Feel free to email any news, videos, recipes, or just about anything to mysweetdiversion(at)hotmail(dot)com!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review of the Buddy Show, Shortbread Cookies, and Christmas Cheer!

Yay! My tweet is up there!

Hello, all! Just wanted to give a quick review of the Buddy show last week in Richmond, VA and share a cookie recipe before I go on a bit of a holiday hiatus.

The show started with Buddy coming through the crowd onto the stage. The only way I could tell where he was was by finding his bright red chef coat. I must say, Buddy Valastro is a little guy. But it's all good--I'm a fellow shortie in the cake world. :) He had a T-shirt gun that he was launching towards the crowd but all the taller people snagged the ones launched in my section.

He began with a little story about Christmas morning at the Valastro house with a cute home video clip and some photos of his family's HUGE Christmas dinner spread. Then he got to decorating a few holiday-themed cakes. Among them were a Santa face made from a heart cake, a fondant-covered gift box (complete with fondant bow), a blue fondant cake with snowflake fondant cut-outs, and a Christmas tree cake the he decorated in under 45 seconds!

In order for an audience member to win each of these cakes, Buddy orchestrated different little contests. I wanted to get selected to win one, but the taller enthusiasts were jumping up and down in front of me :( But it's OK. I still enjoyed myself. Buddy is a really funny guy! I definitely need to snag one of those steamer thingies to shine up my fondant cakes. I'm currently brushing all of my fondant with clear flavor or vodka and that takes a very long time!

Excuse my photos. They were taken from my phone and it was dying, so I was rushing to get some pictures in! I had a great time at the show, and I hope Buddy comes around to Virginia next year, too! Maybe next time I'll get VIP tickets to that I can meet him and take a picture!

This past weekend, my friend threw a tacky sweater thrift gift party, and I decided to make some shortbread cookies to contribute. I honestly think it's an easy and inexpensive way to make scratch-made cookies. The recipe is from Ina Garten and it can be found here. My only modification is this: instead of 1 tsp vanilla extract, I do 1 1/2 tsp vanilla  and 1/2 tsp almond extract (or emulsion). It adds a delicious subtle flavor that I am definitely a fan of.

Mix together the softened butter and granulated sugar until just combined.

Then add the flavors. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix on low until the dough starts to get crumbly-looking.

The recipe says to form all of the dough into one disc on a floured surface. But I like to split it up into two discs to make it a bit easier to work with. I was reading some of the comments on this recipe's page, and a lot of people were saying that the dough just kept falling apart and wouldn't cooperate. All I say to that is have patience. If you smush it together into discs, it will come together! See?
I put those into the fridge for 30 minutes then brought them both out and rolled one disc at a time.
Have patience here, too! It may be crumbly at first, but it will come together and be rollable. Just make sure the rolling pin as well as the surface is generously dusted with flour!
I rolled the dough about 1/4" thick and used star cutters and circle cutters. I made one disc stars and the other circles. I managed to get about 4 dozen this way.

The recipe says to bake 20-25 minutes, but I find that my cookies are golden-brown-edged perfection at about 17 minutes, so check your cookies periodically!

They taste quite amazing plain, but I drizzled mine with some good old-fashioned confectioner's sugar icing. Yum! Roger snagged one before we left for the party.

And while we're on the tacky sweaters, I must share mine. We both had fun making our own sweaters!

And with that, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! I will be back in January with a couple of birthday cakes I have lined. I hope for much prosperity for everyone in the coming year. Yay for 2013!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Late Post : Double Birthday Week 2012 and a Red Bottom Shoe!

As you may already know, my mother and I my brother have birthdays 3 days apart. I do my best to make them separate cakes, especially when Thanksgiving doesn't get in the way. This year, I decided to make my mom the cake that I actually wanted to make her last year-- a purse! My mom looooves purses and shoes, so I designed a purse using the colors of a bag that she currently carries-- white and taupe! I was kind of winging the design as I went along. It was really fun to put together a purse. I imagine it's similar to making a real purse out of cloth and leather.

I made a yellow cake from scratch (I'll post the recipe once it's been fine-tuned-- it was good, but I want to make some changes). It was baked in an 8" square pan. Once the cake was cooled, I cut the cake at about 2/3 then stacked the other third on top. My mom requested caramel icing, so I just had to oblige. I used that to fill the cake and also filled the cake with candied slivered almonds. Yum!

I carved the cake down and made a purse shape. Then I base-iced with the same icing. I let the cake chill for about half and hour, then I covered the cake with 2 sheets of white fondant. Sidenote: I liked making this purse because I didn't have to hide the seams-- I could play off of them. My Wilton quilting tool definitely came in handy for this one to add finishing touches and details. I added an "R" for Regina and voila!

My mom loved it! Perhaps next year, I'll make her a shoe...

As for my brother, I knew I just had to do something music-related. But what? Well, my bestie had the idea to make him a turntable. He doesn't necessarily DJ, but it's something prominent in the music world (he's a music producer), so he would be able to appreciate it-- which he did!
This cake was a strawberry cake with cream cheese icing filling (his favorite!) and vanilla buttercream on the outside. I also baked it in an 8" square pan, but no carving this time. I tinted some grey icing (however, it came out a bit purple-- anyone have a solution to this?) and covered the square cake. Then I cut out a fondant record, shaped a knob as well as the needle, and cut out some smaller circles for buttons.

I made up the GD-32 model-- it's my brother's initials and his age! He loved his cake inside and out. :) What to do for his 33rd next year.. Hmm...

Along with these cakes, I had an order to make for a new client. It was a 21st birthday cake that featured a red-bottomed shoe. I had to do a bit of research to figure out exactly what that was, and I learned that I had to jump up a couple of tax brackets in order to ever buy one! They are mostly very high heeled pumps with red soles, and the most basic one I could find was black patent leather.

My client had ordered a half sheet cake, so I didn't want to take away from the number of servings by carving a huge shoe shape. Instead, I carved the heel and sole out of the side of the cake to show the actual red bottom.
My client loved it, and I was happy that I figured out a cute, creative way to incorporate a semi- 3D shoe into a sheet cake!
Related Posts with Thumbnails