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…

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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

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!!!

Sponsored

Foodventures at the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop

 

A few weeks ago I was flown out to Chicago to attend the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop <insert high-pitched squeals of joy here>.  It truly was an honor to join 26 amazing food bloggers from across the country for a trip filled with all things Wilton!

Early Saturday morning we were whisked away to the Wilton Headquarters. And although I hadn’t met any of the other bloggers prior to the trip, I instantly knew I was with my kind of peeps the moment we walked through Wilton’s front doors as everyone began feverishly snapping away photos. It’s wonderful to be around people who get me 🙂

 

Here are a few demo cakes that they had on display

 

We spent the next several hours practicing our piping skills, experimenting with fondant, touring the site, and learning about the hottest Wilton trends.

 

Sandy Folsom, Director of the Wilton School, was our main instructor for the day.

Some of my buttercream rosettes, stars, and basket weave.

 

And of course, what better way to demonstrate our newly acquired skills than a cake-decorating competition! We were broken into teams and given about an hour to decorate a two-tier cake. My fabulous teammates included Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen and Vanessa Druckman of Chef Druck Musings.

 

Some of our competition supplies.

You would think that an hour would be plenty of time to whip out a nicely decorated cake but trust me, it’s much harder than it sounds! So much talent with so little time! But we were quite happy with our final product. 🙂

 

Our bright and colorful “spring” themed cake.

Cake Decorating Contest : Wilton Blogger Workshop

 

As I had mentioned, we did a quick tour of the facilities that included the prep rooms, photo studios, and testing kitchens.

 

One wall in their prop room…….needless to say, I need to get me a prop room stocked like this 🙂

 

 

Snapshot of a photo set up. And yes, those are holiday items being photographed in June!

 

We were then zipped away to a quick stop at the Wilton School and the Wilton Enterprises. The talented Colette Peters happened to be teaching a Masters Course when we arrived at the school. I was a bit giddy when we saw her—so much to the point that the pic I snapped of her was so blurry that I’d rather not post it.

 

We did a little sampling of goodies in the test kitchens.

 

And what could top a day filled with cake decorating, photography, eating, and meeting talented food writers? Just one thing really……SHOPPING!!!

This year marked the 25th anniversary for the Wilton Tent Sale—-and was it ah-may-zing! A ginormous white tent was jammed packed with over 3,000 items up to 75% off! Every item a baker could dream of……and even some housewares and scrapbooking supplies, too! I picked up so much loot that I had to ask the hotel for an empty box to check on the plane. I obviously didn’t prepare well enough 🙂

 

Baking tools, GALORE!

My loot shamefully spread all over my hotel bed

 

Our day ended with a celebration Awards Dinner where we all got to enjoy delicious food, recount on a wonderful trip, and were given awards from the cake decorating competition!

 

Our awards for the evening.

Our competition cakes

 

Our team took home the award for “Best Use of Color”—and we sure did use tons of it!

 

Yours Truly, Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen and Vanessa Druckman of Chef Druck Musings (photo courtesy of Wilton)

 

My cake statuette is currently standing proud in my kitchen

It truly was an AMAZING, fun-filled, and jam-packed trip! In addition to gaining more exposure to Wilton and their long-standing contributions to the baking world, I am honored to have been in such wonderful company with the talented food bloggers in attendance. I look forward to our continued friendships!

And after a good amount of persuasion and encouragement from these talented ladies, I FINALLY took the plunge. Yep, it’s true—we’re now on Twitter!

And if you haven’t done so already, be sure to “LIKE” us on Facebook!

I’d like to extend a huge hug of gratitude to Wilton for such a memorable experience. THANK YOU for your extreme generosity and for taking such good care of us!

 

 

Disclosure: Although I received Wilton products and the trip to the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop, all opinions and views are my own.

Desserts/Pastries

“Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Mimi is one of my oldest and dearest friends that I’ve known for almost 25 years. We’ve shared so many milestones, made so many memories……..needless to say, I love me some Mimi 🙂

So you can imagine my utter glee when I found out that she was expecting twins!!! In fact, the twins were such eager little ones that they arrived almost two months early. We were excited to welcome Baby Christopher and Baby Abigail at the end of February—and both are getting stronger with each day!

Mimi and Jinhyeong had their baby shower this past weekend and the theme was perfect—–Two Peas in a Pod. The color scheme was green and yellow and with that, I just knew what I wanted to bring to the baby shower.

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Lemon Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd and a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting—-and topped with fondant sculpted peas! Aren’t the peas darling?

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

I must admit, I spent more time making these little fondant toppers than I did making the cupcakes—-but they were so much fun! I used premade fondant and dyed them with food color gels to get the right hue for the peas and shells. I also painted on some eyelashes and rosy cheeks for the “Baby Abigail peas” to delineate them from her big brother Christopher.

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Fondant is pretty fun and easy to work with—quite reminiscent of sculpting with Play-Doh! I also learned from my cake pops to nix the food color markers and painted the faces with food color gels and toothpicks. MUCH more effective don’t you think?

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the greatest fan of the flavor fondant. But it’s the perfect medium to sculpt things with. Just be sure to use a tad of water when you adhere the pieces together or cornstarch when you want to prevent the fondant from sticking.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t give full credit to my nieces Nina and Maya for rolling out all the little peas while I shaped the shells. They were such troopers! 🙂

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Over all, I think the new Mama, Papa and their guests enjoyed the “Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes. They were whimsical treats to accompany the oober cute decor that the hostesses prepared. 🙂

Just my small contribution to Welcome Baby Christopher and Baby Abigail!!!!!!!! xoxo!

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“Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes
From Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 28-30 Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
4 tablespoons limoncello
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup lemon juice
Zest of two lemons

For the lemon curd:
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks

For the cream cheese limoncello frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoon limoncello
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 drops yellow food color

1. Prepare the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat an additional minute. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

2. Prepare the lemon curd. In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.

3. Prepare the cream cheese limoncello frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.

4. Assemble the cupcakes. Cut a hole into each cupcake with the large end of a melon baller or the back end of a large pastry tip. Fill each cavity with the lemon curd. Fill a pastry bag with the cream cheese limoncello frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. Top with fondant peas.

Desserts/Pastries

“I’m a Big Boy” Cupcakes

Last month my friend Ashley put in a unique cupcake request to celebrate a momentous occasion in her eldest son’s life—Potty Training! In an effort to get him excited about this new phase in his life, she was throwing him a “Bye-Bye Diapers” celebration and wanted cuppies with some undies on them 🙂

I was intrigued and quickly accepted the challenge. Instead of worrying about cake flavors and frosting types (like I usually do when filling orders), I was consumed with how to best illustrate these whimsical cuppies and enlisted the help of the BF. Isaiah is quite artsy and always is able to create some beautiful work. And yes, I realize that I’m a lucky gal for dragging in the BF to not only decorate cupcakes but make BVDs!

For the cake, I settled on a simple Vanilla batter as I find that kids “J’s” age gravitate more to the classics–chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. Amy Sedaris’ Vanilla Cupcakes were just the trick to a quick and tasty Vanilla cuppie. As for the frosting, kids typically like frosting better than the cake–and usually the sweeter the better! My standard quick-vanilla-butter cream-frosting was in order.

And finally, the decorations—which turned out to be the most difficult decision. I knew I would be happier with the overall look if I used Fondant for it’s smooth, clean lines and it would be much easier to cut shapes out of it. However, if you’re anything like me, I really am not a fan of the taste or texture of eating fondant. And if I don’t like it, I can’t expect the kiddies to either. After much deliberation, I settled on a diplomatic compromise. For the “flavor”, half the cupcakes would have a big mound of butter cream frosting and be topped with a “BVD” fondant  decoration. For the “look”, the other half of the cupcakes would be covered in all fondant.

The process with the fondant was actually quite fun! One just needs a bit of cornstarch to ensure it doesn’t stick while rolling it out and you need to be sure to store the unused fondant in airtight containers to prevent it from drying out. Isaiah and I got a pretty nice assembly line pumping them out, too. I’d primarily roll out the fondant and cut the “BVD” shapes and he would pipe the red accents using colored royal icing. For these cuppies, I used Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing recipe as it uses meringue powder instead of egg whites. This is particular nice since some folks are wary of using/eating raw eggs.

We were quite happy with the end result of our “I’m a Big Boy Cupcakes”.  It had a great playfulness from the bright colors we chose and of course, because of the “BVDs”. The Big Guy also seemed to enjoy them as he took a big whomping bite directly from the top–frosting, fondant, and all!

Just goes to show–No decoration is too silly. And in fact, the more silly–the better!!!

Wishing you tons of Luck, “J”! You’re a BIG BOY, now! 🙂

Cupcakes packed and ready to go!


“J” Approved 🙂 Pic courtesy of his proud, Mama.