Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Baking date: November 10, 2018

My son Alex, who is a junior in high school, helped coach a youth football team this year.  A number of his teammates do this each season, at various age levels in the youth sports program. My son was assigned to the D2 JV football team (the D1 team is the more competitive group), comprised of 6th and 7th graders. For the Bowl game they had, I made mummy football player and coach cookies.

The JV teams had a group dinner and I brought cupcakes. I made french vanilla and triple chocolate fudge, with white frosting in royal blue and gold foil cupcake holders.  After putting a swirl on the cupcake with a 1M tip, I topped the cupcakes with royal blue and shimmer golden sixlets. I then dusted them with royal blue and yellow sugar sprinkles.

Here they are on the trays, ready to head to the dinner.

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And here’s each version, up close.

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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!

Irish Creme Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

Baking date: June 16, 2018

We were invited to a college graduation party for our friend’s daughter Lana. Lana has finished undergrad education and will start Physician Assistant school in about a year, after some time spent building her healthcare experiences.

Of course, I can never show up at a party without a treat. I asked the graduate what kind of cocktail-inspired cupcake she wanted. Bailey’s Irish Creme was her response.

I’ve made that cupcake before for St. Patrick’s Day, but was happy to whip them up again for Lana.  I piped on the frosting with a 1M tip. I then added generic chocolate jimmies and gold pearlized sugar sprinkles.

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The batter makes more than 24 cupcakes, so I made some mini loaves and covered them with the frosting also.

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Congrats Lana and best of luck on the next part of your professional journey!

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The beautiful graduate Lana and her mom, my good friend Lou, at the party.

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

Red Velvet Birthday Cupcakes

Baking date: January 30, 2018

A mom who’s oldest son is a freshman in college this year commissioned me to make him a birthday treat. She was going to visit him and wanted to take something special with her.

She asked for red velvet cupcakes (his favorite), so I went to the Food Network site and searched for recipes. I found one from Tricia Yearwood. To save time because this was a mid-week request, I used canned cream cheese frosting.

I used baseball cupcake liners, since the birthday boy has been playing baseball since he was very young and is now a member of the Frostburg Bobcats team.

I frosted eight of the cupcakes flat and dipped them in gold pearlized sugar and ruby red pearlized sugar. Using some leftover red dyed icing from a get well cake, I piped his name on the cupcakes dipped in gold. For the other cupcakes, I added bats and balls from the large sports sprinkles pack.

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For the remainder of the cupcakes, I frosted with a swirl and then sprinkled on the gold and ruby red pearlized sugar on top.

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He enjoyed the treats:

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Happy Birthday, Josh!

My pricing philosophy:

How I price my work

Football Banquet Cookies and Cupcakes

Baking date: January 12 and 13, 2018

Last year our town’s football team were the State champs in our division. I baked a boatload of goodies for the celebratory banquet, including cakes and cookies. This year, our team won the conference title again, but was knocked out in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs on a controversial play.

But it was still an amazing season. And this year, my son was selected for varsity in just his sophomore year.

I purchased a t-shirt cookie cutter and decided to start a new tradition of creating personalized jersey cookies for the graduating seniors. The remainder of the varsity team get personalized football-shaped cookies, and the JV players get a cupcake with their number. This is the jersey I modeled the cookie after (it’s my son in the picture – he’s a lineman):

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I decided to make a favorite chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It makes a ton of dough — and I would need it because the t-shirt cookie cutter was bigger than I anticipated. There were 25 seniors on the football team this year.

Here is a look at the cookies as the first layer of cookie icing went on – white for their home uniforms. I think it looks like a bunch of undershirts:

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I piped on blue numbers and their last names, as well as some yellow and blue piping along the sleeves and sides. And I added football mini-decorations from the large sports sprinkles set:

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And then there were the rest of the Varsity players, coaches and team mom cookies in the shape of footballs. I added yellow paw prints and topped them with gold sugar sprinkles (yes, yes, I see the one that didn’t get the paw print):

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With the rest of the football cookies, I added on the laces for the many siblings that would be attending the banquet.

Plain football cookies

For JV, I made chocolate cupcakes with royal blue and gold foil cupcake liners and topped them with vanilla frosting. Then I dipped the tops in gold pearlized sugar sprinkles and blue sugar sprinkles, alternating the cupcake liner color with the sprinkle color. I added each players’ number on the top.

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For the extras, I added the football decorations.

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Here’s the whole production on my kitchen table, ready to be transported to the banquet:

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Congrats to my son on earning his varsity letter in his sophomore year (this is his ‘I’m trying to be cool and act like I don’t care’ face) …

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Even though back-to-back State championships weren’t in the cards for the team,  congrats to the Walkersville Lions on their back-to-back Conference Championship seasons!

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