Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Great American Food & Fun; Meeting Paula Deen!

So besides being a baker in training I'm also a food network addict and my favorite kitchen diva is Paula Deen so I when I saw an ad for The Great American Food and Music Fest in June at the new Meadowlands stadium I had to go. It was a hit list of Food Network greats, Tom Colicchio, the Neely's and Duff Goldman and a chance to taste some of their food, plus the bonus of an amazing beer & wine tasting. My husbands palate is not diverse by any means so I had to convince him this was part of my research as long as there was chicken available he was in and after he herd about the beer tasting, Sold!

I was so excited for this I had my Paula Deen recipe books ready to get signed. I love Paula and her recipes. My favorite are her butter cake recipes. They are sinful and divine the way you would expect any recipe with 2 sticks of butter to taste. It was a humid rainy overcast day but that was quickly forgotten once we entered the air conditioned wine tasting area. I sampled some champagne, watched Duff Goldman make a huge burger cake (that's him in the pic) then we went over to the book signing to meet Ms. Paula. Hitting the wine tasting area first was definitely the right course of action because I didn't even mind the long line or the fact that my husband & I looked like wet dogs since we were the only people not wearing a poncho. The only issue with wine tasting first was my husbands picture taking skills which are displayed below.

So we finally get there and I tell Paula all about how I love her recipes and that since I've become a domestic diva I've spent more time in the kitchen and that I use her fried pumpkin layer cake one to make my cake pops and she asked me what they were!  Although she didn't know what they were her husband Michael did and she was gracious enough to listen to me explain them and The Cake Pop Cottage. And then she gave me some kind words of encouragement and told me if I just make the best cake pops I can my business will be successful.

She was super sweet exactly the way I expected and I just wish I could have sat down and chatted with her more. I was so excited I called everyone I could to tell them. It was just another little bit of inspiration that I carry with me that comes in handy on wet dog rainy days, of which I've had a few.

As you can see from the pictures my husbands picture taking was a bit off, off with Paula's hair and off with Michael's head. I don't know if this counts as a picture "with" Paula but that's me on the left (blond stands, purple shirt & hands).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making the best of it!

Something really cool happened to me and even now 7 months later it makes me smile to think of it. I had just got back from a long overdue mini vacation with my husband to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary, of which resulted in us being in a hotel & casino on Memorial day weekend. You would think that a holiday weekend at the shore would mean everything would be going strong....yeah, not so much. Clubs, closed. Bars, closed. Even the restaurants were closed except for a few!  Casino, of course very open. Luckily the pool as open and we managed to find a place to eat and drink and had a good time laughing about how these things always seem to happen to us. But you're not married for 7 years without a disaster or a 100 (in our case) happening. When we got home I ran straight for my laptop. I was deep into an internet withdrawal of over 24hrs and I needed my fix. I did the usual checked emails, Facebook and then Bakerella to see if there was a new blog post and there it gingy pops for all to see on the pop stars page! I had sent an email weeks earlier and I knew there was a possibility of it being posted but it was a thrill beyond words to see my letter and my gingy pops right there on her page that thousands of baking enthusiasts follow and admire, just like I do.

It's been a long and dusty road that has brought me to the cake pop world and it gives me much pride to have an opportunity to try my hand at something new and be recognized in any way when I could have just given up under the weight of the obstacles that had been laid before me. Sometimes you just have to try to find even the smallest way to make the best of it when things are bad. I say when life gives you limes find a way to get the rest of the ingredients and make yourself margarita (on the rocks with salt please) and some cake pops! That's motivation!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Billiards & Birthdays

Ok I have officially neglected my blog long enough to declare it legally dead but now it's time to resurrect it, even if only randomly. After a few personal disasters (ok lots!) I'm back on the wagon and since I've had months of baking & cake popping going I'm going to back-blog from around May, so if your a facebook fan and you saw the pics on here a hundred years ago on my page, now you know why.

I had a request for a pool table cake and I was ready to go!
I had the naive notion that this cake would be relatively easy to make. It's a rectangle with some balls on it. Really, how bad could it be? Answer...Holy time consuming! I started on the balls first. I rolled them with some gumpaste and used edible markers to add the numbers.

For the table I used two standard 9 x 13 cakes layered on top of each other. Now came the tricky part. A billiard table has a frame and then the felt part is lower than the frame. So I decided to cut out a 1/4 deep rectangle frame. I should have thought through this part because cake is spongy and soft so once I made a cut the sides wanted to spring out like flower petals. Not what I needed! So luckily for the cake it was getting a nice coat of frosting and a ginormous fondant blanket which secured it perfectly.

On top of the brown layer of fondant I added another smaller green rectangle and some black circles placed in the corners around the table for the pockets.

Then I placed the balls & cue around the table and secured them with a little gum glue and used Wilton alphabet cutters to make the Happy Birthday. It wasn't 100% prefect but I thought it came out pretty good considering the struggle I went through for it not to crumble to bits!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spring Cravings and the Pumpkin Blues

I have a confession... I am a hardcore pumpkin addict. I wait with wild anticipation for the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte every Fall. Last Labor Day I was on my way back from a fun getaway with my hubby when I spotted the sign that said Pumpkin Spice was in the house and I stopped dead in my tracks and waited waaaaay too long on line to get that iced latte. I am typically a DD (Dunkin Donuts) girl but they don't get their fall flavors in until practically November and that's just too long for me to wait so I cheat on them with Starbucks! But that's the least of my issues caused by pumpkin addiction like the month or so I spent in and out of every grocery store within a 10 mile radius trying to get my hands on some Edy's pumpkin ice cream after one of my BF's and fellow pumpkin lovers let me know about it. Unfortunately she lives in the Big Easy and there was no way I was getting in via mail so i'll keep hoping that maybe this year I can try some.

So it's been awhile since Fall and pumpkin flavors are long gone (sigh) and I got a case of the pumpkin blues. And when a bad pumpkin craving struck I knew cake balls were in order. I tested a few different recipes out but none of them were quite pumpkiny (Yes I made up this word and my MA in English gives me license to do so!) enough to satisfy my taste. I finally came up with a perfect blend of recipes from Paula Deen and Betty Crocker and the cake alone is to die for. And after I mixed in the buttercream frosting and topped it off with dark chocolate....well there are no words!

Here's my pumpkiny remake of an excerpt of the wonderful children's book 
More Spaghetti, I say! by Rita Golden Gelman. 

More Pumpkin, I Say! 
I love it.
I love it.
I love it.
I do.
I love it so much!
More than me?
More than you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Littlest Pet Shop Cake Pops

I love a good challenge so when a friend asked for the Littlest Pet Shop cake pops I thought game on! The first stage of this challenge was figuring out what the littlest pet shop is. You would think since I have toddler I would know about these things but I am out of the loop on this. Apparently its small plastic pet toys with big eyes. I have heard of them before but I never really took a good look until now.

They kind of made me think of the strawberry shortcake pets I had as a kid back in the 80's. Well Hasbro in a smart attempt to make some dough designed a collection of like a gazillion different animals. The littlest pet shop has more animals than I've seen in the Bronx Zoo or even the drive through Safari in West Palm Beach! So in order to not short circuit my brain with pet shop overload I narrowed it down (a lot!) and got to work. Although they did have the standard obvious household pets I really liked the color and design of the Peacock so it made the first draft.

Next I chose the Bunny. I'm partial to bunnies in case you haven't noticed from the rest of my blog posts!

The Swan. Ah fond memories of one of my favorite ill fated reality shows.

And last but not least, the Puppy.

Ready to be adopted and complete with rainbow cake pop pet carrier.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Legally Cake Popped

I've been working on a few cake pop ideas with pink as the featured color. I wouldn't ordinarily pick this color without a little persuasion like... I'm 10 and my mother forced me, a magarita or two, or on a tropical vacation where I won't be recognized. For the record I'm over 10 but my mother still tries to force me to wear what she wants, I don't have enough leisure/kid free time for margaritas and that goes for tropical vacations as well.

Ok so back to the pops. So by request I have to go Elle Woods style a la pink. I thought simplicity is the best route with color being the theme. Pink and hearts go together like PB & J so there you go pink heart pops. To go all out pink I use vanilla cake with a touch of red food coloring to make pink cake, pink candy coating and pink glittery sugar.

Can someone call Mattel I think Barbie may have a favorite cake pop!

Snaps for these cake pops!
(Fellow sorority alumnae should remember this!)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pride of the Yankees Birthday Cake

In my quest to retain my title as "favorite daughter" I had to make an extra special cake for my dad's birthday. Although my sister called dibs on this feat she was also doing some loungin' in the sunshine state for a few days at the same time. She went for the preemtive strike to make the cake before she left but got caught up in work and packing and wait... who cares she's on vacation! So my spot opened and carpe diem here's my cake.

My dad is a die hard Yankees fan and it's in our blood (no kidding, geneaology is awesome!) So I knew it was going to be a Yankees cake but it was just the matter of stripes, no stripes, grey or navy and white, baseballs, bats, gloves or hat??? Too many possibilities. Once I settled on an idea I needed to get the food coloring which seems like a simple task. Yeah.. not so much! I took two days and a tour around the island for me to find a craft store that had royal blue food coloring. See the lengths I'll go to be the fav!

It's chocolate cake with peanut butter & vanilla frosting under all that fondant. I can't wait to have a bite!

Baseball close up.

In all reality there isn't a favorite daughter, my father is much too fair for that but the sibling competition makes for good cakes!

Happy Birthday Dad!