Tutorial Tuesday: How to Build a Cupcake Tower for about $5

UPDATE: I HAVE CREATED A NEW VERSION OF THIS TUTORIAL! FIND IT HERE! For better laid out instructions!

So, my friend asked me to make her son a small cake and some cupcakes for his Nightmare Before Christmas themed birthday party. We were trying to find a cool cupcake tower for the cupcakes, but gosh they are expensive and kind of hard to find. I told her not to worry about it and that I would figure it out and make something…

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I knew what I WANTED it to look like. So I started sketching.
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Then I decided to do a small scale test… I cut out small pieces from paper. Basically, you need the center base. This needs to be made of to equally shaped tiered shelves, one with a slit half way up from the bottom and one with a slit halfway down from the top.
Then you’ll need your shelves. These need to have “x”s cut in them that fit over the tiered base. Each shelf needs to have these cuts made large enough to fit over the first few tiers and then rest on their spot.
I did three tiers. I went totally whimsical so that I could put my shelves off center.
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Assembly goes something like this:
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Once I saw this small scale working well, I went full scale. I LOVE foam core board and use it all the time. It’s what I make most of my cake boards from. It’s so sturdy and easy to work with. I lightly outlined my pieces using a measuring tape to get it all right. Then I cut them out with an exacto knife.

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I was really happy with how it turned out!

I figure you could cover the pieces with contact paper, scrapbook paper or wallpaper, line the edges with ribbon etc…

I’ll tell you what I don’t suggest doing lol
Painting it… with acrylic paint. Haha. Now don’t get me wrong, this turned out pretty well, but there were some rough times in between lol. I didn’t know that when you paint something like that, when it dries, it curls up. So I painted one side, left the house a while and came back to it all curled up! Yikes! I painted the other sides and that evened them out pretty well haha.

I also doubt acrylic paint is food safe, but I’m not placing any food directly in contact with it. So it will be fine.
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My phone doesn’t photograph purple very well. Sorry about that, but yeah, it’s black and purple. These cupcakes are going to look great on it.
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But seriously, this was so easy to make. I get foam core boards at the Dollar Tree for $1 each. I used three sheets for this and I used two $1 bottles of paint. So, yeah, this cost me $5 to make! Can’t wait to fill it up with cup cakes!

You could easily make one of these with simple circle shelves, crazy star shelves, whatever really! So simple that I can’t believe I never tried this before!

I have been asked a LOT of questions. I decided to try to make an illustration that MIGHT be helpful. God knows I’m not architect. Hopefully ANY of this makes sense. Try to make each step at least 3 inches tall to leave room for the cupcakes!!
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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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