to draw the lines on the court.

Cake

I piped on star bursts around the top and bottom edges. I made a Lion (the youth league and high school mascot) paw in yellow and royal blue candy melts. I added yellow and royal blue candy melt hearts around all four edges.

Turns out the coach’s birthday was just two days after I delivered the get well cake. Happy Birthday, Troy. We can’t wait to see you back on the court!

Troy and Cake

 

Easy Carmelitas

Baking date: October 3, 2018

Each year, as part of Customer Service Appreciation Week, my organization has a number of events in support of the great work our front-line customer service staff do. Last year included a chili cook-off, so that was too much like making dinner and I did not participate. Sort of like how I feel about making dinner at my house every night of the year.

But this year, the category was brownies, or brownie-like bars. I was in. Until I heard they needed three 9″ x 13″ pans of your entry for official “best in show” judging and the “staff favorite” contest. Because three pans of anything like that is a big ask for someone like me who doesn’t get home until 6:00pm and gets up at 5:00am to start her next day,

I almost said no. But I cracked open the Out of the Box Desserts cookbook, and searched for the easiest 9″ x 13″ brownie or brownie-like recipe I could find.  The Easiest Carmelitas Ever fit the bill! Baker’s note: be sure you buy the biggest tube of cookie dough.The regular size will not be big enough. and not every store carries the 30 ounce larger size.

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A better look at the recipe

The competition included 5 entries, which seems like a pitiful showing when you have over 650 staff on site. But I guess a lot of other people had concerns about making 3 trays of brownies on a work night. This is my entry:

Easy Carmelitas

So, I didn’t win the grand prize in the company bake-off, as judged by an esteemed panel of our executive leadership.

But this girl’s Easy Carmelitas recipe was voted Fan Favorite by all the other staff who sampled the entries in the contest.

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I get to keep the trophy until next year, when we have the next contest. For now, it sits on a top shelf in my office for all to see.

Trophy on Shelf

 

Hot Chocolate Cake with Chocolate and Marshmallow Creme Frosting

Baking date: October 7, 2018

There have been a number of times when athletes my kids are on teams with have experienced season-ending injuries. And while I know that sugar doesn’t take the sting out of not being able to finish out a season or the pain from the injury, having something sugary certainly doesn’t hurt, right?

One of the JV football players that my younger son Nick used to play with (Nick has given up football) chipped a bone in his heal and is out for the season. Of course, that meant I needed  wanted to get him a cake.

After asking his mom about favorite flavors, I settled on a hot chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and marshmallow buttercream frosting. The recipe makes a three layer cake, but I went with two thick layers.

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Cake with the chocolate buttercream. I tried a new side decorating technique I plan to use on a cake for a bride and groom I’ve been asked to make in 2019.

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Finished cake with the marshmallow buttercream.  It’s a little more runny than the chocolate buttercream.

I hope the cake helps with the healing, Rhett. Looking forward to seeing you join the varsity team next Fall.

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Rhett (#55) making one of many tackles this season before his injury.

P.S. athletes, please stop with the injuries to get a sweet treat. Just ask, I’ll make it.

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Baking date: September 23, 2018

My son Alex is a junior in high school this year, and a starter on the O line for his high school varsity football team. As part of community service, he is helping the parent volunteer coaches for the junior football program that he was a part of for so many years prior to high school.

The kids think the high school football players are “stars” and love talking to them and hearing about how things are done in high school. The youth players come to the high school games on Friday night and cheer on “Coach Alex” and his team. It helps build the sense of community in our rural town of about 5,000.

This year, one of the coach’s sons had a goal of dropping enough weight to lose the red stripe on his helmet (an indicator of weight limit – if you weigh more than a prescribed maximum, for safety reasons, you can not carry the ball). My son Alex wore a red stripe every year he played – and we even struggled with weight one year, in an effort to keep him with his classmates instead of moving up to the next age/grade level.

So, when young Marcus made the weight – celebratory carbs were in order! He requested strawberry cupcakes. That was easy enough, as I have a great homemade strawberry cupcake recipe. Baker’s note: this cupcake does not rise much while baking, so be sure to fill the batter close to the top of the liner.

I did not make the homemade frosting, instead using a canned white frosting.  I then dipped them in multi-colored nonpariels, and topped them with top to bottom-sliced strawberries that I hoped looked like hearts.

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Congrats on all your hard work to make weight, Marcus!

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Marcus grabs a ride on the shoulders of my son Alex

Minnie Mouse Themed Cupcakes

Baking date: September 1, 2018

These cupcakes were made for a 1st birthday party. I also made the smash cake for the birthday girl. I was commissioned to make 25 strawberry cupcakes with vanilla frosting and 25 french vanilla cupcakes, with vanilla frosting, in a Minnie Mouse theme. The liner was pink with white polka dots. Baker’s note: the strawberry cupcakes are dense and do not rise when baking, so unlike other cupcakes, you should fill the batter close to the top.

This is the inspiration cupcake I was sent, that the mom found on Pinterest:

Inspiration Cupcakes

I didn’t have a candy mold for bows, so I went to YouTube and searched on royal icing  Minnie Mouse bows. I found this video and decided to use the concept to create royal icing bows:

I also had watched this video on royal icing transfers and learned about using acetate.

I didn’t have time to order the super thin kind of acetate described in the video, so I went to a local craft store and bought two sheets of a much thicker type. I wanted to try it alongside the recommended parchment paper. The thick acetate did not work (more on that below!). I ended up using wax paper instead of parchment paper.

I printed out the template and taped it under the acetate and wax paper. I began by piping in the bow center knot in royal icing dyed rose. I added white royal icing dots using a #1 tip while the rose royal icing was still wet, so that the dots “sank in” and did not sit on top,

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Once the center was dried (about 2 hours), I piped and filled in the rest of the bows and added additional white dots with the #1 tip. I used a fondant modeling tool to move the wet royal icing around to fill in the shape.

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Here is the full set of 50.  I piped them on cutting boards and the bottom of a number of cookie sheets and pans for a stable surface.

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I made more 50 just in case of breakage when I removed them. Glad I did! When trying to remove the bows from the thick acetate, I had a lot of breakage.

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It is a good idea to make these royal icing transfers in advance and then store them in an airtight container. If you have problems, you’ll have time to make more.

The bows on the wax paper came off much more easily. But you will need lots of patience as you remove them from the wax paper. I used a tapered frosting spatula to remove the bows. In this photo, you can see the “folds” that I piped on after the bows had set. If you do that before the bow sets, you won’t get the 3D effect of the fold.IMG_1905

For the ears, I used black candy melts with a general circle mold I have. I piped a swirl on each cupcake, using a 1M tip. I placed the “ears” in the frosting, tipped forward slightly. Then I added the bow in front, tipped back slightly, toward the “ears”. I added white sparkling sugar sprinkles on the vanilla cupcakes, and pink colored sugar sprinkles on the strawberry cupcakes so people would know which was which.

Here is what the cupcakes looked like, all put together.

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I had decided to make bright pink candy melt squares, and using the vanilla icing, spell out her name, with the ears:

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And also, spell out the name her grandparents call her – “Tootie Tot”:

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Here is everything on display at the birthday girl’s party:

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Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Rosette Smash Cake

Baking date: September 1, 2018

I was asked to make a 1st birthday smash cake. I had made the bridal shower cupcakes for the mom in 2015 and the baby shower cupcakes and cake the Summer of 2017. Now that Hannah was turning 1, her mom reached out to me and requested vanilla cake with raspberry buttercream frosting for a smash cake. She also asked for Minnie Mouse themed cupcakes, that I also made.

She sent me a picture of this inspiration cake from Pinterest:

Inspiration Smash Cake

I immediately went to YouTube to find a video for making a rosette smash cake. This is what I watched (over and over and over!).

The cake was from a box mix and I used two 6″ round pans for thick layers. The recipe for the frosting makes quite a lot, so I did a crumb coat layer, and then piped on the rosettes using a 1M star tip.

Here’s my cake, in the frig after all the rosettes were piped on.IMG_1918

I’m pretty sure it was a hit with Hannah.

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Happy 1st birthday, sweet girl!

State Championship Celebration Cake – Unified Track Team

Baking date: June 17, 2018

For the 2017-2018 school year, our high school swept the state championships for Unified Sports. We participate in Unified Tennis, Unified Bocce and Unified Track. I had made a celebration cake for the Unified Bocce team’s banquet and decided to make one for the Unified Track team as well. Clearly, Unified Tennis needs to win again so I can fete them appropriately!

I made a three tier white cake, using the Wilton square pan set. I used a white frosting for the cake. I piped on the team name in white icing, dyed royal blue and golden yellow.

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I added royal blue and gold Sixlets candies around the edge of each tier, and used them to spelled out 2018 STATE CHAMPSIMG_1576

I decorated the cake with personalized candy sneakers.

I used royal blue and gold rhinestone bling cake pop sticks with a sneaker lollipop candy mold I found. I used bright white candy melts, put a yellow royal icing stripe on the sneaker and added each athletes name in blue icing. Baker’s note: These lollipops are very heavy given how much candy melt is needed. Keep that in mind for the stability of your final product!

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Here is the final cake – my husband helped with the 360 degree view. But an important note —  the sneaker candies were so heavy, they actually fell through the cake while being transported to the school. I was terribly bummed about this and learned my lesson — add the heavy embellishments after the cake has arrived at its destination! Then take the picture/video.

I posted the video on the Facebook group page for our school’s Unified teams, so that those that follow could see the cake. Here are the comments:

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In addition, I made a cake to thank the coach, who retired after this season. It was all the same ingredients and embellishments, with the exception of a large Lion paw candy melt mold in royal blue and yellow:

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It’s always a pleasure to make treats for the amazing kids in our community.