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.

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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

 

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!

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.

State Championship Celebration Cake – Bocce Team

Baking date: February 27, 2018

This past winter sports season, our high school Unified Bocce team won the state championship — for the second time in a row! This comes on the heels of our Unified Tennis team winning the state championship in the Fall of 2017. And later in 2018, our Unified Track team would also win the state championship. It was a sweep for our Unified team athletes in the 2017 – 2018 school year!

To celebrate, I made a cake for the Bocce team’s end of season banquet. It was a yellow cake box mix. I always add a tablespoon of vanilla to make box mixes taste more homemade.  The cake pans are from the I used the performance square pan set – the 12″ and 16″ sizes. The cake was frosted using white canned frosting.

I created “Bocce balls” using candy mold circles in dark blue (no longer available) and yellow candy melts. I piped on the names of all the athletes in the white frosting with a #1 tip. These were placed all around the cake.BocceNames

I spelled out 2018 STATE CHAMPS WHS UNIFIED BOCCE in dark blue alphabet candy molds. (I no longer remember exactly who the maker of the alphabet candy molds is). BocceCakeTop

On the side of the top tier, I made candy molds that spelled out “#BACK2BACK”:

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In each corner of the top tier, I made Lion paw candy melt pop molds in dark blue and yellow. I added royal blue and gold Sixlet candies between the top and bottom tier.

The 360 degree view is courtesy of my son Nick (with moral support from our dog Jake).

The cake was a big hit. I was honored to make the kids, coaches and their families a special treat to celebrate a great season!

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Rainbow Birthday Cupcakes

Baking date: March 3, 2018

My good friend Rebecca was having a birthday party at Hot Fired Arts for her daughter Sami. We’ve been friends for close to a decade and even though I don’t have a daughter, Rebecca asked if I would join the party and bring cupcakes for the birthday girl.

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Using the invite theme of a heart and multi-colors, I decided to use a rainbow of sugar sprinkles to decorate the requested chocolate cupcakes. The recipe for the cupcakes was one bowl chocolate cake.  I used a canned white frosting.

The colors of sugar sprinkles I used were pink, yellow, royal blue, orange, purple, gold, pastel green and pastel pink (from Betty Crocker, but couldn’t find a link to it online). I topped the cupcake with the white frosting, then dipped the cupcake into a plate of the sprinkles, pressing all areas to ensure coverage of all the frosting.

To top each cupcake, I created a candy heart in bright white. Before pouring the bright white candy melt into the mold, I added some sugar sprinkles in the mold, so they would match the sugar sprinkles on top of each cupcake. Once the candy melt had set, I then “attached” the heart with a bit of the white frosting.

Here are the cupcakes:

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And a couple up close (in her favorite colors, purple and pink):

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Happy Birthday, Sami! So glad I got to spend the afternoon with you, your friends, and all the moms crafting some pretty cool stuff!

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Sami (middle) and her friends at Hot Fired Arts in Frederick, MD

60th Birthday Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Baking date: February 10, 2018

I was asked to make a special 60th birthday cake for my friend Rebecca’s fiance Gary. Rebecca had requested carrot cake, and I had never made one from scratch. So I looked for a recipe that I thought would be good, and came across Grandma Hiers’ carrot cake recipe from Paula Deen. I opted not to add the pecans to the batter, but did use some for decorating.

A few days before I was going to make the cake, I saw my hairdresser. I’ve been going to her for 25 years for my cuts and colors (the older I get, it’s more color than cut!). She takes care of me at her house, and we use the time to catch up on our lives. She’s a fantastic cook, so I told her about the cake I was going to be making.

“Oh, let me tell you the secret to an amazing carrot cake!” she exclaimed. “First, add a small can of crushed pineapple. And then – here’s the real secret – instead of shredded carrots, use canned carrots. Drain them, but they already have extra moisture and will shred apart once you mix them into your batter. The cake will be so moist.”

Since I had already googled “how many carrots does it take to make 3 cups of grated carrots” (yes, there is a website that will tell you), I did not look forward to shredding 9 carrots, and probably a few knuckles in the process. I figured I would give this canned carrots thing a try.  I did not go for the crushed pineapple, since I’m not a huge fan of it. Nor did the recipe call for pineapple or raisins, as I have seen in some carrot cakes.

I made the cake in the 12″ and 16″ pans from the performance square pan set. It was a busy weekend for me, so I used canned cream cheese frosting, rather than the recipe that was part of the offering from Paula Deen.

Gary is a boater. He and Rebecca also love the beach. So I decided to make sea shell candies to decorate the cake. I used a two-tone technique I saw on a YouTube video, using light cocoa and white candy melts. I finished them by brushing on white pearl dust.

I kept the decorating simple. I used crushed pecans to fill in the pressed outline of the 6 and 0 I made using cookie cutters on top of the cake. I also sprinkled crushed pecans on corners of the cake, but not all over, since I didn’t know if there were any allergies among the guests invited to his surprise party.

Here is the cake:

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And a close up of some of the candies:

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Here’s the cake, with all the photos and decorations for the party:

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I am pleased to report that the recipe with the “secret ingredient” (canned carrots) received rave reviews! People commented on how moist the cake was, and many party guests took an extra piece home to enjoy later.

Happy Birthday, Gary! Glad my husband and I could join your family and friends to help you celebrate ringing in a new decade.

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Left to right: Rebecca, Becky (me), Michael, Gary

 

Get Well Soon Chocolate Cake

Baking date: January 13, 2018

One of the kids my son has played basketball, baseball and football with at various times had to have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. The surgery meant that he would not be able to play varsity basketball or baseball in his junior year, and was hoping to be cleared in time to start back on the field for his senior year with football in the Fall of 2018.

I wanted to make him a get well soon treat. I asked his mom about a favorite flavor of cake, and it was chocolate. I made a one bowl chocolate cake recipe, and topped it with an easy chocolate ganache frosting.  I used red cookie icing to pipe on the get well message. I created a candy melt basketball, football and baseball, to represent the sports Elias plays and added them to the cake.

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I delivered the cake to Elias and not long after, his mom posted this message on Facebook:

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There’s nothing better than knowing I helped put a smile on this talented athlete’s face. Looking forward to seeing you back on the field soon, Elias!