Cupcakery Abounds


This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first Meet-Up with the All About Food in Tallahassee group. Having found out about the group from a TNG (Tallahassee Nerds & Geeks) member, that makes 2 for 2 meeting fabulous folks.

As you might have guessed, the theme, flavor and activity of choice for the meetup was cupcakes.

Coffee table filled with finished cupcakes and cookies, at least 60

We had at least 60 decorated cupcakes by day's end.

Our hostess is quite the cake decorator, herself, and I was a happy helper monkey busting out my old supplies and my somewhat-rusty piping skills to make my own creations as well as help others get the hang of things with theirs.

It almost makes me want to teach for Wilton again.

Except for the whole time thing. Or, rather, the lack thereof.

But for a day’s outing, it was a nice return to my old creative stomping grounds.

To host your own cupcake afternoon, here’s the skinny on how our hostess made it so very enjoyable.

1. Start with your supplies.

Steff had plenty of decorating tools for folks to use and the ones I brought made a good back-up when the frosting started flying.

Tables are required since the cakes have to sit somewhere; she put a cover on her pool table as a second table to allow plenty of table-space for everyone.

The table laden with supplies and inspiration.

The table laden with supplies and inspiration, just waiting for us to start.

2. Gather the troops and get them to bring things.

Several people brought un-iced cupcakes and a few people brought cookies. Others brought candies and toppings to be used in decorating.

Of course, meetups can’t live by sugar alone! There was also plenty of savory snacking to be had to fend off the sugar coma pure icing would have otherwise caused.

Savory foods laid out for snacking

Savory foods laid out for snacking

This meant that we didn’t actually start decorating for a while, instead we had the usual nosh and nose-around-people’s-lives until the last folks had arrived.

3. Give ’em their marching orders and let the wild cupcaking begin!

A few words of guidance from Steff and it was pretty much catch-as-catch can. The cupcakes were moved around to make room for people to work, tools were grabbed and the icing started to flow.

Scraps piping fishnet stockings onto a cookie

Piping fishnet stockings onto a cookie.

One enterprising attendee made peanut butter cookie people (and his own cutter/mold, too) and decided to make both the girls and the boys. Alas, when presented with such a start, there was nothing else to do but dress the boobalicious peanut butter girl in some fishnets and lingerie.

Then someone wanted some guidance building a cupcake pooch from one of the books available for inspiration. She did such an amazing job–I was so proud.

An excellent student and her creation

An excellent student and her creation

4. After about 4 hours, send everyone home with as many cupcakes as they can carry!

Oh, there were so many cupcakes. In addition to the 60 or so that were decorated, there were easily 3 dozen that left as naked as they arrived. They were divvied up and everyone who wanted had a little something extra to bring home.

Tip: Disposable carry-out containers are available at most warehouse and restaurant supply stores. Having some extras on hand for these sorts of things never hurts.

An afternoon spent cupcaking, cooking, or crafting with friends is a fantastic way to pass a day. And if you don’t have a group of like-minded individuals to do that with, already, check out and find some new ones.

To see the rest of my photos from the day, check out my Google+ album.

Creative Cupcakes!


Have you noticed how many cupcakeries have sprung up around the country or, even, in your own town? Cupcakes are everywhere and it’s easy to see why.

Cupcakes are:

  • Portable
  • Cute
  • and Perfectly Portioned

Karen Tack & Alan Richardson, creative co-authors of Hello, Cupcake!, have come back for another batch of cute and surprisingly simple designs for a variety of occasions–bringing show-stopping cupcakes to home kitchens.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book for review and to participate in a chat with the authors, hosted by McCormick. What fun!

What's New, Cupcake?

The book is brimming with pictures of both the finished cupcakes and many of the steps it takes to make them, making it easy for the home cook to replicate the fun ideas in the book as well as learn the techniques to improvise their own. The authors jokingly call themselves “lazy decorators” but, as Karen pointed out, lazy for some translates to efficient and smart.

For instance, a lot of the supplies you’ll need are basic kitchen tools. Most of the ingredients, outside of the cupcakes themselves, can be purchased in the candy aisle of your grocery store and take just a little bit of manipulation to turn them into great details.

Even with my background in pastry and cake decorating, I was able to pick up several fun ideas. I’m not sure I would have thought to use lime chewy candy to make broccoli spears the way they did for their Chinese Takeout cupcakes. And the marshmallow flowers are absolutely to die for! Simply snip a marshmallow on the diagonal and dip the cut edge into colored sugars, then arrange them in concentric circles to form the most darling, elegant flowers I’ve seen in a while.

Now, I’ll be honest, not all of the short-cuts and simplifications are my cup of tea. I’m not the biggest fan of Twinkies but there’s nothing to say I can’t substitute my own pound cake mini-loaves. In fact, a lot of the short-cuts can be made more gourmet for those looking for more of a culinary challenge.

And to top things off, I’ve got 2 author-signed copies of What’s New, Cupcake? to offer to you! Since the opportunity came from my connection over at Circle of Food, it’s only fair that I offer the giveaway over there. Head over to this same post over on Circle of Food and leave a comment with your favorite flavor of cupcake to be entered in the drawing. At the end of the month I’ll draw two comments out of a cake-pan for the books and a little something extra from me!

Suit Your Surface

64 Arts

There are more things to draw on than just paper…

Let’s see how many things I can come up with that are suitable for drawing on that are not paper:

  • Sidewalks (make your own sidewalk chalk!I bet those water bottle ice-cube trays would be perfect molds for them!)
  • Chalkboards
  • Whiteboards
  • Walls (if you have permission of the wall-owner, of course)
  • Nails (as in finger nails–I’ve always been curious about those polish markers for this sort of thing)
  • Silk (veering into painting a bit, but I think it’s an understandable deviation)
  • Appliances*
  • Cakes

Yup, I was totally leading up to that last one ๐Ÿ™‚ I used to do a LOT of cake decorating. I was mostly self-taught, then I took the Wilton classes so I could teach others. I could put anything on a cake, as long as I had a picture to go by. One cake in particular decided to test those skills:

1999 Camp Gordon Johnston Assn Fundraiser

This group used an old WWII cartoon by Bill Mauldin on their brochures and wanted it duplicated onto a cake.

This was a bit before the edible images were very widespread so there wasn’t much to do but draw it on.

I was able to transfer the primary lines using piping gel transfer and a piece of transparency film, then filled in the rest with a very tiny tip (a 1 and a 0, if I remember correctly) and black icing. It took hours, but the CGJA loved it!

What other surfaces do you want to draw on? And what types of preparation would you have to make to do it?

* * *

And, now, for the Daily Doodle! Again, I had a couple because it was my night to do my weekly life-comic. If you’d like to see the larger size of the left side of the image, click on over to Cocktail Hour and see how my studio got it’s name. The ones on the right are honest doodles, though.

The top right is a visual pun: Spur of the Moment. I was just thinking how this little exercise was just that–and into my head this image popped. Nice when the muse plays along, right? (My muse’s name is Tessa, by the way–but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) The bottom right, however, was inspired by the ร‚ย Search for the Missing Cookies over at A Duck in Her Pond. The actual line she wrote was

And we all know a pig without Oreos is not a happy pig.

All I could think about was a sad little piggie (wearing pearls, of course!) shaking an empty box of cookies and looking terribly forlorn. I know we feel very sad when we run out of cookies, here!

Still plenty of time to share your doodles and be entered in the drawing for the handmade journal. Each link gets you an entry ๐Ÿ™‚