Highway to Happiness: Trading Sweets

Wedding Recaps

As the third course was cleared and the conversation began to ebb, our guests’ glances began to stray to the dessert table in the far corner of the room.

I had deliberated for quite some time how to display our cupcakes. The standard tiered stack is always a good go-to, but since we were dealing with a smaller quantity than those large displays hold, I wanted something that would have a bit more presence without looking bare. Going over what I had on hand, I came back to these telescoping plant stands that a friend gave me ages ago. In the 7 or 8 years I’ve owned them I think they’ve held a potted plant maybe once? Usually they get used to hold party supplies or lights at our parties, and I realized they’d be perfect cupcake stands, too!


I filled each platform with excelsior and then secured corks and paper flowers around the edges–both to fill the space and to help support the small plates resting on the edges of the lower platforms. Since the clear plastic plates I found were just barely big enough to span the diameter of each stand (and the next size up of anything was way too big) I secured those at points with hot glue as well. They mostly survived the trip to the Plantation–enough to serve their purpose.

When the DoC came over to ask which cupcakes we wanted to use for our “cake cutting” I realized I’d almost forgotten about those sweet treats waiting to end the meal! Since we were still a bit pinned in, we opted to do the cake bits at our seats.

That would be a very definite 'no' to little brother's suggestion of a cake smash.

That would be a very definite ‘no’ to little brother’s suggestion of a cake smash.

We were, instead, very careful and very polite.

We were, instead, very careful and very polite.

The traditional kiss afterwards, however, was not so sweet for Roadie, I’m afraid. He’s not a big fan of peanut butter–the smell or taste of it–and the peanut butter frosting on my cupcake had been quite strong. His reaction gave our guests a laugh, though! (He went with the strawberry cupcake, just in case anyone was curious.)


I believe it was at this point we thanked our guests for spending the day with us before inviting them to help themselves to the dessert table.


It was a good thing the leftover cupcakes were being delivered back to our cottage since, once people were up and moving, I didn’t get a chance to finish more than half of mine before I, too, was mingling with our guests. It felt good to get up and stretch our legs, so for our guests who’s been sitting longer than we had I’m sure they appreciated it, too!


The Road Trip Wedding Recaps:

Cupcakes Galore!

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Once we discovered wheat was ingredient-non-grata for me, the chances that whatever we served during dessert would be made my me increased exponentially. While I’m more than capable enough to attempt such a thing, and ambitious enough to seriously consider it, I also realized that if I’m this busy three months out from the wedding, the week before is probably not going to be ideal baking time.

While I’ll still be making a few things for the dessert buffet, the bulk of the responsibility will be on the capable shoulders of Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery.

Lucy & Leo’s has been a Tallahassee favorite for several years, and has added gluten-free flavors to their Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday line-ups. Since they don’t make all the flavors all the time, they were willing to set aside the gluten-free flavors they made for a given week (and let me request certain flavors, too) for me to pick up the following Monday so we could get a good idea of the flavors we might want. I also picked up a couple of regular cupcakes so that Mr. Road Trip could test the Cupcakery’s claims that their gluten-free cupcakes are actually better than the regular!

Our Tasting Assortment

Our Tasting Assortment–don’t they look delicious?!

Hive, I exhibited amazing restraint by having these cupcakes in my office for the entire afternoon and then waited for Mr. Road Trip to get home from work and have supper together before tasting any of them. Even the chocolate peanut butter one that T had absolutely no interest in. Supreme. Restraint.

The cupcakes before the tasting...

The cupcakes before the tasting…

I split all the gluten-free cupcakes in half so we could each take a taste, but T got the regulars all to himself, and was able to confirm that the vanilla gluten free really was better than the regular recipe, and that the chocolate was a very close second (the chocolate cookies & cream was a bit dense, but still delicious).

...and what was left after we decided to just try a "taste" of a few after dinner.

…and what was left after we decided to just try a “taste” of a few after dinner.

Based on this delectable sampling, we decided on a dozen each of the chocolate peanut butter, the key lime, the strawberry (after confirming it would still be available in November), and something else. We were debating one of the other chocolate flavors, but decided to go with one of their fall flavors–gingered pumpkin–to round things out.

This was, by far, one of the tastiest decisions we’ve had to make for the upcoming wedding. And while I still plan on making a couple of small, simple cakes, some brownies, and some cookies to accompany the cupcakes, I’m now looking forward to a little relaxing baking time before the out of town guests arrive.

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 MeetUp.com 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 MeetUp.com 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!