Basketball Championship Cupcakes

Baking date: March 4, 2017

My younger son plays basketball (is there a sport we don’t play in this house?) and for the second year in a row, his dad was his team coach. My husband took his group of kids all the way to the championship game in their bracket.

After the game — win or lose — the team was going to celebrate with a late lunch at Pizza Hut. Of course, I had to make celebratory cupcakes.

I made an easy homemade chocolate cake recipe I had recently found.  For the frosting, I used a canned white frosting with a 2A tip to pipe on a small swirl. I added yellow sugar sprinkles and Wilton Short Stack Blue Nonpareils Sprinkles on top of the swirl, since the team colors are blue, gold and white.

For additional decorations, I used a round candy mold with orange candy melts. I then piped chocolate icing for the seams. I placed a basketball candy on each cupcake.

Here are the cupcakes:

IMG_0057IMG_0056

A view from the side:

IMG_0058

Congrats to the 13U Silver Bracket Champs Walkersville Lions. Especially that cute #13 and the incredibly handsome coach!

Father Son Win

Valentine Cupcakes

Baking date: February 13, 2017

Our high school boosters organization has monthly meetings, typically an evening gathering on the second Monday of the month. In February, our meeting was moved to a Tuesday, which happened to be Valentine’s Day.

I decided to make some cupcakes for the group to enjoy. Because it was a weeknight, cake mixes and canned frosting are my go-to, so I made triple chocolate fudge cupcakes with a classic white frosting.

To decorate the cupcakes, I had made royal blue and yellow heart-shaped candy melts to place on top, because these are the high school team colors. I then dipped the edges of the cupcakes in Valentine pearls.

Here are the cupcakes:

IMG_0019IMG_0020

And one of the cupcakes up close:

IMG_0021

You can always find a group of people to share the love with!

Field Hockey Cakes

Baking date: October 9, 2016

I was commissioned by a mom to make a cake for the high school field hockey team to celebrate senior night during the last home game of the season. There were no specific instructions other than it needed to feed about 40, but I knew I wanted it to include a special nod to the seniors in the school colors.

I started with a French vanilla cake mix. I always add a tablespoon of vanilla to any box mix, and if the recipe calls for vegetable oil, I used canola oil. I find that canola oil makes cakes a bit lighter/”fluffier”.

For the cake shape, I used the 8″ and 12″ squares from the performance pans square set. For the icing, I used my go-to buttercream recipe. I dyed some of the buttercream using royal blue, kelly green, and golden yellow icing colors.

To personalize it, I made yellow candy melt stars and piped on the girls names using the royal blue frosting. I started using a #1 tip, but the frosting was not going through the tip well (too thick), so I switched to a #3 tip. You can see the difference in the lettering (next time, I’ll use a small amount of the buttercream that is thinned a bit when I pipe with a #1 tip). I was able to script the name with the #1 tip, but the thickness of the frosting was an issue. With the #3 tip, I didn’t have as much room to script the letters because of the thickness of the piping.  I also made royal blue candy melts smaller stars, and using the golden yellow icing, piped the number of each player on the star with the #3 tip.  I also added a “bead” border between the top and base layer, using royal blue candy melts in the large size bead mold.

img_1894

I placed the stars with the players names on the base layer, pushing them against the top layer to anchor them. For the stars with the player numbers, I used a 3 tip to make a burst on the top layer above the corresponding player name star and anchored the number stars there.

Using a #17 and a #18 tip, I added yellow bursts with blue on top on the corners of the top layer. I did the reverse for the border of the top layer. In the corner bursts, I added white sugar pearls. I piped on grass along the base cake border using a #233 tip in the kelly green frosting, and added more of the white sugar pearls in the “grass”.

On the base layer of the cake, blue bursts with yellow on top were placed in the corners, and yellow bursts were placed along the border.

img_1882

I felt like the cake needed something more,  so using the blue and golden yellow icing, I piped on bursts in the shape of field hockey sticks, with a sugar pearl in the curve at the base of the stick.

img_1883

Now the cake was complete!

img_1884img_1887img_1889

I wasn’t done there, tho. As a bonus, I decided to use a round/sports ball cake pan to make a field hockey ball.

Prior to placing the cake on the cake board, I cut off part of one side so that the base would be flat and more stable. I covered the cake in the buttercream frosting, and added the “grass” at the base of the cake. On top of the grass, I added alternating blue and golden yellow bursts.  Finally, I added the same style of field hockey sticks on top of the ball that I had put on the top of the other cake, again with a white sugar pearl in the curve of the stick.

img_1890

I’d say the cakes were a big success!

facebook

And as a reminder, it takes a village to honor kids and make things special for them. Cake was only one element of the celebration.

My pricing philosophy:

how-i-price-my-work-field-hockey-cake

Freshman Care Packages

Baking date: a couple of weekends in August in September

I can’t remember when I started doing this, but a few years back I began sending homemade cookie care packages to friends’ kids who were heading off to college, with a note of encouragement. I remember when I started college, my mom sent me a care package of cookies and a note. It made whatever was happening during that transition to life away from home just a little bit sweeter.

As my own boys get older, there are more and more people I know who have kids heading off to college. Even though I send the packages via USPS priority mail second day delivery (yes, I lie when they ask me if there is anything perishable in the package – don’t rat me out!) for only $6.80, this year I spent over $60 on mailing out the packages.

Maybe I need to transition to a big bag of cookies they can pack in the car when they head off to college…

This year’s list of recipients included kids who were first born, youngest, and middle children. For many of the kids, I feel like the moms need the treats more to cope with a first born leaving or dealing with the now empty nest.

Most of the kids had attended the local high school. I made chocolate chip cookies (I use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet) and also royal blue and yellow lion paw candy melts.

The first batch went to destinations in TN, SC, and TN:

first-batch

One of the students got my cell # from his mom and called me to personally thank me. One student sent me a message via Facebook:

thankyouzac

And a mom gave me a shout out on Facebook:

 

thanks-from-schelby

The second batch of goodies went out to TN and WV: second-batch-of-cookies

 

These included the same chocolate chip cookies and “paws” candies. For Lana – it was blue/gold paws for her high school team the Lions, and orange/black paws for her new college team, the Bobcats.

Lana Cookies.jpg

I got tagged in this post on Facebook:

lana-cookies-thank-you

For my niece Madison, it was green/black paws, which were the colors of her high school team, the Panthers. I also included some quarters since she was going to need them for laundry:

madi

She send me this note:

The final packages went out a bit later to DE, my alma mater Towson in MD, and VA:

post-about-second-batch-of-cookies

I got a thank you from my college roommate whose daughter is now going to our alma mater:

thank-you-karly

And for two of them, the cookies came when they were needed most:

thankyoufromjennsheila-ty

All in all, $60 well spent. Best of luck to all the students!

 

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Baking date: August 14, 2016

In the local sports association football program my boys have played in, they have weight limits for age groups. If you are over the designated top weight for your age group prior to the first game, you must either sit out games (and be re-weighed a few weeks later), or play up in the next age division.

Our oldest son was always close to the top of the weight each year. And his second-to-the-last year of playing, he was over and had to work real hard to make weight to play with his friends, rather than sit out or play up with older kids. Helping growing boys make weight – it’s awful. I even blogged about the experience.

When one of the young kids was faced with a similar battle this year, his mom asked for ways to help Jonny drop the weight in advance of the official weigh in. Many people chimed in with advice; parents and his teammates offered to run extra laps and work out with him more.

I offered inspiration as well – sharing some of the things we had Alex do that week before weigh-ins. I also offered this:

the-offer

I know it seems counter-intuitive to offer someone baked goods for losing weight. But so what – motivation comes in many forms!

After a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and self-discipline, Jonny made weight. His mom let me know he liked red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

I used a box cake for red velvet – I haven’t found a scratch recipe I like yet. For the icing, I used a classic cream cheese frosting recipe.  The recipe made plenty of frosting and I used the leftovers to frost some banana bread later.

To make the cake extra special, I added the letters WEIGH TO GO JONNY using royal blue candy melts. I included chocolate candy melt footballs, with some of the extra cream cheese frosting piped on for the laces. I also included royal and yellow Lion paw candy melts. Here is a view of the cake from the top:

img_1736

And from the side, because I piped bursts along the lower edge, and added in alternating blue and gold sugar pearls:img_1737

Let’s just say that Jonny thought all the work was worth the weight:

jonny

Firecracker Cupcakes

Baking date: June 30, 2016

I had seen a firecracker cupcake on Pinterest, and immediately saved it.

Inspiration Firecracker cupcakes

Inspiration cupcakes

I knew I’d have an event to make them for and sure enough, the end-of-season baseball gathering was just the event, since we were having it on the Friday kicking off the long July 4th weekend.

I used a yellow box cake mix for the cupcake. I made buttercream frosting for the cupcakes.

Creating the firecrackers was the fun part. I used marshmallows and red candy melts. At first I pushed the toothpick pretty far into the marshmallow, but that made it difficult to pull out after dipping it in the candy melts. The pre-cut strands of licorice went in just fine. Baker’s note: definitely pre-cut these before you begin dipping. Once the candy melt starts to harden, you won’t be able to insert it. Also, try and keep your bag of marshmallows from getting smooshed – the more cylindrical they are, the easier it is to have them stand and dry.

You also have to be patient to let the excess drip off or scrape the bottom with a spoon (which is what I did).

I wasn’t able to find black licorice string anywhere, so I had purchased red/white/blue pull and peel Twizzlers. But then on a final trip to AC Moore, I found a bag of black licorice laces and ended up using those.

Licorice

Here are my “firecrackers”, freshly dipped and waiting to dry on wax paper. As you can see, there is excess candy melt. I used one of my kitchen knives to carve off the extra once they had set.

IMG_1472

I used a special 4th of July-themed cupcake liner. I used a bit of the buttercream frosting to cover the cupcake and then placed the dried “firecracker” in the middle. I used a 1M tip, piping on more buttercream around the “firecracker”. Finally, I topped the buttercream with red/white/blue sprinkles.

Here are the trays of cupcakes:

IMG_1487IMG_1488

And here are some close-ups of individual cupcakes:

IMG_1489IMG_1483

For those that don’t care for the flavor of black licorice, you can remove the “wick” and munch away, or use the patriotic Twizzlers instead.

I didn’t have a single cupcake left and was able to give the bag of leftover black licorice to one of the moms who I know loves that stuff (me? not a fan!).

Hope you had a sweet 4th of July weekend!

Bullseye Cake

Baking date: June 24, 2016

During the year-end league tournament for my son Alex’s team, one of the players was hit by pitches three times. Someone joked that he should be wearing a target on his uniform. And someone else looked at me and said, he needs a target cake.

I made the cake from my go-to box recipe – triple chocolate fudge mix. Baker’s note: I always add a tablespoon of vanilla to any box mix for a more “homemade” taste.

I used the Wilton Easy Layers 6 inch cake pan set.  Baker’s note: be sure to level off each layer or you may end up with the leaning tower of cake!

Using buttercream icing in royal blue, I outlined a coffee cup for the outer layer of the bulls-eye and a shot glass for the center. I then filled in the blue areas, and using classic white canned frosting, filled in the alternate ring of the target, as well as the sides. I had also used the classic white in between the layers. Finally, I added bursts along the bottom edge in the royal blue buttercream.

I wanted to add a special message on the cake, so using white and royal blue candy melts, I spelled out HIT ME HERE and placed the letters on the top of the cake.

Here’s the cake from the top:IMG_1454

And from the side:

IMG_1455

I started to make the ME in royal blue candy melts, but had to scrap that because it wouldn’t have stood out against the royal blue icing. The H’s were a pain – I went through a number of attempts before I got two of them out of the mold without breaking:

IMG_1462

Ultimately, the cake was a big hit. No pun intended, Brett!

Facebook Post