Monday, September 23, 2013

Trash Pack Cake Robert's 5th Birthday party

The Destroyer had his 5th birthday party last weekend.

Yup that is the cake sitting in the box that the toy came in

If I have learnt nothing else in my time here, it is to realise one's limitations and not try to make someone else something they are not.

There was no cute dessert buffet with matching candy, I did not buy him a new designer outfit, we did not invite everyone we knew and we did not have it at our home.

Note I used Americolor Electric colours mixed with Wilton regular gel colours.
The silver is Edible Silver Spray over grey fondant.

We went to the the local play center where I picked the minimum basic party package and I made an interactive Trash Pack Scum Drum Garbage Game cake with mini fondant Trashies that he flicked at the cake using launch platforms (which were not edible) from the real game he had been given.

CLICK on the picture above to check out Robert 
playing with his interactive cake on a short you tube video. 
It's just like a home video on my phone :)

It was so different from my eldest girls 5th birthday party with scores of perfectly pretty princess fairies at a pink tea party.

Yes the little trash packs are hand made from fondant

But it was the best party ever for my little Destroyer, it suited him perfectly and I couldn't love him any more.

I haven't done up an actual tutorial at this stage for the cake just some vague pictures of the process. I made the cake in one morning instead of spread over a couple of days as I had initially anticipated due to a number of incidents including The Destroyer staying home unexpectedly on his birthday because a python was loose in his kindi. So sorry I didn't get a chance for as many pictures as normal.

Don't worry y'all I lined the box with silver cake paper before I popped the cake inside.

Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores:

Link to Amazon:

Or at Fishpond (free shipping Australia)
Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! 

This post was not sponsored

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Decorate a donut and other fun ideas

What looks like a donut, is fun like a donut, can be decorated like a donut, but isn't a donut.....

This isn't some crazy riddle - I've baked up some cupcakes into a donut pan that I picked up at the local discount store for $13 and made cute little 'donuts'.

So the great thing about these donuts, apart from the cuteness and obviously the taste is that they are not fried. I'm not a huge fan of frying, and although I always think I like donuts, I nearly always feel a bit weighed down afterwards - so problem solved. Yay!

OK, I'm not pretending these are health treats, but look I topped some with strawberries, so healthy fruit and the sprinkle ones are made with those natural, no artificial sprinkles so not so nasty, and the Oreo ones.....yeah ok I got nothing with those ones apart from not being fried, but they do taste sooooo good.

So you want to make your own cute donut cakes, well these ones are pretty easy. All you need to do is grab a packet of Betty Crocker cupcake mix, make it up according to the directions. Spray a donut baking tray with non stick spray, pipe in the mixture filling around 1/3 full and bake for 12 minutes at the temperature recommended on the box.

Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the tray and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Once cool you can decorate with the ready to spread frosting from the packet and top with strawberries, crushed Oreo's or sprinkles. Well pretty much anything you like and the great news is these donuts are perfect for kids to decorate.

In fact I took them along to Mornings on Channel 9 and we had a donut decorating party, along with decorating some stacked sugar cookies, filled with swirled Betty Crocker frosting.

Mornings decorated the set like an outdoor party, and invited a bunch of kids along to help out with the fun. The idea being that having a party outdoors is fun, easy to arrange and makes less mess inside the house. Seriously what parent wouldn't be behind that reasoning :)

Edit update - here is a link to the segment of me on TV: Mornings Kids Cooking Party

Plus they incorporated a stack of the budget conscious ideas from Lilli's birthday party (CLICK HERE) where I used recycled jars as glasses, did a bit of crafting and acted as the party entertainment (CLICK HERE).

So here's the party run down, use Betty Crocker baking mix for less mess and less work, hold the party outside once again for less mess and less work and then get the kids to decorate the donuts and cookies.

I have to mention that The Little Big Company supplied the props for the party on Mornings and were so easy to work with and have a great range. From invitations to cake stands, jars, decorations and shimmer candy, they can supply everything you need for a fabulous party. Pop on over to their webstore to check it out.

Here are some pictures and links to other ideas shared on the show:

Stacked sugar cookies with swirls of Betty Crocker ready to spread frosting:

Make your own sugar blossoms video tutorial:

How to make your own super easy and sweet rag ribbon bunting:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One Box cake pops - It doesn't get much easier than this

One of the questions I get asked most about cake pops is how much frosting or buttercream to add to the cake mix to get the right consistency.

It sounds like a simple question doesn't it, but it's not really. Every cake is different, some are moist some are denser and that's without even adding frosting to the mix. Yup all frostings are not created equal with some being very fluid and some much dryer.

So you can see the problem with saying, yup add about 1/2 cup of buttercream and she'll be right mate. There are recipes around which match up cake to the correct amount and consistency of frosting and in fact I have written some myself (check out my book 'Sweets on a Stick') but I thought I would come up with something even easier.

One box cake pops.

Ah-huh! Betty Crocker Australia has added extra ready to spread frosting to their cake box mixes and it seems when you mix it into the cake it makes a great cake pop mixture.

Check out this video - I demonstrate how from mixing, srunching up the cake and frosting through to dipping. CLICK HERE or on the picture below to see:


And yay we have a winner for the Sunbeam mixer, and I was going to announce which of the Betty Crocker Irresistibles I would try first.....but you might have noticed I could not resist and have pretty much tried them all out. Check out the Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Jar Cakes here:

WINNER Maria P - who was drawn via Rafflecopter and has claimed the prize :) Congrats Maria.

One Box Cake Pop Instructions
Follow these instructions or to see me demonstrate how CLICK HERE.

1 box Betty Crocker Devil Food cake mix
3 eggs @ room temp
melted butter
180 ml milk @ room temp
1 packet candy melts 395g (I used Wilton)*
110g copha chopped into little pieces
27 food safe sticks, eg paper lollipops or skewers8

*Candy Melts and cake pop sticks available from cake and hobby shops (eg Spotlight Australia, Michaels USA) chocolate can be used in place of candy melts however I find that candy melts set faster.

Bake the Betty Crocker cake mix as per packet directions. The instructions suggested 50 to 55 minutes but I checked mine at 45 minutes and it was perfect with the skewer I inserted coming out clean - make sure not to overcook as everyone's oven is a little different.

Pop the cake into a large bowl, add all the frosting that came in the Betty Crocker cake mix box and scrunch it together using your hands until well combined.

Line a tray with baking paper and roll the cake pop mixture into small balls (see the video above to see around what size) and place onto the prepared tray. Repeat until all the mixture is used and pop into the fridge to chill for around 30 minutes.

Using a clean dry bowl melt the candy melts and copha in the microwave on 50% heat for 2 minutes, remove and stir and then return for bursts of 1 minute at 50% until the mixture is smooth, fluid and lump free.

Take a cake pop stick and holding one end of the stick dip the other end into the melted chocolate/candy coating and insert it into the cake ball so the stick is upright. Repeat for remaining cake pop balls and return to the fridge to chill for 10 minutes or until set.

Make sure the chocolate/candy coating is still melted. Holding the end of the stick dip the whole cake ball into the melted candy coating and lift it to allow any excess melted candy to drip off. Place the pop with the stick still upright onto baking paper lined tray to set.

 Disclosure: the ideas, words and opinions in this post are my own however this post was sponsored by General Mills.

Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores:

Link to Amazon:

Or at Fishpond (free shipping Australia)
Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chocolate caramel pecan 'pretzel' pastries - Sticks of Awesomeliciousness

I found these pastries the other day while I was walking through the supermarket. Ohh I thought to myself, they kinda look like pretzel sticks,  well not really but they were sticks so y'know I had to buy them and see what I could make.

As it happened it was the week after Father's day and I had some of the ingredients left over from making Snicker's Fudge.

Yeah, you know where this is going, although I switched it up a little and used pecans and made a turtle version of dipped 'pretzel' sticks and you guessed it they taste pretty awesome.

Then because they tasted so good I made some more with salted peanuts instead of the caramel and they tasted just as (or maybe even more) awesome. In fact they are so good I wanted to call them something like awesomelicious sticks except pretty much that sounds a teensy bit weird. But then I was all like they totally are sticks of awesomeliciousness and no one is gonna care what I call them once they try them.

But if your weirded out by the name maybe call them turtle sticks, cause that is way more normal ;)

Anyhoo back to those pastries they are like a puff pastry twisted together brushed with sugar, I'm guessing you could probably make it yourself pretty easy, but they were like $3 for a pack of 18 in the self serve deli area at the local supermarket*.

Or you could use actual pretzel sticks for a similar result with these instructions, they are mostly just the vehicles for chocolate, caramel and nuts so pretty much your choice what you use :)

Oh and before we get to the instructions, I shared my kids current fav treat in the latest issue of 'Tickle the Imagination' Magazine, which happens to be the kids issue. Seriously I am to-to in love with some of the shoots/ photo stories, eek even sweeter than my recipes! CLICK HERE to pop on over and see it all.

Awesomeliciousness Sticks
Salted Peanuts can be used in place of pecans. Dipped pastries can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. In warm weather you may wish to store the container in the fridge. You can add 25g copha (7/8 oz paramount crystals) to the chocolate during the melting process if you wish to make the mixture more fluid and easier to dip, however it is not essential.

12 pastry sticks or pretzels*
300 g hard/chewy caramel (10 1/2 oz) - (the caramels are like the square ones in the pictures eg pascal columbines)
25g cream(7/8 oz)
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped raw pecans
300 g milk chocolate (10 1/2 oz milk chocolate)

Line a tray with parchment/ baking paper.

Place the chopped nuts into a shallow plate.

Place ingredients into microwave safe dish and microwave at high for 30 seconds, stir and microwave for further 30 seconds at high. #note the caramel will be very very hot - do not get any on you, use an oven glove or something similar to handle then bowl and do not not even think about licking the spoon while it is hot, seriously, no mater how tempting it seems.

Dip the pastries into the caramel, I then used a spoon to spread it 3/4 of the way up the stick. Allow any excess caramel to drip off, quickly dip into the chopped nuts and roll gently to cover lightly in nuts. Place onto the prepared tray to set.

Repeat for all remaining pastry sticks. Work quickly, if the caramel starts to thicken, return to the microwave for 10 seconds at high.

Allow the caramel to set, when set you should be able to peel/remove from the baking/parchment paper without it sticking.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe dish at medium for 2 minutes stir and then heat for another 1 - 2 minutes at medium heat. The mixture should be smooth and lump free. Dip the caramel/nut covered sticks into the chocolate, use a spoon to help cover 3/4 of the way up so the caramel and nuts are all encased in chocolate.

Place chocolate dipped pastries back onto the parchment/baking paper lined trays to set.

*I my pastry sticks were 'Le Sfogliatine' I picked up at Woolworths (Brisbane, Australia).

Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores:

Link to Amazon:

Or at Fishpond (free shipping Australia)
Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! 

This post was not sponsored

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sophie's 7th Birthday Unicorn Party - I believe in magic

Sophie's 7th birthday party was 'I believe in magic' inspired by magic, wishes, dreams and beautiful imaginations.

We had a fabulous entertainer and magician, a pony dressed as a unicorn, pretty fairyland decorated backyard and a dessert table with a wall mounted cake. Yup we kinda went big, you only turn 7 once :)

Dessert Table and party food

The party was on a weekday after school so I didn't go overboard on the dessert table. Ok maybe I should reword that 'cause y'know wall mounted cake.

What I should say is there were only a few things on the table and errr.. wall. I knew with all the activities there would only be a short window for eating so I didn't overload the table like I usually do.

There was a herd of unicorn cookies at the front of the table (Click here for DIY Unicorn Cookie Instructions). I popped them upright on some tiny glasses which wasn't the best solution on slippery sequins- in future I would probably make a cookie base and turn them into standing cookies. Alternately you could lay them down on plates :)

In the center under the cake were a couple of glass jars filled with pink and white marshmallows and pink raspberry Macarons (Click here for macaron recipe);

The actual birthday cake was a unicorn head that was wall mounted (I know I keep saying wall mounted, but I've never got to say it before and come on - it's kinda super cool). Um does that seem weird and slightly creepy. I've been seeing a lot of cute wall mounted animals for home decorating and it seemed kinda fabulous. That was until we were going to cut into it in front of the real live pony that it looked like. Anyhoo it was a great feat in cake construction and I'm in the process of doing up a you tube video on how I made it.

Sweet pink drinks that were decorated with pretty lace and 'wish' charms. Click here for a delicious Pink Lemonade recipe with no food colour). I do love these little bottles but seriously they are kinda small for 7 year olds. Make sure you have backup drinks on hand.

There were also cheese and fruit platters, lollies, fruit pop up drinks and chocolate and raspberry macarons for snacks and adults.

Party Entertainment

I'm not sure where she gets the energy but Super Steph manages to keeps the hoards of kids completely enthralled with her fabulous show. She is go, go, go which is great as all the parents can sit back have a rest and enjoy watching the kids delighted faces.

One of the mums remarked she had seen Super Steph 3 times in a year and each time her show was new and different. Steph is fun, vibrant and glowingly sparkly with just enough cheeky mixed in to keep the adults entertained as well, kinda like a Pixar movie ;)

We had a magic show that incorporated the new puppet show (which was kinda a ventriloquist for kids), a disco and a fun balloon hat making workshop.

If your looking for a Brisbane kids party entertainer I could honestly recommend Super Steph very highly.

hehe this picture reminds me of Jane and Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice for some reason, 
probably the formal looks and the fact we all just watched the BBC version together, 
except probably the personalities/ hair colours are swapped

Unicorn Rides

Unicorn rides, what else do you have at an 'I Believe in Magic' Party. Dragons are far too dangerous.

Our beautiful pony Misty was from Brisbane Pony Rides.

Backyard Decorations

These pictures don't really capture the feeling evoked by the decorations 
it felt pretty magical :)

My backyard is a bit tired and I was so lucky to have Carol from Creatively Bespoke Weddings come and decorate it. She (with the assistance of Daneve from Ah-Tissue) managed to transform it into a magical fairyland by covering the metal pegola poles with swarths of fabric and flowers, even adding an entrance surrounded by flowers and dripping with crystals and butterflies and generally glamming up everything.

Oh my goodness the large silk flowers she brought along were so amazingly pretty, I was a bit sad to pack everything up and see it all go.

Table Styling

The table had a pink tiered tablecloth (once again from Creatively Bespoke Weddings) topped with a fabulous gold sequin layer. The backdrop was pretty much the wall mounted cake which had an Ikea frame spray painted gold surrounding it. Not much extra was needed, but we did add a few wall mounted pink pom poms from Ah-Tissue with some pearls hanging down and some flowers in the center.

The light pink risers on the table that the flowers are sitting on were from Lilli's recent birthday party on a budget (CLICK HERE).

Our local florist has closed down so the flowers are actually a few bunches from the supermarket that I rearranged myself.

Loot Bags

We had a selection of lollies and candy in the party favour bags. The pretty pink stripe bags were provided by Creatively Bespoke Weddings and they were decorated with a pretty pom by Ah-Tissue. My favourite candy in the bag was the sour grape liquorice from Sweet and Sour I actually don't normally eat stuff like this but I am in love with quite a few of the flavours and may be a tad addicted.

Party Vendor details

Cake, cookies, macarons and party table - Linda Vandermeer (Bubble and Sweet)
Magic Show, Disco and Balloon Hat Workshop - Super Steph
Decorations provided by Creatively Bespoke Weddings
Paper Pom poms - Australian Hand Made by Ah Tissue
Photography - Terri Vandermeer
Cake stand construction Andrew McCubbin
Pony dressed as unicorn - Brisbane Pony Parties
Sophie's outfit (previous seasons)
           top - Stevie and Me
           skirt - Heavenly Creatures
 Lilli's outfit (previous seasons)
           top - Forever New
           skirt - Tea Princess

 Party loot bags - Paper Eskimo
Pink tiered tablecloth - Creatively Bespoke Weddings
Gold sequin material for tablecloth - Spotlight
Pink stripe Party Loot Bags - Paper Eskimo

Linda Vandermeer is a blogger, baker, maker and author of the cookbook ' Sweets on a Stick': More than 150 kid friendly recipes for cakes, candies, cookies and pies on the go!. Published in the US the book is available at most online book stores:

Link to Amazon:

Or at Fishpond (free shipping Australia)
Sweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go! 

Disclosure: Super Steph provided this party free of charge in exchange for the ability to record and take photo's of her new puppet show, balloon hat workshop and disco. However the opinions stated in this post are my own and if fact I have previously engaged and paid Super Steph to provide entertainment for my children's party.