Beautiful Butterfly Cookies {Decorating How-to}

My mom is an incredible gardener.  Over the years my mom has transformed several drab front yards, and rocky/hilly/untamed backyards into gardens worthy of a magazine cover.  My mom loves flowers, butterflies, and birds, and has spent thousands of hours creating gardens full of all of these.  Late last summer my mom (and dad) hosted a backyard BBQ and asked if I could bring a plate of cookies to share.  I gladly agreed, and it took little time to decide on the designs.  Bright flowers and vibrant butterflies seemed the perfect fit.
I have since made these designs for a few other occasions, and they are always well received.   The colorful palette is perfect for a birthday, get well and most any spring or summer party.
These cookies and the tutorial were recently featured in The Party Dress Magazine.  You can view the magazine on-line or purchase a copy HERE (you’ll find my cookies on page 73).  This issue is full of gorgeous party and entertaining ideas, and would be a beautiful magazine to keep for future reference. 
Would you like to make some pretty butterfly cookies?
Let’s get started!
You’ll need some baked and cooled sugar cookies (my recipe is HERE).
You’ll also need a batch of royal icing (my recipe and instructions are HERE).
To make this set of cookies I used bright pink, yellow and orange (thinned to about the consistency of corn syrup), black (thinned the same as your main colors), and accent colors of yellow and bright green (in a stiff consistency).
Step 1.  Pipe black icing around the edge of each wing. 
Step 2.  Fill in with the color of your choice (bright pink shown)
Step 3.  While the icing is still wet, drag a toothpick from the edge of the wings, toward the center of the wings (as shown). Set cookie aside and dry fully (6-12 hours).

Step 4.  When the icing on the wings is completely dry, add black icing down the center of the butterfly to create the body.

Step. 5.  While the black icing (body) is still wet, cover with white sanding sugar (if desired).
Step 6.  Add dots of an accent color toward the edges of the wings.

Allow to dry, then share with someone special.

Happy summer and happy cookie decorating!

4th of July Cupcakes in a Jar

Ever since my recent success with cupcakes in a jar, my mind has been spinning with all the desserts I want to put in a jar!  I’ve created a special 4th of July version of cupcakes in a jar as my monthly contributor’s post over on The Tomkat Studio.  Head over to The TomKat Studio to check out the full post and get the free (gotta love that!) printables I used to dress them up.

Happy Birthday America!

4th of July Flag Cake

I recently made a simple vanilla cake in preparation for 4th of July.  You know, just your average white cake…

with an American Flag inside!

Kind of cool, right?

I’ve seen this fun cake idea on several wonderful baking blogs.  The earliest post I found was from 17 and Baking, who credits her dad for the creative idea.

I opted for an extra simple decorating style on the outside of the cake, knowing the “wow factor” would be on the inside.  I made a sweet patriotic cake bunting using stripped paper straws, a little twine and some festive ribbon.

There are several different ways this could be done.  I assembled the cake using a slightly different technique than the original cake shown on 17 and Baking, but she has a video showing how she did hers, so you may want to check that out as a starting point.

~ How to put an American Flag inside a cake ~

I prepared a total of two Vanilla cake mixes (from a box- but feel free to use any Vanilla cake recipe you love).  Prepare two 8″ cake pans by coating with a small amount of butter and flour, and placing parchment paper in the bottom.  Prepare one batch of batter and color it red (I used Americolor super red gel).  Divide the batter equally and pour into the two prepared pans.  Bake as instucted by your recipe.

While the red cakes are baking, prepare another batch of batter.  Divide the batter into two bowls and color one of the bowls of batter blue (I used Americolor royal blue).  Leave the remaining bowl of batter uncolored.

When your red cakes have baked and cooled, remove from pans.  Wash and then prepare pans for the white and blue batter.  Bake.

However you get there, what you want to end up with is..

1- 8″ round blue cake

1- 8″ round white cake

2- 8″ round red cakes

(below I had already cut out a 4″ circle from one of the red cakes)

Then…

Slice the two red cake in half (horizontally), so you’ll have a total of 4 red layers.  Set aside one layer, this will not be used for the cake.  Cut a 4″ circle out of one of the layers.  So you want to have two 8″ round layers and one 4″ round layer.

Cut the white cake in half as well.  Then use a 4″ cookie cutter to cut a circle out of one of the halves.

Use a 4″ cookie cutter again (or make a 4″ circle of cardboard and use that as your template) to cut out the center of your blue cake.

You’re ready to assemble your cake when you have…

1 thick layer of blue, with the center cut out

2- 8″ layers of red

1- 4″ layer of red

1- 8″ layer of white

1- 4″ layer of white

Prepare a batch of Vanilla frosting. I used my favorite Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.

Assemble cake with a thin layer of frosting between each layer of cake, starting on the bottom with red cake, then white, then red, then blue.  Add some frosting along the inside “ring” of the blue cake to hold in the next two layer which will fit inside the opening.  Fill the hole in the blue cake with a 4″ round layer of with cake, some frosting, then the 4″ round of red.

Simple right??  Hopefully my photos explain it better than all the words!  Once assembled, frost the cake as desired.  Chill the frosted cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.  Then cut it open and smile at the pretty surprise inside.

 Happy Birthday my beloved U.S.A.!

Baked Mini Cake Doughnuts with Maple Glaze {Recipe}

On my recent trip to the Wilton headquarters (which included a mini shopping spree at the annual Wilton tent sale) I picked up two mini doughnut pans.  I usually try to steer clear of  “one use” pans, but they were just too cute to pass up!  And I love mini desserts so much I think I’ll find plenty of reasons to make good use of my new pans.  In fact, just this week a friend called to see if I could help bring some doughnuts to church on Sunday as a special “Doughnuts for Dads” after church treat (in celebration of Father’s Day).  Of course I can bring doughnuts… and I’ll make them myself!

The Wilton pan comes with a recipe right on it, so I thought that would be a good place to start.  I gave it a practice run and I’m quite happy with it.  I will be experimenting with other recipes as time goes on, but this was a nice starting point.

~ Baked Mini Cake Doughnuts ~

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon white vinegar, mixed and set aside)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425*F.  Spray mini doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together (or stir with a whisk), flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Add buttermilk, egg, and butter and stir until just combined.

Scoop batter into a large ziplock style bag, or large piping bag and snip off the tip to fill doughnut pan.

Fill each doughnut cup approximately 1/3- 1/2 full.  The batter will rise quite a bit during baking.

Bake 4-6 minutes or until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched.

 Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 36 mini doughnuts.

Recipe Source- Adjusted slightly from the Wilton mini doughnut pan

~ Maple Glaze ~

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple extract (as desired)

*For a vanilla glaze, simple substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in place of the maple extract

In a small bowl, stir together sugar, milk and extract until sugar is completely dissolved.  Use immediately to glaze doughnuts.  Dip each doughnut in glaze, then set on a plate or baking sheet and top with sprinkles of your choice.

Go ahead and go get yourself a mini doughnut pan, because I think you’ll be seeing a few more of these from me!  There are all sorts of variations I want to try.  In fact, Sprinkle Bakes, Cooking with my Kid and Cookies and Cups have all recently made some delicious looking variations!

{Sweet Travels} Wilton Blogger’s Workshop

The words “Business trip” and “Cake” rarely go together, but when you’re a food blogger, fun things like that can happen!  I was recently invited by the Wilton company to attend the Wilton Blogger’s Workshop, held outside Chicago, Illinois.  I gladly took the opportunity to meet up with many talented bloggers, and learn more about the Wilton company.  Since I frequently visit the cake decorating section of my local craft stores, I’m quite familiar with many of Wilton’s great products.  Their huge selection of products can be purchased everywhere from Wal-mart to Michael’s, and the full line of products is available on their site, Wilton.com.

The day of the workshop, our group of 25 bloggers traveled (from our hotel) to the Wilton Headquarters (Woodridge, Illinois).  We started the day with a decorating workshop, where we brushed up on decorating basics and piping skills, and enjoyed demos of some of Wilton’s newest products.

We were greeted with a goodie bag full of all the decorating supplies we’d need for the day.

Later in the day we were split into groups (of three) and participated in a good natured cake decorating contest.  We were given a cake (a fake cake) already iced, and had one hour to decorate it as desired (using a variety of Wilton supplies provided).

(Above) Here I am (in blue) working hard with Liz of Hoosier Homemade.

(Below)  Rachel, of Cooking with my Kid (on left), and Shelly of Cookies and Cups (right) working on their cake, which later won the title “Most Creative”

(Above) Jessie of Cake Spy with her group’s cake.

(Below)  My group’s finished cake (decorated by Liz of Hoosier Homemade, Carrie of Fields of Cake, and myself).  Our cake won the title ”Best Overall Technique”.

Part of our day included a great peek behind the scenes at Wilton, including tours of the test kitchen, the decorating room, photo studio, prop room and decorating school.

Have you ever seen an office lined with cakes on every surface?  =)

A peek inside the photo prop room… It’s scary to realize I almost have as many cake stands as they do!

We rounded out the day with a trip to Wilton’s annual tent sale.  The tent sale is open to the public, and if you love cake or cookie decorating and live within a few hours of Woodridge, Illinois I would highly recommend finding your way to the tent sale, which is held every June.

Need a cake pan… or 10?

How about a cookie cutter… or 20?

I may have found a few things at the sale to stuff in my suitcase…

The day ended with a delicious dinner at Gordan Biersch, where I enjoyed a bit more time with some of the lovely ladies in attendance.

(Left to Right) Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, Shelly of Cookies and Cups, Karly of Buns in my Oven, and me (Glory- Glorious Treats).

(photo thanks to Karly)

And a little shoutout to a couple lovely ladies I enjoyed visiting with, but didn’t get a photo of…

Amy of She Wears Many Hats and Stacie of Cupcakes Take the Cake.

And thank you to Wilton for including me in this fun and enriching trip!