Easter cookie tips

eastercookiesEach year about this time we pull out the Easter cookie cutters and make bunnies, eggs and little chics. Don’t get me wrong, they are super cute and I love decorating them, but how about we all throw a cross in the mix too. After all, this season is about Him.

Before starting your baking this holiday, take a moment to read my tips on how to make sure your cookies keep their shape and my tips on flooding so you can WOW your family and friends.

By the way, these great cookie cutters can be found at William-Sonoma.com and they’re even on sale now.  Happy baking!

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shark cake

sharkcake_parentingWe’re in the middle of developing our spring line and we’ve just designed our “deep blue sea” invitation.

I have to admit, it may be my new favorite. We’ll likely launch it this coming Monday and I’ll make sure and link it here. But in the meantime, I thought I would share a cake that would be perfect for this fun celebration.

You’ll need a few ingredients:

  • 1 pound cake baked in a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan
  • 1 large (5-inch round) sugar cookie, from bakery
  • 1 large gumdrop, any flavor
  • Black food coloring
  • 1 can (16 oz) vanilla frosting
  • 1 roll red fruit leather (Fruit Roll-Ups)
  • ¼ cup mini-marshmallows
  • 2 Junior Mints
  • 1 tube black decorating icing

And a few tools:

  • Blue food coloring
  • Bread knife
  • Serving platter
  • Serrated knife
  • Kitchen shears or scissors
  • Resealable sandwich-size plastic bag (Ziploc)

For all the instructions and a template on how to trim out your cake, visit parenting.com. Enjoy!

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Chips Ahoy! Cheesecake sandwiches

chipsahoy_cheesecakeThose of you who read me often know that I love to bake and share my creations with others. (My challenge is trying not to eat them!) That said, I don’t always have time to be creative before we have guests over or before a snack is needed at preschool. So when I’m in a hurry I usually turn to kraftfoods.com. Their ideas are delicious and so simple. So this is my latest find that I’ll be impressing friends with this weekend. Enjoy!

  • 4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
  • 20 CHIPS AHOY! Cookies
  • 1 tub (7 oz.) BAKER’S Milk Chocolate Dipping Chocolate, melted

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until well blended. Stir in COOL WHIP.
  2. Cover bottom (flat) side of each of 10 cookies with about 2 Tbsp. cream cheese mixture; top each with second cookie to form sandwich. Dip half of each sandwich in chocolate; gently shake off excess chocolate. Place in single layer in airtight container.
  3. Freeze 3 hours or until firm.

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purse cake

pursecake1

It was like parenting.com made this cake for me. It’s pink and brown, my company’s colors, and it has my initial on the front… {wink}. We could even go farther and talk about the magnolias that they embellished it with. I mean, I did graduate undergrad from Mississippi State University. It’s the state flower for those of you who don’t know. I’m just saying!

Anyway, enough of me, here are the things you’ll need to make one of these incredible cakes for your little shopper.

  • 2 (8-inch) round cakes
  • 1 can (16 oz) vanilla frosting
  • Red food coloring
  • 1 Tootsie Roll Giant (2.25 oz)
  • 10 brown M&M’s
  • 8 to 9 marshmallows
  • 6 Whoppers
  • 1 sheet green fruit leather
  • 2 Tootsie Rolls
  • A bread knife
  • A resealable sandwich-size plastic bag (Ziploc)
  • A serving platter
  • Scissors or a small letter-shaped cookie cutter

To trim the cakes:

  1. Place the cakes on a clean work surface. Using a bread knife, trim the tops to make them level.
  2. Spread a small amount of frosting on one cut surface. Place the other cake layer on top, cut side down and sandwich the cakes together.
  3. Cut a 1-inch strip from one side of the layer cake. Cut a 2-inch deep slice from the opposite edge. (Check out template on parenting.com.)

For the pink frosting:

  1. Spoon 1/4 cup of the untinted vanilla frosting into a resealable plastic bag.
  2. Add a few drops of red food coloring to the remaining frosting to tint it a light pink.
  3. Place the cake on a serving platter, deeper-cut side down. Spread the pink frosting all over the cake and make smooth.

To decorate:

  1. Snip a small corner from the bag with the vanilla frosting. Pipe dots along each thin side of the cake and attach the brown M&M’s.
  2. Bend the Tootsie Roll Giant into a “C” shape to make the handle and place on the top of the cake.
  3. Cut the marshmallows with clean scissors, crosswise, into 4 slices. Arrange the marshmallows as flower petals along the top of the cake, adding some vanilla frosting to help secure them to the cake. Attach the Whoppers to the center of each flower with a dot of frosting. Cut small leaf shapes from the green fruit leather and tuck them underneath the marshmallow petals as leaves.
  4. Heat the 2 Tootsie Rolls in the microwave for 2 to 3 seconds to soften. Roll out onto a sheet of wax paper and cut out desired letter using clean scissors or a small cookie cutter. Press the letter onto the front of the cake.

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pop star guitar cake

guitarcake_ff1I’m planning a major baking session this weekend and was scouting around for inspiration when I came across this pop star guitar cake from Family Fun Magazine. (They give the original idea credit to Christina K. of Fort Worth, TX; Great idea Christina!)  This is simply too cool if your birthday kid is into Rock n’Roll or even Hanna Montana. And it goes perfectly with out “rock star” invitation and party decor! 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Guitar template
  • 19 x 13″ cake pan
  • Red, blue and neon blue food coloring
  • 2 ½ cups vanilla icing
  • 1 cup dark chocolate icing
  • 3 pastry bags, with 1 small round tip and 1 medium round tip
  • 1 Kit Kat
  • 6 brown M&Ms and 12 yellow M&M Mini’s

And here are all the easy steps:

  1. Cut the cake using the template and assemble.
  2. Make purple frosting by stirring 12 drops of red food coloring and 8 drops of blue into 1 1/4 cups of vanilla frosting. Spread the frosting over the guitar body.
  3. Lightly press a medium-size drinking glass into the frosting to mark the sound hole. Spoon 1/2 cup of the chocolate frosting into a pastry bag with a small round tip. Pipe frosting to fill in the circle. Use the rest of the chocolate frosting to cover the guitar neck and head as shown.
  4. Place one section of the Kit Kat about 2 1/2 inches below the sound hole. Spoon 1/4 cup of vanilla frosting into a pastry bag. Use the small round tip again to pipe on lines for frets and strings, then place the yellow M&M’s Minis as shown.
  5. For tuning pegs, put three brown M&M’s on each side of the head of the guitar, then pipe vanilla-frosting pegs leading to them.
  6. Stir 12 drops of neon blue food coloring into the remaining vanilla frosting. Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with the medium round tip. Pipe on dots and curlicues as shown.

And for those of you who love this idea, we’re in the process of developing a fun new Rock n’ Roll themed invitation and thank you card so make sure and check back with us in about two weeks. Happy baking.

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fun flyer cupcakes

Fun Flyer CupcakesThese little cuties were on the back of my M&M’s bag. {wink} Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 bags M&M’S® Peanut Chocolate Candies for Easter 1 18.25-oz. box yellow cake mix
  • 1 16-oz. can vanilla frosting
  • Green and yellow food coloring
  • Black licorice laces
  • 3 12-cup mini cupcake pans
  • 36 mini paper cupcake liners
  • Resealable plastic bag
  • Spatula

And here are the simple steps:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 (12 cup) mini cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared cupcake pans. Bake approximately 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, spoon 1/4 cup white frosting into resealable bag. Tint remaining frosting green and use to cover cupcakes.
  5. Use photograph as decorating guide for cupcakes. Arrange four M&M’S® Peanut Chocolate Candies for Easter, as photo shows. Pipe white frosting body in center and use licorice for antennae.

These would go beautifully with our bugs and butterflies custom invitations and party décor! Happy baking.

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baby bird nest cupcakes

birdnestcupcaketreeThis morning on Daytime Columbus with Gail Hogan I shared how to make these “oh so cute” baby bird nest cupcakes. These are perfect for a baby shower or any spring celebration, maybe an Easter brunch.

Here’s what you’ll need to embellish your cupcakes:

  • 1 can cream cheese or vanilla icing
  • Coconut
  • Robin egg candies or jelly beans
  • Ribbon, fabric pastel colors shown
  • Cupcake liners, pastel assortment from Wilton shown
  • Baking sheet
  • Three tier cake plates (8″, 10″ and 12″ stackable)
  • Small bird house (I got this one for a $1 at the craft store)

And here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Use egg whites only when preparing your batter so that it is ultra white. The lighter the batter the clearer the original color of your cupcake liners will be.
  2. Also, I suggest using apple sauce instead of oil so that they don’t become oily.
  3. Spread your coconut on a baking sheet and place it in the oven on 350 degrees for five to six minutes or until lightly toasted. You may want to toss your coconut before embellishing your cupcakes as the coconut in the center of the pan is likely to be lighter than the coconut on the outer edges.
  4. Cut 7-8″ sections of coordinating ribbon and wrap your cooled cupcakes.
  5. Ice each cupcake with a generous amount of icing, place three candies in the middle and then top with coconut.
  6. Shake off excess coconut and you’re ready to serve.birdnestcupcakeclose

Visit our shoppe to see our shower invitations and décor. And if you would prefer to see this craft in action, here’s the “how to” video.

Happy baking!

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baby rattle cupcakes

babyrattlecupcakesHere’s a unique twist on the traditional cupcake for your next baby shower (invites and decor). I love how simple these are to make and how easily you can adapt the design to any color scheme.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cake mix and required ingredients
  • 24 cupcake tins
  • White or cream cheese frosting
  • Decorating icings, tubes
  • Candy sprinkles
  • 8 yards curling ribbon
  • 24 lollipop sticks
  • 24 small gumdrops

And here’s how you make them:

  1. Bake your cupcakes according to the box instructions and allow them to cool on baking racks for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Frost your cupcakes with a base of white icing, pipe on your desired designs and add sprinkles.
  3. For the rattle, insert a toothpick in the side of the cupcake. Tie the curling ribbon around the center of the lollipop stick and add a gumdrop to one end. Insert the other end of the stick into the cupcake.

Image: Betty Crocker

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Valentine crispy messages

valentinecrispysSome of you may wonder why crispy treats. Why not sugar cookies? The simple answer is, I have a child that suffers from severe food allergies and crispy treats are an easy sweet to modify. So here goes. For this fun treat you’ll need:

ingredients:

  • 6 cups rice crispy cereal
  • 1 bag large marshmallows
  • 3 tsp butter (or vegan Smart Balance)
  • 1 can cream cheese icing
  • red food coloring

tools:

  • heart shaped cookie cutter (inch deep)
  • parchment paper
  • cooking spray
  • large spoon
  • resealable bags
  • icing connectors (NOTE: These are available at craft stores and are roughly 4 for $2)
  • #4 and #2 icing tips
  • toothpicks

valentinecrispies3And here are the steps:

crispy treats:

  1. Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat.
  2. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and spray your heart cookie cutter with cooking spray so that your crispy cereal will release easily.
  3. Add your rice crispies to your marshmallows and butter and stir well. (Tip: Add the cereal a little at a time to ensure you don’t make them too dry.)
  4. Spray a large spoon with cooking spray and then scoop up the crispy cereal and mold it into your cookie cutter. Pack down the cereal mixture and set the newly formed heart to the side. Repeat until you’re out of mixture and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes before icing.

 icing:

  1. Spoon out about a half of the icing into two bowls and tint it pink red (gel food coloring works best).
  2. Clip the corner of a resealable bag, insert the bottom of a connector, and add 3 large spoons of icing into the bag. Place the #4 tip on the outside, secure the top of the connector and pipe an outline on the heart.
  3. Microwave the remaining red icing in the bowl for 10 to 15 seconds until dripping but not soupy.
  4. Slowly spoon or pour red icing into the heart area and smooth it in with a toothpick. Doing this quickly will produce a smooth surface once the icing dries.
  5. Allow the icing to set for at least five minutes.
  6. Taking a second resealable bag, clip a corner, insert the bottom of a connector, spoon in the pink icing, attach the #2 tip and the top of the connector, and pipe your lettering.
  7. Set your crispies aside and allow them to harden for several hours before packaging. 

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batter up baseball cupcakes

baseball_cupcakesOkay, so I’m loving KraftFoods.com this week, but I had to share this idea too. These are super easy and a great addition to any baseball themed birthday. Or, better yet, just a great treat to take to the ball field this spring.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pkg. white cake mix (and required additional ingredients)
  • 10 OREO Cookies, crushed
  • 2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping or can white icing
  • Tube red decorating gel
  • White muffin cups

And here’s how you make it:

  1. Prepare the cake batter as directed on the package and stir in cookie crumbs; spoon evenly into 24 paper-lined medium muffin cups. (NOTE: To make these egg and dairy free, use puree apricots, two halves to one egg, in the place of the egg and ice with dairy free can frosting.)
  2. Bake and allow cupcakes to cool completely.
  3. Frost cupcakes with the whipped topping (requires storing the finished cupcake in the refrigerator). Or, if you decide to use regular icing, heat it in 15 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave and dip your cupcakes allowing the excess icing to drip off before setting them aside to cool. Use the decorating gel to draw stitching lines on top of each cupcake to resemble a baseball.

Happy baking!

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