Category Archives: SugarCoated

The sweetest of all my elements

Hipster Ghost Cookies

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Hipster-nation has taken over the the USA. Whether you are in Brooklyn, Portland or Nashville, their stereotypical fashion style has caught your eye: horn rimmed glasses, bow ties, selvedge raw jeans, handcrafted leather accessories and a splash of plaid. But did you know that hipster style goes beyond just us humans? It is just as recognizable on ghost cookies, as one of my instragram followers pointed out when she called my ghost cookies hipster ghosts.

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Well, I guess she was right, this ghost does look like a hipster but Im not sure he was meant to be.  His designer, Matthew of Design By Detail is in Hull, England.  Do they have Hipsters in the UK? Maybe…probably so, since style is global now.  Last year I discovered Matthew’s shop on etsy while preparing for our Halloween open house.  I loved his graphic style printables and ordered my invites and several of his Halloween signs (including a “hipster” bat).  This particular cookie design was used with his permission and everyone loved how unique he was.  I gave the cookies (along with many other treats) away at our party.

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I ejoyed working with Matthew so much that I asked him to design a sweets logo for me.  I needed something new to put on my cookie bags.   He did a great job at using my cake plate idea and an even better job at emphasizing my blog & etsy shop name Nikkiikkin. It never really occured to me that someone didnt see that it was the name Nikki forward and backwards.   When Matthew put the two words in different colors yet still spaced as one I had instant feedback from a friend, “I just realized nikkiikkin is nikki and nikki backwards” Which was a perfect reaction!  The new logo caught her attention and read better.  I had tried to portray that myself in a few logo renditions.  I started my blog with a header logo that had nikki mirrored (backwards) with ikkin but it was a pain to continue seamlessly with other account names since you cant actually type font backwards.  I also tried to make both n’s capital, that didnt do much for me either.  I really like the two tone and even though my blog and etsy headers are not with a cake plate ( I reserve this logo just for round stickers)  I stuck with this look.

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You can check out Design by Detail on etsy for branding, logo design as well as really great printables for parties here.

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Filed under Celebrations, Cookies

A Vintage Cat Lady Party

nikkiikkin cat lady party 16 Hi Friends!  Have you missed me?  Its seriously been way too long since my last post, in fact my posting the entire last year has been non-existent.   Its not because I haven’t wanted to, Ive just been up to my eyebrows in sugar.  And thats not a bad thing!

I’m so appreciative of all of the local referrals and etsy sales that I’ve been given this past year but I want to keep this blog going too.   I still want to focus on sharing my own work,  I have plenty of content to share but I’d like to include more resources and inspiration boards.  Maybe even try out some DIYs and tutorials which in the past I’ve shied away from doing. I also would love to start a series about my favorite sweet spots in NYC.   My son, Hudson has started pre-k this year and is 5 full days away from mommy now. Yikes! but Yeah! too.  Ive got about 25 more hours a week on my hands, so lets play!

If you follow me on Instagram (or have popped in to check on me and seen my instagram feed that changes on my blog sidelines) you have been in the know with what I’ve been up to.  Ive used Instagram as a replacement for keeping up my blog.  I still get to share and I love the instant feedback I get from all kinds of people.  You may have figured out that I run in a few different creative circles.  Im an interior designer, so I follow lots of dwelling and design peeps.  Although it would seem that cake designers, cookie artists and party stylists are one big family they actually stick to their own groups, well I’m a little bit of each of those too.  And then because my daughter is a ballet dancer at School of American Ballet, I love to follow the professional dancers, students, dance moms and dance photographers.   I have so many interests and have made a lot of great connections within each of these creative groups, they are great cheerleaders and an inspiration to me.  A year ago I tried keeping up with Twitter but I’m much too visual.  I was constantly clicking the links to see the pictures and blog posts and that really takes a lot of  my time.  A picture is worth a 1000 words, right?  So lets just get to this gorgeous party!

I had a hard time picking which sugar project to jump back in the game with, there are SOOO many good ones I havent shared.  Im going to start with my daughters 12th birthday.  This was a home party in August, very small, just family and 2 of Macy’s friends.

nikkiikkin cat lady party 4 We have a running joke in our family about cat ladies, Im one, my sister is one and macy is too, except she hasn’t had a house full of cats like me and my sister have had.  Macy will certainly reach that point one day but until then she can keep on dreaming because our little NYC apartment is not the place for it.    We also joke about Macy being an old soul, we believe she was once a fiesty old lady, strong willed and wordly.  She is a collector, to the point that I have to clean her out sometimes, she just like her stuff.  So, to sum it up this  Vintage Cat Lady Party was all about Macy. nikkiikkin cat lady party 1   Let me first tell you about these amazing tablecloths that I used on the cake and dining table.  They are from the vintage collection of one of my best friends, one of the most giving and selfless people I know.  Jennefer generously express shipped me some of her most prized pieces including the pink one I used on the the dining table that was her great-grandmothers and the white lace edge one that was hand embroidered by her mother!! I was so nervous about using them but Jen just said that her great grandmother “would be ecstatic for it to be used”!  When I asked her about barrowing something for the party she sent me all kinds of pictures and mock ups to choose from.   At first we passed on the dark green but then came back to it and Im so glad we did, it was so perfect.  I loved that it was the same emerald shade as my jadeite cake stand, just darker.  I really wanted to keep that one!  (Jen, if you ever find a duplicate grab it for me!) nikkiikkin cat lady party 3 nikkiikkin cat lady party 11 nikkiikkin cat lady party 10   The party decor existed at the dining table and a smaller side table that served as a backdrop.  The paper goods were a mix of the Frills and Frosting collection that comes out of the UK  and the Poppy Talk for Target which was a summer collection that you cant get anymore. That magnificent cake was fake, oh yeah!  I love to make fake cakes for my parties.  First of all that cake would feed 100 people and my parties are small so I would never need such a big cake but I always want that big focal point.  I like to serve cupcakes or smaller cakes instead, in this case I made a strawberry shortcake….with sparklers….and cupcakes with plastic toy cats on them.    On top of the strawberry short cake is a cat knick knack from my childhood days of collecting cat decor for my room.   We lit the sparklers when we sang happy birthday and it was awesome but they did leave soot on the cake that I had to scrape off before I served it.  Not a big deal, still worth doing. The porcelain cat on top of the fake cake was also mine, dated 1990 on the bottom.   nikkiikkin cat lady party 14   nikkiikkin cat lady party 19 nikkiikkin cat lady party 18   nikkiikkin cat lady party 9       This was a tiny party by any account, so I didnt go crazy with the sweets.  I made oreo yarn balls (which were really evil cake pops in disguise) and I ordered a bag of old school butter mints AKA baby shower mints.  They were the perfect pallet of pink, yellow, teal and white!   nikkiikkin cat lady party 21 nikkiikkin cat lady party 20   nikkiikkin cat lady party 5   I made some cute cat and yarn ball cookies sets, you can find them in my etsy shop here.  The tuxedo cat face cookies are also in my shop here. The invites and thank you tags for take home cookies were from Sequins and Spaceships shop on etsy. nikkiikkin cat cookie 2 nikkiikkin cat cookie   Macy and I made wrappers for our milk bottles out of streamers and stickers from Little Dear Prints on etsy  (which should win an award for cutest packaging, it was like Christmas when they arrived). nikkiikkin cat lady party 8   nikkiikkin cat lady party 6 nikkiikkin cat lady party 13   nikkiikkin cat lady party 12     As favors, we gave the girls these super cute cat ear headbands, they had pearls and were purrfect.  They are sold at several places for a range of high and low prices.  I’m pretty sure the $20 set at ASOS is the same cheap product that you can find on amazon and ebay.  I order ours from this ebay seller without any problems in shipping but pearls did pop out as the girls played in them.  No big deal we just glued them back in.   nikkiikkin cat lady party 17The food served on my kitchen island was not a part of my decor but I always give thought in presentation, we served cucumber sandwiches, egg salad on a croissant, spinach dip and veggies on inexpensive doilies.  The girls needed to eat light because after the afternoon party they did this:   nikkiikkin cat lady party 15 Very old lady like, right?  A 2 hour trapeze lesson at NY Trapeze School, very awesome!! Two ballerinas and a gymnast flew like pros! nikkiikkin cat lady party 1   nikkiikkin cat lady party 22   I dont know how most people decided to celebrate actual birthdays for their kids but we spend it together and make it special even if there will be another party with friends.  We like to do something such as see a movie and there is always a cake with candles.  This year I made Macy an ice cream cake and hid it in the freezer a few days before her birthday.  We spent the day out and I surprised her with the cake when we got home.  Keeping with the theme, because I already had the  table cloths and paper goods, I went with an ombre rosette cake.  The most forgiving cake decoration there is!  I highly recommend trying out this techinque, here is a link to a free Craftsy tutorial for it.

P.S. those lovely long blonde locks pictured above are getting chopped 8-10 inches today!  WOW!

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Filed under Cakes, Celebrations, Cookies, Cupcakes, SugarCoated

Little Owl Love Story Cookies

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Just in time for Valentines Day I have  cute little cookies to share that are all about LOVE!

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A dear friend asked me for cookies for her brother and sister-in-law’s baby shower.  She gave me a few inspiration ideas and an image of a stuffed owl they were using as decoration at the party.  The little handmade brown owl was a perfect inspiration for a cookie, but I wanted to do more than just an owl on a cookie.  I decided to tell a little owl love story with my cookie set.  My cookies started with boy meets girl and little mother and her egg to the happy family of three.  Along with a few portraits of the stuffed owl, adding a pink bow for cuteness.

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I have never made a set of cookies like this before, I typically stick to one or two designs in each set.  But since the color pallet didnt change for each design I didnt find it hard to create 5 different ones.  (soon I will show my MLP cookie set that was a challenge to change up in colors and designs)  It’s certainly a design idea that I could do for any bird theme so I will be adding these cookies to my etsy shop!

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The etsy seller for the little stuffed owl, Green Owl Curiosities,  can me found HERE.

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Filed under Celebrations, Cookies, SugarCoated

Farewell to the Nutcracker

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2013 has just minutes left.  I decided to take the countdown as a challenge to get one more post in this year!
What a year it was for me and our family!  While I’ve shared a lot on instagram and Facebook I havent have a moment to post more than once about what Im spending the majority of my life doing   in December: the nutcracker and cookies.
Id like to wish a farewell to my daughters first year in the New York City Ballet Nutcracker!  She has had a blast and although it was a lot for our family to juggle, as a mother I can sort of compare it to childbirth and say (now that it’s over) it wasnt so bad to go through.
Im glad that Macy had the extra time to develop some great friendships with some really nice girls  and I’m glad that I had the extra time to chat with some really nice parents.
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Of course there were lots of cookie involved.
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I was thrilled to make Nutcracker cookies for so many people and organizations this year.  My original little guy made his way to events at the Ohio Dance Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet, as well as several other of my etsy clients.
I also made a new Nutcracker design for Joffrey Ballet School NYC for the dancers recital gifts.
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But what was most enjoyable was sharing cookies with the children’s cast at NYCB’s Nutcracker.  Macy was super proud to pass them out and when they announced that I had made one for each of the 65 kids the parents applauded me…..I covered my face in astonishment.  The children were so sweet, many of them came up to thank me, its like they really understood how much time each little cookie took me and they appreciated it.  I made a solider, angel and sugarplum fairy with the costumes as close as possible as I could get to the real deal.
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I loved taking snapshots of the life going on under the stage each night (incase you aren’t familiar the children perform about every other day for 6 weeks)  Since there is not wifi or cell service on the Lower Concourse of the David Koch theatre the children entertain themselves in traditional ways, like card games and Jacks.  Yes kids still know how to play Jacks!  They celebrate birthdays, give secret santa gifts and squeeze in homework.  Parents read the newspaper, address their christmas cards and occasionally share a bottle of wine.
I thought a collage was best way to share all of those backstage shots, for my readers and for Macy its sort of a keepsake.  One of the snapshots of Macy made it as our Christmas card, sometimes those are the best!
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I hope all of my other ballet moms had unforgettable holiday performances and I look forward to continuing to share and chat with you all next year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
XOXO, NIKKI

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A Vintage Inspired Halloween Dinner Party

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Halloween Dinner Party 2012

Last year this Halloween dinner party was featured on Amy Altas just a few days before Halloween.   We all know that as soon as its November 1st no one wants to look at Halloween pictures anymore. So I’ve held on to these pictures for almost a whole year!

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My party was inspired by vintage Dennison Bogie Books.  After deciding that I needed to know the origin of the iconic screeching Halloween cat face that pops up everywhere, I did a little research and discovered Dennison Boogie Books dating as far back as 1912.  I fell in love with its wholesome and kitschy suggestions and illustrations of a bygone era.  Most importantly I found inspiration in revitalizing the use of crepe paper as in inexpensive decoration material.

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I sought out a few vintage Dennison Halloween die cuts and illustrations on ebay to reproduce, ordered a republished copy of a 1926 Bogie Book and a few rolls of crepe paper.  The rest of the decorations were from our curated Halloween collection.  And of course all the treats were made by me!

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The invitation is vintage, sort of, I designed and drew it 8 years ago….pre photoshop knowledge.  Back in the day, I loved to make hand cut and one of a kind cards from card stock.  A reader informed me that the technique I used to make this card is called typesetting, who knew?  I just did what I had to do to get stuff done, I still do!  You can check out more about this card HERE and know that you can still create a beautiful invitation even if you don’t have skills of a graphic designer.

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What about that about that wall??!!!  I love big showy backdrops and I was channeling Dorothy Draper with the black and white stripe fringe crepe paper.   Crepe paper can deliver that big of a punch without breaking the bank,  it was so easy to create and so inexpensive.  I covered a 12 foot wall with just 6 rolls at $2 a roll!

Tabletop:

The placemats are vintage Dennison illustrations that were once used on crepe paper banners.  The desert plates are crate and barrel and target.  We always cruise the thrift shops for Halloween decorations, the older and creepier the better.  These candle sticks are brass cast-off that we spray painted black.

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The crow curio is a combination of a glass dome sitting and a styrofoam round decorated with fringed crepe paper.  You can see an up close how to about it HERE.

Sweets:

The treats included a scary black cat and spider web cookies, mummy Oreo pops and a three-tiered Trick or Treat cake.

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A cake this size would easily serve 100 people, so I made two of the tiers as fake dummy cakes.  The cake layers features a Dennison Cat made from fondant, silhouettes of dancing witches and a harlequin pattern reminiscent of a paper lantern.  I finished the cake off with a witch, moon and bat silhouettes fondant topper. You can see more of the cake HERE.  And I have had a request to share the template I used for the dancing witches.  Well, there wasn’t one, I drew it!  But I might go back through my files and see if I can find the inspiration and my original sketch.  If I can I’ll clean it up and share it as a download.

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Instead of caramel or red candle apples I came up with “Black Magic” candy apples by coloring the sugar with black gel coloring. Then I dipped it in black sanding sugar for extra sparkle.  See more about them HERE.

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I had more guest (and more decorations) than one table could hold, so the littlest kids at our party had their own table.  Here I used more Dennison inspired imagery.  I created a paper chandelier right from the instructions in a Bogie Book and made tussie mussies to hold candy for the the kids to take home.

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And just incase you’re wondering, I didn’t rent orange chairs, those are our own dining chairs.  We use orange in our home decor so it was easy for our Air Chairs and Panton Jr chair to become part of the party decor.

Each year our Halloween decorations box grows, it grew alot last year and I cant wait to reuse almost all of these decorations this year at our Halloween Open House party.  But the questions is do I wait another year to share those pictures or do my readers want to see Halloween posts in November?

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Nautical Stripes and Sugar Sequins Cake

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If you’ve followed along with my blog for a while you probably notice this pattern: I have several posts and then I wont have any for weeks.  My silence is not laziness, during those weeks that I don’t post I am always super busy making the beautiful sugar works that I share!  I wish that I could be more consistent and always have a regular MWF blog but it’s just a lot of work when the majority of my content is all my creations.   If you would like to see sneak peaks of my day-to-day creations you can follow me on Instagram (my live feed is in the sidebar).   If you do follow me, then you have seen the beautiful cake I made for my daughter’s 11 birthday.

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Macy loves nautical striped shirts, first it was just the plain navy ones, then J.Crew started making ones with sequined hearts & anchors.  She has striped dresses and skirts, all mostly in navy.  In general navy is a neutral for all of us.  We often go out as a family looking very stripey, bluey and coordinated.  Not on purpose, we just all like it!  Ok, Hudson doesn’t really know what he likes but we like it on him (currently his favorite shirt is one that we tie dyed, he calls it his “color shirt” it makes him very happy to wear it…with navy shorts of course).

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For the first time ever Macy didnt have a party for her birthday.  It was a break that had been decided when we planned on during the planning of  her Dylan’s Candy Bar birthday party last year.  So there was no disapointment for her or me, it just the decision that was made.  I still knew that I would make a beautiful cake.  In fact, I did plan to make several cakes (all fake except one for us) but I had too many other projects going on that it fell to the wayside.  Hopefully I can make the beautiful Nautical Suite of cakes that I sketched out,  I just have to make it a project on my list.

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I made Macy’s cake an extra tall 6″ round.  It had 2 layers of chocolate and 2 layers of vanilla cake with swiss buttercream.  I used brand new recipes for every bit of the cake and I am so happy with them!  Both the chocolate and vanilla cake recipes were suggested by Jessica Harris of Jessicakes, they are the sturdiest cakes Ive ever made.  They are definitely the type of cakes you need to get a flawless fondant finish.  If you are new to fondant and find it frustrating to get perfect, it’s probably your cake and icing that is the problem.  I know when I started researching the best tips and techniques I found my fondant skills were fine, my cake stacking skills were really bad!  So along with Jessica’s recipes I also used the upside down icing technique, (its crazy sounding but for small cakes it really works!!) and I’m a big fan of the wax paper transfer method for applying cake decorations.  With horizontal stripes this is the ONLY way to achieve perfect level stripes all the way around.  You will lose your mind and too much sleep any other way.  I will post links to recipes and tutorials at the end of the post.

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So the design was simple really, it mimicked the stripped shirt Macy loves (and now has 3 of).  The sugar sequins technique on the anchor was new for me, new in general really.  I had seen it somewhere on the internet and filed it away in my mind.  In going back to look for any tips or the example I had seen I could not find anything anywhere.  So  I winged it.  I pressed candy sequins into still soft fondant and let dry over night.  Then I painted on metallic luster dust.  It turned out beautiful but I’m sure there must me some other ways to cover the candy sequins more completely.  The thicker I painted on the luster dust the less definition I got on the shape of the candy, I tried the spray color too but it didn’t cover the colored sprinkles at all.

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Over all I liked the creation enough to make cupcake toppers for my etsy shop with this technique. These cupcakes were not for Macy’s birthday but I still had the nautical theme in mind when I combined them with stripped Simply Baked baking cups I purchased from Pick Your Plum ( you can also get them here  or here and on amazon)  I’ve listed heart shapes in gold or silver in my shop, but really the shape and colors are limitless!

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Although we didn’t party like rock stars, we did spend the whole day celebrating Macy, with a movie, dinner, stroll in the old neighb (Lower Manhattan) and she had a friend stay over.  It was a beautiful and unseasonably cool August day, we enjoyed our stroll on the Battery Park City Promenade as we always do.

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My chic tween rocked a new Target dress with an on trend origami bird pattern on her birthday, she added to it a glitter Crewcuts belt (the type that inspired the sugar sequins technique) and a brass whistle necklace she bought at the Brooklyn Flea, oh and a navy blazer, lol.

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Check out my new Sugar Sequin toppers here.

My new favorite Vanilla Cake recipe for a dense sturdy cake here.

My new favorite Chocolate Cake recipe for a dense sturdy cake here.

Swiss Meringue recipe by Martha Stewart here.

Jessicakes wax transfer technique here and a video on icing a cake upside down here.

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Filed under Cakes, Celebrations, SugarCoated, The Chic Tween

Totoro and Soot Sprite Cookies

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Im still cleaning out my cookie closet…. here is another short post of cookies that I made in January.

I cant believe my kids and I were introduced to Totoro just this year!  There is certainly something to love about the magic and natural curiosity in the Studio Ghibli film, My Neighbor Totoro.  Outside of America, Totoro” is as famous among Japanese children as Winnie-the-Pooh is among British ones”  and  ” is more genuinely loved than Mickey Mouse could hope to be in his wildest—not nearly so beautifully illustrated—fantasies.”   If you think that’s hard to believe then just set a kid in front of it!   I havent met a kid that doesn’t adore him.  I love to hear Totoro’s name roll off of Hudson’s lips.  It’s one of those movies that he will ask to watch more that once in the same day.  Fortunately, I love the music and the story line myself, so I dont mind.

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I was asked by another mom in my building to make these Totoro favor cookies for her daughter (it was then that I had to borrow the movie to see what the fuss was about!) The Totoro cookies were hand cut (I only do this if it is a small order), but were easy to ice and the soot sprites were just a blob, cant mess those up!
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So maybe you have kids but havent seen Totoro because it was released in 1988 and re-relased by Disney in 2006 (with Dakota and Elle Fanning as Satsuki and Mei), so its sort of old.   But I bet you have seen Toy Story 3….Totoro made a cameo as a toy in Bonnie’s Room!  Now I hear “there’s Totoro!!!” every time my kids watch Toy Story 3.  Let yours watch My Neigbor Totoro and you will too.

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Modern Fondant Flowers

My family & I are traveling back from Tennessee today & I’m blogging from the road! I’ve never tried to post from my iPhone before but here it goes! Keeping it short because I have a hard enough time being grammatically correct at the desktop.

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I thought these modern fondant flowers would be the perfect little post to share. This flower is a stylized chrysanthemum. The bigger the flower gets, the more the layers. Silver non pareils give a little shimmer in the center.

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Originally designed per a clients request they are now a regular listing in my Etsy shop. I created them as a cake set of a dozen flowers in various sizes. The smallest flower could also make pretty cupcake toppers.

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Click HERE to see the Etsy listing for these flowers.

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Filed under Cakes, Celebrations, SugarCoated

Lion and Zebra and Elephant Cookies

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I had the opportunity to make the most adorable animal cookies for Joffrey Ballet School this May.  Their end of year recital was Carnival of the Animals  (Disney used this music for the flamingo scene in Fantasia 2000) and for each of the 3 performances the dancers received a cookie gift afterwards.

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This is my 3rd order for recital gift cookies for Joffery Ballet School and the count totaled 275 cookies this time….lions and zebras and elephants, OH MY!


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I have become SO efficient at doing sugar cookies that it was no sweat.  Plus the design I choose was much simpler than my beloved Nutcracker cookie.  Im thinking about adding these cookies to my Etsy shop!  Look out for them soon.

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Pineapple Cake Pop Display

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Yesterday my Luau Dance dessert table was featured on Amy Atlas, its always an exciting honor!  (see the full post and pics HERE).  I made this luau table for my daughter’s 5th grade dance.  I didnt have much time to let my ideas evolve for it, as this was a fast track project.   My offer to create, design & budget were all submitted for approval in just a day or so.  So I was lucky that I didnt have creative block, but this isnt my first luau either!    I immediately knew I wanted to make a centerpiece that mimicked the bountiful fruit offerings at a traditional luau but I couldn’t do it with a cake.  This crazy idea to make a cake pop pineapple came out of know where.  I kept thinking that it reminded me of a croquembouche but in my research I couldn’t find many attempts of other cake artists doing a cake pop croquembouche.  I either had a brilliant idea on hand or an epic fail!

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So I sketched it out, trying to eliminate any potential bad ideas and in my head it seemed like an idea that should work.  I basically decided I was just “chocolate-glueing” cake balls onto a vertical stryofoam surface.  If it didnt work, plan B was going to be a tissue paper pineapple for the centerpiece and just cake pops elsewhere on the table.  Having the plan B definitely helped my confidence.  That, and asking for advice from my sister Jes and friend Jen.  They always put me in my place, they don’t sugarcoat it for me when its just wrong.  As I started down the road on this experimental trip I took pictures with my cell phone and had a group message going to them about my “pineapple progress”  Thats about as much DIY tutorials I do around here….sorry!

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It seemed yesterday most of the comments on Amy Atlas’s Facebook picture of my party (its up to 250 likes btw!) were about the cake pop pineapple.  I figure some people might be wondering how to make their own sculpted cake pop creation.  So took a look at my text message pictures and sure enough, I had enough to pull together a behind the scenes board on how I made it.  Its not a styled DIY or step by step tutorial by any means, but you can get the concept along with my descriptions.  So here it is!  (Click on the image to enlarge it to full screen for better readability).

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Filed under Celebrations, Paper + Fabric, SugarCoated

Ballerina Silhouette Cookies

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As end of the year gifts for Macy’s School of American Ballet class she and I designed these ballerina silhouette cookies.  Very simple and oh so beautiful!

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Once again I took to the internet to find the best tutorials from the cookie experts.  My favorite cookie artists are Sweetoptia and Sweetambs, there isn’t much they havent conquered in royal icing techniques.  Doing a silhouette on a cookie perfectly is much more simple than it looks.  The black portion of the icing is traced separately on parchment paper using whatever silhouette image you want.  Then added to a solid wet or dry field to complete the design.  Check out these DIY tutorials that I referenced: For Sweetambs cookie silhouette tutorial click Here.  For Sweetopia’s cookie silhouette tutorial click Here

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For my pretty ballerina I used a Barbie image but freehand the bun instead of a pony tail.  I also found a little trick to make the tiny lips and eyelash detail.  I didn’t try to pipe the lips with the piping tip, instead I went straight down from the nose to chin and went back in with a toothpick to pull out the delicate lips.  For the eyelash, I didn’t event attempt to pipe it.  I figured it would break off during transfer so after the black silhouette was placed in the wet field (which is Sweetambs technique) and all the way dry I drew the eyelash with an edible marker.  Just a light flick of the wrist!

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Macy was so proud to give these out the last week of ballet class and of course the little girls just LOVED them!

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Filed under Celebrations, Cookies, SugarCoated

Zig Zag Cake

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Its been waaaaay to long since my last post, but I promise my blog has not left my mind.  Ive been super duper busy making all kinds of beautiful sugar creations and I have plenty of content to post.  I just have to find the time to do it, so hang in there folks!
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First up is a special little cake that was for a good deed rather than a sweet tooth.  This beautiful cake is fake…a prop…a dummy (although they aren’t being called that much any more).  I made it for a few reasons, practice being one of them but I also was testing out some new techniques I learned from a Craftsy class, more on that in a moment.  I really made this cake to use as a display and teaser at my daughter’s annual school auction.  The bidder of this cake not only won a cake (not this one but a real one) but a full party package donated by me that included cookies, cupcakes, party styling and set up help too.  Although I havent been contacted by the bidder yet, it did raise a good amount and I cant wait for the winner to claim their prize.  It will be a lot of fun!
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So now about this cake.   I have to say that I am very pleased with the quality of my construction, it marks a new era in my cake design expertise.  And I really owe it all to another blogger, cake decorator and interior designer, Jessica Harris of Jessicakes.  I’ve stumbled across her cakes for a few years and popped in a few times at her blog, but when I realized that she was creating her cakes with special techniques (and not a magic wand) I knew that I had to study up.  This was about the same time that she announced that she had been asked to be a Craftsy instructor and all of her tips and techniques were available as video tutorials.  I bought the class, Clean & Simple Cake Designthe week it debuted and it was the worth every penny.
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Jessica uses her interior design side to design and create cakes.  She plots out the design to scale in CAD (I’ve designed all kinds of things in CAD, including a quilt, but never had I thought to use it for cakes!), she repurposes tools from the hardware store (like a PVC pipe as a large rolling pin) and she has the eye of a trained and practiced designer (her cakes are modern and clean lined).    She is a perfectionist and every cake starts with a perfectly smooth, crisp and clean cake base.  All the times I ran across her cakes online I swore they were decorated styrofoam dummies.  But they aren’t! And luckily she includes her cake icing techniques in her Craftsy class too.
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In her class, I didn’t learn just techniques, I learned that I should often be working with a different medium to create perfect decorations.  Jessica’s cakes are covered in fondant but the decorations are mostly modeling chocolate.  Besides being delicious, modeling chocolate has a very important attribute, it is flexible but doesn’t stretch out of shape as easily as fondant.  You can cut a true straight line and move a piece of decoration without a square loosing its 90 degree angle or a circle turning into an oval.  It also self heals with just the warmth of your fingers, so seams and boo boos can be erased.  The horizontal zig zag band around this cake was made from modeling chocolate, you can see up close how perfectly straight the cut lines are.  You can’t really achieve that with fondant.
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The technique that I learned to apply sugar decorations to a cake has literally created a whole new cake world for me.  After cutting out this zig zag pattern I applied it to the cake in just a few seconds without struggle or disappointment using Jessica’s wax-paper transfer method.   With the modeling chocolate stuck to wax paper with shortening, it was like wrapping a sticker around the cake and pealing off the paper backside.  Perfectly intact and in the correct position.  Awesome.
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The beautiful fantasy flower is also a design and technique from Jessica Harris’s class, she includes several templets for decorations like bows and ruffles along with the recipes for marshmallow fondant and modeling chocolate.  It’s really an all-inclusive type of class!
In case it doesn’t already show, I am so happy with all that I’ve learned!  I truly found her tips and instructions to be simple enough for real life cakes, not just for a very special occasion and I cant wait to try them out more often.
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Candy Coated Artist

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I have a sweet treat for you all today.  Its not my usual style of posts but when this New York Magazine issue was delivered in late February I  knew that my readers would appreciate it as much as me.  I am in love with these confectionary images of Elle Fanning by artist Will Cotton, who’s work explores the themes of temptation, gluttony and indulgence.  The surreal landscapes and saccharine sweet muses he paints are a dreamy stroll through Candy Land.

“The paintings often feature scenery made up entirely of pastries, candy and melting ice cream. He creates elaborate maquettes of these settings from real baked goods made in his Manhattan studio as a visual source for the final works. Since about 2002, nude or nearly nude pinup-style models have occasionally populated these candy-land scenes. As in the past, the works project a tactile indulgence in fanciful glut.”  – Greg Lindquist 
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ellefanning_willcotton15ellefanning_willcotton14I highly recommend continuing your sugar high with a quick jump to his website HERE.

And if you think that his style is something you’ve seen before, then you have probably seen Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album cover or her “Califorina Gurl” music video.  Both are works by Will Cotton, click HERE to get a scoop on that.

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Katy Perry by Will Cotton

Now if only I had enough room in my apartment for a sculpture like one of these?
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Filed under Design 101, SugarCoated

Hudson’s Superhero Party featured on Amy Atlas

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Amy Atlas is internationally know as “The Sweets Stylist”.  Her blog Sweet Designs is full of dessert tables for which Amy has set the standard for.   She is so supportive and encouraging to other aspiring stylists in the events industry.   Beautiful guest dessert tables from around the world grace her blog pages, it is always an honor to be excepted as a featured guest.   This  submission is my third party to debut on Amy Atlas and there will be many more to come as I celebrate my children each year and as friends and family allow me to create for them.

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Check out the rest of Hudson’s Superhero Party on Amy Atlas HERE

Now that the party is out of the bag, I cant wait to fill you all in on some great DIY tips about the crafts and display.  I will be introducing my first free printable as well as sharing how you can do a cake like this one at home!

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Tiffany and Co. Cupcake Toppers and Cookies

Tiffany and Co. Cupcake Toppers by Nikki Berry

Tiffany and Co. Cupcake Toppers by Nikki Berry

My darling niece Emma turned 5 in December, she’s a Christmas Eve baby and her birthday parties are always celebrated at different times.  Most of the time in January after the holiday rush is over.  Like my children, she often gets two birthday parties, one with friends where she lives and one on a trip back home.   Since I couldn’t make it to either party to help out I sent cupcake toppers and cookie favors to both of them.

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Emma Belle starring in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tiffany and Co. ( or rather Emma and Co.) was the theme of her big party with close family and friends  A classic bow was a common idea for a topper  but I also wanted to do a few that I’ve never seen before and I challenged myself with some original topper designs.  The results: a topper mimicking a toggled pearl necklace and a  Tiffany ring with a sparkling faceted sugar gem.

Tiffany and Co. Bow Cupcake Toppers

Tiffany and Co. Bow Cupcake Toppers

On every visit to NY Cake I have coveted their selection of sugar gems.  Ive been dreaming of ways to use them and hoping the chance would come soon.   I got lucky that they had an aqua stone in stock and  I choose it instead of the traditional white diamond, I thought it would be appropriate since the party wasn’t for a bride but a little girl instead.

Tiffany and Co. Sugar Gem Cupcake toppers

Tiffany and Co. Sugar Gem Cupcake toppers

Ive worked with metallic luster dusts many times and have a few gold and silver pots but this being a special tribute to the most famous silver jewelry in the world  I really wanted the silver to shine like the real thing, my cake supply store had just the product I needed to create that realistic silver.

Pearl and Toggle Bracelet TIffany and Co Toppers

Pearl and Toggle Bracelet Tiffany and Co Toppers

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My toppers came out beautifully.  I really didn’t have any hiccups or lessons learned, for once I created something without testing out a new skill from scratch.  I guess that means I’m getting through some of the learning curve with sugar……its taken long enough, its been like 10 years since my interested started.

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I listed these toppers in my Etsy shop about a month ago and they are now my most popular items.  You can see the listings HERE, HERE or HERE.

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And the sugar didn’t stop there, I also made these Tiffany and Co. cookies!  I was much more into designing the toppers but these turned out nice too :)  In fact when I received an inquiry about a Tiffany topper with a silver charm I showed these and soon I will be adding another topper with a charm  to my collection.

Tiffany and Co. Cookies

Tiffany and Co. Cookies

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Tiffany and Co Blue Box Cookies

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Emma Belle starring in Breakfast and Tiffanys

Emma Belle starring in Breakfast and Tiffanys

 

Emma Belle’s Photos by Jes at CapturedbyJes

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Dwell Studio Cookies for Operation Kids Bake Sale

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I think that I’ve been procrastination on working on a new post because I can’t decide which of the fabulous projects I want to share first.  So I’ll start with one that is most overdue.  I should have shared this back in November, not sure why I didn’t, probably because November and December were a blur to me.

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After Hurricane Sandy I found a few outlets to help out.  Besides clothing, food and monetary donations  it was heartwarming for me to donate my talent.  I know cookies are just flour and sugar but they are also smiles and joy.  Like cupcakes and cakes they can brighten someones day even for just a moment.

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Duplicating a pattern is one of my favorite ways to decorate in sugar art.  I’m pretty much a copier with a lot of my designs.  My husband says thats not so, that everyone is influenced by others work and this is true.  Sometimes I start off thinking I’ll just duplicate something Ive seen but then it comes to life in my own way and it ends up an original design.  I have wanted to literally copy Dwell Studio prints on a cake or cookie for a long time now.    Their modern patterns are a favorite of mine and influenced my original design in my son’s nursery, see his Oliver the Owl nursery HERE.

nikkiikkin dwell studio cookies 5I had just completed a large cookie donation to the Red Hook Initiate on Election Day when I noticed Dwell Studio was hosting a bake sale coordinated by Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo.  to benefit Operation Kids hurricane relief effort .  My kitchen wasn’t even returned to normal from my first bakeathon so I asked my husband if he would mind if I dove in to another project, the cookies would be due in two days so it would be a quick project.  He couldn’t say no of course!

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I combed through Dwell Studios patterns, current and vintage.  I have so many favorites that I was sad that time restraints would in the end restrict my design decision.  I choose two children’s patterns for their color combos and simplicity.

nikkiikkin dwell studio cookies 2Owl and Transportation made the final cut and then I narrowed down the design to just a few recognizable elements.  It is the colors of the designs that really bring the cookies to life.  Colors are also what make Dwell Studio prints so coveted.

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I dropped my cookies off at Dwell Studio’s brand new gorgeous SoHo flagship store, often lovingly referred to as 77 Wooster.  They were well received by Joanna and Christiane.  The atmosphere was energetic as kids were gobbling up treats and people were greeting each other.  There were so many yummy donations and a crowd was forming right away.    I’m sure I’m not the only person that has separation anxiety from their creative work, it’s very a funny feeling!  I’m so happy to share, so proud to make people excited about sugar but I don’t want to let go!  Luckily I always feel that my little works of art are appreciated and enjoyed, it’s the only way I can really walk away.

Screen Shot 2012-11-11 at 2.38.37 PMLater that day Christiane tweeted and instagramed a pretty shot of the cookies with a thank you shout out to me.

Screen Shot 2012-11-12 at 10.13.19 AMAnd the a few days later a post was up at the Studio blog highlighting some of the pics of how the bake sale went.  Again there was a very sweet mention and pic of my cookies!

Screen Shot 2012-11-13 at 4.58.48 PMI also checked up on A Cup of Jo to see how the bake sale went.  They raised $2400 in 3 hours, which Dwell Studio matched for a grand total of $4800 to donate to hurricane relief efforts.  Thats amazing!  Here is a screen shot of some more pics from A Cup of Jo.  I was excited to see the little boy in the lower right picture choosing one of my cookies . <3

To sum it up, I love to create sweet treats, love Dwell Studio and love to help out.  It was a hands down a win – win experience.

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Filed under Cookies, I heart NY, SugarCoated

Nutcracker Cookies

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What happened to November!  Where have I been?  I can not believe that I haven’t made a post in a month, I was getting so good at being regular with my post too.  Well, the good news is I have a ton of material to write about because while my blog was static I was busy.  Mostly, what has been keeping me busy is cookies.  I  have made more cookies in the past 4 weeks than I have made in my whole life!

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Im going to start my cookie presentations off with my most accomplished cookie design and order to date.  200 Nutcracker cookies for Joffrey School of Ballet in NYC!

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Joffrey School of Ballet graciously contacted me for a second time to do cookies for their recital gifts, this time the order doubled and the complexity of the cookie quadrupled!  While there are many characters and designs that can represent ballet and the Nutcracker suite, the Nutcracker himself is the most beloved.  Even thought Joffrey asked for design examples, I knew that they would pick the Nutcracker and I knew that I could not scale back in his detail, every part of him is so important.

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I ordered my cookie cutter from Coppergifts.com, my first order from them and it wont be the last.  Their cutters are top of the line, thick copper hand formed with beautiful craftsmanship on the seam.  As soon as my soldier arrived I put him to work!

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I  broke the tasks up by days in order to cut down on the feeling of being overwhelmed my the large order.  Day one I mixed all the dough and set to chill, day two I baked and day 3, 4, 5 & 6 I decorated in batches of 50.  I guess that seems like a lot of days to work on an order but I can’t work 9-5 like a job, I usually work during nap time and at night so I can concentrate.  I put my husband and daughter (and MIL who was visiting during the tail end of my order) to work tagging and bagging the cookies.  So a big thank you! to them for pitching in.

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While each Nutcracker was the same design they all turned out with faces that my husband and I thought had different personalities and we had a good laugh many times about what type of “person” some of the cookies were.  My favorite was when the eyebrows turned out a bit furrowed and he looked menacing.

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Of course, in my eyes, each cookie had slight flaws.  It would be impossible to make 200 perfect cookies, but overall I was very pleased at my craftsmanship and really proud to have pushed myself and taken on such a detailed design.

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I love to photograph my work, this time I even got an over the phone crash course in how to use manual mode on my camera from my sister Jes at Captured By Jes.  I got some really great shots and didn’t have to take a million pics to end up with one non-blurry picture to post, Thanks Jes!

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Just after finishing my order we attended the Nutcracker at Lincoln center, while I have always liked the nostalgic Nutcracker story, this beloved character now has a special place in my heart.

So what else did I do in November?  Well, I am super excited to share the cookies I donated to a bake sale at Dwell Studio, which the founder Christiane Lemieux personally thanked me and showed them off on their blog.  I also did some cute ballet cookies for my niece’s birthday party.  I still have to show off my daughters Halloween costume, I know its Christmas season but its really good I don’t want to wait a whole year to share!  And I also have the full set of photos from my Halloween dinner party table that was featured on Amy Atlas.  Wow!  So stay tuned, I’ll try really hard to get those posts up soon :)

If you are interested in ordering these Nutcracker cookies, I have a listing up on my etsy shop HERE.  Until December 19th I am available to make and ship out each made to order batch within 3 days of placing your order.  There is still time to gift this wonderful cookie for a party or stocking!

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Election Day Cookies

Election Day 2012 Cookies

These election day cookies were for more than to celebrate voting, they went directly to a church serving hot meals to the victims of Hurricane Sandy in Red Hook.  My intentions when making them was not just to brighten someone’s cold day but as an initiative to take civil responsibility even during this time of devastation.   Macy and I walked about 100 cookie and cupcake treats over yesterday before I went to vote.  Which by the way took me about 2 hours of waiting in line.  But of course it was worth it!  Warm congratulations to President Barack Obama for another four years.

 

 

Vote Cookies

 

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Filed under I heart NY, SugarCoated

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

As we end a week surrounded by so much devastation, my husband and  I are so thankful that our family, building and neighborhood are experiencing  much normalcy.  We are only 2 miles from Dumbo, less than a mile from Red Hook and a block from the G0wanus Canal, we expected much flooding  but were miraculously spared from nearly all effects and after effects from Hurricane Sandy.  Being home together for 6 days, the apartment is staying relatively clean, dinner is ready early every night and I have found the time to enjoy the comfort of baking, just for us, just because.  Although the kids have bags and bags of sweet candies, last night I was craving a different kind of treat – pumpkin whoopie pies.

I experience my first pumpkin whoopie pie just a month ago at One Girl Cookies in my Brooklyn neighborhood.   I probably mentioned wanting one everyday since then and my husband has offered to go get me more on several occasions. But I had known immediately at the time  I ate the first pie that I must learn how to make this delicious treat at home.

 

I didn’t have to look very far to find the recipe, Amy Atlas had perfected it in her book Sweet Designs and additionally posted the recipe on her blog just this week.  To my joy, the ingredients were all items that I already had in my pantry and last night I whipped them together.  Baking in the oven, my apartment was filled with their wonderful homemade goodness and comforting aroma.

The filling is a cream cheese icing recipe also from Sweet Designs.  I prefer cream cheese icing on many of my cakes and it is the perfect complement to this cake like cookie.  In fact I even preferred Amy Atlas’s cream cheese icing recipe to my standby that I thought couldn’t get any better!

Macy and I couldn’t wait for the pies to cool before we were gobbling up one still hot from the tray and waiting for them to cool so we could assemble a few for dessert felt like an eternity!  Honestly, the word heavenly comes to mind when I eat one, its the perfect combination of sweet and tangy with a nostalgic pumpkin pie spice taste.

A whoopie pie itself is an interesting treat, it could be described as a soft cookie. I would compare it to a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie, but much better of course because I made it at home.  One 2-3 inch round pie is the perfect size to enjoy but not overindulged.    I found working with the batter to be easy, it was just the right consistency to pipe out onto the parchment paper without much effort yet it stayed firm and didnt flood out of shape.   Baked to perfection in 15 minutes in my hot running gas oven and well, I dont think I’ll find out know how long they stay fresh in the fridge because they won’t last a day in our home!

Cake for breakfast is a norm in our home and now whoopies pies fit the bill too!  Luckily, I snapped a few pics (looking very fitting on my new Hable Construction fabric from the BKLYN sample sale last week) before we all enjoyed another round in our pj’s and I wonder now how I’m going to keep myself from eating 5 more today!

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

You can find the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie recipe in Amy Atlas’s new book Sweet Designs or on her blog HERE.

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Dancing Witches Halloween Cake

Happy Halloween!  My favorite holiday is here, although it feels strange to be celebrating in New York just 2 days after Hurricane Sandy barreled through.  My family is safe and sound, we never lost power or had flooding on our street and we are now on day 3 of a mini vacation from school, ballet and work.  The weather looks good for Trick or Treating tonight in our neighborhood, but if it wasn’t we would still have fun in our building full of young kids.

On the day that Sandy hit I had my second feature on Amy Atlas, a Halloween Dinner Party that was inspired by Dennison Bogie books.  I crafted for the first time with real crepe paper and fell in love with a medium that I can use to create dramatic backdrops and limitless crafts for just a few dollars.  For my Spooky Supper  I made a gigantic cake that would have served 100, except 2 of the cake layers were fake.  Here is a great shot of the prop cake portion of the cake, complete by itself as my Dancing Witches Halloween Cake.  I will be following up soon with the rest of my Halloween Dinner Party post, until then check out my Amy Atlas feature HERE and the rest of my Halloween posts:

Black Magic Candy Apples

Easy Halloween Invitation

Halloween Crow Curiosity

Wonderland Family- Halloween Costumes

Halloween Madhatter Cake

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