Tag Archives: Birthday Cake

Shopkins Cupcakes

Shopkins.  I had no idea what a Shopkin was until my 3 year old went to a Shopkin birthday party late last year. A couple months later, and you can’t escape them!   They are everywhere and they seam to appeal to a wide age range of young girls.  So by the time a close friend of mine asked if I could help with her daughters Shopkin birthday treat, I at least knew what they were!

She asked me to do the treats the week of the party, so cupcakes were the obvious answer on a few days notice.  So I started that same night on the cupcake toppers since I knew they would need a night of drying time to complete them. The thing with royal icing toppers, or cookies for that matter, they don’t take a up a lot of actual man hours, but you have to plan on the drying time.  If there are multiple layers of icing, they may take multiple nights to complete, but that time only adds up to about an hour or two for a couple dozen.  Once I had my template ready, I put it under some wax paper and did the first layer.  This is what night one looked like.


Shopkins Cupcake Topper in Progress

I started with the eyeballs putting down the white, then pink, then black, and finishing with the white dot all in succession.  You want to do them all at once, one eyeball set at a time, so that the top colors meld into the bottom ones to look like one surface.  While the eyes were drying, I then did the outline of the blue icing top and filled in two layers that were not touching.  I let everything sit for about a half hour and then went back and did the yellow body.  Once that sat for a half hour, I finished with the other two blue icing layers and the little arms.  I decided that was enough for the night and would finish the rest the next day.

On the following night, I added the feet, crown, bow, sprinkles, and face. With everything very dry from the night below, I didn’t have to worry about messing up the base layer or pushing through the icing crust that was forming as I added the details.

Once the toppers where completely dry, I peeled them off the wax paper and put them in an air tight container until the day of the party.  Since the party was at 3pm, I baked the cupcakes that morning.  After letting them cool, I whipped up some buttercream in the coordinating pink color and topped them with the Shopkins toppers.


Shopkins Cupcakes

They turned out great and were super cute.  I love doing the little cupcake toppers as they add something special to an otherwise simple cupcake.  I have some more coming up and can’t wait to get started!



Dinosaur Cake

My very first cake of 2017, was for a friend and former coworker.   She asked if I could make a dinosaur cake for her little boy, Owen.  Owen wanted a blue dinosaur with green accents and made out of chocolate cake. Easy enough!  She had sent me some examples off of Pinterest of dinosaur cakes she liked made of both cake and cupcakes. Outside of Owen’s requirements, she was pretty much giving me free reign.  None of the pictures quite spoke to me so I started looking at pictures myself.  I wanted a version of a dinosaur that I could make out of one batch of cake since that was about what she needed. I ended up merging a couple different designs that I saw into this cake design.  Believe it or not, this is made of two 8″ round cakes.


Chocolate Cake Rounds

One of the rounds made up the main body.  It was cut straight down the middle and set on the flat ends.  The other round was cut into various shapes to make the rest of dinosaur. I wish I would have taken a picture of the template but I did keep it for future reference, so maybe next time.  You can kind of gather by the picture below the set up though.  The tail was an outer crescent of the cake, and the rest went toward the head, neck, and feet. There was very, very little scrap left which is was I was going for.


Dinosaur cake setup using two 8″ rounds

Once I had the structure of the cake complete, I started icing using a star tip.  I like using the star tip for cakes like this because it is really hard to get smooth icing on cakes with a lot of pieces and crevices and I refuse to use fondant. I started by icing all of the blue first leaving a space for the eyes and nostrils.  Then I filled in the eyes and nostrils and touched up any blue around those areas.


Blue Dinosaur in Progress

Last, I printed a template for a diamond shape and used it under wax paper to make some green chocolate scales.  When I am going to be sticking an accent into a cake, I like to use chocolate since it is much sturdier than royal icing and will withstand being pushed into the icing and cake.


Blue Dinosaur Cake

The green added a nice touch and a pop of color.  Way to go Owen.  The cake turned out really cute and I think he liked it, even though he was too shy to say so. I am glad I kept all the templates because I see myself making this one again with all the little boys in my life.


Black and White Birthday Cake

Back in December, my niece was not the only one with a birthday.  Actually, we have lots of December birthdays in the family, but my only other birthday cake was for my father-in-law.  This is what the beginning of December looked like at the end of one night of baking. Cakes for days…..


Cakes ready for the freezer

Those white cakes were for my father-in-law.  He is a white cake with chocolate buttercream kind of guy.  I love this combination because when you cut into the cake, the crisp lines of white cake sandwiched between layers of chocolate buttercream is really pretty.  I should have taken a picture of it cut, but once again, I failed.


White cake with chocolate buttercream

This cake was fairly easy to throw together.  I make this chocolate buttercream using my usual buttercream recipe however, when I add the milk and vanilla, I add about a half to 3/4 of a cup of cocoa powder.  Once mixed in, I complete the rest of the recipe.  At the end, I adjust the consistency with some milk as the chocolate really thickens up the mixture.

For the top, I had some left over chocolate from making homemade thin mints that I didn’t want to throw away.  I spread the extra chocolate on a piece of parchment paper and let dry.  Once it was set up, I cut “shards” of chocolate and stuck them in the cake.  It was a simple design that adds a little wow factor.


White cake with chocolate buttercream

This cake was only assembled for approximately 2 hours before we devoured it.  Enough time for people to arrive at the house, eat dinner, and have the kids sing Happy Birthday to their grandpa!


Descendants Cupcakes (and Cake)

Back in December, my one and only niece turned six!  I adore my niece and would give her the world just like my own littles.  She is my dose of girl in a world of boys.  She is the one I get to buy the cute girl clothes and she lets me braid her hair.  So when my sister-in-law asked if I would make her cake…the answer is always yes.  She was having a Disney Descendants party.  As aforementioned, I have a house full of boys, so I had no idea what she was talking about. After a little bit of education on the internet, I was quickly up to speed and on task.

My SIL wanted cupcakes for the kid party, and a cake for the family party that followed. The reason cake is an afterthought in this post is because I DIDN’T TAKE A PICTURE!  But I will get to that in a bit.  As for cupcakes…lots of pictures, so lets start there.

Without going into the full Descendants background, here is where the theme derived. The main characters are the children of the classic Disney villains that are trying to adjust to life outside of their normal island of exile while attending prep school in the kingdom.  My nieces favorite Descendants characters are the girls, Mal and Evie.  Mal is the daughter of Maleficent and Evie is the daughter of the Evil Queen.  Their “colors” are purple and teal. Since it is a live action show, there are no cutesy characters to put on a cake or cupcakes. So I ran with those colors and the shows logo.

The cupcakes were chocolate with a buttercream that had been colored with teal and purple and topped with a Descendants logo cupcake topper.  To start, I made the cupcake toppers well ahead of time out of royal icing.  Royal icing will basically keep forever and it allows for pretty good detail.  I started with printing a template and placing wax paper over the paper on a cookie sheet.  I made the toppers over two days doing the red apple the first day and the yellow vine the next.  Once completely dry, I stored them in an air tight container until I was ready to make the cupcakes.

When it was time to make the cupcakes, I topped each with a swirl of teal and purple buttercream icing.  This is done by putting a piping bag of each color into a larger piping bag and swirling like usual.  While easy, it has a fun effect.


Purple and Teal Cupcakes

Once the icing was on, I topped each with one of the Descendant logo toppers I had made the night before.  I love how they turned out.


Disney Descendants Cupcakes

Now for the cake that I did not take a picture.  It was a two tier cake.  The bottom was purple and the top teal.  Both tiers were covered in rosettes.  I put an extra cupcake topper on top to tie the cake to the theme specifically.  The reason I didn’t take a picture was because I had transported the tiers separately and built it up at my niece’s house as the party was getting started.  So once I was finished, I went right into being at the party and never thought of it.  I guess, for once, not being connected to my phone and just enjoying my nieces day was not such a bad thing.  😉   Happy Birthday Samantha.


Paw Patrol Cake (and Cookies!)

The first cake of 2017 is already in the books.  This past weekend, my little guy turned three!  I don’t feel old enough to have my youngest be three, but here we are.  On top of that, he decided on his birthday that we were done with diapers and pull ups.  Just like that, we are a big boy.  Well this three year old has been requesting a Paw Patrol birthday since before Christmas.  As far as kid shows go, it is not a bad one.  His favorite Paw Patroller is Marshall, the fireman pup.  I was thinking I was going to do something with Marshall for the cake, but my mom offered to help with some sugar cookies for the party and they had a strong fireman theme.  So I went for the classic dog bone in the Paw Patrol primary colors.  It was a pretty simple cake design.  The hardest part was making sure I had all my portions right so that I had a nice even bone.  (Thanks Mom for the kitchen scale!)  I ended up using my new 4″ cake pans and a loaf pan to get the shape.  Once the cakes were baked and cooled, I froze them to I could work with them better to get my shape.  Here was the layout I went with.  Using three rounds and piecing together the scraps for the fourth circle prevented losing any cake to scrap.


Bone Cake

Once I had my layout, the base icing was pretty straight forward.  I made a flat surface on top first with white icing.  Then I piped the sides vertically using a start tip in royal blue icing.  I merged my blue sides with the white top by using my star tip and making a boarder around the top rim. Lastly came the decoration on top.

I had a lot of questions about how I got that cute little shield on top looking so perfect.  Well I used a version of the transfer method.  I found one of the kids Paw Patrol coloring books and found a shield that was the right size for the space.  I placed a parchment paper over the coloring book and carefully piped the design. Once the design was finished, I carefully slid the parchment on a small cutting board and put it in the freezer. It will freeze in a short amount of time, maybe 5 minutes.   Once frozen, I CAREFULLY, with an offset spatula, slide under the shield on all sides to make sure it came free and transferred to the cake.  The buttercream will thaw quickly, so you don’t want to let it sit on the counter while you figure out placement.


Paw Patrol Shield in Buttercream

After the shield was in place, I added little paw prints to the cake with the remaining icing.  While it was not one of my more elaborate cakes, it was definitely cute and my son adored it!


Paw Patrol Cake

Now about those cookies!  My mom has really been getting into the sugar cookie making and decorating.  And of course, I want in!  So I went over to her house the week of the party to help her with the cookies.  Thankfully, due to her retirement, she had icing a cookies ready to go when I arrived after work.  Mixing royal icing colors takes forever! That will have to be a later post.  We had a lot of fun decorating cookies.  I find that decorating cookies is very relaxing and I enjoy it as much as cakes.  Look how cute these turned out!


Paw Patrol Cookies


Paw Patrol Cookies

Everyone raved about the Paw Patrol goodies and not a single one was left at the end of the party.  More importantly, my little guys had a blast at his party. Success!  Now to finally take down the decorations……


Happy 60th Birthday Momma!

Back in October, my mom celebrated her big sixtieth birthday.  We tried to keep parts of it a surprise, but my family lacks all self-control and she started to piece together that it was a little more than a close family “get-together”.  With that anticipation, she, of course, wanted to show up early.  My dad told me not to worry about it and he would make sure she arrived when she was supposed to.  There was a strong probability that she would just leave him and show up the hour and half early she wanted, but my dad held strong. Thanks Dad.  After she got over her initial irritation with him, a white lie I had told her, and the fact that I sent the grandkids away for the night, she started coming around.  As the night unfolded, I think she started to realize what was going on, the preparations it took, and the love and thought that was put into the night.

My sister and I planned for MONTHS!!!!  We poured over the menu for weeks, it took two months to get her birthday present together, bought decor and other items the whole month leading up to the party, and went to 5 grocery stores the day before the party.  More on the party details in a bit.  But the day went perfect (with exception of my moms short bout of irritation.) I made the cake two days before the party.  I could not have that stress with all the other party preparations. After my simple teal and coral baby shower cake with flowers, I wanted to continue with the flower theme for my mom.  Practice makes perfect, right?  Outside of the largest flowers, I did all the other flowers on a flower nail and placed them on the cake.  For the first time, I tried color streaking the icing to have some two tones flowers.  I couldn’t believe that it worked my first time.  It gave a little extra pop to the pink that I loved.  Maybe I will do a tutorial on this soon.

Once I had the larger flowers on the cake, I filled in with some smaller flowers and leaves. I then completed the cake with a vine and a couple more flowers on the other side.   Looking back on it, I wish I would have left the cake with just the crescent design, but my need for symmetry at the time won.  My mom loved it no less and that is all that matters.

Back to the party as a whole. We did want more than a get-together.  We planned more of a cocktail party.  High top tables, fancy hors d’oeuvre, light jazz, and a fun photo booth.  Our theme was “Cheers to 60 Years”and “Memories”.  We had about 40 people come and celebrate.  Even my dad’s family that lives in Valparaiso made the trip down and stayed in a hotel.  We had more food that we needed but it all looked amazing when put together. From an over the top charcuterie board to shrimp cocktail to mini caprese appetizers, we tried to make it look like we had it catered.  The photo booth, which was a way to help tie in our theme to make more memories, was a hit.  I got the image for the photo booth at this Etsy shop and then just sent the file to a printer.  Some funny pics are floating around somewhere.

However, my absolute favorite part was her gift and was the one thing she had absolutely no idea about.  It was not an original idea as I found it on Pinterest like everything else these days.  We gifted her 60 memories. I wrote to family and friends far and wide and asked them to write in a memory or two on my mom and was not disappointed from the response.  Letters came from Alaska, California, Florida, Texas, DC, and from all the family in Indiana.  I put each in an envelope, numbered it, and then bundled them together.  I didn’t want her to read them at the party as there were some tear jerkers in there, but I explained it all in my speech.  SHE LOVE IT!  She spent the night socializing with friends and family basking in her own glory which is what we were hoping. What else do you get a mom with everything….a party with her family and friends and a lifetime of memories. Happy Birthday Mom!


Elmo and Cookie Monster

Two catch-up posts in one day?!?!?  Now we are getting somewhere.   Back in October, a former coworker of mine asked if I could make a cake and cupcakes for her twins that were turning two.  The theme was Elmo and Cookie Monster which makes total sense given the age and, since they are boy/girl twins, it is a pretty gender neutral theme. It just so happens that before I baked cakes on a regular basis, I had done both of these themes for my oldest for his first and second birthday.  So this one was an easy yes.  I started by looking back at my old creations, and let me tell you, I was a little shocked.  They were not quite how I remembered them in my head.  I still liked the cupcakes mostly, but the cake….no.  The proportions were all off, the details were sloppy, the face was not as detailed.  It was one of those moments that you realize you have come a long way in a short amount of time.  So while I am not impressed with that cake at all, I am happy to see my progress from that short time ago.

I set out to do a better version of my former cake and cupcakes.  I started with cupcakes because the thought of mixing red icing was exhausting (more on that in a minute.)  I started by cutting my Oreo mouth pieces.  I split the Oreo’s, removed the filling, and then sawed through the cookies with a serrated knife. Don’t worry, my extra filling did not go to waste.  My husband stacked it into other Oreo’s to make some quadruple stuffed Oreo’s.  HAHA.  If you cut straight down, the cookie will break into multiple pieces, so you need to saw.  Next, I colored my tried and true buttercream icing recipe royal blue and used my “hair” tip, as I like to call it, to make fur.  I think the tip I use is a Wilton #233.  Before the icing crusts, I added the Oreo mouth and some candy eyeballs. I now make my own candy eyes (that will be a later post), but these pre-made ones from the store work great.

After the cupcakes, I geared up for the cake.  I am sure if you have talked to anyone who has made a cake with red icing, there has been a complaint in there about getting a good red.  Well, I am no different and I really messed up this first batch of red. I was mixing the red and wanted a little bit deeper color.  I read online about adding a touch of black.  Being a person who like very specific instructions (think scientist here) I don’t know what a touch meant. If I had been smart, it would have been to add the most minuet amount of black possible and see what happens.  I did no such thing and dipped my toothpick in my black icing and added it to the icing.  Wellllllll, lets just say that I got some version of red but it was not suitable for an Elmo cake.  Bummed that I had wasted a half batch of buttercream and a half bottle of red coloring, I started over.  Sticking to what I knew, I just added red icing and let it sit for a bit to let the color to develop.  What do you know, if I would have just had the patience the first time, the color would have developed just fine.  Patient is not a word that is used to describe me.

I used the same “hair” tip to make the fur on Elmo.  I did all the sides first to make sure I had enough icing.  If I was going to have to mix more, I would want all the same surface to be the same batch in case the color did not match.  Thankfully, I had made enough. Before, I added the fur on top, I added the Elmo face features.  This way, I could put the fur right up to the features. I was much happier with the proportions of the Elmo face this time around.


Elmo Cake

The icing for the features could have been a little smoother, but overall I was happy.  More importantly, there were some two-years-olds that loved their cake.