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!

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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):

Varsity Football Cookies

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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JV Football Sugar Cookies and M&M Cookies

Baking date: November 1, 2017

This year, my son was moved up to the high school varsity football squad in his sophomore year. It was very exciting for him, but meant a considerable shift in my photography hobby.

I have been taking pictures of him for more than 7 years on the sidelines of all of his sporting events – baseball, football and basketball. The varsity team already has a photographer mom on the sidelines whose son is also a sophomore. So I was watching him from a new vantage point – the stands.

Because many of the boys he had played with for years were still on the JV team, I decided to show up to those Wednesday night games and take pictures. I was able to take care of my photography fix, and share the photos with the football families.

For the last game of the season, I decided to make goodie bags for all the players and coaches, and share the extra cookies with family and fans in attendance.

I made the base cookie dough for big, fat chewy chocolate chip cookies. Instead of chips, I added 1 cup of royal blue and 1 cup of gold M&Ms, since the school colors are royal blue and gold. I also saw these in the grocery store, so I made 3 batches. There’s no shame in my game when it comes to fantastic shortcuts for weeknight baking:

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I then stuffed cookies in treat bags and put football and gold star stickers on the packages, with a gold tie. IMG_0762IMG_0763

Each coach and player received a treat bag. For the parents and fans in attendance, I had left over cookies that one of the moms helped me to hand out.

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Congrats to the Walkersville JV Lions on a great season, 6-2. And thanks for letting me be there to capture the action!

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The JV Lions players and coaches have a tradition of kneeling before their game, hands on one another, led by a player in prayer. That shadow you see in the lower left corner is me taking their picture.

Cheer Cupcakes

Baking date: October 20, 2017

This year, my son Alex was moved up to the varsity high school football team. He is one of only 4 sophomores and 1 freshman to be invited up. It’s exciting for him, but we know that he won’t see much playing time unless the team has a lead securely in hand.

It’s quite an accomplishment to be that close to the older kids, who made it to the state championship game in 2015 (lost 21-20), and in 2016, when they went 14-0 for the season and brought home the championship. This year, it was #NewTeamSameDream of heading back to the state championship game for a repeat.

I’ll spare you the suspense..our boys lost in the Regional Championship game. It was a close-fought game, against two powerhouses in the region.

But back to those cheer cupcakes…the cheerleaders had made yard signs for all the varsity players this year at the beginning of the season:

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I thought that was a very nice gesture and wanted to do something for the cheer team. I asked for the team roster and set out making chocolate cupcakes with white frosting. But to amp up the offering a bit, I dipped the frosted cupcakes in blue sugar sprinkles, piped on the cheer names in golden yellow tinted frosting, and added candy melt hearts in royal blue and yellow. I made extra cupcakes with yellow frosting and added the blue sugar sprinkles. Some had the extra candy hearts (the mold makes 20) with some of the blue sugar sprinkles.

Here’s a look at the cheer cupcakes (coaches included!):

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And here are all the cupcakes:

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Thanks WHS Cheer!

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And thanks to my friend Michelle, for capturing photos during my son’s Sophomore year on the varsity squad. I   and I ❤️ #54

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High School Football Championship Cakes and Cookies

Baking date: January 6, 7 and 8, 2017

I’m going to cut to the chase here – my son’s high school varsity football team won the Class 2A Maryland state championship in 2016. He played on the JV team because he is a Freshman, but this accomplishment is no less exciting for all of us in the community. Last year, the team made it to the championship game but came up short by 1 point.

In January, the teams — both varsity and JV — held their awards banquet and meal. Of course, this was a perfect opportunity for me to bake and pay tribute to the players, coaches, and parents who were part of this amazing season.

First up was general cakes for all to enjoy. I made a large (16″) square cake.  I covered it in buttercream frosting, and piped on bursts in royal blue and golden yellow, with white sugar pearls on top of each burst. The item in the center of the cake is a buttercream icing transfer. The intricate letters were not that easy to pipe on and instead of peeling off the wax paper, I used an icing spatula to “slide” it off, which smeared the colors a bit. Finally, I made a giant Lion paw with yellow and royal blue candy melts.

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I also made a 1, a 4, and a 0 (Baker’s note: this is the new version of this pan. I have an older version that does not have angled edges). This team’s record was 14-0. I even made a dash with a mini bread pan. I used the motto “Small Town, Bigger Dreams” we had printed on tee shirts as buttercream transfers on these cakes. The buttercream frosting I made is really better designed for piping and not spreading. In the future, I may microwave it a few seconds to get better spreading consistency.

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Next up were some special cakes. First was the cake for the team mom. She manages all the communications and activities between coaches, players and parents for both varsity and JV. She received a football make with red velvet cake (her favorite) and a chocolate cream cheese frosting (sorry, can’t remember where I got the recipe!). She also got a big lion paw candy melt in yellow and royal blue.

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Next was a cake for the head coach, who received High School Coach of the Year honors in the state of Maryland from the Baltimore Ravens.

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His football cake was triple chocolate cake with the same chocolate cream cheese frosting. He also got a large Lion paw candy melt on his cake.

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And then there were the players. I got the roster from the team mom. I made football shaped sugar cookies with royal icing. I piped each players name and number on the cookies with a #1 Wilton tip. There were also cookies for the coaches, managers, statisticians and videographers. Extra cookies were decorated with either royal icing or chocolate jimmies.

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There was also a special larger football cookie for a team mom and photographer, decorated with royal blue and golden yellow buttercream bursts.

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Congrats to the coaches and players for bringing the win home to our community and for all the accolades and pride that came with it!

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Football Playoff Sugar Cookies

Baking date: October 28, 2016

My son Nick’s 8th grade football team made it to the playoffs this year. As has been my custom with football playoff games for my boys throughout the years, I make treats for the players, coaches, cheerleaders, and fans.  There would be three rounds of playoffs, quarterfinals, semi-finals, and the SuperBowl.

Originally, I was inspired by these cookies:

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but decided that those would be the cookies I would make if the team got all the way to the SuperBowl.

For this first round of playoffs, I decided to make sugar cookies in the shape of footballs that were personalized. I use a recipe for the sugar cookies that I found on Food Network. For the royal icing, I always substitute one of the tablespoons of water with a tablespoon of almond extract. I think it improves the taste of the royal icing.

Here are all the footballs with the brown tinted royal icing. I left a portion white for the football laces:

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I also tinted some of the icing golden yellow and royal blue, which are the team colors. I used these colors for piping on names, numbers and other decorations.

The players’ cookies had their name and number:

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The coaches’ cookies had their names:

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The cheerleaders and their coaches had their name and a blue “pom” (tip #233) on each end of the football. Not easy to do with royal icing that is more flooding consistency, so my poms looked more like blobs.

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There were also cookies for the water crew — younger brothers and sisters of players on the team. On the extra cookies, I piped on Lions:

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And last (but certainly not least!), I hand shaped a large football cookie for the team mom:

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Our team was up against the top ranked team…and I’ll spare you the suspense. Our boys did lose and our playoff run was over after only one game.

But the important thing is…even when it was very clear the game was out of hand, our boys continued to play hard until the end. And the other important thing? We had cookies to celebrate what great kids, coaches, and fans we have!

Good luck in high school, fellas!

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2016 GVAA Walkersville Varsity Lions

 

 

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:

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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:

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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:

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