High School Graduation Cupcakes

Baking date: July 14, 2017

Months ago, I had been commissioned to make to make cupcakes for a graduating high school senior whose younger brother plays baseball with my son Alex. The one potential wrinkle…I had surgery on May 31 to repair/rebuild a ruptured Achilles and remove a bone spur on my heal.

I would be off of my foot completely for 6 weeks, and then move to a boot/walker for 2 weeks. By the time of the party, I would be in the boot/walker phase of recovery and able to take on this task.

Easy-peasy, right?

Well, not so easy to begin walking on a foot in a boot when you’ve been off of it completely for 6 weeks. But I did manage not only the 36 cupcakes, a career stolen bases record cake, but also a cake celebrating the college he would be heading to.

The first thing I did was make a bunch of candy melts in the shape of medium- and large-size Lion paws, letters, numbers, and squares:

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Then, it was on to the cupcakes.

The cupcakes were red velvet, at the request of the graduate. Given that I was just starting to walk, I used box mix for the cake instead of making it from scratch. As always, I add a tablespoon of vanilla when mixing to make it taste more homemade.

Because I had been asked to make 36 cupcakes, I had half of one box of batter leftover. I used that for one layer of a 9″ round cake to make his college-bound cake.

I started with blue and gold foil cupcake liners I found on Etsy (very pleased with this vendor’s service and the product I received), which are the colors for the Walkersville Lions. I topped the baked cupcakes with a swirl of cream cheese frosting — another confession — I used canned frosting (easier than making from scratch in my post-surgery state!). I then used blue and yellow sugar sprinkles on top.

But that wasn’t all! I made candy melt paws in royal blue and yellow to top some of the cupcakes. For others, I made square royal blue candy melts, and topped them with cream cheese icing dyed golden yellow, piped on with a #2 tip to from the tassels with a yellow mini-M&M in the center. I placed them on top of an inverted mini-Reese’s peanut butter cupBaker’s note: I bought a small tube of mini-M&Ms at the grocery check out line and had only 18 yellows, since the pack contains multiple candy shell colors. Also, if you are aware of any peanut allergies, you may have to forego the mini-Reese’s and just put the cap on top of the frosting.

Here are some of the cupcakes:

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Congrats Josh – and all the best as you head to Frostburg this Fall!

Josh Graduate

My pricing philosophy:How I price my work

Middle School Graduation Cupcakes

Baking date: June 18, 2016

As a special treat for all the 8th graders on my son Alex’s baseball team, I decided to make graduation cupcakes. I had done the same thing last year for a few of the boys on the team who were heading off to high school in the Fall. This year, it was the rest of the team’s turn.

The cupcakes were from a triple chocolate fudge cake mix in a baseball baking cup. To make the graduation toppers, I used square molds with light cocoa (milk chocolate) candy melts. Each mortar board was placed on top of an inverted mini-Reese’s cup and secured with buttercream frosting. I then added a mini-M&M in royal blue (secured with a dab of buttercream) and piped the tassels on with buttercream frosting dyed royal blue, along with each players name.

Here are the cupcakes:

In this picture, you can see a few of the mini-Reese’s poking out under the mortar board:IMG_5476

I made extra cupcakes for the rest of the players and coaches, using the royal blue and golden yellow butter cream. Both were leftovers from high school graduation party cupcakes.

The blue cupcakes had white sugar pearls and the yellow cupcakes had blue sugar pearls on top. Here’s one of the yellow cupcakes up close:

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Congrats to all the graduates — and on to high school baseball next year!

High School Graduation Cupcakes

Baking date: June 16, 2016

Many of my friends have kids that are now graduating from high school. One of them is my good friend Rebecca, whose oldest son Zack was part of the Walkersville High School class of 2016.

There was going to be a graduation party for her son Zack and three of his friends at a community park on a recent Friday. Rebecca asked me if I could make 4 dozen cupcakes for the event and was going to pay me for my efforts.

The schools colors are royal blue, yellow, and white. I decided to make royal blue velvet cupcakes, and top them with buttercream frosting dyed royal blue and golden yellow.

I piped on the blue or yellow frosting around the edge and then used the opposite color to create a peak. I topped all of the cupcakes with white sparkling sugar sprinkles.

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But I wasn’t done there! I created mini lion paws out of candy melts in royal blue and yellow. Some of those went on top of the cupcakes. I also made hearts out of the royal blue and yellow candy melts. They also went on top of some of the cupcakes.

I created square candy melts in royal blue and topped them with a mini M&M in yellow, and piped two loops of the yellow buttercream onto the top and over the edge to make a graduation mortar board and tassel. Those went on top of other cupcakes.

Finally, for the graduates, I created graduation mortar boards out of light cocoa (milk chocolate) candy melts. I topped those with blue mini M&Ms, piping on two blue buttercream tassels. I added each graduates name in yellow buttercream. These were placed on top of an inverted mini Reeses peanut butter cup.

Here are all the candy melts and M&Ms ready for decorating.

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Here are the four graduates’ cupcakes

Here are samples of the Lion paw, heart, mortar board/tassel topped cupcakes:

Finally, here are three of the four dozen cupcakes trays (not sure why I only took pictures of three of the four):

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Congratulations, Zach, Ethan, Jack, and Aaron!

My pricing philosophy:

How I price my work

 

 

Baseball Diamond Cupcakes Cake

Baking date: June 2, 2016

This is part 2 of a request by a friend of mine. The first was for her daughter’s 16th birthday party. This was for her son’s 8th grade graduation.

Her son and my son played baseball on the same travel/All Star team for a number of years (he has since moved to another team), have played football together, and basketball through recreational leagues. He goes to a local Catholic school and will be attending the public high school with many of his non-Catholic school friends next year.

I’ve made cakes for him before – about four home run cakes and a grand slam cupcake cake when he played baseball with my son. For his graduation,  he had requested another baseball diamond cupcake cake and he wanted it to be butterscotch.

I went to Pinterest to find a butterscotch cupcake recipe. The recipe I selected included a butterscotch frosting as well. I used white/blue/green cupcake wrappers that I found at the local grocery store because those are his school colors.

I set up the cupcakes on the board:

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And then I pulled up the photo of the last time I made this, so I could see where the “dirt” and the grass portions of the decorating should go:

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To frost the cupcakes, I used a wedding cupcake buttercream – it works just fine on regular cakes also. I then dipped the infield “dirt” portions in turtle brownie crunch. For the grass portions, I used vibrant green vanilla frosting and a #233 tip to pipe it on. The trick with the grass is to fill in the holes between the cupcakes. I start from the edge of the cupcakes and stretch the grass to the next cupcake. I build on that network, but inevitably, you’ll find that some of the icing sinks between the cupcakes.

I used some of the buttercream to pipe on the foul lines and the batters boxes.

I used bright white candy melts that I piped onto wax paper in the shape of bases and home plate to finish up the infield. The bright white candy melts were also used to make the large and small star shapes, with green frosting used to write letters on the stars.

I used two of the cupcakes to hold bright white candy melt baseballs. I used red sparkle gel to add the seams on the baseballs, but the sparkle gel is a little too runny for this. I’m slowly eliminating it from my supplies, as it tends to get runny after opening and it takes forever to dry (if it ever does completely dry).

Here’s the final design:

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Of course, I see the spots I missed with icing — no grass on the back end of cupcake with the pitcher’s mound. I wasn’t consistent with the placement of the grass along the foul lines in the outfield. And getting straight foul lines on all the cupcakes from home plate to the outfield was a bit of a challenge.

Here’s a view from the side:

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In spite of the flaws I saw, the graduate was thrilled. Congrats Mickey – can’t wait for you to join Lions Nation next year for high school.

Mikey

Snickerdoodle Palooza

Baking date: June 6, 2015

On Sunday, my son Alex has doubleheaders with his baseball team. This week was special because the 8th graders on his team are getting ready to move on to high school. I decided to make something a little special for those three boys.

The theme of the day was snickerdoodles. I started with snickerdoodle donut muffins. This is a variation of a recipe I had found on Pinterest. Here is a photo of the inspiration muffins:

Inspiration Snickerdoodle Donut MuffinsAnd this is how mine turned out:

A container full of snickerdoodle donut muffins

Snickerdoodle donut muffins up close

While these were mostly for the parents and siblings who were at the game, I decided to make a Snickerdoodle cupcake recipe with seven minute frosting from Martha Stewart for the players and coaches. The seven minute frosting took more like double that time to cool off in the bowl while whipping the ingredients. The recipe made more than 24 cupcakes, so even a few of the siblings got one.

This was the inspiration photo:

Inspiration photo from Martha Stewart

Inspiration photo from Martha Stewart

The one modification I made to the recipe was adding a special decoration on top for the three kids on the team who are moving on to high school next year.

So this is my version of the cupcakes:

To create the graduation caps, I used an inspiration photo from Pinterest. They are made from mini-Reese’s cups, a Hershey bar (cut into squares), a royal blue M&M (school colors are royal blue and gold) secured with icing, and icing dyed royal blue. I used a #1 tip to write the names with icing and make the tassels. I added a bit of meringue powder to the icing to get the tassels and names to set.

The inspiration caps used mini-M&Ms, but I couldn’t find them at my store, so I went with regular size M&Ms. You can also use an individually packaged square of chocolate (like Godiva) in place of the cut up Hershey bar. The edges of the cap will be much cleaner if you do that.

The cupcakes were a hit. The 8th graders had smiles on their faces when I called them out to get their special cupcakes (the graduation caps had melted a bit, even in the shade that afternoon). The parents’ of the 8th graders were so appreciative.

It was a small way to mark a big achievement for these boys. And a way for me to try another decorating technique on a group of very eager taste testers!

Basketball and Lion Paw Graduation Cakes

Baking Date: June 13, 2014

Our family was invited to a graduation party for two high school seniors – Lana and Sydney. Our son Alex plays baseball and basketball with Lana’s younger brother, and we’ve known the family for more than 5 years.

The families were hosting the party at one of their homes. There was great food, games, and music playing on a gorgeous Saturday evening. It was a really nice party.

The girls have been playing basketball together for years. Their high school team had made it to the semi-final game in the state tournament this year. I had made a cake for Lana to celebrate that feat.

There was a fabulous cake for the girls. But I never arrive at a party empty-handed, so I made a couple of special cakes to help celebrate Lana and Sydney’s basketball careers and the high school mascot, a Lion.

First was the similar basketball cake I had made Lana earlier. This time, I made it using a white cake mix. I separated out the batter into one half, one quarter, and one quarter. I colored one quarter royal blue, and one quarter golden yellow, which are the high school colors.  I then poured in the white cake batter and added the royal blue and golden yellow batter, swirling it around. This is what it looked like going into the oven:

Cake batter getting ready to head into the oven

Cake batter getting ready to head into the oven

Once the cake had cooled, I iced it using chocolate frosting, I then covered it with orange and black M&Ms to make the basketball. My husband said I should have used gold and blue M&Ms in the school colors — great idea for next time!

I also made candy melt lion paws in blue and gold. I used these as decoration around the cake. So here’s the final product:

At the party, the M&M cake was a big hit with the kids. It was gone pretty quick. I found someone who got a piece and asked if I could get a picture of the inside. Here’s how the swirling turned out:

Blue/gold/white swirls

Blue/gold/white swirls

The second cake was in the shape of a paw, using a special pan. I made a chocolate cake and decorated it with vanilla frosting as the base. The paw pads were decorated using a #17 tip with white icing dyed royal blue and golden yellow, with golden yellow icing trim around the base of the cake.

I made a candy melt basketball, with black sparkle gel frosting as the seams. I placed this on the center of the cake:

Lion Paw Basketball 2I used the remaining blue/gold candy melt paws around as additional decoration:

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Lion paw cake – view from the front

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Lion paw cake – view from the top

Sydney’s mom and her younger sister Riley came up to me at the party and asked if the basketball was edible. When I said yes, Riley got the biggest smile on her face and ran to get it.

Congrats Lana and Sydney!

 

Piano Graduation Cake

Baking Date: May 29, 2014

I was asked to make an 8th grade graduation cake for a local family. The oldest son plays on the same All Star baseball team as my son Alex. He’s earned two home run cakes and one grand slam cake already.

His sister Sarah Grace specifically asked if I would make her a special cake for graduation.  She has also earned a cake from me before, when she nominated her mom last year for the 2013 Orioles Honorary Bat Girl competition — and her mom won!

I was given instructions that her school colors are navy, white, and dark green. She plays the piano, is a cheerleader, and loves music. I was told any theme would be fine.

It was a fairly good size family party, so I decided to make a 1/4 sheet cake and 24 cupcakes.

The cupcakes were a white cake mix. I then separated the mix into half, and two quarters. I dyed one quarter navy (Wilton royal blue dye with a small amount of black dye) and one quarter dark green (Wilton kelly green dye with a toothpick worth of black dye).  I then alternately dropped the white batter and navy batter into half the cupcake papers, and the remaining white batter and dark green batter into the rest of the cupcake papers.

I decided to make navy/white frosting swirls and dark green/white frosting swirls on top. I learned how to do the two-color swirl by watching a YouTube video, and used a Wilton 1M tip to make the swirls. My kitchen was warm and the frosting needed to set a bit longer, so the swirls weren’t as sharp as I had hoped. Finally, I spelled out her name with white sparkle gel frosting on blue star-shaped candy melts, placed on top of the cupcakes. This is what the cupcakes turned out like:

I did a Google search for piano cakes and found this inspiration cake:

Piano inspiration cake

Piano inspiration cake

Sarah Grace requested a chocolate cake.  I made her a chocolate decadence cake. I frosted it with white vanilla frosting. I then added the piano keys, which were KitKat bars that I covered in black candy melts. I had to shave the extra candy melt drips off the sides before adding them to the cake. I then made the outline of the keys freehand in black sparkle gel frosting. In chocolate icing dyed black (it’s easier to make black icing when you start with chocolate), I piped on the word “Congratulations”.  I added some additional navy/white icing stars around the short sides of the cake at the bottom, and black icing stars around the front and back at the bottom of the cake.

So here’s a look at the cake:

Piano congratulations cake

Piano congratulations cake

And here’s the whole thing together:

Piano cake and cupcakes

Piano cake and cupcakes

Sarah Grace was very happy and reports that the cake was delicious. I hope the cake and cupcakes exceeded her expectations!