Sunday, July 31, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes...

I had been wanting to try Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes for quite a while.
I finally researched enough recipes and decided to go for it.

You wouldn't believe how many variations there are for this cupcake!

Finally I used the cupcake part from one recipe.
The frosting part from another recipe.
And then "tweaked" them both to my liking.

I used fresh strawberries from my garden!

I took some to my parents house on Saturday for the family BBQ.

And I think everyone (except me and my dad) thought they were too tart.
But then...
Some people just aren't lemon lovers like me and my daddio!
For some folks, if there's no chocolate in it...
Then it's just not dessert.

I personally thought they were really good.
I'm anxious to try some of the other variations out there next time!

Pucker up!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cake Pop Bouquet...Prize From Our First Giveaway

Last night I finished up the cake pop bouquet for our first giveaway.

I did a yellow cake dipped in chocolate and covered in red, white, and blue sprinkles.

Michelle W. was our winner this time and picked it up today.
I hope you like it Michelle!
We're excited to do more giveaways!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cake Truffles...

Tonight I made some cake truffles.
(Thanks Sandra, teeheehee!)
They are called many things by many people.
But my friend Sandra came up with the word "cake truffles" and I liked the sound of it!
Basically they're cake pops without the pop.

I did a yellow cake.

Coated some in chocolate.

Coated some in vanilla.

I think I've decided that vanilla is my favorite.
How about you?
What's your favorite coating?
And for all you cake pop experts out there...
I'd love to know...
What is the best melting chips for cake pops.
I've heard sooooo many bakers say they don't like Wilton.
Which ones do YOU like best!
Leave me a comment!

Thoughts On The "BabyCakes" Cake Pop Maker...

Being a newbie to the field of baking, it feels strange to have people ask me questions.
But ever since I posted a picture of my BabyCakes cake pop maker on my page, I've had A LOT of questions about it.
Many people have told me they don't like it.
But I personally have nothing but GOOD to say about it!
I had always been hesitant to make cake pops because I had heard everyone say how messy it is.
And everyone who knows me, knows I don't really like getting my hands all messy, LOL!
So, when I saw this little machine come out I knew I just had to have it!
Well, the awesome hubby I have...surprised me on Mother's Day with the BabyCakes cake pop maker (AND a Kitchen Aid Mixer!).
I was so happy!
My experience with the BabyCakes and tips that I find handy...
Always spray the machine with a light coating of vegetable spray (i.e. Pam).
After it preheats...
Use a pastry bag to fill the little holes.
This is much less messy.
Many people say they have trouble getting perfectly round cake pops.
I have found that the amount you put in is CRITICAL.
If you fill it exactly right to the EDGE (no more, no less)...
You will come out with a perfectly round cake pop every time.
The bottom half of your cake pop will appear a little darker due to the way the machine bakes.
It is not burnt.  It just cooks that way.
Always use a potholder when opening and closing this machine!
It gets VERY hot!
I also use a butter knife to gently lift the little "clasp"/locking mechanism because I find that it also gets very hot.
Be careful.
It comes with a little "fork" to use when removing them from the machine.
It is very hot!

Many people have asked me about how they turn out, the texture, and the taste.
They are not gooey like many of the traditional cake pops because they do not have frosting mixed in with them.
Personally, I LOVE this because I do not like desserts that are ooey, gooey.
I enjoy sweets...but I don't care for overly rich things, so the invention of this machine was AWESOME for people like me who love cake...but not ooey, gooey desserts.
They are simply "cake pops".
Little tiny cake pops.
They do stay very moist though.
They don't get dry or tough.
The guide says to bake your pops 4-6 minutes.
I personally have found that FOUR minutes is the best way to go.
Anything over four minutes and they start getting overly brown and tough.
The kit also includes a "filler" if you would like to inject filling into your pops.
I have not tried this but heard that it is quite easy to do.
I have done both cake and brownies in mine and loved both.
You can make other things in it too like donut holes, cream puffs, and many other things.
I have had ALL GOOD experiences with my BabyCakes and would recommend it to anyone!

From my you...

I wanted to take a moment to share from my heart.
Last year, I discovered the joy of cake and cookie baking and decorating.
I had always admired from afar, the beautiful work that others did and wanted to learn it...someday.

Well, I put off the "someday" and did it.
I took a class and dove head-first into it.
I loved it.

There have been many "hobbies" I've started and let fall by the wayside...scrapbooking, stamping, knitting, and so many more.
Baking and decorating is something that I don't feel like is a hobby for me.
I feel very passionate about it.

Although it brings me great stress because I'm a perfectionist, I still marvel at all that can be done with sugar!

For a year now, I have been dreaming about baking full time.
I don't think many people think it's possible or believe in me.
And even "I" myself don't know HOW it can happen at this point in time.
But I do know that I am claiming and hanging on to this verse from the Bible:

Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Psalm 37:4

I know that ALL things are possible with God.
I know that He is bigger than any obstacle that is in front of me right now.
I know that if I keep practicing, He will help me perfect my skills.
I do believe in miracles.

I know that within less than a week I have managed to set up a Sweet Ivy Facebook page.
I know that I've gained SEVENTY NINE fans within less than a week!
Most of whom I've never met face-to-face!
That in itself is a miracle to me!
I am grateful for the friendship, encouragement, and support that perfect strangers have shown me.
They have welcomed me into their little "baking community" online!
I consider you all sisters now!
I have gotten more support from you all than many "friends" and "family" members!
You mean so much to me!

I know that in less than a week I've also managed to set up a Sweet Ivy Twitter, Sweet Ivy Blog, and next up...a website and business cards!

I am tired of being held back.
Never reaching my goals or dreams.
Being "stuck".

I am not going to let anything hold me back.

I WILL get this baking/decorating thing down.
I WILL be good at it.

And if nothing else...I will bake to bless others.

Yesterday, a complete stranger said to me, "I can have a kind soul."
You don't know how much that meant to me.
So if "you" who said that to me...happen to ever read this...
Just know that you blessed me during a difficult time.

Again, thank-you to all of my friends and family who have and continue to support my journey, as I learn and grow in perfecting my skills.
Your comments mean more than you'll ever know.

Monday, July 25, 2011

We Have A Winner!

I first want to thank everyone for supporting my new Facebook page, Twitter page, and Blog for Sweet Ivy Confections.
I have gotten so much love, support, encouragement, friendship, and help from the baking/decorating community online!
Baking/decorating is my dream.
I thank you for joining me on my journey to perfecting my skills.

Moving on...
Today I learned that Facebook has changed some guidelines and is not too fond of us doing giveaways on our Facebook pages.
My plan is to do all giveaways on my blog.
I will try to give some kind of...
How shall we say...
When we're about to do a giveaway.
I just want to be sure I'm not breaking any rules by "technically" posting giveaways on my Facebook page.
You should still see when something exciting is coming up because I have my blog registered with Networked Blogs and it will auto-post to my Facebook page.
I just won't post giveaways to my status on Facebook.
Hopefully, this will work out ok.

And now...
The moment you've been waiting for...
The winner of the FIRST giveaway is...

Drum-roll please...

~~~~~~~Michelle Wolski~~~~~~~

Woo Hoo!

Congratulations Michelle!

I will be making your goodies tomorrow and will notify you when they are ready for pick-up!
Please let me know when you've received notification.

Random Cookies...WARNING: High Heat & Humidity Made For An Awful Experience With Royal Icing!

I set out to do some more practicing this week with Royal Icing.

But as many of you know...
Most of the U.S experienced EXTREME heat and humidity last week.

This made my Royal Icing a BEAR to work with.

I had no idea weather played such a key role in icing.

It was "fluffy".
I thinned it.
It was runny.
It was everything it SHOULDN'T have been.

These "star" technique cookies were about the only ones I was happy with.

They turned out half decent.

Except once the icing dried...
It had a very ODD texture.

Royal Icing is a VERY temperamental thing I'm learning.

None the less, I got some more experience.

Maybe not "good" experience.

But I got to play around.

And EAT...

And share...

After all...
If you can't have fun...
What good is it?

Another First...FONDANT!

This was my first experience with fondant.

My son wanted a "camo" cake for his birthday and I had no idea how to do that piping buttercream icing on a cake.

I decided it was time to bite the bullet and tackle this fondant thing.
Without any formal class training...
I started reading and watching youtube tutorials.

I made my own marshmallow fondant.
And I have to say...
For my first time ever...
I surprised myself!
I thought it didn't look half bad!

A Classic Wilton Cake...

I had always wanted to make this cake ever since I took the Wilton Basics class and saw it in the book.

I had always thought the colors were so pretty together.

It turned out "ok".

You can tell, I still have a shakey hand with my pastry bags.

But I enjoyed making it.
And it was very tasty.
It was a yellow cake with classic buttercream icing.

My Second Cookie/Cake Pop Bouquet!

After I made my second bouquet, I discovered that this is something I REALLY enjoy...putting together bouquets.
Going into the basket/bouquet business would be great fun I think.

This bouquet was for my dad for Father's Day.
I did it in red, white, and blue and put it in a sand pail just because I thought it looked "summer-y" since Father's Day is in the summer.

He said they were really good and everyone loved seeing the final product.

I can't wait to  put together more bouquets and baskets!

And leftover cookies for the neices and nephews!
Everyone always appreciates leftovers and scraps from my work, teehee!

Royal Icing Transfer...

After failed attempts at frozen buttercream transfers, I wondered if there was anything else I could use to make a transfer out of.

My son wanted a silhouette of a deer on his birthday cake so I did some research and found that you can use Royal Icing for transfers.

So, I mixed up a batch...and thankfully, this was a good batch!
Filled my pattern...
It came off without a hitch!