Category Archives: a party

Strawberry Cone Cakes

Last weekend I was invited to a Pink and Purple Potluck for my friend Elise’s 21st birthday (yes we have  the same name, and yes, it’s very confusing). Now, pink and purple foods weren’t mandatory, but you know how much I love themes. And when I think pink, I think adorable…and when I think adorable, I think foods that look like other foods. Hence the cone cakes. Now what is a cone cake, you ask? Why a cupcake inside an ice cream cone, of course!  I decided to make them extra authentic by incorporating real strawberries into the icing. It was crazy how much they looked like strawberry frozen yogurt. If you want to give them a try, you’ll need:

  • 18 flat-bottomed ice cream cones
  • 1 package vanilla cake mix
  • pink gel food colouring
  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries
  • sprinkles
Start off by preparing your cake mix according to the package directions, and preheat the oven. If you’re cute, you’ll add a little pink food colouring so the inside of the cone matches the outside (the more realistic the better).
Stand your cupcakes on a baking sheet, and fill them up half-way. This part is crucial. You may be tempted to add more batter, but DON’T! If your cones overflow, you will have to pick bits of cake off the outside, and that is just icky. Trust me, I know from experience.
Bake them according to the package, and get started on your icing. Pulverize your freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor. It is very important that they be freeze-dried, and not just regular dried. You can find these at most bulk stores.
In a large bowl, cream your butter until it’s soft and smooth. Using a wooden spoon, add the icing sugar one cup at a time, and finally add your strawberry powder. The strawberries should make the icing nice and pink, but if you want you can add some more food colouring.
When your cone cakes have cooled, fill a piping bag with icing and a star shaped tip. Pipe liberal amounts of icing onto your cone cakes, and sprinkle with a few decorations.
These babies can be tricky to transport. I suggest covering a rectangular cake pan with foil, and nestling the cones into holes in the foil.
Give these a try for your next Pink and Purple Potluck. Or I guess you could make them for a regular party too. Happy baking!

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Filed under a party, adorability, cake, cupcakes

Itty Bitty Figgy Pudding

I have always had a thing for miniatures. I started collecting tiny trinkets when I was a little girl, and when I see an opportunity to shrink something down to dollhouse size, I just can’t help myself. These Itty Bitty Figgy Puddings make adorable table favours, and couldn’t be easier to create.

 

 

Take a dome shaped chocolate, drizzle a bit of royal icing on top, and decorate it with teeny tiny holly sprinkles. I was lucky enough to happen upon these Wilton Holly Mix Sprinkles at HomeSense last year. You can find them at some bulk or craft stores, but if you can’t track them down, design your own topper out of candies or fondant.

For the icing, mix together 1/4 cup of icing sugar, a pinch of cream of tartar, and about a teaspoon of water. Adjust the proportions of water and sugar until you have a nice thick consistency. Dollop a little on top of each chocolate, and press in a pair of holly leaves before the icing sets.

Now, these may not be the most delicious item on your dessert tray (royal icing and chocolate isn’t exactly a winning combo), but it’s what’s on the outside that counts, right? If you want something a little more gourmet, you can experiment with different icings, but I found that for an authentic look, royal icing worked best.

Can’t you just picture your beautiful holiday table with a little figgy pudding waiting for  each of your guests at their seat? And to give you an idea of just how teeny these are, here’s one more photo.

 

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Filed under a party, adorability, candy, holidays, super simple

Candy Cane Cake

Welcome to day 4 of my 12 Days of Christmas posting! After seeing a ton of these adorable cakes popping up online, I thought I would give it a try. Just alternate layers of white and red cake (I used a mix and added 1 tbsp of red gel colour and 1 tbsp of cocoa to half of my batter), and you have an easy candy cane effect. It’s always fun to have a little surprise to cut into.

I iced the cake in white buttercream. It was my first time colouring buttercream icing white with food colouring, and I was surprised by how much colour it required. The effect is great if you want a pure white look without using shortening though (shortening is gross. always use real butter in your icing!).

The decoration on the top is simple: take 10 mini candy canes (or more depending on the size of your cake), and pair them together in hearts. Instant cute holiday appeal.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing another last minute handmade gift idea; see you then!

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Filed under a party, cake, candy, holidays

Evergreen Brownies

Holiday party season is fast approaching and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll take any excuse to get creative in the kitchen, but Christmas themed baking really gets me going. Sometimes I go overboard around the holidays and spend more time slaving in the kitchen than catching up with friends and family, so I decided it was time for a treat that screams Christmas without kidnapping me for 3 hours. For these tannenbaum brownies, you’ll need:

  • one batch of your favourite brownies, baked in an 8 inch round pan. I used this recipe here, and skipped the icing. They turned out moist and delicious! A mix works just as well if you’re feeling lazy.
  • 1/2 cup green candy melts (or white chocolate and green food dye)
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles or decorations (my snowflake sprinkles are from bulk barn)
  • 8 small yellow candies like Smarties or Misty Mints

When your brownies are cool, cut them like you would a pie into 8 equal slices. Feel free to make more skinny minny slices if you want.

Put your candy melts into a ziploc bag, and microwave them on high for 30 second bursts until they are melted. Be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll scorch the chocolate. Between each blast, squish them around in the bag to help the melting process.

Lay your brownies out on waxed paper (or something) to avoid mess, and snip a tiny corner off of your ziploc bag. One by one (trust me, I tried to do them as a batch and the chocolate cooled too fast) drizzle your candy melts back and forth across each tree. To get the best results, hold the bag about 6 inches above the brownie, and move quickly. Sprinkle (or strategically place for optimum beauteousness) your decorations right away so they stick before the chocolate cools. Add a yellow “star” to the top of the tree with a dab of extra chocolate. Now, and only now, can you move onto your next brownie. Repeat this process until you’re all done.

If you want to get really spiffy, you can cut yellow stars out of fondant, or pipe them all fancy-like with royal icing, but hey, this recipe is supposed to be about simplicity.

These will keep in an airtight container for a few days, but I can’t imagine that they will last that long. With all this extra time on your hands, you can rock around the Christmas tree and chug eggnog like you’ve been meaning to all year.

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Filed under a party, holidays, super simple

Half Eaten Cookies

I ventured up to Kingston to reunite with my friends for Halloween this past weekend, and as usual, everyone pulled out all the stops with their culinary contributions. Here are a few photos of our fabulous tricks and treats.

To make these simple, spooky treats, just chop the end off of a store-bought cookie (or make your own if you’re a hero), and wrap a set of gummy teeth around the “bite”. For added drama, drip of few drops of red icing around the teeth for oozing blood.

My friend Lisa used Bakerella’s recipe for these creepy eyeball cake pops. She served them on forks and knives for a little added gore.

And check out this amazing cauldron cake that my friend Candace made! She recently started up her own baking business. Check out more of her stuff here.

I know our treats were adorable, but hey, we looked pretty cute too.

Hope everyone had an epic Halloween! Now to commence Christmas party planning…

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Filed under a party, cake, candy, cookies, food on a stick, holidays

Meringuebows

Now what is a meringuebow you ask? Why a  hybrid between a meringue and a rainbow of course. Umm, duh…

These fluffy little creations were inspired by the cloud-like appearance of meringues. And every cloud deserves a rainbow, so I created these airy little treats that are almost too cute to eat. This recipe will make 12-16 meringues. You’ll need:

  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • red, yellow and blue gel food colouring

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees.

Depending on the size of your mixing bowl, you may have to divide the recipe into two batches. Trust me, I have had meringue overflow in the past and it is a sticky, sticky mess. Beat your egg whites on high with the cream of tartar using a hand mixer or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar as you continue to whisk the mixture. Keep beating until VERY stiff peaks form.

Divide the meringue into two bowls. Now divide one of those bowls into 3 smaller bowls. Add a small amount of gel food colouring (I suppose you could use whatever colours you like, but I think that red, blue and yellow are the cutest), to each bowl and fold it in with a spatula until the colour is evenly distributed. Be careful not to deflate your meringue with “aggressive” folding.

Fill 3 piping bags (or zipper seal bags) with your coloured meringue, and pipe out six rainbows onto a parchment lined baking sheet. You can use a tip if you like, or just go naked. Start by piping a 3-4 inch curve of pink, followed by blue, followed by yellow. Once you’ve piped your rainbows, add a meringue cloud to each by overlapping a large dollop of white meringue with the edge of your coloured meringue. Feel free to be messy with your clouds. Clouds are meant to look a little wild.

Bake your meringuebows for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The rainbow meringue will cook faster because it is not as thick, so wait until your clouds are nice and crisp before removing them from the oven. There will be a nice textural difference between the white and coloured meringue.

I was so impressed by how well the meringue held its colour! Can’t you picture yourself serving these at a fairy princess birthday party? Now I just have to kidnap a toddler so I have an excuse to make them again.

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Filed under a party, adorability, candy, cookies

The Hosts With the Most

Just swimming in a sea of Philadelphia gift bags

As you may have heard by now, the hosts of Kraft’s Real Women of Philadelphia Canada have been announced, and I am one of the lucky four. Along with appetizer host, Angela Amati, entrée host, Lyndsay Wells, and dessert host, Laurie Pearson, I will be leading Real Women’s Canadian online community as side dish host. There is a bitter-sweetness to this transition as we leave behind our time in Toronto, but I’m looking forward to what’s in store. The four of us will be introducing the community’s next contest on July 25th, so keep your eye on www.realwomenofphiladelphia.ca.

I can’t express how honoured I feel to have participated in the cook-off with such an incredible and diverse group of women. Each of you inspires me to be a better person and a better cook. Candice, Miriam, Sue, Elisa, Mandy, Danielle, Lisa, Kristen, JoHanna, Andrea, Leanne, and Althea, getting to know you has been a privilege.

Here are a few snap shots of the gala. The evening was absolutely spectacular, and everyone was dressed to impress. The winning dishes were announced as they were served to guests in the ballroom of the Thompson hotel. It was incredible to see 180 portions of my winning dish come out of the kitchen. Needless to say, the dessert finalists didn’t have much appetite, as they had to wait until the end of the meal to find out who had won.

I wish I had documented the experience more thoroughly, but my euphoria kept me from my camera. The lovely people at Eqal have uploaded photos here http://www.realwomenofphiladelphia.ca/post/awards-dinner-snapshots so you can get a better picture of the evening.

After getting the news on Wednesday night, we were in store for an early morning. We headed off to the Kraft kitchens at 6:30am on Thursday for a long day of filming. Luckily, there were plenty of snacks on hand to keep us going. I have no idea how everyone at Kraft stays so slim with all of those tempting treats calling to them.

The entire filming process was unbelievable. Everyone on set was incredibly talented and made me feel so special. I learned so much from the experience, and it was amazing to see the amount of thought and planning that went into creating our cooking videos. I can’t wait for all of you to see them. Thanks so much to everyone involved!

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Filed under a party, pop culture, Real Women of Philadelphia