Saturday, August 25, 2012

A is for Andrew! And Alligators!

A means Andrew!  My little adorable neph Andrew turned 1!  And nothing says Andrew like an Alligator!  So to match some cute gator-plates, a gator cake was in order.  Nothing fancy, but big enough for a crowd - and something kids would like too.

I made my standard chocolate cake, filled with a yummo ganache and then a buttercream frosting airbrushed with my trusty Duff airbrush kit.  To make the gator, I considered a 3D "statue" of a gator but I wanted something BIG that matched the paper plates and decorations so I free-handed the picture with a toothpick on fondant and then just "colored" in by using my food colors as paint.  So cute, if I do say so myself :)  And I do!

To supplement, I added a dozen cupcakes with jimmies - in case the chocolate was too intense for anyone - and because who doesn't like variety!  I used an orange buttercream this time....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cupcakes Across America: House of Cupcakes - Princeton

Like every home baker and lover of cupcakes, I watch Cupcake Wars  and am frantic as I see the professional bakers make big errors, or worry when they are trying something new but am mostly humbled by the creative artistry in both decoration and flavor.  So how lucky am I to frequently be in the neighborhood of such greatness with House of Cupcakes in Princeton?  I'm LUCKY!  They appeared on Cupcake Wars in 2011 and as you might notice in their pic below - they won!  YAY!!

How cute is their shop - so cute - so Princeton - so delicious.

I stopped by there for Big Mama's birthday celebration.  Having a string of birthdays all in a row, we were a little caked-out so a single serving portions were in order. I swung by HOC to pick up a six pack for our little celebration.  They have up to twenty flavors on any given day and they are always so super nice.  They do minis too by advance order.  I got a mixed load on this day with Big Mama's favorite, Vanilla - or Vanilla Riot as HOC calls it, as the star: 

To fill out the mixer, I got a bunch of other flavors including Creme Brulee, Oreo & Peanut Butter cup. 

I've had a bunch of different flavors from HOC on many visits there.  The staff is always friendly and speedy in filling your order.  I've never had a bad experience or product out of this shop and their prices are reasonable - even for Princeton where everything is 10% more expensive.  I especially like their Red Velvet - so moist and for me, the exact cake to frosting ratio!

I <3 you House of Cupcakes!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

PacMan Birthday!

If there was an award for the worst blogger of all time, I would probably get it.  I’ve been so busy with work after a re-org that my writing has fallen aside a little.  Fortunately, I’ve still been baking, reviewing bakeries and keeping it real.  I’ve also developed an addiction for Fro-Yo.  What is it about self-serve frozen yogurt that gets people going?  Not to mention the ability to pour on the jimmies (sprinkles) until you can’t even see the fro-yo beneath only to have the high schooler at the register look at you judgingly?  Anywho, let’s talk baking!  One of my favorite days of the year is my birthday – if you know me and you’re reading this, you should know that!  Nine years ago on my birthday, my adorable sister did the unthinkable to steal my birthday thunder by having a child.  My nephew Braden was born and the entire family rejoiced in the hilarity that is having to share a birthday when all you live for is your birthday.  Incidentally, when Braden was old enough to understand that we “share” a birthday, he was none too pleased about it either.  In the years that followed “the birth” I have come to terms with the fact that a kid’s birthday always takes some sort of precedence.  So, as is the case, for many family birthday parties, I am the baker of choice for the cake! 
Braden is a huge video game fan.  He has all sorts of game devices:  a Wii, a Nintendo 3DS , an iPod touch pretty much devoted to game playing.  And through all of the amazing graphics and animations that are available for these systems, I was thrilled to find out that he is a huge PacMan fan.  I mean, what child of the 80’s didn’t love Pacman?  I still recall learning the ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’ signs in elementary school by drawing a little Pac man symbol around them and reasoning that Pacman would eat in the direction of more little dots.  Well it turns out that Pac man is now all souped up with some amazing graphics and faster moving ghosts and now he even moves in other directions besides right angles.  (How much math did we learn from PacMan?!)  So when Braden said he wanted Pac Man for his cake, how could I do anything but a round cake with a chunk cut out?!    But any idiot could do that.  And this idiot did…..  but PacMan is not a one man show.  He would have nothing if not for Inky, Winky, Pinky and Clyde – the famed “Ghosts”!  so It seemed like the perfect time to break out the air brush machine. 

I made a combo of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes – just a standard recipe for each and then covered them with an drape of fondant which I airbrushed to the appropriate bright colors.  Then a dollop of white chocolate for the eyes and how CUTE did these turn out!  I’m totally in love with them.  Without having kids of my own, I rarely get to experience the thrill of having other moms be completely jealous of what you made for your kids’ party.  Eat your hearts out moms!