Cake isn’t my favorite dessert!

ARE YOU SHOCKED?!

Well, you shouldn’t be if you follow me on social media πŸ˜‰ Because I’ve admitted this a number of times! Don’t get me wrong…I like cake, but I don’t looooooovvvve cake. What I do love is sugar in general. I’m addicted to sugar (well I was until 6 weeks ago…more on that later). And since I owned a cakery for ten years, people assume that I must love cake the most! A fair assumption for sure, but nonetheless incorrect. I’m a pie, cobbler, crumble, cookie, ice cream, froyo, macaroon (NOT macaron), cheesecake, brownie kind-of-girl.




Which got me to thinking…can I make a tiered cake out of my favorite desserts?! And thus give people a different option to the traditional tiered cakes?!

Which led me to this precise idea…

A BROWNIE A LA MODE CAKE!!!

And I’m not gonna lie…I think it’s kind of brilliant πŸ˜‰ We have a restaurant we eat at often that has the best brownie a la mode (besides my dad’s), and it’s HEAVEN. So I recreated it in a tiered cake form, minus the chocolate and caramel drizzle (simply because I ran out of time), not because I didn’t want to do it πŸ˜‰

Watch the video! And even if you aren’t interested in a brownie cake per se, you’ll see other tips, tricks, and techniques used to stack/make a tiered cake in general! From how to use cardboard rounds and straws to support a tier to which piping tip is my favorite to how to make the perfect whipped cream!

And speaking of whipped cream…since it is used at the “icing” in this “cake,” make sure it’s not out of the fridge for longer than 4 hours at a time!

This would also make a great alternative to the “naked cake” trend right now, since brownie edges are supposed to be crunchy anyways #amiright?!

Without further ado, here’s the video!!!

Here’s the video I referenced on how to level a cake, or brownie πŸ™‚

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, comments or concerns! And here are some of the products I used in the videos!

 

 

 

 

5 ways to use CHEERIOS throughout the day!

The back-to-school grind is VERY REAL #amiright?! So I’m always looking for ways to simplify…whether that’s what to fix for breakfast, a quick and yummy treat for lunches, or something educational to keep the kids busy while I get a meal cooked! I’m not only a mom of two, but I’m also a nanny to two! My days are crazy busy tending to kids’ needs, and Cheerios has found a way to help me out! PRAISE HANDS!!!

I’m going to show you how I used different kinds of Cheerios throughout one of my recent manic weekdays! The little ones you see are the boys I nanny, Cal and Row, just in case you’re confused as to where the minis are…trust me, they’re reaping the benefits of the cereal bars πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with a bowl of cereal, shall we?!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios…but here’s the deal…it MUST have bananas in it! The combination is incredible; don’t knock it til ya try it! Come to think of it, a banana honey nut Cheerios flavor would be amazing {runs and emails Cheerios marketing now} πŸ™‚ I also love that these are made with real honey (my Uncle John is a beekeeper and makes honey…yay bees), and are naturally gluten free.

Next up, I headed out and about with the boys!

Cal wanted to take the whole box πŸ™‚

I brought along a snack cup filled with Very Berry Cheerios! Cal and Row’s mom is extremely careful about what she puts in her boys’ bodies, and I try to follow her same guidelines when I’m with them!Β With no colors from artificial sources, no artificial flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup, I got the thumbs up πŸ™‚

Time to stall, err, I mean LEARN!!!

Okay moms (or nannies), let’s be real…sometimes you need to just get stuff DONE! Whether it’s cook dinner, fold a load of laundry, type up some blog posts, send some emails, etc. So I came up with a little game for Cal, who just turned 3, that not only was fun for him, but also educational! We used the Fruity Cheerios, which have four different flavors and thus four different colors! I put one of each color in a bowl to start him off, and then told him to continue to put the colors that go together, in their respective bowls. It kept him occupied, and full, as he sampled about as many as he sorted! πŸ˜‰ And I even made a little video with Cal and Row, and it is PRECIOUS.

Make a special treat for my minis to celebrate going back to school!

My minis started to school this week, but the boys still have another week at home, and they LOVE to help me in the kitchen (and they love my daughters)! So I asked if they wanted to make them a special treat using the Chocolate Cheerios…I had Cal at “chocolate” because he knew he was going to get a few of them too πŸ˜‰ We simply melted the marshmallows and butter and poured the mixture over the cereal and pressed it into a pan! The minis were excited to have a treat greet them in the carpool line, and even got them as a surprise in their lunches the next day (or two) πŸ˜‰ These make a nice gluten-free dessert, or an easy gift to give someone who is g-free!

A guilt-free treat, for ME!

This summer has been crazy, and I’ve vowed to take better care of myself now that the minis are in school full-day again! This includes eating better, of course, but I still craaaaaave chocolate! So I put some greek vanilla yogurt in a bowl, sprinkled on a few chocolate Cheerios for crunch, and fresh tart raspberries on top. The perfect end to a busy day…now to do it all again tomorrow! πŸ™‚

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Cake Decorating with a SPOON?!




RED, WHITE AND SPOON?!

Why do I keep saying “spoon” over and over again?! Because I am desperately trying to show yall cake decorating techniques that are simple, and use things that you already have in your home! Enter the good ‘ole plastic spoon πŸ™‚ Yes, this entire cake was decorated using a plastic spoon! Don’t believe me?! Follow along…

This technique isn’t new, and as a matter of fact, here’s a wedding cake I made (back in the day) with this technique!

MEMORIES!

This one, although bigger, went very quickly because it was all one color, and I could pipe in a whole row, and then use the spoon technique! You’ll understand what I mean in a sec!

Back to the red, white and blue cake though! To start, you’ll need buttercream…white, red and blue. Now, keep in mind it takes A LOT of food dye to make a true RED buttercream, so get the gel red color, not the stuff you use to dye Easter eggs. And the red will darken as it sits, so make it a day or two in advance if you want! I used royal blue to get the blue color on the cake, and you don’t need nearly as much dye as you did to make the red, but still use gel for best results!

You can find my buttercream recipe in THIS post…just scroll til you find it! If you don’t want to make buttercream, ask your local grocery store if you can buy a couple of pounds from them (and then tint)?! You may even find pre-tinted buttercream near the cookie cakes in your store! However, if you do want to make your own, I will link the products I used at the bottom of this post!

The piping tips I used are Wilton 1A, and you can buy them for less than $2 each at your local craft store! However, they can be hard to find/out of stock, and thus I’m including the Amazon link at the end of post!

Here’s a quick video to show you how to fill a piping bag!

Once you have your piping bags ready to go, all you need is your three plastic spoons, and your cake! I’d also have three wet paper towels ready to go near your cake, so you can wipe off the backs of the spoons often! You will need to wipe off the spoons each and every time to keep the icing pretty!

Pro tip:Having separate paper towels will keep the colors from bleeding!

Are you ready to see how it’s done?! I used a styrofoam dummy in this video because I had ZERO time to make a cake! If you want to buy one to practice techniques on, do it (link at bottom)!

Check out the video:

If you are making your own cake…fill and stack it, crumb coat it, and put it in the fridge to harden the crumb coat layer (to see how to fill and stack, click HERE and scroll down). Pull it out whenever you’re ready to decorate it, and follow the video tutorial! If you want to buy a stacked and fully-iced cake, then do that! Just call your favorite grocery store/bakery and ask for a double (or triple) layer, smooth buttercream cake, with no borders on the bottom or the top of the cake. Chill it, and then follow the video’s instructions when you’re ready to decorate!

So there ya go! Every bit of decoration is done with a plastic spoon! Feel free add anything else on top of the cake that you want…but might I suggest to NOT do sparklers?! πŸ™‚

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY EVERYONE!

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Links for products used:

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In baking, the one tool you NEED.

Okay, so maybe the title is a *bit* much, because there are a few tools you need to cake properly and efficiently! But there is one tool that I have probably used more than any other in the last ten years!!! AND IT’S LESS THAN FIVE DOLLARS YALL.

My friend Jenn recently said to me, “I’ve always wanted to know HOW to make the cakes flat…over time, I cut off the top, but it’s lopsided. How do you cut them straight?”

Well, you can certainly use a ruler and mark the sides of the cake and then use a serrated knife to cut around and take off the top. However, when I was running a cakery full time, and leveling dozens of layers a day, you find a tool that will help you! Enter the Wilton cake leveler!

This little piece of metal and wire was a lifesaver for me throughout the years, and as I mentioned above, is $5! And it couldn’t be easier to use either!

Of course, there are a few extra tips to helping get a level cake…like baking it at the right temperature, mixing it correctly, rotating the pans in the oven, having the oven preheated properly, etc. But, even if all else fails, this tool will help you get a level top, with very little guesswork!

Let me show you how it works…


Told ya it was easy! I wasn’t kidding! This size leveler works on cakes up to 10 inches square, and up to 11 inches round! And for the home baker, DIY-er, this is most likely as large of a leveler as you’ll need! But even if you have a larger cake, you can still use this to mark the cake, and then use the serrated knife!

If you’d like to purchase one, here is a direct link to Amazon for you! If you want to also purchase the pans I use, they’re the Wilton 6 inch x 2 inch pans, and I use three (to give me three layers of cake and two layers of filling)!

Make sure to check out my other “In the Kitchen” posts to see more caking tips and tricks, and I even include my carrot cake, cream cheese filling, and buttercream recipe in THIS post!

HAPPY BAKING!




How to go from a plain to personalized cake in less than 10 minutes!




When I had my cakery, I was known as an “expensive” cake decorator. I wasn’t; I can assure you of that.

Because if I was, I’d probably:

  1. Still be in business
  2. Vacationing in Tahiti
  3. Pay myself more than $6,000/year (no I didn’t forget a zero)
  4. Have taken a day off at some point

I digress.

Anyways, I completely DID understand that my prices for custom cakes weren’t in everyone’s budgets. (PS, just say that to your caker, instead of calling them expensive.) If you don’t know the expenses that go into running a business, then you probably don’t know if said product is expensive. The truth is either: it’s not in your budget, or it’s not worth the price to you. Both reasonable and truthful answers.Β Dangit. I digressed again. πŸ˜‰

In saying that, I WANT TO HELP YOU! But we’re going to start simple and small. The goal of these cakes is to show you a similar way to decorate a variety of cakes using THREE THINGS…a topper, sixlets candies, and ribbon. And everything can be bought at Walmart, for LESS THAN $20 per cake INCLUDING the cake, so it’s a one stop shop! Oh, and each cake will take you LESS THAN 10 minutes to decorate…REALLY!

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And listen, you can bake, fill and ice a cake til your hearts content if you want! Feel free to check out THIS post I did on my carrot cake (you do whatever flavor you want)! But the basics for those three things (bake, fill, ice) can be found there to help you along the way!

However, I promised simple, so I simply ordered the cake πŸ™‚

Yep! I asked for a 9 inch round, double layer cake (so it would be as tall as possible), covered in smooth white buttercream (knowing it wouldn’t be perfectly smooth was fine with me), and a piped round/pearl border (instead of a shell border), no decorations on top or anywhere else. Keep in mind, you can order this kind of cake from any grocery store/bakery you love, but the price may be different!

Then head to your nearest Walmart and pick up three things…ribbon to go with your theme, sixlets candies, and whatever you need for your topper! For the ribbon, the width depends on the height of your cake, but I used 7/8 and 1 1/2 inch ribbons, and both worked great! You can put wax paper under the ribbon if you are concerned about ribbon touching icing (I wasn’t). I bought three bags of sixlets ($4.97 each) to go on the five different cakes, and I think they’re worth the investment to have every color in pastel, primary, and black. And since there are so many in each bag, you’ll be able to use the bag again and again for future cakes! But obviously, you can do your cake with just one singular bag! I did the math, and it’s essentially ONE PENNY per sixlet!

The toppers totally depend on the theme of your cake as well! Many people go to the party supply section, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s cuter to look around the rest of the store to find something a bit more unique, and often times, they’re less expensive! You’ll see below what I decided on for the themes I chose, but I’ll also give you some additional ideas as they come to me!

Basically, each cake is made the same way. Ribbon around the side, candies around the base, and the toppers on top, obvi. πŸ˜‰ But each video has a cake tip or trick you may need to know about, depending on what you want to put on your cake! So check out each one…

Let’s start with the Frozen cake! I KNOW your kids are obsessed with some sort of cartoon character/movie right now, and want a cake in that theme. You may run in to a little bit of push back from a custom cakery about this because technically we weren’t allowed to do licensed character cakes. Why? Because copyright infringement is very real, and very costly. The reason why grocery/chain stores can do the cakes, is because they buy the rights from the company, and the company sends them decorating “packs” in the themes of what they can do. That’s all good and well, except all of the cakes look the exact same because they have to. That’s why I’m going to show you how to make a Frozen cake that you won’t see replicated at every birthday party.

In this case, the cake was $9.99, the tiara was $4.94, sprinkles $2.47 but I used half, ribbon was $2.97 but I used 1/4 of it, and a handful of sixlets was $.25! The tiara can be a gift to the birthday girl, so that won’t go to waste at all, and it even lights up πŸ™‚ I love when a topper does double duty! Other ideas…Lightening McQueen car on top, black and white checkered ribbon around the side, and black, orange, and red sixlets; Construction toy on top with crushed oreo dirt pile, caution ribbon around the side, yellow and black sixlets; Doc McStuffins toy on top, purple ribbon around side, pastel pink and purple sixlets. The possibilities are ENDLESS!

Next up is a sports-themed cake! Obviously, you’re going to customize this to your favorite team/sport, but since I’m a huge Carolina Panther’s fan, that’s what you’re going to see on my blog πŸ˜‰Β I found these car decals/stickers in the Panther’s section of our local Walmart, and I thought they’d make the best toppers!

Watch the video to see how I made the stickers into toppers for the cake (don’t peel off the backing), and how I assembled everything else…

In this case, the cake was $9.99, the stickers were $3.88, lollipop sticks were $1.99 for 50 (I used 3), ribbon was $2.97 but I used 1/4 of it, and a handful of sixlets was $.25! And the best part is the stickers can be used afterwards to go on a car, a cooler, a skateboard, journal, whatever! Again, always looking to reuse stuff. Other options: Golf ball on a tee (glue them together) on top, plaid ribbon around the side, green and blue sixlets; small plastic soccer ball on top, soccer-themed ribbon, black and green sixlets. But this is also a great time to tie in school sports/colors!

The next cake I made is great for any patriotic day (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day), a ‘welcome to America’ adoption/au pair/exchange student cake, or even a ‘congrats on becoming an American citizen’ cake (which I’ve totally made before)! In this video, I show you how to protect a cake from an object that’s not technically “food safe.” Watch to see how..

In this case, the cake was $9.99, the HOME decor was $2.98, the flags were $1.97 but used two, ribbon was $2.97 but I used 1/4 of it, and a handful of sixlets was $.25! And the HOME box has a hook to hang it on a wall after the party is over, and the flags can be reused in the yard even! Other options: Do this idea for any holiday! Tiny christmas tree on top, green and red plaid ribbon, green and red sixlets; little black hat on top, shamrock ribbon, green and black sixlets; plastic easter egg on top, pastel ribbon, pastel sixlets.

The next cake is what I prepared for my Mom’s birthday! Her favorite color is green, and she LOVES to garden, tend to her flowers, etc. So in this video, I show you how to put fresh flowers in to a cake, because believe or not, they shouldn’t just be stuck in to the icing! They are kept in dirty water, may have bugs on them, and grow in the ground. That’s not exactly what you want to stick in to cake! Watch the video to see how to protect the cake from the stems!

In this case, the cake was $9.99, the lantern was $1.98, the flowers were cut off of a bush but you can buy them from Walmart for $4 (or get silk ones), ribbon was $2.97 but I used 1/4 of it, and a handful of sixlets was $.25! I already had the straws, but you can grab/save a few from your next drive thru! If your flowers have thick stems, look for boba tea straws or milkshake straws in the freezer/ice cream section! The lantern can be decor after the party is done, but my favorite part about it, is I used the tea light that goes inside of it as the “candle” to blow out! This cake is perfect for anyone, at anytime, for any occasion…just grab their favorite color of lantern, ribbon and flowers, and voila!

I know everyone knows someone graduating in the next few weeks, and this cake is perfect, no matter the age of your graduate! I found the photo cap cube in the graduation section of Walmart, and you can personalize it with your own pictures and quotes obviously! There aren’t any new techniques to learn in this video per se, but just a re-CAP (pun intended) of the things we did in the other videos!

In this case, the cake was $9.99, the photo cube was $4.98, ribbon was $2.97 but I used 1/4 of it, and a handful of sixlets was $.25! This cube can be used again and again for future graduates…just switch out the pics! This also might be the only cake that goes over the $20 budget, because you can lift up the top part and store extra gifts inside…in this case, I put in $20! The option, I’d tell you for this cake, is to use the graduate’s school colors to personalize the cake! Although I love this arrow ribbon I found, tying the school’s colors together in through the ribbon and sixlets, would be super cute!

Let’s talk about cake stands for a hot second! Every person should have one at the very least! I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many to count, but that’s because I owned a bakery. If you are looking for a cake stand that goes with everything, I would buy a plain white one. If you’re looking to get two cake stands, then a white and a silver one should do the trick, no matter what kind of cake you’re going to display on it! It really does make a visual difference to have the cake elevated off of the table. Walmart sells stands, at a great price, so check them out!

Shop some of the products used:

 

 

Cinco de Mayo sugar cookie tacos!!!

The only thing better than regular tacos, is sugar tacos!

If you’re looking for a fun dessert for a Cinco de Mayo dinner or party, look no further than these sugar cookie tacos! This isn’t the hardest dessert I’ve showed yall, but I’m not gonna lie and say it’s the easiest either! The toppings are a piece of cake, err, cookie, but the taco shells are a little tricky! Follow my tips and tricks though, and you’ll be just fine!

Ingredients:

  • Sugar cookie dough (I used refrigerated Pillsbury)
  • Chocolate ice cream (or chocolate buttercream)
  • Coconut (shredded)
  • Green food dye
  • Orange chocolate candy melts (or white chocolate chips with orange food dye)
  • Swedish fish (or strawberries)
  • Cool whip

The great thing about this dessert is you can make everything ahead of time, and then assemble them right before serving…that way the ice cream doesn’t melt!

Let’s start with the taco toppings! The video shows you how to make the green shredded lettuce, the orange shredded cheese, and diced tomatoes. A few notes: You can use gel or liquid food dye for the lettuce! For the cheese, if you don’t buy orange chocolate candy melts, use white chocolate chips with food dye (you may need a bit of vegetable oil if it gets too thick). With the tomatoes, I think Swedish fish look more authentic, but strawberries are fine too! Cool whip makes the perfect dollop of sour cream!

Once you have the toppings made, you can set them aside for a while…even days!

Now, the hardest part of this dessert is the taco shells. I’m not gonna lie to you because I love you. You have options though! I did the shells two ways: I dyed the sugar cookie dough with a bit of yellow food dye (just kneaded it in), and popped it back in the fridge to chill again. I wanted it to look like a corn tortilla shell!

But this step can certainly be skipped, and you can bake the dough just as it comes in the ivory color, because then it will look like a flour tortilla too! You’ll see in my pics that one is the yellow tortilla, and one is the plain tortilla…either is fine! The trick is press the cookies very thin before baking…this is not the time for a thick and chewy cookies (even though they’re my fave)!

Bake at 325 until the edges barely start to turn golden! Once you pull them out of the oven, press them down to flatten them, and then it’s time to work fast to shape them! Oh, and they were 3 1/2 inches after baking! Follow the instructions on the video:

The trick is to have multiple “shaping” systems set up! You can see my very high-end solo cup/tart shaper, and batman cup/spatula contraptions! LOL! I only baked three cookies at a time, and it is a process for sure, but you can be shaping 3, while baking three, and then continue to rotate til you’re done! I trimmed the edges of the cookies with a cup to make them perfectly round. And the reason you keep them on the parchment is so they don’t fall apart when draped over the rod!

Once the shells are all done, you can put them aside til you’re ready to fill!

I used chocolate ice cream to be my “meat” for my tacos, but you have to work extremely fast because it will melt (as you’ll see in the this video)! If you are wanting to have these desserts on display the whole time, just use chocolate icing/buttercream! The look will be the same, but a lot less mess, and you can have everything done ahead of time! Pipe it in the same way I did the ice cream, using a ziploc bag!

And this is the perfect time to get the kids involved! Make a “taco bar” full of the toppings, and have them add what they want and like! And find other kinds of toppings that you like on your tacos…black licorice could make a great black olive!!!

That’s it! The cutest tacos you ever did see!