Cake Gallery Slideshow

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Christmas Wish

In an effort to go "green," but mostly because I'm running out of time, I've decided not to send holiday cards by mail this year. So please enjoy this heartfelt "digital" Christmas wish from me to you!

Love & Cupcakes,

Please click on the digital card to enlarge!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Whale of a Tail

The original design for this cake was for Sea World's star, Shamu, to be emerging from the water with his nose and tail up. Due to the client's budget constraints (we are in a recession, after all) the cake was scaled down to just Shamu by himself.

I'd never done a whale cake before, and the birthday boy specifically wanted a Shamu cake, so I did some research ahead of time. Even so, after sculpting the cake a bit, I ended up with a Moby Dick sort of whale, instead of the killer whale that Shamu is. After some further sculpting, my whale had morphed into a respectable Shamu!

Started out looking more like this . . .

But ended up looking like this:

Shamu the killer whale carved out of cake and rice krispy treats and covered in buttercream. Finished with an M&M eye!

I think the original design would have been really cool to work on, but I always have to take my clients' budget and needs into consideration, first and foremost. This was a fun cake to work on in any case!

Moby Dick cover image from

Pink Ladies

I love pink cakes! October is definitely the month for pink too! Here are some cuties I've worked on recently:

Poodle Skirt Girl for a 1950s Sock Hop birthday party!
Fondant and buttercream icing, doll courtesy of birthday girl.

Who's the cutest mouse in the house?!

Minnie Mouse cake in fondant and buttercream icing for a sweet little two year old's birthday.

Think Pink!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wilton's Icing Fun Workshop for Scouts

Easy for the Leader, Fun for the Scouts!

Kids love to help in the kitchen. And now, Girl Scouts can learn how to decorate like the pros with Wilton's new cake decorating program designed especially for them: Wilton Icing Fun! Perfect for all levels of Girl Scouts -- from Daisies to Ambassadors-- Wilton Icing Fun is a totally hands-on Workshop that walks the girls through each decorating step, demonstrates basic techniques, and assists while they practice on their own cupcakes or cookies.
As a Wilton Method-trained instructor, I provide:
  • A fun and relaxed Workshop at the Troop meeting site.
  • Decorating practice sheets for the Troop.
  • Exclusive Girl Scout Wilton Icing Fun patch for each girl.
  • Sampler Kit containing basic decorating tools for each girl.
  • Wilton Decorator Icing for each girl.
$15 per person

Add-Ons (at additional cost):
  • Cookies or Cupcakes
  • Girl Scout Wilton Icing Fun Certificate

I've taught cake decorating for over a decade and I'm so excited about offering this new class for Girl Scouts! I've been a Girl Scout Leader, on and off, since 2000.

The Icing Fun Workshop may be used to fulfill Scout Petal, Try-It, Badge or IP requirements. To schedule a Workshop, contact Sweetest Whimsy online or by phone.

Wilton's Icing Fun Workshop is a fun, creative and educational activity for your Girl Scout Troop!

Images from

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Foodielicious: Marinated Cheese

Hellooooooo, out there! Yes, it's me again. After over 4 WEEKS of nothingness. Sorry! Now it's summer vacation (although not a vacation for me who will be schlepping kids hither and yon to camps and everywhere else!) so maybe I'll have time to blog again!

The "structure" I felt that my blogs craved at the beginning of the year has crumbled rather inelegantly over the past weeks. With the exception of my downtime during my surgery recovery a few months ago, I've been just too busy to stick to a schedule. Again, sorry. So I'll do my best to post a little bit of this and that, but maybe not quite on schedule from now on.

Today I give you a yummy appetizer recipe, with my apologies for being away for so long.

This recipe comes from my friend Casey's friend Kathryn in Austin. It's easy-peasy and soooo addictive.


1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 oz jar diced pimentos
3 Tbsp. parsley
3 Tbsp. minced green onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese block
8 oz package cream cheese

Kathryn's note: I used fresh parsley and dried basil.

Slice cheeses into thin, 1" by 1" squares. It helps to put the cream cheese in the freezer for a while before slicing. Alternate slices of cheddar and cream cheese in long, narrow container. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cheese. Cover and marinade in the frig for about 8 hours. Rotate container every so often to be sure all the cheese soaks in the marinade. Serve with crackers. Make it 24 hours ahead and you want to marinate in a container that is just big enough for the cheese so that the marinade almost covers it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Foodielicious: Chocolate Chip Cookie Marble Bark

Marble Bark using Chips Ahoy! I use whatever I like!
Pic from

As many of you know, I am always searching for ways to use up boxes of cookies! As a Girl Scout leader, my pantry is filled year-round with Girl Scout cookies. In addition, we have other cookies we like as well, some we buy and some I bake. Sometimes, you just get tired of eating cookies! So I like to mix things up a bit and use the cookies in other recipes. Here is one I found when searching for a way to use up some chocolate chip cookies. It's very, very easy, which I what I like most about it! The original recipe calls for Chips Ahoy! brand cookies, but as we never have those around (and likely never will), I substitute with whatever I have on hand.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Marble Bark

1 pkg. (8 squares) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
1 pkg. (6 squares) BAKER'S White Chocolate, chopped
9 Chocolate Chip Cookies (original recipe calls for White Fudge Chunky CHIPS AHOY! Real Chocolate & White Fudge Chunk Cookies), coarsely broken
1/4 cup Slivered Almonds, toasted

1.Microwave semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate in separate medium microwaveable bowls as directed on package.
2. Add half of the cookie pieces to chocolate in each bowl; mix well.
3. Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixtures onto wax paper-covered baking sheet, alternating the colors of the chocolates. Cut through the chocolate mixtures several times with knife for marble effect.
4. Sprinkle evenly with almonds; press lightly into chocolate.
5. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. Break into 14 pieces. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

My notes: This recipe is so simple you can use pretty much any crumbly cookie you have on hand! Someone else noted they used Oreos. Yum.

Monday, April 19, 2010

FoodieLicious: Fizzy Cranberry-Lemonade Punch

This recipe brings back lots of memories. I first learned how to make it in college, I think my junior year, which would have been 1991 or 1992? I was at an Asian Beauty seminar, believe it or not, and the woman hosting the event started mixing up this yummy and incredibly easy punch for everyone. I was in no way interested in cooking back then, but I did like this punch and it was easy enough to remember through the years whenever I needed a punch recipe. I have made it countless times. Even kids love it.

This version of the recipe is from Good Housekeeping and I wrote it down finally because it was similar to the one the Shiseido lady made for us 18 years ago.

Fizzy Cranberry-Lemonade Punch

Servings: about 9 cups or 12 servings

4 cups cranberry-juice cocktail
1 container (6 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 bottle (1 liter) seltzer or club soda, chilled
1 small orange, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then each slice cut in half

In large pitcher, stir together cranberry-juice cocktail and undiluted lemonade concentrate until blended. Then, stir in seltzer, and ice cubes if you like. Garnish with orange pieces. Serve immediately.

Note: You can blend this ahead and keep it chilled, but don't add the cold seltzer and ice cubes until just before serving.

My Notes: I have also garnished it with frozen cranberries at holiday time.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

52 Cakes: Dr. Pepper Cake

Hmmm . . . how busy was I in March and April?! Apparently too busy to blog! My poor blogs, so neglected, yet I think of them often enough. You have no idea how many brilliant posts I've written in my head these past few weeks! Oh, if only wishing made it so.

I'm back for now, with apologies aplenty and hopefully enough interesting content for those of you who missed it!

The cake of the week is one I made for the first time a few weeks ago; I can honestly say I've never made one quite like it before! It calls for a can of Dublin Dr. Pepper. That's the Dr. Pepper bottled in Dublin, Texas, the "oldest Dr. Pepper bottling plant in the world." They use the original Dr. Pepper formula that calls for pure cane sugar, kind of like the Mexican Coke. I didn't have any cans, but I had 2 bottles of Dublin Dr. Pepper which I used for this recipe. However, the recipe states that you can also use Dr. Pepper from your grocery store or even Diet Dr. Pepper.

This recipe, quirky as it is, turned out possibly the moistest chocolate cake I've had in a while. However, it did not have a distinctive Dr. Pepper taste to me. But it was still quite good.

Dublin Dr. Pepper bottles at

Dublin Dr. Pepper Cake

1 pkg. German Chocolate cake mix
2/3 c. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 pkg. Vanilla instant pudding mix
1 can "Dublin Dr. Pepper"

Mix all ingredients well and pour into a greased
9x13-inch pan or jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees
for 30 minutes. Let cake cool.

By Belinda Starnes of Dublin, Texas on

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Child

Sometimes I am asked to create a cake designed by a child. The request might be verbal, relayed over the phone by a bemused parent. Or it can be sent in writing, with accompanying sketches. Either way, the request is often very specific in terms of details the child would like on the cake.

More than anything, I aim to please! I take kids' requests even more seriously than adults' because while an adult will generally be pleased with something that's in the ballpark of what they asked for, a child will not hesitate to point out when something looks not quite like they imagined it. Like when Winnie the Pooh's fur isn't quite the shade of Pooh-tan that he is in the books, films, toys, etc. for example. Bless the children--they can't lie.

So a few weeks ago, I received this sketch for an ice skating-themed cake from an about-to-be 7 year old birthday girl:

She was, not surprisingly, very specific in her directions! I love that she even added "Hole body in 3D." (Are these kiddos watching a bit too much Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss?!)

When I saw her at school during the week, the birthday girl reiterated that she really wanted the cake girl to wear a twirly white skirt and skate in an arabesque position ("I want her leg to stick out like this."). No problem.

This is the cake she and her Mom picked up this past weekend for her ice skating party:

My goal was to really capture the simplicity of her stick-figure drawing, but make it a little more than 2-dimensional. Sadly, a 3D cake wasn't in the cards for her this time as her design was mostly flat and rectangular. I toyed with adding some snowflakes, for an outdoor scene, but in the end ran out of space. The cake was chocolate and vanilla, half and half, and the decorations were gumpaste and fondant plus a skating rink of white decorating sugar crystals.

Her Mom reports that the birthday girl enjoyed her two-flavor custom-designed cake, so I'm breathing a sigh of relief that it was a success!

Monday, March 1, 2010

FoodieLicious: Hamantaschen

This is the first year since 2004 that I do not have a child at Jewish pre-school. I miss the dedicated teachers and staff, the other families, the cheerful classrooms, the playground and the religion. Although my family is not Jewish, we so enjoyed recognizing and celebrating the cycle of Jewish holy days and holidays each year. Especially the joyous holidays like Purim.

Purim was always a big deal when my kids were in pre-school because it was another chance to dress up, either in their Halloween costumes or an excuse to find a new outfit. Also, as room parent, I was in charge of coordinating our classroom's Purim gift basket (Misloach Manot, "the sending of portions") of sweets, nuts, fruit and juices to give to others in the building.

This year, however, Purim came and went and I didn't even know it! I was a little sad that we didn't celebrate Purim this year. It was always so much fun to hear the reading of the Megillah with active participation by everyone shaking their groggers, including the babies at school. And the Purim carnival! Fun games and activities related to the story of Queen Esther for the pre-schoolers in costume. Most of all, I missed eating Hamantaschen.
Our 2009 hamantaschen, fresh from the oven!

Very proud of her filling and folding efforts

Hard at work rolling and cutting the dough

Hamantaschen are delicious shortbread-like cookies filled with jam or other fillings and shaped like triangles. They are said to be shaped like Haman's hat; Haman of course is the bad guy in Esther's story. For the past few years, my kids and I have made hamantaschen at home, except for this year. In honor of Purim, which was this past weekend, and memories of our beloved pre-school, here is a recipe for hamantaschen:

Easy Hamantaschen

3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 /2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange juice
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup fruit preserves, any flavor

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until lightly and fluffy. Stir in the oil, vanilla and orange juice. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter to form a stiff dough. If dough is not stiff enough to roll out, stir in more flour. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or the rim or a drinking glass. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of preserves into the center of each one. Pinch the edges to form three corners.
3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

My Notes: For fillings, we've used chocolate, strawberry, raspberry and peach so far. All were delicious!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Artist's Life

I love art-themed parties for kids. So creative and full of activities to keep the kiddos busy! Even better is when the party is at an kids' art studio, so no artsy messes at your house.

I've been asked to create several art-themed cakes for parties at local childrens' art studios in town, and I always have fun with them. My most recent one was for a friend and enthusiastic supporter of my business, Carisa, for her adorable son, Robby. Robby's party was at Paint, Paper, Scissors.

Robby's cake was a mixture of buttercream and rolled fondant. I did an artist's palette with splotches of paint and a paintbrush in fondant. I usually don't do cakes entirely of fondant--few people ask for them--and I don't like the taste of fondant either. But I think fondant is great when used for the detailed decorations on a cake.

Isn't he the cutest little artist ever?!

I loved using the primary colors with the buttercream frosting and sprinkles. I'm a bit neurotic when I decorate with sprinkles and literally use tiny tweezers so I can put the exact color in the exact spot where I want it on the cake. Crazy, I know.

I hope I get another request for an art cake soon because I have a new idea for a multi-tiered cake with art accents . . . is anyone else having an art party soon?!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FoodieLicious: Ugly Cookies

This is one of those recipes from my childhood that I didn't like or appreciate much at the time, but grew to like much more as an adult! I rediscovered this cookie when I was 29 years old and needed a recipe that would make alot of cookies to give out as Christmas gifts to friends and co-workers. I called my Mom and asked for this recipe, the name of which I don't remember because I just think of them as 'Ugly Cookies' due to the way they look when they come out of the oven. They are a conglomeration of textures and tastes due to the many ingredients, but they taste really good!

The recipe was originally from Theresa, our next door neighbor when I was growing up in the 80s suburbs of Dallas. I haven't seen her smiling face in 23 years but remember her fondly with this recipe.

Theresa O’Dell’s "Ugly Cookies"

2 cups brown sugar
2 cups sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup veg oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cup flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3 cup uncooked oats
2 cup coconut
2 cup raisins
1 cup choc chips
1 cup chopped nuts

1) Cream sugars, butter, oil together.
2) Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3) Combine flour, salt, soda in another bowl. Add to earlier mixture.
4) Add all remaining ingredients to mixture.
5) Knead with hands to blend well.
6) Divide into 6 balls. Form each ball into a log wrapped in wax paper.
7) Refrigerate dough overnight.
8) Cut log into slices and place 2” apart on cookie sheet. (Dough will not be very firm.)
9) Bake at 350 for 10-12 min. Recipe makes MANY cookies!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

52 Cakes: Victoria Sponge Cake

(We devoured our Victoria Sponge without even taking any of our own pics!)

I learned a new recipe recently for a specific occasion, Girl Scout World Thinking Day. Thinking Day is celebrated by Scouts around the world on February 22, but my troops celebrated early this year on February 5 due to my surgery the following week.

I wanted to make a traditional English tea cake, and you can't get much more traditional than the Victoria Sponge Cake. The Victoria Sponge Cake was named after Queen Victoria, who favored a slice of this cake with her tea. Since my Scouts were celebrating with an 'Around the World' Tea Party, I thought the Victoria Sponge would be the perfect treat to represent a very proper British tea tradition.

I've made the cake twice already, and I personally love it and so did my Girl Scouts! It's super-easy and requires no fancy decoration. In fact, the Sponge Cake is never iced or decorated beyond a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tsp. sugar
raspberry jam

  1. Cream the butter until light. Slowly add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
  3. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder.
  4. Pour mixture into 2 prepared 8-inch round pans.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees until the cake pullsgently from sides or cake tester remains clean.
  6. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
  7. Whip cream and sugar to soft peaks.
  8. Place doily on cake plate. Put one cake layer on doily.
  9. Spread with raspberry jam and top with whipped cream.
  10. Place second layer bottom side up onto the filling.
  11. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.
My Notes: Traditionally, you can use any flavor jam. I used cherry-blackberry jam.

Recipe from
Photo from

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

From the Page to the Cake: DecoPac Ideas

I think part of being a good cake designer is combining a good amount of inspiration and creativity with a healthy amount of decorating know-how. An inspired cake design on paper is great; an actual cake beautifully decorated with intricate detail is awesome.

Since 1998, I have taught over 500 students the basics of cake decorating, and a good number of those have also learned advanced cake decorating techniques and about cookies, cupcakes and candies from me as well. I'm very confident that those 500 students can bake, frost and decorate a simple yet elegant cake for just about any occasion.

I have also had the honor of teaching several employees of local bakeries, some of them recently hired and in need of basic decorating skills for their new job. I'm confident that they too have gone on to create amazing cakes at work.

So it makes me a little bit sad when I see really badly decorated cakes out there. Funny, yes (unless you actually paid for one of them). Outrageously funny even. But it also shows how many cake decorators are not trained for their jobs, and that's unfortunate. I'd hate any job I wasn't trained for, and I'm betting many of these folks don't love not knowing what they're doing.

The one thing many grocery store/discount store bakeries do provide is DecoPac training tools. DecoPac is the company that designs the grocery store cakes you can order from a catalog of choices. The cakes are often simply decorated and finished with plastic toy toppers. Americans must love them--they sell them in practically every large store bakery. I know my own kids love paging through the catalog at Target, oohing and aahing over the licensed character cakes! DecoPac, on their end, provides training tools for each of their cakes--detailed descriptions and instructions on how to make a cake that looks exactly like the design. Not particularly inspired, I will admit, but a fool-proof recipe for a decent cake if you follow the directions. And that's a big IF.

DecoPac designs get a bad rap from some people. Given how some so-called 'decorators' turn out their cakes, that's understandable. However, Sweetest Whimsy loves DecoPac because it's a great source of supplies as well as ideas for cakes and cupcakes. I don't love all of their ideas for sure, but I appreciate the idea of standardizing and streamlining cake designs for the big box store bakeries. These bakeries pay their too-few bakery employees not enough money and expect them to churn out a dozen cakes in a mere couple of hours; one-of-a-kind masterpieces they are not. (That's where the little ol' baker like me comes in!)

Here's an example of taking a cute DecoPac design and customizing it for my own clients:

Small Disney Princess Castle Cake by DecoPac

Larger version, same design

And here is what I did with it. I prefer not to go with all the plastic frou-frou, and pare down the design a bit. I've made this cake several times, each time a little bit differently from the last.

I love this cake even now because all little girls love it! Including my own daughter, whose birthday this cake celebrated. I also like having DecoPac as a source of inspiration and ideas whenever I need it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

FoodieLicious: Cookie Cake

In honor of Valentine's Day, I made a heart-shaped Cookie Cake yesterday. However, due to my recent surgery, this one was made with a few shortcuts, such as using pre-made cookie dough from the grocery store and having my kids decorate it instead of me! But no matter, our friends for whom we made it enjoyed it just the same.

Cookie Cakes had their day in the sun about a decade ago, when shaped cookie pans hit the market. These days, cupcakes and cupcake cakes have totally eclipsed cookie cakes, although you can still find them in nearly every mall in America. However, I still love cookie cakes! I like baking them in different shapes using my Wilton novelty pans and doing as much (or as little) detail with frosting as I feel like doing. That is the beauty of the cookie cake-- it's totally acceptable to have the "cake" showing, unlike a real cake!

Today I baked a heart-shaped Valentine cookie cake using my regular heart-shaped cake pan. Wilton sells a heart-shaped cookie pan, but I just use what I have. I usually use my own cookie recipe for the batter, but today I used grocery store chocolate chip cookie dough which always works in a pinch. I especially like the Central Market brand at HEB.

Here is my fool-proof recipe for a Shaped Cookie Cake:

1) Choose a Shaped Cake Pan that doesn't have too many deeply rounded edges. You can also just use a round, square or sheet cake pan.

Wilton Heart Cookie Pan (or use a cake pan)
Enchanted Castle Cake Pan used for my both of my daughters' birthday cookie cakes!

2) Whip up a batch of cookie dough, or choose a pre-made cookie dough from the grocery store, your choice of flavor. You may need 1 1/2 to 2 packages depending on the size of your pan. A sugar cookie recipe will result in a smoother cookie cake surface than a recipe with additions like chips or nuts.

Pre-made cookie dough: an acceptable shortcut!

3) Line the bottom and sides of pan with one large piece of parchment paper (not wax paper) so there is extra paper around the edges. If you are using a fairly flat pan, this is easily done. If you have a pan with lots of corners and curves, it's a bit harder to do. The parchment is key to preventing any part of the cookie from sticking to the pan.

This one's easy to find at the grocery store.

4) If using pre-made dough from a tube, cut into 4 to 6 sections. Some brands come pre-cut into cookie slices; this is even better. Drop the sections or slices of dough evenly around the pan. Then, using a sheet of wax paper, press dough evenly, covering the entire pan. The wax paper prevents your hand from getting covered in sticky dough. If using homemade dough, drop large spoonfuls evenly around the pan. Using a sheet of wax paper, press dough evenly, covering the entire pan.

5) Bake according to cookie recipe directions (usually 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees). Cool for about 10 minutes, then grasp the extra parchment paper at the sides and carefully lift cookie cake onto a cooling rack. You can also invert cookie cake onto a cooling rack if you're using a shallow pan, such as a cookie cake pan.

6) When cookie cake has cooled completely, carefully peel off the parchment paper and transfer to a cake board or plate. Decorate with frosting and decorations as you would a regular cake, but don't feel like you have to cover every inch of the surface. You want a little 'cookie' showing through!

Castle Cookie Cake for my daughter's 4th birthday, made with cranberry-white chocolate cookie dough! It was slightly overbaked, but it still tasted good!

So that's how easy it is! What cracks me up is when friends groan about how difficult it is to make a perfectly round (or whatever shape) cookie cake; very often, they are using a regular cookie sheet and just plopping down a round hunk of cookie dough, hoping it will keep its shape. A cake pan or cookie pan solves that problem easily!

Friday, February 12, 2010

52 Cakes: Cake Balls

Wow, it seems like forever since I shared a cake recipe, what with my erratic blogging. "52 Cakes" is back this week, and this week's recipe is a variation on cake. A very popular one right now, actually. Cake Balls. So unbelievably simple, yet trendy at the same time. Cake balls are the sophisticated cousin of the cheerful cupcake.

As with cupcakes, you can customize cake balls in so many different ways. There are endless combinations of cake and frosting flavors, plus your choice of candy coating and decorations. And so easily devoured at once!

I like to make cake balls out of extra cake I have left over when I create shaped cakes, but you can start with a basic recipe like this one if you don't have any.

My Favorite Chocolate Cake Balls: Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Frosting, Chocolate Coating!

Basic Cake Balls

1 (18.25-ounce) boxed cake mix plus ingredients called for on box
1 (16-ounce) can prepared frosting
Almond Bark Coating or Confectionery Wafer Coating (both recipes follow)

Bake the cake according to package instructions. While warm, crumble the cake into a bowl with a hand mixer to a fine texture. Mix in frosting to make a paste, using 3/4 to a full can of frosting, according to taste. Chill the mixture for at least 2 hours.

Using a melon baller or your hands, form the mixture into 1 ½ -inch balls. Place the balls on wax paper; freeze at least 6 hours.

Working in small batches, remove the balls from the freezer and dip the balls into warm, melted Almond Bark Coating or Confectionery Wafer Coating, using toothpicks or forks to manipulate the balls. Remove the balls. Place the balls on wax paper to harden.

Makes about 30 cake balls.

Almond Bark Coating: In a double boiler, melt one (20-ounce) package vanilla- or chocolate-flavored almond bark, stirring constantly. Or, in a tall, narrow container, microwave almond bark for 45 seconds on High (100 percent power). Continue to heat in 15-second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted; be careful not to scorch.

When almond bark is melted, stir in 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. If desired, stir in oil-based coloring drop by drop until you achieve the desired color.

Confectionery Wafer Coating: Melt 48 ounces confectionery wafers in double boiler or microwave oven per instructions for Almond Bark Coating. Omit oil. If desired, stir in oil-based coloring drop by drop until you achieve the desired color.

Source: Lea Worth-Portocalis, as printed in the Dallas Morning News

My Notes: I have used Baker's Chocolate and Ambrosia Chocolate Bark to coat the cake balls. I prefer Baker's.

Also posted on the Paper Dolls blog

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So In Character: Classic Pooh

As I've mentioned before, until a couple of years ago, I'd never done a Classic Winnie the Pooh cake. I'd done the brightly colored Disney Pooh in various forms many times, but never a more low-key, pastel version of the loveable childhood friend.

So when one of my best girlfriends told me her new baby's nursery theme was Pooh, I jumped at the chance to do a Classic Pooh themed shower for her! The invitations were sweet but still boyish enough for her soon-to-arrive Sam:

I love this invitation, which we printed in a light sage green ink. All Classic Pooh and other Disney theme invitations are from my fabulous Carlson Craft Disney album of wedding and social invitations and accessories. It's been my go-to source for all of my kids' Disney-themed parties (and we've had quite a few of them over the years.) My girls love picking out their party invitations from the big blue Disney book!

Designs for the cake followed the invitation, using the same muted pastel colors of Classic Pooh. I have several cake pans shaped like Pooh, but chose the 3-D pan so the cake could really be a centerpiece at the shower. And he certainly was! The shower's co-host thought the cake was the cutest thing (as I thought the same of her watermelon shaped like a baby carriage!).

Pooh and his Hunny Pot, surrounded by yummy cookies!

Classic Pooh logo from Sweetest Whimsy's Carlson Craft site

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rainbow Fish Cake

I made this a few years ago, not actually intending for it to look like The Rainbow Fish from Marcus Pfister's wonderful books for children. A "fish cake" was requested, and I had seen a similar design online, so that's how this fishie got his start.

I actually loved how he turned out! Perhaps he was too cutesy to be a guy's birthday cake, but the thirtysomething birthday boy thought the design was great. Isn't that what counts?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FoodieLicious: Eating an Urban Myth

Neiman Marcus: Texas Icon
Pic from

I really suck at a schedule, don't I? Thank goodness I don't work on a schedule. Ha! Sorry for the missing Let Them Eat Cake on Friday. I was solo parenting from Thursday through Sunday and things just slipped through the cracks. Like blogging.

To make up for missing Friday and in honor of the outrageously wonderful tin of Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies sitting out on my kitchen island, today's FoodieLicious item is a double recipe treat!

I heart the Chocolate Chip Cookies sold at Neiman Marcus at Christmas time. They come in a lovely tin with the NM logo. But inside the tin is pure wonderfulness. We usually receive a box at Christmas from my Godmother, and I have to admit that I usually eat the most cookies!

Anyway, years and years ago, you might remember the funny, although rather incredulous tale of the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe. I think I received the recipe by email at least 14 years ago, so it's been out there a long time. Obviously, if you've ever shopped at Neiman Marcus or even just thought about the story for a bit, it wouldn't take very long to realize that the story is false. The cookie recipe was great though! I especially liked the addition of oatmeal as an ingredient.

Neiman Marcus only recently started selling a "Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie," no doubt because of the persistent urban myth! And I'm so glad they do! Although I do know the recipes for both the 'fake' cookie and the 'real' one, and like them both, it's such a treat to receive a box full of them during the holidays.

For those of you who don't have a tin at home (and can't buy them until winter holidays roll around again), here are both recipes to enjoy:

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe
from my email files, circa 1996

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda.
  3. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts.
  4. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
Makes 112 cookies.

Image from Google Images

The "Real" Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
(from, absolutely free!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds)

2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.

3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.

4. Using a 1 ounce scoop or a 2 tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2 inch circle. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies