It’s that time of year again!

Alright, time for a post… in fact, it’s long past time!!!!

So last year I participated in the Redditgifts.com Secret Santa exchange.
It was my very first of many exchanges on the site. It was not actually all that I hoped and dreamed it would be.

I was soooo crazy excited. I made my match this cake. I sent him that along with a bunch of other stuff. Some comics, some local candy, some star trek toys… I was so pleased that I had done such a good job putting together his gift.

I sent it out and I waited. And I waited. And… I waited.
Two weeks after I knew he received it… I finally got the email! My giftee confirmed receiving my gift! Usually people post photos and post glorious thank you notes. I’d been dreaming of this day! I open the page and staring back at me is just one sentence. Not even really a full sentence. “Got a box of cool stuff.”

*blink* F5… nope, still the same.

Sooo my giftee wasn’t as crazy appreciative as I had hoped. Ah well.
I signed up to rematch someone who’s gifter didn’t send them anything. And she was thrilled when I made her a Jaws pillow. So that was great! Since then, I think I’ve participated in about a dozen exchanges! Overall, my experiences have been wonderful.
I’ve given and received some really great stuff.

THAT SAID… this year my match was really cool! She loves colorful things and tie dye things and she even likes to bake! And she has a sweet tooth!

So, of course, I had to go for a round two on the cake!
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I knew right away I was going to make her a wonderful colorful striped cake. And I wanted to direct her to this blog so that she can see that I’m a cake decorator and not just some random crazy internet person who could be sending her some poisoned food lol.

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I knew right away I wanted to pick some wild colors. I went with blue, green, pink and orange. So much fun!!!

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Some photos of the layering. I used the zebra cake technique. Two table spoons of each color alternating in the center…

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I apologize for the sorry state of these photos. My phone cameras are pretty messed up right now and I plan on replacing them :p

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Home made buttercream… sooo yummy!

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Home made fondant. I wore rubber gloves to protect my lovely Star Trek manicure… but that’s a whole other story…

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Filled and covered with the delicious buttercream!

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All done!

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Packaged up to be shipped off to my lovely giftee!!!

I sent this off with a box packed full of some other things I made just for her and a few other trinkets. I hope she loves everything!

Reddit Secret Santa!

Hey all! Hope your holiday season is going well! I have been a busy, busy bee!
One thing I participated in this year was Reddit.com’s secret Santa gift exchange. I knew what I wanted to make my match!
I whipped up a triple chocolate cherry cake! Chocolate cake with chocolate chips, chocolate frosting and filled with cherries. Nom.
Then I decorated it for the theme!
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Entirely edible, mind you, I used my food color markers to add some outline detail :)
I wrapped the cake in wax paper and plastic and placed it in this tin for, hopefully, safe shipping :)
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You know me, I always have to make something fun and unique haha.
I sent this along with some other various sweets, some comics and a Star Trek key chain!
I hope this redditor enjoys the cake! I sort of wanted to take a bite out of it myself!

As for the rest of my weekend, I’ve been crazy busy!
We shopped all weekend with my in laws and I wrapped like a crazy person.
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If my nieces could stop being so cute, I could stop buying them so much stuff! lol

We also got our tree FINALLY this weekend. Brian wouldn’t let me get one as colossal as the one I got last year haha. I like the one we picked.
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So! Happy holidays to you and yours. I hope your holidays crafting and baking is going well and that everyone is happy and keeping warm. Even little Eddy in his Christmas sweater!
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Tutorial Tuesday: Cake Truffles

Alright guys! This is my first ever blog contest!
Heart Truffles

I’ve been busy creating all these wonderful cake truffles and I’m going to show you how to make them! And give you a chance to win some!

How do you win these delicious treats??

1. Subscribe to my blog! If you are already subscribed, you’re already one step ahead!

2. Leave a comment on this post suggesting some thing cake related you’d like to see me create a tutorial for! Or, if you aren’t baking inclined and don’t really have anything you’d like to learn, ask me a question about anything you’ve seen on my blog! It doesn’t even have to be baking related!

3. Share this post with your friends via facebook or twitter!
The buttons at the bottom the page make it sooo easy!

That’s IT. Next Tuesday (FEB 8, 2011), I will announce the winner and send them a package of cake truffles!

For those of you who don’t win, here’s how you can make them yourself!

You’ll need some cake. You can even just prepare a box mix cake, let it cool and then crumble it up for this, but I have a lot of spare cake lol. When I first learned how to level a cake, I was mortified. So much cake gets cut off! I couldn’t just throw it away. That seemed so wrong. I hate to waste food! So, I started saving all the cake tops in my freezer. Every few months… I turn that cake into truffles!
Tutorial
You’ll need
-your cake (at room temp)
-Frosting- about 2 table spoons, I used home made that I had on hand, but I’ll admit to using store bought frosting for these in the past with good results!
-One package of candy melt (also called almond bark or candy coating)
-sprinkles and candy for garnish
-wax paper
-a spoon
-a fork
-a frosting spatula
-and a microwave safe bowl
Tutorial

You’ll want to start by adding two table spoons of frosting to your cake. Then mashing it all together. Using your hands really is the best way to accomplish this.
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The consistency should be sticky, but not overly wet. Remember, you can always add more frosting if it’s too dry, but you can’t take any out of it’s too wet! You should be able to form it and have it hold it’s shape.
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Then you roll it with your hands and form tight little balls. I think they’re best when rolled about the size of a golf ball.
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I line them up on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and then leave them in the fridge to chill for 15-30 minutes. This will really help the chocolate harden around them.
When you’ve got about 5 minutes left before you want to take them out, go ahead and prepare your chocolate coating. If you have the discs, you can just pop them in the microwave in your bowl, but with these big blocks, I like to cut them down into small pieces to help the process along.
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I microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between.
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You’re really looking for a liquid consistency.
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Alright, now start by dipping the bottom of the cake ball into the melted chocolate. Then cradle it on a fork, so that excess chocolate can drip through the fork tines.
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Now you’ll use the spoon to pour chocolate over the ball while it rests on the fork.
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Let the excess chocolate run off the sides and the bottom, wave the fork back and forth over the bowl to shake extra chocolate off. When it’s not really dripping much anymore, use your spatula to move the ball from the fork to a cutting board or cookie sheet covered in wax paper. I use a marble board because it helps cool the chocolate very quickly.
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Add your candy or sprinkles before the chocolate sets!
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Depending on how fast you are able to work, you may need to microwave the chocolate coating again once or twice for 20 seconds or so to return it to it’s liquid state. You’ll also need to clear the tines on the fork a few times so that they don’t get clogged up with set chocolate or cake bits.

Now, they look finished, but I like to go a step further. I take a small knife and cut that excess off the bottom. And then look, underneath, there’s some cake showing through still. I don’t want that!
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I like mine to be all sealed up tight in chocolate to stay moist and delicious! So after I trim the bottoms, I dip the bottom again!
Tutorial Cake Truffles
Perfect!
And honestly, what’s better than a delicious cake and frosting ball coated in a tasty sweet chocolate candy shell!
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I’d also like to comment that is was hilariously hard to make these and take all the photos myself haha. I probably looked like a crazy person! I think I washed my hands a dozen times. At the points where I got food on my hands, I was washing them between each photo so I wouldn’t get my camera all grossed up haha! I think my skin is going to come off!
No regrets though! I’m glad I got this done… and on schedule!

So come on and try win yourself a box of these!
Heart Truffles

Contest entries will be accepted up until 9:00am (EST) Tuesday Feb 8, 201110:00pm (EST) Monday Feb 7, 2011. I realized I need to give myself time to pick the winner with random.org and draft and schedule the post!

(Unfortunately, this contest is only open to the lower 48 US states! I don’t think these would travel well outside of the country and it would probably end up being pretty costly to ship them! Sorrrrry!)

Happy New Year!

So, I ended up taking some unintentional time off from my blog this holiday season. I ended up just being too busy to deal with everything!

I made some cakes, of course.

I made a cake for K&G Bike Center‘s Christmas party.
K&G Bike Center Xmas Cake

I also made a cake for a Christmas party at my work:
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I hope you all had a glorious holiday season! I know I did!
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I just got one of my most exciting Christmas gifts yesterday!
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An airbrush set and tons and tons of Americolor food color!!!!

2011 is going to hold some really awesome things for this blog! I’m going to attempt to host tutorial Tuesdays! I’m working on some other ideas for theme days. We’ll see how it goes. Get ready for lots more cake!!!

Salvaging Undercooked Peanut Brittle

I don’t always bake. I am a true lover of sweets though and this time of year, there’s just so many other good things to be made. I have never made peanut brittle before, but I decided to give it a try. It’s delightfully crunchy, sweet, salty and sticky. It’s basically the perfect holiday treat!

I invested in the biggest bottle of Corn Syrup I could find at the store and bought a lot of sugar. When I do something, it’s kind of go big or go home. Last year I made peppermint bark and cake truffles… and I mean… I made TONS of it. My husband was probably SO sick of eating the stuff. I had truffles lined up on parchment paper filling the fridge. What can I say, I just get on these kicks…

Anyhow, So I used this simple recipe:
1 cup corn syrup
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tblspn baking soda
1 tblspn butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup peanuts

Bring corn syrup, sugar, salt, water and peanuts to a boil with a candy thermometer, stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture up to hard crack (290-300), stirring more at the end, you don’t want the peanuts to burn. It should be turning a golden color.
Remove from heat. Add vanilla, butter and baking soda. Stir it up until mixed. It should double in size.
Pour onto two greased baking pans.
I kind of lean them back and forth to spread it out. Once the edges cool, I hand pull it so that it gets thin. It’s something you figure out how to best do after a while. You’re supposed to wear rubber gloves. I just get burnt. It happens…

(There are MANY variations how to make peanut brittle. Some involve different ingredients or methods. This is simply the one I’ve chosen to use. It’s simple and works well for me… MOST of the time…)

However, twice now I’ve made a batch and had it come out… well… a gross yellow color. And it doesn’t even taste good. It’s too tacky in your teeth. Evidently, I didn’t cook it long enough, even though the thermometer read 300!

So what could I do? The first time I tossed the offending batch. Heartbreaking, I know.
This time I was determined to fix this some how. I googed how to fix it. I literally found ONE site where someone had microwaved it and then reheated it on the stove. They still weren’t totally successful though because they burnt the peanuts. Well, hell… I can do this I decided. I will make it happen.
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I considered my options and decided to just smash it and put it back in the pot. I split it into two batches so I could have more room to sir in the pot. I thought of adding more liquid, but decided not to. I started on medium heat, but turned it down to a bit below medium. KEEP STIRRING. christmascrap 018 christmascrap 020
While it’s still semi solid you MUST keep stirring or it WILL burn.
I thought it was never going to turn into a liquid, but of course it did. I gradually turned it up as it melted more. But kept stirring occasionally to keep the peanuts from burning on the bottom.
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You haaave to let it come back up to hardcrack stage. If you don’t it’s not going to set right. I wanted to just stop and pour like 400 times because it looked and smelled ready, but I knew I just couldn’t. I stirred like crazy to keep it moving and not let it burn. As soon as it reached 300, I poured it.
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I pulled it out once it was cool enough and broke it up.
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Guess what? It was excellent! As if I’d never messed it up to begin with! I was so happy I wasn’t going to waste another 2lbs of brittle!

It’s the perfect handmade gift! You could make and bag enough for probably 10 people for under $10 and it’s such a thoughtful gift.
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(And yes… my fingers hurt intensely after hand-drawing all of those tags… Ohhhh the pain I put myself through for those I love!)

I hope this helps anyone who was as lost as I was! Happy Holidays and happy treat making!
Most of all have fun and be careful! I have sustained a few burns from my brittle making adventures this year! Mostly from hot sugar bubbling and spitting out of the pan! I’m starting to think candy makers probably wear long sleeves. Ouch. I have burn blisters on two of my favorite tattoos right now and that’s a bummer!

Anyhow, I cannot waaait for Christmas! I have everything all wrapped up and ready to go! So come on and get here already! I’m super pumped to make peppermint cupcakes… and that means a lot coming from me! Everyone knows I am not a huge fan of making cupcakes!
My Christmas Gifts

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