Desserts/Pastries · Miscellaneous

Lucas’ Galatic Star Wars Birthday Party

Lucas' 4th Birthday

It was my Lucas’ 4th birthday the other week. And as his auntie/godmama, I’ve affectionately nicknamed him Lucasaurus.

Don’t let his charming smile, bright wit and adorable face fool ya. He can be a downright rascal—– a veloci-rascal!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But I just adore the kid to pieces.

So last year, when I mentioned to my seester (pictured above with her super photogenic fam) that we should throw him a Star Wars themed birthday party–she was all for it.

And that’s where I was in trouble. Now some of you all may have witnessed my tendencies to go overboard with certain things and that my OCD habits can get me in a tough spot. Well–then you have not met my seesters…..and in particular, my over-the-top party planning sister, T.

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Nearly 5 months before Lucas’ birthday, she started sending me texts about deals she found on party favors, decorating ideas she found on Pinterest, signage she had created, etc. The next thing I knew it, we were headed warp speed into Star Wars mania.

As for me, I just went along for the ride hoping my desserts would get the stamp of approval by the party planning Jedi.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But look at this little guy? How could we not get carried away?!

…Wrapped around his finger, he has us….

So then this happened.

Star Wars Dessert Tablescape

A bountiful Star Wars tablescape with desserts and goodies galore. But as much as I wish I could take the credit for all the galactic-goodness, I was only in charge of the desserts.

Seester did all the decor (that she started putting up 2 weeks before the party), cute signs, overflowing swag bags, and all the adorable touches that would have made the Jedi Council proud.

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Of course a regular Star Wars themed party wouldn’t cut it, so they upped the ante and arranged a Jedi Training Camp in order for all the padawans to prepare for their path to Jedi Knighthood.

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Lightsabers and Jedi Robes were a must, including cadet boxes to store all their goodies.

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To quench our thirst on the beautiful day, we sipped fresh Millennium Margaritas (for Jedi Masters 21+), Yoda Soda and Vader-Ade. Special props to my brother-in-law for hand squeezing the 25+ limes I needed to make the margaritas.

Trust me, we will never scoff again at those who own electric citrus juicers–DOH!

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And to fuel our Force, we summoned the Taco Master all the way from Orange County— I mean Tatooine. 🙂

Mouthwatering Carne Asada, Carnitas, Fish, Nachos….ideal nourishment to battle the Empire.

Taco Master from Tattoine

Back at our tablescape, Seester put together these cute Star Wars themed candies. Yoda Treats, Han’s Rolo, Edible Ewoks, & Thermal Detonators.

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And poor Han.

All he wanted to do was to come wish Lucas a Happy Birthday but then he got himself frozen in carbonite again.

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Seester got to employ her knife skills by carving a watermelon Death Star. Lord Vader would have been pleased.

Watermelon Death Star

Lucky for us, Chewbacca was kind enough to guard the goodies from any other Sith Lords.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Speaking of Sith Lords, I started off my dessert contributions by molding Stormtrooper and Darth Vader chocolates to place on top of the cupcakes. They later received a bit of edible disco dust for a bit of sheen….they are from outer space after all.

Darth Vader & Storm Trooper Chocolates

They perched atop rich Chocolate Cupcakes topped with big swirls of Vanilla Bean-Swiss Meringue Buttercream and sprinkles. Some of the cuppies were also topped with vanilla whipped cream.

Darth Vader & Storm Trooper Cupcakes

I paid additional homage to Darth Vader with these Chocolate Shortbread Cookies made with Valrhona cocoa powder.

Chocolate Darth Vader Cookies

How would it be a party without Master Yoda? These were Citrus Scented Sandwich Cookies filled with a Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Delicious, he was.

Yoda Sandwich Cookies

And to keep Darth Vader company, I made an army of Stormtrooper Sugar Cookies that were decorated with Royal Icing.

They were super fun to make and all of the cutters can be purchased from Williams Sonoma.

Storm Trooper Sugar Cookies

There were also pops for all to enjoy…..

Princess Leia Cake Pops & Death Star Rice Krispy Pops

“That’s no moon-it’s a Space Station!”

Not quite Master Obi-Wan but you’re close. They’re Rice Krispy Pops shaped as Death Stars. Not only a superweapon but super-yummy.

Death Star Rice Krispy Pops

And Princess Leia Cake Pops. Lucas really enjoyed these.

Princess Leia Cake Pops

And what’s a birthday party without a birthday cake?

I just had to make a little cake for our Jedi in training although Seester called it a “gentleman’s cake”. This was a 6 inch, 3-layer chocolate cake frosted with Vanilla Bean-Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I decorated the little cake with a fondant Stormtrooper accented with royal icing, fondant lightsabers, fondant Star Wars banner, Darth Vader molded chocolates, fondant stars and a star sparkler.

Star Wars Birthday Cake

At Jedi Training Camp, there was a Space Pod and stations for the padawans to bottle their own galaxies.

Lucas' Birthday

And then it was time to don their robes because…

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Duh, duh, duh, dum, da-dah, dum, da-dah………..

Darth Vader appeared! He was powerful, all-knowing, and—

Lucas' 4th Birthday

He liked parachutes. Yup, parachutes.

Lord Vader thought it was an integral training tool for the young padawans and can be seen here strategizing with the younglings.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Heck–Vader even cleaned up after the parachute exercises!

There may still be good in him.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Then he showed the padawans how to properly yield their sabers and spar.

I think that Lucas is saying– “You look a lot bigger on TV but I still pity the foo’ who messes with me!”

Oh yes, that was a Star Wars–Mr. T crossover moment.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Cake Time!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But that sneaky Vader used The Force to make the candles relight after Lucas blew them out.

He’s quite a trickser—when he’s not serving the Emperor and upholding the Dark Side.

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Lucas and Vader. They’re BFFs now.

The Lucasaurus always wins over the Dark Side.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

It was an action packed and exhausting day but the little guy had a blast.

And of course, we prevailed by restoring balance to the Force.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

The Force is strong with this one and I look forward to watching him grow into Jedi greatness.

Until our next Jedi Episode (hopefully for my other nephew, Leonidas’ birthday)— MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

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Desserts/Pastries

Sweet Treats from 2012 and Happy New Year!!

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

With just a few hours left in 2012, I wanted to wish you and your loved ones Happiness, Joy, Endless Laughter and epic Foodventures! May 2013 be everything you wish it to be and more.

I also wanted to show some sweet treats that I pulled together in 2012 but didn’t get a chance to share with you before.

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

Alice in Wonderland  themed cupcakes for my niece’s Birthday Tea Party. Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with Vanilla Buttercream with toppers that were molded from fondant and edible markers

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecake

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecakes

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chiffon Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Soccer Themed Chocolate Cupcakes for my nephew’s 3rd birthday

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Toppers made with fondant and painted with gel food colors, royal icing and edible markers

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Chiffon Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream topped with handmade White Chocolate Shell Candies for a Beach Themed Bridal Shower

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Lemon Curd & Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 layer Vanilla Bean Wedding Cake filled with Lemon Curd and frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream in a “ribbon” pattern

Vanilla Cake Pops

Vanilla Cake Pops for a Bridal Shower

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

3 layer rich Chocolate Cake filled with Raspberry Coulis and frosted with Chocolate Buttercream in a “petal” pattern for my niece’s birthday party

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

Creating a “petal” pattern with Chocolate Buttercream

And with that, I’m off to the countdown with friends and bubbly. Here’s to a delicious 2012 and Cheers to all of the wonderful things to come in 2013! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Desserts/Pastries

Happy Halloween with Jack Skellington Cake Pops!

Jack Skellington Cake Pops

 

 

If you’ve never seen The Nightmare Before Christmas  you simply must go out and rent it. Everything about it is so well done from the production/animation, storyline and music. AND it could be considered a Halloween or a Christmas film—that’s a two-fer!

At the heart of the film is Jack Skellington—the pumpkin king of Halloween Town. I’ve loved Jack’s character and his wish to create change and break the monotony. And although his attempts were a hot mess you got to just love a character who dares to be different.

 

 

I carved Jack a few Halloweens ago.

The first time I ever made cake pops covered in white, it immediately reminded me of Jack Skellington’s head. And for this year’s All Hallow’s Eve,  I thought it would be fun to make them. I admit, half of my Jack-Pops looked like him and the other half kind of looked like aliens. But I consoled myself by saying the “alien-Jacks” were him on his bad days. 🙂

Since I’ve already posted tips and the method to making cake pops, I won’t bore you by repeating them. However you can find it here. These Jack-Pops were made with my basic vanilla cake and buttercream.

Jack Skellington Cake Pops

 

 

HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

 

 

ps. Here’s a clip from the film–enjoy!

 

 

Desserts/Pastries

Hello Kitty Cake Pops

Hello Kitty Cake Pops

 

And within a blink of an eye, Maya was turning 6. How is it possible that my sweet baby niece is now a quick-witted and mature little girl? Time flies too quickly.

But one thing is for certain. She, like many little ones her age, LOVES Sanrio–particular Hello Kitty. So it was a no brainer for her auntie when I wanted to make her something special for her birthday dinner. Cake Pops—in the form of Hello Kitty. To which I turned to the Queen of Cake PopsBakerella.

 

Hello Kitty Pops

 

But these little kitties sure did cause me some agony.

My fault, completely.

Usually when I attempt something new, I plunge into deep research—reading everything I can find for tips, common problems, etc. Yet for some reason or another, I just plunged straight forward without a care in the world. That was first of MANY mistakes.

My first challenge came from the cake itself. The birthday girl, being a woman after her own auntie’s heart, requested chocolate cake. Which wouldn’t normally be an issue—-except when you’re trying to cover the cake pops with white chocolate. As a result, I had to dip the pops twice in the white chocolate and even then, I didn’t think it covered the dark cake color enough. Note to self—use lighter colored cakes when dipping in white chocolate.

Then there was the frosting.  Although I did make my own chocolate cake (versus using a boxed cake mix), I did employ the use of packaged frosting. Not necessarily out of laziness. But I didn’t want to use too much frosting and it’s near impossible to make a “little bit” of buttercream. Problem is, there’s a reason why Bakerella uses a whole can of frosting. I was worried the pops would be too sweet and only used about 8 ounces of frosting. But since I didn’t use enough binding, I could not properly shape Kitty’s head as the cake wouldn’t hold together well. She was quite bumpy and I had crumbs everywhere. Next time I won’t worry too much about the pops being “overly sweet” and will gladly use MORE frosting.

Which then brings me to the Candy Melts. I have never had great experiences using Candy Melts and this time was no exception as it would not melt properly. I quickly dumped them and went to using regular white chocolate that I tempered. MUCH better results.

Finally there were the edible markers which I had never used before. UGH! How is it that out of all of the markers from a fresh new pack, only the black one wouldn’t write well?? As such, over half of our Hello Kitties had blue eyes. Eh….at least they were diverse. I think I’ll pass on the edible markers next time and paint things on using powdered food colors and a brush.

 

Hello Kitty Cake Pops

 

So from my experience…..

  • If you don’t have a styrofoam block then hold off on making cake pops until you can pick one up. Trust me. Your life will be so much easier for it.
  • After you place the cake balls on the sticks, refrigerate them for another  few hours. The firmer they are, the better it will be when you dip/cover them in chocolate.
  • After you dip the pops in chocolate, GENTLY rap the lollipop stick with a spoon or with your finger to remove excess chocolate. If you’re too rough with them, they will definitely plop off. It happened to me….but then I just ate the runaway cake balls 🙂
  • Plan to make several more than you need. Chances are, there may be a few “flops”. But don’t let it get you down–even Jelly Bellies have “flops“.

 

Hello Kitty Cake PopsA “litter” of Hello Kitty Pops


In the end, despite my follies, the Birthday Girl really enjoyed them. And if Maya likes them–then her auntie’s job is done. 🙂

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Hello Kitty Cake Pops
Adapted From Bakerella

Supplies Needed:

1 9 x 13 Cake (Chocolate Cake Recipe Below)
Approximately 12-16 Ounces Cake Frosting
White Candy Melts or White Chocolate
Jumbo Heart Sprinkles
Rainbow Chip Sprinkles
Edible Pens or Black Food Coloring
Lollipop Sticks
Styrofoam Block
Toothpicks

Cover a large baking sheet with wax paper. In a large bowl, thoroughly crumble the cake. Add frosting and mix together with your hands. Be sure to use enough frosting so that the cake binds well together and can hold shape. If it’s too crumbly, add more frosting. Using a cookie scoop or small ice cream scoop, scoop/roll/mold an oval shape for kitty’s head. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into some of the melted chocolate and insert into the bottom of kitty’s head. Place the heads on the covered baking sheet and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Once chilled, take two white chocolate chips and dip the bottoms in the melted chocolate. Place/glue them on the top of the head as kitty’s ears. Stand them up in a styrofoam block to dry. When the ears are firmly attached to the head, dip the cake pop in a bowl of melted white chocolate. Then remove and gently tap off any extra coating. Stand them up in a styrofoam block to dry. When the heads are completely dry, apply the hearts and sprinkles to make a bow and the yellow rainbow chips to make a nose. Use toothpicks to assist in this process. Once everything is completely dry, draw eyes and whiskers with edible pen or paint on with food coloring.

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
6 Ounces Semi Sweet or Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cups Strong Brewed Hot Coffee
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Large Eggs
1½ Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of pan with parchment paper and cover with cooking spray. Place finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour hot coffee over it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for a few minutes. Remove plastic and stir until smooth.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. In a mixing stand, beat eggs for a few minutes until they become a pale yellow. Beat in oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add the chocolate. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Pour batter into the lined pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.