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Preview: Cake Walk

Cake Walk



Hello & welcome to my blog! I'll predominantly talk about my experiences with sugar artistry, but I'll probably also talk about everything else I love - family, Nani, soccer, etc. I hope you enjoy perusing the cake pictures as much as I have e



Updated: 2017-12-16T06:55:08.960-05:00

 



We've Moved!!!

2012-01-04T20:58:36.213-05:00

With the opening of our new cakery, we've moved all our content to a new site!  www.phdserts.com  Update your bookmarks and check-in often for the latest news, tutorials, and contests.  See you there!




Blue M&M Cake

2011-11-17T20:39:35.905-05:00

If you know me, you know I am a HUGE M&M fan!   Love the candy.  Love the characters.  Love the commercials.  Love the magazine ads.  Love, love, love. 

So I was thrilled when a new client called to order an M&M cake.  She gave me full artistic freedom on the cake but just requested that it be blue and somehow involve M&Ms. 

So I baked an 8-inch round cake and carved the edges to make them smooth like an M&M.  Then, I carved the Blue M&M's face into it.  


So fun!  And best of all, it was a chococlate cake with bavarian cream filling.   Yum!



Sand Castle Cake and Newborn Photography

2011-11-07T08:51:46.552-05:00

I know I said I'd try to keep my family off this blog since it's a CAKE blog...but I can't resist this post.  One week after Mikaela was born, my friend Elise Kersey of Elise Kersey Photography took some newborn photos at a local beach. 


We got there EARLY so we could catch the sunrise. 

Little Mikaela loved the warm weather - and it made her so sleepy!

But wait!  This blog post does relate to cakes!  I made a sand castle cake for the photo shoot.

 The whole cake was covered with light brown sugar, and I decorated it with hand-made gum paste shells and a piece of fondant driftwood into which Mikaela's name was carved.

Our sweet baby girl is now 7 weeks old.  She's chubbier and she now smiles at us, but she's still a beach bum at heart.  We have a picture of a beach hanging above her changing table and she loves to lay there smiling and coo-ing at it.  We're excited to take her to the beach for her first ocean swim one day!



2011Tampa Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

2011-11-04T23:14:32.562-04:00

Ok, folks...over a year ago I announced that I was going to walk in the 2011 Tampa Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure and it's now over! It was such an amazing experience in so many ways, and here's my brief (brief as possible, at least) recap:3 weeks before the event, I was welcomed to join a local team - Team Hope. Here are the ladies of the team shortly after beginning the walk in Clearwater Beach. Looking so fresh and chipper! 20 miles to go til dinner!If you follow this blog or know me personally, you already know that I have a 7-week old baby. So, being pregnant until September 16th really hindered my ability to complete long-distance training walks. Of course, you're silly to try to walk 60 miles in 3 days without training...but what choice did I have? I trained hard for the 3 weeks prior to the walk, but I still felt like I was going "0 to 60 in 3 Days." Here goes nothing!Since I'm not very outgoing, I baked almost 300 pink ribbon cookies to give out to walkers along the route. I figured, if I give them a free cookie, that will force them to talk to me, and I'll meet 100 people each day!What I neglected to consider was that 100 cookies is heavy. After carrying them 3 miles on the first day, I started just handing them out in handfuls to whomever would take them. So much for meeting 100 people! But I enjoy baking (obviously) and I was thrilled to offer something sweet to the walkers who'd already worked so hard to fund raise and were now committed to walking so many miles over the weekend. What's weird is that by the 3rd day, people had heard of me! When I was handing out cookies, people would say "You're the cookie girl! I heard about you!" Makes it all feel worthwhile.But back to the walk...Each day's route is divided into little walking segments. About every 3 miles, you get a Pit Stop (with food, drinks, potty, and medical help), a Grab & Go (with food, drinks, and potty), or lunch. Breaking up the miles REALLY makes it easier to finish each day. Mentally, you tell yourself you can make it to the next pit stop. Then, you stop and rest and feel like you can make it to the next pit stop 3 miles ahead! And before you know it, you're at lunch! After a nice rest at lunch, you do it all over again until you arrive at camp for the night.Here is a shot of a bunch of walkers at the very first Pit Stop on Day 1:On the first day of the walk, the walkers were very bunched up. We had plenty of room to walk, but what I mean is that it was cool to see the river of pink flow up and down bridges all over town. You could see pink WAY ahead and behind you!And sprinkled in among the route stops were Cheering Stations. These are designated, published spots where spectators are encouraged to gather and cheer on the walkers. This is the first Cheering Station on the route:And I'd like to point out the age of the walker out in front. Hello! If she can walk 60 miles, you can too!And here I am walking through a Cheering Station on Day 3:The 3-Day is an amazing event. Not only do you have approximately 1500 people walking (think 1500 times the $2300 fundraising minimum = at least $3.45 million raised!) plus the 3-Day staff and the volunteer crew keeping us safe, fed, and on-route...but you've also got the spectators cheering the walkers on! And, as we walked through neighborhoods and communities, people came out of their homes to cheer us on. There were people outside their homes in the cold on Sunday morning at 8am cheering for us. Seriously? They could have been snuggled into their beds still! It really creates a sense of community as we stand up TOGETHER to fight breast cancer. Gives me goosebumps.At night, all the walkers and crew gather at "Camp." Camp is where you eat dinner, check for mail, rest for the next day, do some 3-Day shopping, and SLEEP! Camp is another community experience - one I didn't get to participate in this year, but I'll get to that later.Each night, as the last walker approaches camp, they[...]



Getting Back in the Saddle

2011-10-24T10:31:00.073-04:00

I'm baaaaack!!! You did notice I was gone, right??? Ok, let's just pretend you missed me. *wink*My last post was on Wednesday, September 14th. Some of you may already know this, but I actually went into labor late Thursday night and had my baby at 5:19am on Friday, September 16th! So, it has taken me a little over a month to get used to our new schedule & lifestyle. But I'm back and ready to start blogging and caking again!!First, I've got a few things to follow up on:I recently had the pleasure of virtually (we've only talked through email) meeting a diaper cake designer. A diaper cake is something that looks like a 2-3 tiered cake, but is actually made of rolled up diapers! It's so cute and makes really amazing party decorations and centerpieces (next to the real cake, of course). Anyway, Holli at Shower Cakez & Glitz made a Minnie Mouse diaper cake that would go perfectly with the Minnie Mouse cake I last posted.So cute, right?! So if you're throwing a party (baby shower, bridal shower, birthday party, graduation party, etc), consider ordering something like this - and it doesn't have to be made of diapers! Check out Holli's website for more info but these things make GREAT gifts!Going back a few more days, I posted another Sneak Peek on our Facebook Fan Page! Did you see it?! Are you a fan? I only post these Sneak Peeks to the Fan Page so you must be a fan to see them and have a chance to win the prizes.This Sneak Peek really threw people for a loop. I got guesses like a Mighty Mouse, Stitch, a Pokemon character, Lemmings, Winnie the Pooh, etc. For this contest, I allowed entrants to guess as many times as they wanted. Each correct guess would count as an "entry" into a drawing for something sweet and hand made from me! But after 6 hours of guessing, I finally had to give a hint and I still only got TWO correct guesses!The cookies are puppies! French Bulldogs, to be specific. Kate ordered these cookies to send to her brand new hubby overseas! She wanted the cookies to be something to remind him of home and something that made him really happy - their French Bulldog Munster! Here is the picture she sent me to base the cookies on:So who won the goodies from me? I put Kristin's and Jane's names in a hat and the winner is....Jane! I will contact you through Facebook to get your mailing address. Congrats and thanks to everyone who guessed. That was the most fun Sneak Peek yet!Ok, and the last thing I have to update you on is...my baby! One week after she was born, we had a newborn photography shoot at the beach with my good friend Elise Kersey of Elise Kersey Photography. Here's a sneak peek that she gave us from the shoot:I am in LOVE with that photo, and of course our little girl too! Now, since this is a cake bog, I'll try to resist posting picture after picture of our baby...but forgive me if one slips through every now and then. *wink*[...]



Minnie Mouse 1st Birthday Cake

2011-09-14T09:08:04.839-04:00

I love this Minnie Mouse-themed first birthday cake. The soft pink buttercream makes it the perfect cake for a sweet little girl.

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The cake was iced in buttercream and decorated with fondant polka dots & daisies. The bow and ears topper was created out of gum paste.

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Happy 1st Birthday, Khamari!



Pastel Wedding Cupcakes

2011-09-09T09:44:47.608-04:00

It's Friday! I'll keep the post today short and sweet. Here are some cupcakes we decorated for an outdoor wedding. The cupcakes were displayed on a stand made by the bride & groom and the top of the stand held their anniversary cake.

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4 different cupcake flavors with 4 different pastel-colored icing swirls!

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Stay tuned to our Facebook Fan Page for a sneak peak of something special we're working on today!!! They're may even be a prize involved!



Orange & Blue Daisy Wedding Cake

2011-09-08T09:12:03.267-04:00

It's traditional for wedding cakes to be white cake with white filling and white decorations. But, more and more, brides & grooms are choosing to incorporate nontraditional fillings (like guava, Bavarian cream, or raspberry) and using...*gasp*...COLOR on the cakes!

Of course, there is such a thing as too much color (think fluorescent green, orange, etc)...but bringing in touches of your wedding accent colors can really help decorate your reception.

Here's a cake we made for a bride and groom who were having an orange and blue wedding:

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The cake was iced in white buttercream, and we wrapped real ribbon around the base of each cake tier.

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The daisies were all hand-made from gum paste and attached to the cake. Then, we added a sprinkling of orange and blue polka dots around the daisies.

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It's just enough color to bring the cake to life and still keep it elegant and formal. I love color on cakes, don't you?!



Purple Bat Mitzvah Cake

2011-09-07T09:16:18.430-04:00

Today is Day 2 of cake catch-up week! Here's a cake created for a fun bat mitzvah party in Gainesville, FL.

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Emily's entire party was centered around different shades of purple, and they gave these purple lollipops as favors to all the party-goers.

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The cake tiers were covered in white fondant and decorated with purple fondant accents. And, as usual, the purple bow on top was created with fondant!

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Leopard & Zebra Print Birthday Cake

2011-09-06T09:35:26.436-04:00

I've got some cake catching up to do so I promise to post 1 cake each day this week! And, stay tuned for another sneak peak on Facebook! This one may actually accompany a PRIZE!!!

Here's a cake I made while still working at Ms Debbie's Sugar Art in Newberry. It was designed by the birthday girl herself. She wanted Tiffany blue zebra print, leopard print, a glitzy topper, the word "Diva" on there somewhere, some purple quilted pattern, and a beauty queen-like sash across the front. Wow, that's a lot! Luckily, it all come together in one cohesive design.

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Now, that's what I call a custom, personalized cake!



Chic Designer Print Cupcake Cookies - Online Auction #AFundForJennie

2011-08-30T11:39:47.489-04:00

Tragedy - an event in which one or more losses, usually of human life, occurs that is viewed as mournful; a disastrous event. We all know the definition of a tragedy, and yet when one blindsides us, we are left speechless. Who do we turn to for comfort? How do we comfort those experiencing the loss the most? How do we calm ourselves enough to sleep at night and then wake up the next morning to face the day? I don't have the answers to those questions, and that's not the point of this blog post. The focus of this post is to hold an online auction for hand-decorated cookies to raise money for a fellow food blogger, Jennie, whose family has recently been struck by a tragedy. But I would like to pause right here and pay some respect to 2 other tragedies that have touched my life this week. First of all, my Grandpa, who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2007 and has fought a long, hard battle, is finally fading away. His body just has no strength left. He is primarily unconscious due to pain medications, but I pray that the Lord takes him soon so he experiences ultimate relief. I also pray for my Grandma and family members who are standing by watching him slowly slip away. Is it harder to cope with death when you have time to say goodbye or when you don't? I think they're equally painful...but very different... The other tragedy is for someone I didn't get a chance to know very well. A woman in the Ocala Cake Club and her husband were recently struck by a head-on collision, leaving behind 3 children. Again, I'm speechless. I don't even know how to begin to help...or wait, can anything I do really help??? Still, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved. And now back to the blog post at hand. Jennie's husband was recently killed by a massive heart attack while he was outside playing with his daughters. Members of the food blogging world immediately stepped up to comfort her, sending her Tweets, Facebook messages, emails, and comments on her blog. The outpouring of love was simply amazing. But, now reality hits. Words of encouragement will only go so far. Jennie's husband's insurance coverage expires in December and the new insurance coverage will cost more than her mortgage. And let's not forget all the other month-to-month bills she'll have to cover on her own. In response to this news, the food bloggers have formed Bloggers Without Borders and are holding many, many online auctions to raise funds for her and her daughters. I won't go into details here, but just do a search for #AFundForJennie or check out Jennie's blog if you want to see what everyone is doing for her. Now, it's my turn. I am auctioning off 2 dozen decorated sugar cookies. These cookies are made from scratch and hand-decorated with chic, designer prints and royal icing (pictured below, although colors and patterns may vary). My friend Julie just auctioned off some decorated cookies on her blog. She got $65 for 2 dozen. But I'm competitive - let's beat that! How high can we go? And let's just say that if the bidding goes beyond $100, I'll do something extra special for the winner! So help spread the word about the auction and let's raise some moo-la for Jennie and her girls. Action Details: I'll start the bidding at $40! Leave a comment below with your bid. (Please be sure your bid is at least $1 more than the previous bid.) 2 dozen cupcake-shaped decorated sugar cookies will be shipped to the highest bidder within 2-4 weeks donation is received. Donation will be made directly to Bloggers without Borders for the #AFundForJennie fund with 100% of the donation going directly to Jennie and her girls. Bidding will end at 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, September 7th. At the conclusion of the auction, I will contact the winner to assis[...]



Chic Designer Print Cookies

2011-08-24T14:14:32.625-04:00

I've been experimenting with combining edible prints with cookies lately. Here's a sneak peak at some of my successful attempts. Warning: These cookies are a bit racy, and may give a new meaning to Wednesday (today) being "hump day." *wink*

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For these bustier cookies, I used blue polka dot, leopard print, and pink polka dot edible prints from my PhotoFrost printing system. The rest of the decorations were done with royal icing.

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Stay tuned for more edible print cookies coming soon!



Masquerade 50th Birthday Cake!

2011-08-18T09:28:33.068-04:00

You may remember in March 2011, I helped plan the 2011 Florida ICED Cake Competition with my friend Lisa. Well, Lisa turned 50 in April and her hubby (and some amazing friends) planned a surprise party for her! When they asked me to make her birthday cake, I was thrilled! ...and then very nervous... How do you make a birthday cake for someone who makes cakes for a living?! It's only natural for her to notice all the flaws...The pressure was on! Lisa loves all things masquerade so that was the theme of the party. I carved each of the 3 cake tiers so they had a bit more of a whimsical, playful feel than simple straight edges. The whole cake was covered in white fondant, and I used Mardis Gras colors (green, purple, black, and gold) to decorate it. The mask on top was created out of gum paste, and the feathers (sorry, not edible) were purchased at craft & party stores around town. A word of warning: If you're creating a cake that needs feathers after Mardis Gras, start your search early! It took forever for me to find enough feathers for this cake! And Lisa's name and the "50" at the bottom of the cake were also created out of gum paste and glued in place with royal icing. Coincidentally, Masquerade is also the theme of the 2012 Florida ICED Cake Competition on March 31 and April 1, 2012! I will be there as one of the judges and will be doing two demos, one on Saturday and one on Sunday (topics TBD). Check out the photos from this year's competition and start making your plans to be there next year! Want to enter? Be sure to read the rules carefully and consider my tips for successfully entering and WINNING cake decorating competitions! [...]



Anniversary Cookie Bouquet

2011-08-10T09:29:10.642-04:00

My Aunt Debbie recently shared a photo of a cookie bouquet she ordered for my cousin's birthday and it reminded me that I never showed you this bouquet! I made this one for my in-laws' 30th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. The bouquet featured 2 champagne glasses, 3 red roses, 1 "Happy Anniversary" heart, and 1 bottle of champagne displaying the year 1981. Then, my mother-in-law Leona wanted me to take a good picture of the 2 of them. Before you see the pictures, it's important for you to know that we were eating at Malio's Prime Steakhouse in Tampa. It's a fancy restaurant with spectacular food! Ok, ignore my lack of camera skills in less than ideal photography conditions... But I picked up the camera, counted to 3, and this is the shot I get: Ok...let's try again... Not a horrible shot, but why must we always pose with our alcoholic beverages? And J-Dawg (that's what I call my father-in-law) looks less than thrilled to be there. Third time's the charm, right? Hm...maybe not...Ok, let's try ONE more time. We give Leona a little pep talk about calming down and looking "normal." I pick up the camera again, assured that this will be a good photo! But, now we've lost J-Dawg... I give up. [...]



Diaper Bag Baby Shower Cake

2011-08-03T09:32:21.276-04:00

Last weekend, Adam's mom threw us another baby shower! There were so many people there to talk to and so much good food to eat that I didn't take a single photo at the shower. Whoops! I can't believe it! So I have no new baby bump photos to share with you, but I do have a gazillion photos of the cake!It's the first official cake for Mikaela from Mommy! In other words, I made it. I spent almost all day Friday working on it because I wanted it to be just perfect for her.The cake itself was shaped like a giant diaper bag and had a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of vanilla cake, and guava filling. The baby shower was held at Cafe Nuevo in Tampa (yum!) so I thought it was appropriate to have guava filling.I made a tag for the bag and wrote "Mikaela" on it so it looked like we were ready to drop her off at day care. Although, I don't know if she'll ever go to day care with 2 sets of grandparents dying to babysit. *wink*And I made a couple of pairs of shoes using cutters from Cakes N'Supplies by Ximena. Love them! I made these late at night on Thursday so they came out a little sloppier than I'd hoped...I think my eyes had started going cross-eyed...but the cake wouldn't have been complete without them! In fact, Taylor, who came over to help me deliver the garbage truck cake & cookies, helped me by making the buttons and cutting out the Converse logos. Perfectly done!Then I made a key teether set using another cutter from Cakes N'Supplies by Ximena. So cute! And I had to make some safety pins to represent the fact that we're going to use cloth diapers for Mikaela.And after we finished putting all the accessories on the board, Taylor and I noticed a blank spot towards the back. Oh no! That will not do! But Taylor came to the rescue and made this adorable baby rattle to fill the spot!My due date is only 7 weeks away now and we can't wait to meet Mikaela![...]



Contests: 1 To Enter, 1 To Help Me Win!

2011-08-02T09:13:37.850-04:00

I've got a couple of contests to tell you about today!

First of all, if you've ever dabbled in cake decorating, enter your beach-themed cake into an online contest on Cakes We Bake by August 23, 2011. The rules of the contest can be found here. I just entered a cake Debbie and I did for a friend's wedding in early May:

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After all the entries have been received, you'll have a chance to go back and "favorite" the ones you want to win! Good luck!

Secondly, I've entered a contest that I would LOVE to win! The contest is hosted by Elise Kersey Photography, and I had to submit my idea for a "dream photo shoot." Of course, mine involved our future baby, Mikaela, and baking!

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"I just opened a custom cake shop, and I'm my happiest when I'm in the kitchen elbow-deep in cake batter or powdered sugar. The only thing that can top my fun time in the kitchen is spending time with my husband and our baby girl, Mikaela. I would love to capture some photos of me and Mikaela working on some sweets together in our home kitchen. I'm thinking they can be shot with a sort of vintage, home-style feel. Picture some old 1950s photos of women working in the kitchen...but we'll modernize it by adding some subtle color, softening the focus, and - of course - using my KitchenAid mixer! We'd have powdered sugar on our cheeks and noses, bare feet, matching aprons, and you can hear our giggles coming through the photo."

To help me win, just "like" my idea on the contest page on Facebook. Share it with your friends! The idea with the most "likes" gets extra entries in the random raffle drawing to choose the winner.



Garbage Truck Cake & Cookies

2011-08-01T12:49:23.165-04:00

Last week, I had the privilege of making a cake and cookie favors for a very cute little boy's birthday. Apparently, West is really into garbage trucks! He gets excited when they come to pick up his family's trash or recycling. In fact, the week of his birthday, they even let him help dump the recycling in the truck! How cool is that?! So when his Mom contacted me to order his birthday cake, they (of course) wanted a garbage truck. We designed the cake based on photos of cakes she liked as well as photos of their local garbage truck. There were a few specific requests though. West wanted to make sure the cake had a front-end lift for garbage pick-up, not the traditional back loader, since that's what their local truck has. And he also preferred 3 wheels rather than 2. In addition, they wanted a yellow caution light on the top of the cake near the back, a number 4 somewhere on it, and "Happy 4th Birthday West!" And you see that awesome logo "West Waste"? West's father made that logo, resembling their local trash pick-up company, to coordinate with West's Halloween costume last year. So the logo was a MUST on the cake!The wheels were made of Rice Krispies Treats covered in fondant, but everything else you see is CAKE! The cake was covered with green or white buttercream and the decorations were done with fondant. And the cake flavor? Vanilla cake with Bavarian cream filling - yum!West's Mom also ordered some garbage truck cookie favors for each of the party attendees. They were mini versions of the cake and were personalized with each person's name.Look, it's like a momma truck and a baby truck!Happy Birthday, West![...]



Redfish Groom's Cake

2011-07-27T12:19:12.391-04:00

Here's a cake I decorated while still working up at Ms Debbie's Sugar Art earlier this year. And it was actually delivered to Clearwater Beach!

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The cake was hand-carved, covered in fondant, and then airbrushed to add the color and detail typical of a Redfish.

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Lego Pirate Cake

2011-07-26T09:03:55.689-04:00

I posted another sneak peek on the Facebook Fan Page last week. Did you see it?! I thought the photo was a little more cryptic this time, but you guys were still able to guess! I'll have to get a little more creative in my photography in the future...So, yes, it was a pirate ship cake. But not just any pirate ship! It was a Lego pirate ship made especially for Adam's youngest cousin, who just turned 7 and is absolutely obsessed with all things Lego.The ship was carved out of cake and "wallpapered" with wood grain-printed edible paper fresh from my new PhotoFrost edible printing system. Now, before you all ask me, "Where did you find the amazing wood grain image???" Here's a secret: I just googled it! Here's the one I used, which came up with a search for "wooden planks."I made a special mold using real Legos so that I could, in turn, create edible ones for the cake. And all the decorations (anchor, Lego people, sails, treasure map, etc) were made of gum paste.In fact, Noah specifically requested that his "squid man" be driving the pirate ship. Now, I wasn't about to try to carve that detailed, tiny character from red gum paste so I simply made a mold of the real thing! The one you see in the picture above is made from gum paste. I am now in love with molding putty!Noah's party was held at the local skating rink. I used to spend all day Saturday at the skating rink when I was growing up...*sigh* those were the days. And you know what? They still use the same fluorescent carpet on the walls! When we arrived at the party with the cake, the staff put it on a counter so skaters-by wouldn't damage it. Noah stood there staring at it for at least 15 minutes. Then some random little boy walked up and Noah announced, "That's my birthday cake! My cousin made it!"I think he liked it. What do you think?[...]



Firetruck Cookies

2011-07-22T09:12:46.128-04:00

A couple of days ago, I posted a sneak peek on Facebook of some cookies I was working on. It looked like this:

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Did you guess what it was??? Yea, I guess it wasn't too hard to figure out...

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The firetrucks were made for a sweet little boy's birthday. They were labeled with each party attendee's name and shipped out of town (arriving today). Happy Birthday, West!

Did you like the Sneak Peek game? I had fun with it! But maybe next time I'll make it a little more challenging...and maybe every once in a while I'll run it like a contest. I'm thinking the first correct guess wins a dozen cookies shipped directly to them. How does that sound? These Sneak Peek games and contests will only be announced on my Facebook Fan Page so be sure you "like" it so you can play!




Disney Wedding Favors

2011-07-20T08:43:27.431-04:00

I've been a bad blogger. With trying to get Ph.D.-serts & Cakes set up for business, blogging just hasn't been on the top of my to-do list! But here are some photos of goodies I did a while ago for a friend's Disney wedding.The Disney chefs did the wedding cake itself (and it was gorgeous), but I was honored to be asked to do the party favors!Of course, there were Mickey Mouse cookies:And Minnie Mouse cookies:Here's the cute couple now!And then they wanted cookies that said "...and they lived happily ever after." To make these, I covered the cookies with white Satin Ice fondant and let it harden. Then I wrote the message with edible food markers and piped a tiffany blue royal icing border. But the last step was probably the most important...a little sprinkling of Pixie Dust (aka Disco Dust)! Can you see it? These cookies looked magical!But that's not all! They also wanted chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks - yum! Each guest received a pretzel dipped in white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. Is your mouth watering? All of a sudden, I'm craving one dipped in dark chocolate...Oooo! I almost forgot! The last treat the guests got was Chess Bars! If you've never had Chess Bars, I feel sorry for you. They are rich, decadent, sweet, and irresistible. I can't share my recipe because it was a family recipe I talked my friend into sharing, but I know you can find a similar recipe online. Oh, look! Here's one you can try! Hmmm...maybe I'll make some this week...Wouldn't you love to be a guest at this wedding? Not only is it at Disney, but then you get pampered with all these goodies! Congrats, Chris and Kate! "All you need is faith, trust, and pixie dust."[...]



A Rainbow-Themed Baby Shower!

2011-07-07T15:29:10.539-04:00

Last weekend, my Mom and sister, Robin, threw me an amazing rainbow-themed baby shower! The food was great (Pizza Gallery & Grill in Viera, FL), the games were fun, and the company was irreplaceable!I have never been able to choose a favorite color because I love all colors! Colors are meant to compliment each other so why would you want to choose only one??? So when my sister picked the rainbow theme for the shower, I couldn't have been happier. One of my favorite parts of the decor was this rainbow jelly bean bar.My crazy sister actually carried all these jelly beans on her flight with her from TX. HEAV-Y! But, oh so yummy.My cousin Heather volunteered to make the shower cake, which turned out adorable and was also quite yummy! She even used the new Wilton edible paper decorations! And, since everyone was bringing me gifts, I felt like I should provide the party favors. Here's a shot of our colorful cake/favor table at the shower:The favors included:-Cupcakes topped with mini doughnuts (I bought this new Wilton pan at the annual Tent Sale.)-Rainbow macarons (Not to be confused with macaroons, of which I have recently been guilty. Tutorial coming soon!)-Baby candy sticks using this Wilton mold but I mounted them on Tutti Fruity candy sticks from Cracker Barrel instead of pretzels-And lots and lots of decorated sugar cookies that looked like cupcakes, ice cream cones, lollipops, and dot stripsThe table decorations were so cute, and I loved the Whirly Pops in the sequined Jelly Belly jars!I have to tell you about the games we played because they were actually fun!Birthday Cards for the Baby:-While we were waiting for all the guests to arrive, we all made baby Mikaela birthday cards! Everyone was allowed to choose whichever year they wanted. The idea is that they were supposed to share a fond memory of themselves and/or me at that age. Or, they could give Mikaela some advice for that age. At first, it was hard to figure out what to write, but I'm so glad we did this! Mikaela now has birthday cards from her baby shower from age 1 to age 24! And they're all sealed so it will be fun to read them together as the years go by.Gift Bingo:-Robin pre-made bingo cards with things from our registry: diapers, swing, bouncer, Boppy, onesie, mittens, etc. While I opened gifts, the guests all played Bingo! I really liked this game because it kept people from focusing all the attention on me. I'm not a big fan of opening gifts in front of a crowd so this was a nice distraction. And, BONUS, one of the guests gets to win a prize!Guess the Girth:-And, of course, we played the Guess the Girth game. A ball of yarn was passed around and everyone cut off a segment they thought would fit perfectly around my baby bump. This game is always a fun one!Amazingly, those are the best baby bump photos we got during the shower. Whoops! But here are my other 2 favorite photos from the day:Grammy (my Mom), me & Mikaela, and Mimi (Adam's Mom)And a photo with my beautiful sister, Robin.*All photos without my watermark were taken by Julie from The Little Kitchen. Thanks, Julie! You're awesome![...]



The Big Cookie Reveal!

2011-06-27T16:34:29.635-04:00

Last week, I posted this picture:

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And I told you the cookies were a surprise for someone very important in my life. Did you guess who that person was???

My mom!

Coincidentally, one of my Mom's former students (she's a 5th grade teacher in TX) was in Florida on vacation with her family. Her Mom saw my temporary Ph.D.-serts & Cakes website and called me. They wanted to bring some surprise cookies back to my Mom! How sweet is that?!

So I decided to do a "Summer Teacher" cookie mix.

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She received chalk boards, pencils, watermelon, beach balls, sunglasses, cupcakes, and ice cream cones. When I think of "teacher on vacation," that's what comes to mind!

The best part was that Mom had NO CLUE! *insert evil laugh here* I love being sneaky like that.



Rolled Sugar Cookie Process & a Sneak Peak

2011-06-24T09:13:29.936-04:00

People ask me all the time how I bake my sugar cookies so that they don't burn or spread while baking. I've posted my sugar cookie recipe here before, but let's go through my whole process today so you can see it from start to finish.*Disclaimer: There are MANY different methods to rolling out cookie dough. This method may or may not work for you. It's what works for me. Period.Step 1: Make Sugar Cookie DoughI use this recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. I always mix up the dough at least 1 day in advance and store it in the refrigerator so it's nice and chilled when I'm ready to bake.Step 2: Roll Out DoughHere are the tools you'll need:-1 rolling pin (silicone-coated works best)-nonstick baking spray-cookie cutters of choice-SilPat-1 batch of sugar cookie doughSpray SilPat with baking spray and place dough on top. I give my dough a good smoosh with my hand so it's a little easier to roll (remember, it's chilled so it's very hard). Then spray the top of the dough with baking spray.Roll out the dough. If it's sticking to your rolling pin, spray the top of the dough again with baking spray. You don't need a perfect rectangle/circle when you roll. In fact, I usually use only 1/4 of the sugar cookie dough (the rest is stored in the fridge) and work on only one side of the SilPat.Do you have trouble keeping your dough an even consistency throughout? Try using Wilton's 20-inch rolling pin with guide rings to get an even thickness. Or, place one wooden dowel on either side of your cookie dough and roll on top of that. Both the guide rings and the wooden dowels will only let you go to a certain thickness so you won't get super thin spots in your rolled dough.Step 3: Cut out CookiesUsing your chosen cookie cutter, cut out your cookies from the rolled dough. Don't cut them too close together, though, because they will spread a little bit while baking.Step 4: Tear Away Excess DoughPeel up the excess dough around the cookie cut-outs. Simple as that! It should come up really easily since you sprayed the SilPat with baking spray. If it gives you trouble in spots, slide a thin spatula underneath it. Of course, be careful not to nudge your perfectly shaped cookie cut-outs.Step 5: Repeat Until SilPat is FullNow, I have to mention here that some people like to freeze the shapes at this point. Then, you could pick them up and move them around the SilPat. This would allow you to fit more shapes on 1 pan and reduce your total amount of baking time.I'd rather just bake what I can fit on a pan, and continue rolling on another SilPat. When I bake cookies, I have 4 SilPats going at a time so I've always got one ready to go in the oven.Step 6: Bake!Baking time will depend on your oven and the size of your cookie. If I'm unsure how long the cookie size will take to bake, I usually set the timer for 7 minutes and check it then. Your cookie should not be shiny at all when it's finished baking.That being said, it'll take some practice to know when to remove the cookies from the oven. Ideally, you want to remove them JUST BEFORE the edges start to turn brown. In the image below, two of the cookies are perfect, but the one in the left rear started to get a little brown. A little brown like that is ok because your decorations will probably mask it. Yay!Let the cookies sit for 1-2 minutes on the pan. This will allow them to harden a little. When they're hard enough to lift (they don't break when you lift them[...]



Baby Gender Reveal Parties

2011-06-24T08:37:17.895-04:00

(Photo from MailOnline.com)Have you heard of the baby gender reveal parties? I am in love with this idea, and I've been dying to convince my friends to let me bake their gender reveal cake. Ok, let's backtrack. What's a gender reveal party?Well, this is a trend that's getting more and more popular. Instead of finding out the gender of their baby in the doctor's office during a sonogram, expectant couples ask their doctor to write the gender on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. Then, they deliver that envelope straight to their cake baker. The baker decorates the outside of the cake with a gender neutral design...but the inside? Is either PINK or BLUE!(Photo from iVillage.com)So the couple picks up the cake and takes it home to a party, usually filled with friends and family. When they cut the cake, everyone discovers at the same time whether they're having a boy or girl!When Ph.D.-serts & Cakes opens its doors, we will definitely offer this service! In the meantime, if you are pregnant and want to try this, email me! Even if you live outside of Tampa, FL, I have ideas for how we can do this and ship the goods to you!And, by the way, did you catch the big reveal of Ph.D.-serts & Cakes' website and logo on Facebook this week? If not, check it out at www.phdserts.com. The website is still under construction, but if it's anything like the amazing logo that Allison Anne Stevens Designs created for me, I know it'll be out of this world![...]