Thursday, July 28, 2011

Alice in Wonderland Part 2

Here are the official lovely photos from Jennifer Jasso's daughter's Alice in Wonderland themed 1st birthday party. All photos are by Jennifer Jasso.

At the end of the photos, see directions for the fondant decorations in the photos.

Fondant Decoration Tips:

I used marshmallow fondant tinted in various shades for all of the decorations. Edible food pins were used to add details to the tea cups, clocks, playing cards and Mad Hatter hats.

Marshmallow Fondant Recipe:

-4 cups mini marshmallows
-4 cups confectioners sugar
-2 tbsp water

Combine the marshmallows and water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. If the marshmallows are not fully melted when stirred, microwave for another 15-30 seconds. Stir marshmallow until completely smooth and if possible, add food coloring at this stage (kneading in the food coloring after making a white batch certainly works, but is messy and kind of a pain in the butt). Add powdered sugar until it will not mix any longer. Knead with hands and continue to add powdered sugar until mixture is a play-doh consistency and is no longer sticky.

To roll out, sprinkle confectioners sugar on a clean, flat surface and roll with a plastic fondant pin.

Mad Hattar Hats:

A marshmallow was wrapped in green fondant and then I added a circular disc of fondant to the bottom of the marshmallow with a bit of buttercream. I wrote the 10/6 on a small square of white fondant and attached this to the hat with buttercream as well.

Tea Cups:

I'm pretty positive there is an easier way of creating tea cups from fondant, but I basically used a "pinch pot" method until I had the right size and smoothness. These were very time consuming. I then rolled a small snake of fondant and attached it to create the handle.


These were very simple. I cut out circles of white fondant and drew on a yellow rim around the clock with an edible food pen. Edible food pens were also used to draw on the clock's dashes and numbers.

Playing Cards:

These were also pretty easy. I cut out small, thick rectangles from white rolled fondant and drew the numbers and suits on with edible food pen.

NOTE: Prior to drawing and fondant and using on cupcake, allow to dry to a sturdy consistency.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harry Potter Cupcakes: Pumpkin cake filled with homemade butterscotch

Most of you probably don't know how much I LOVE Harry Potter and children's literature in general.  I am truly a fan of the books and a big admirer of J.K. Rowling.  For Part 2 of Deathly Hallows, my husband and I unfortunately could not make it to the midnight showing of the film because it was a crazy busy weekend, but we did take our first trip to Whimsic Alley, an amazing Harry Potter themed shop in Los Angeles.  I purchased a Gryffyndor cardigan and Ali got a Gryffyndor tie.  Not only do they have a wand area, a clothing area (complete with actual robes) and a bunch of other really awesome merchandise, but the store looks just like Diagon Alley and has a Great Hall for Potter themed parties (is 26 too old to have a birthday there?)

For these cupcakes inspired by Harry Potter, I wanted the flavors to reflect foods common to the Wizarding world.  I know we're smack dab in the middle of summer, but since they often drink Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer in the books, I decided to do a combination of pumpkin and butterscotch.  These cupcakes are pumpkin flavored cake filled with homemade butterscotch sauce and topped with cinnamon brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream.

For the Pumpkin Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups Cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup water

Sift cake flour, AP flour, baking powder and spices together and set aside. Cream butter and brown/white sugars together by beating with paddle attachment of stand mixer for 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time. Add 1/2 of dry ingredients, alternating with pumpkin puree and water. Mix until well combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 way full with batter and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back to touch.

For Butterscotch sauce filling (recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen):

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in the vanilla after sauce is removed from heat.

Place sauce in fridge until cooled.

For the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

4 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tsp cinnamon

Simmer water in medium sized saucepan. Combine egg whites and brown sugar in large heat resistant mixing bowl and place mixing bowl inside of saucepan (DO NOT allow water to enter mixing bowl). Whisk continuously until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is slightly foamy and bubbly (should register 160 degrees on a candy thermometer).

Place mixing bowl on stand mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on high for several minutes until mixture is thick and whipped, like meringue. Once mixture is fully cool, beat in butter one piece at time, mixing well after each addition. After all butter is added, switch to a paddle attachment and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and cinnamon and beat to combine.

To assemble:

Once cupcakes are fully cooled, core out the center of each one with a small paring knife. Pipe cooled butterscotch into the center of each cupcake. Once all cupcakes are filled, pipe buttercream on top of each cupcake.

For the fondant decorations:

I used Harry Potter "temporary tattoo kits"to make these edible decorations, which are really rubber stamps that come with "temporary tattoo ink."  The stamp kits can be purchased directly from Whimsic Alley's website.  To use, apply ink from edible food pens (you could also use food coloring mixed with some alcohol or vanilla, but the food pens are super easy because you can apply them directly on the stamp and the color dries really quickly) and stamp just like you would on a piece of paper.

For the Hogwarts Crests:
  • Draw a crest shape on a piece of thick card stock and cut it out with scissors.  HINT: If you're unhappy with the way your crest comes out, you can print a picture of an appropriate sized crest from the internet.   
  • Place the card stock crest on top of a piece of rolled white fondant and cut along the edges of the crest with a sharp paring knife. 
  • Allow the crests to dry until they are easy to draw on (give it at least a couple of hours).  Once they are dry, draw a cross through the center of the crest diagonally and horizontally in orange. 
  • Fill in each section of the crest with the appropriate colors using food pens (this is also why the food pens are a more convenient tool than food coloring). You could make red, blue, green, and yellow fondant and cut it to fit the crest. 
  • Once the colors are dry, add black edible ink to Hogwarts Crest stamp and press firmly onto the crest.  Fill in any gaps or sparse areas with the black pen.
For the HP logo discs:
  • Create a batch of fondant in your choice of color (I used a mixture of Americolor yellow, orange and gold to create mine)
  • Roll out fondant and cut into disc shapes (you don't have to use an actual fondant/gumpaste cutter- I used the top of one of my spice containers because I liked the size)
  • Allow each disc to dry for 1-2 hours or overnight before writing on them
  • Apply edible black ink to "HP" logo stamp and press firmly into disc.  Fill in any gaps/sparse areas with black pen.
For the Snitches:
  • Create a batch of gold colored fondant and white fondant
  • Trace wing shape onto a piece of card stock and cut out to use as a stencil
  • Cut out wings from white fondant
  • Roll gold fondant into small balls
  • Allow the snitch balls and wings to dry 
  • Apply wings to snitch body by using a bit of melted white chocolate or buttercream

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

This weekend I made Alice in Wonderland cupcakes and cookies for an Alice themed birthday. It was a lot of work, but fun for me because I was an Alice fanatic growing up (and I still am a little bit). I have an enormous collection of snow globes, porcelain figurines, dolls, etc.

And I must say that it's a good thing that I love Alice almost as much as Harry Potter because doing these cupcakes and cookies caused me to have to see the movie next week instead of opening night AND postpone a pending Potter pastry extravaganza (you'll see- it'll be good).

More photos and instructions are to come! Happy weekend to all! I hope all my fellow Angelenos avoided Carmageddon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Funfetti Button Cupcakes

I love all things vintage and kitschy cool. At my husband and my wedding last year (it'll be one year on August 13th!) we had hanging mason jars on the aisle ways that held buttons and homegrown flowers. It was my aunt's idea, who did the arrangements. My other aunt grew the majority of the flowers in her backyard and drove them down from Napa, CA to Orange County, CA in an ice chest! It was amazing.

These cupcakes pay homage to those buttons (pictured below). They are also dedicated to Liam "Yellowbirddd" McCormick, Ali's (aka Mr. Pixie Crust) best man, who probably appreciated this wedding detail the most! :)

Wedding photography by Marc Olivier.

The circular buttons were made by cutting circles out of colored fondant and punching holes with a toothpick. The flower buttons were made with Mercken's candy wafers and a button chocolate mold from Bake-it-Pretty.

For the Funfetti Cupcakes (makes 36 mini cupcakes or 12 regular cupcakes)
3/4 cups AP Flour
3/4 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Scant cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Sift all of the dry ingredients together. Set aside. Cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time. Add 2/3 flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix just until almost combined. Add in the milk and sour cream. Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in rainbow sprinkles.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back to the touch.

For the French Buttercream
-1 cup sugar
-1/3 cup water
-2 eggs
-3 sticks unsalted butter
-2 tsp vanilla extract

Place eggs in mixer and mix with whisk attachment until foamy. Meanwhile, place water and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring. Continue boiling until mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour hot syrup into eggs as mixer is running. Make sure to pour slowly and aim for the center of the bowl. Continue whipping until mixture is fully cooled. Add butter a piece at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once butter is all added, switch to a paddle attachment and beat for another 2 minutes or so.