Category Archives: SugarCoated

The sweetest of all my elements

Black Magic Candy Apples

Next up for last minute Quick and Easy Halloween Party Ideas is a twisted classic.  I call them Black Magic Candy Apples.  Candy apples are very easy to make, this was actually my first time doing so and instead of using red food coloring I used black and then dipped the apple in black sanding sugar to give it a spooky magical look.

The apple is setting in a cupcake liner, a black straw is slid down over the wooden craft stick and plastic spider ring finishes off this Halloween treat!

Candy for the apples is made from only 2 ingredients that you probably have in your pantry right now.   You can make this before the kids even get home from school today!

Black Magic Candy Apples by Nikki Berry (adapted from a recipe from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

15 apples

2 cups white sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups water

8  drops BLACK food coloring

Black sanding sugar

cupcake liners, plastic straws and plastic spiders

Directions

1. Lightly grease cookie sheets or lay out parchment paper on a tray.  Insert craft sticks into apples

2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Heat to 300 to 310 degrees F (149 to 154 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms hard, brittle threads. Remove from heat and stir in food coloring.  (sugar takes about 20 minutes to get this hot, I used the cold water test to check it for readiness)

3. Holding apple by its stick, dip in syrup and remove and turn to coat evenly. While apples are still warm roll them in a shallow bowl of sanding sugar.  Place on prepared sheets or cupcake liners to harden.

4. Add black plastic straws over the craft sticks and black plastic spider rings around the straw.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Don’t miss the other Quick and Easy Halloween Party Ideas:

Halloween Crow Curiosity

Easy Halloween Invitaiton

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Filed under Celebrations, SugarCoated

Baby Shower Cookies

I’ve never really been interested in cookie decoration.  Its only last year that I attempted my first royal icing cookie.  I think one of the reasons is because I never saw many tips online at baking sites, I was probably more focused on cakes though.   I’ve known how to make and use royal icing for a long time, I just never knew the correct recipes for consistency, I experimented until I got it right. And often wasted too much icing doing so.   That is probably why I never craved creating cookies with it, I found it very frustrating and draining to make two batches of icing: one to outline, one to flood.  Besides, I don’t have a very steady or a strong hand for piping bags, which is why I leaned toward fondant as my medium.

I often come across beautiful cookies on Pinterest and finally realized that many of them come from a site called Sweetopia.  I just recently browsed around the site and came across the best royal icing tips ever.   First off the number one royal icing to work with is this:

image via Sweetopia

Next I have tested out the method to beat all methods for getting the consistency right for the icing. (watch Sweetopia’s video on consistency HERE) Its a 10 second test in which the icing should self heal to smoothness after you run a knife across the batch still in the bowl.  Too long to heal and its too thick, too short, too thin.  Then using a #2 Wilton tip you can outline and fill in immediately using the same icing.  Give the cookie a little jiggle and its done.  No excessive waiting, no double batches of each color. After the icing field dries overnight you are ready to pipe with that same icing.  To pipe intricate lines, Sweetopia likes to use a kopykake projector to outline any image flawlessly (watch her draw the Eiffel Tower HERE).  I do not have this projector, but it would be nice if I did!

So the last set of cookies I made to celebrate a friend having a new baby girl I used Sweetopia’s methods and tips.   While I still see room for improvement on my cookie style and technique I definitely improved my time efficiency and found the decorating to be easier and most of all enjoyable!

I choose to do a mixture of baby related cookies but I didn’t buy any new cutters.  I got innovative with a few cutters I already had. The bib is a scalloped circle with a notch cut from it and the baby shoe is a pumpkin cutter!  Macy actually figured out that the pumpkin could be turned sideways to look like a shoe and buckle.

The baby face took some time with the layers, I think I could streamline the face and background into one layer next time.  My favorite cookie was the chenille teddy bear. I’ve used Wilton tip #233 for fur before on my Where the Wild Things Are cookies, but as I started to give this teddy bear fur the icing formed more what I thought looked like a chenille fabric.  He’s sorta that messy perfection that I love about using tip #233.  After the fur is dry I flooded drops for the ears, hands, feet nose and eyes. The teddy’s bow was pipped on wax paper and dried before placing on the fur.

I wanted to give the new brothers their own special cookies and I let Macy pipe and decorate these all by herself.  Proof that if a 10 year old can decorate cookies with these tips & methods than anyone can!

Rocket ship cookies decorated by Macy!

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Filed under Baby + Child, SugarCoated

Pink & Gold Cake and Backdrop

This precious pink and gold cake was for my daughter Macy on her 10th birthday.  No matter when her birthday party takes place I always make another cake for us to celebrate together on her real birth day.  I had an itching to create a little more for this cake because I wanted to experiment with some backdrop ideas.

First off, the cake had a special importance to me.  The porcelain birthday doll on top was the same doll that my mom put on top of my 10th birthday cake.  Inspired by the pink and gold, I then designed the cake around that doll.  If you’re wondering why it has two different looks, it’s because as I was assembling the cake I thought that it was also pretty as a single ruffled tier without the extra flower and tier so I took some picture of it like that.

I try to experiment with each opportunity I get to make a cake.  This was my first ruffled cake, I thought the process was easy enough.  My technique was a mixture of pinching and folding and I made each band of ruffles in 2 sections to circle this 8″ cake.  I am just beginning my love affair with gold luster dust.  I want to use it on everything ever since I made these Tea Party Toppers.  I probably would have used it even if it wasn’t an accent on the porcelain doll.  This fondant flower is styled like a fabric brooch and has been popular in my Etsy Shop, I make it in several sizes and any color to be used on cupcakes or a cake.

For the grande finale I put it all together with a few homemade garlands and tissue paper backdrop.  I wanted to make a backdrop with minimal effort and cost but still eye catching.  I popped into a Party City and spent less than $20 for this backdrop and assembling it took about an hour because I created all of it from scratch.  The wall and tabletop are covered in plain old gift tissue paper, layered for color depth and for an imperfect look.

Macy and I  assembled the pom-pom garland using a bag of metallic gift shred.  I know it sounds crazy to think about creating each pom with single strands but I knew that I needed less than 10 poms and a small bag of shred was only $3.  It took about 30 minutes to gather and tape the top of all the poms.  Then I threaded fishing line through the tape with a needle.

The glitter ball garland started as a prepackaged set of glittered sphere decorations in the wedding section at Party City.  I thought it was a good price at $8 but I could have also purchased a solar system styrofoam ball set and rolled them in glue and glitter to make my own.  I threaded them with fishing line and a needle too.

The last garland is gumballs.  Ive been experimenting with gumball necklaces lately and although I like the idea and the look of gumball strands, they are a bit of a pain to work with.  I’ve found that the quickest and most efficient way to make the hole is to drill it, but even then its messy and still takes a great effort.

After all the garlands were done I simply used tacks pushed in the drywall to hang.  Getting a balance in swag shape was the hardest part.  The gumball garland is pretty heavy too and fell a few times.  Whenever I use them again I will use temporary hooks from 3M.

There she is Miss Macy Berry, 10 years old!

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Filed under Celebrations, SugarCoated

Put A Bird On It – BIRDday Cake & Cupcakes

A few weeks ago my cake decorating skills were out shined by my 10 year old daughter.  It’s not hard to believe that being surrounded by my crafts and cakes for years that she would pick up a few tricks.  Of course I’m actually very proud of her and happy to share her creations, that I promise I didn’t suggest, influence or implement her cupcake designs below.

So here is the cake I made a few weeks ago for a dear friend.  The request was a sparrow.   A simple silhouette on a 6″ cake is easy to make for a small group of friends getting together for dinner.  I love to use the FMM letter cutters for my name plates.

After I finished the cake, we craved some cupcakes so Macy mixed and loaded the cups, I don’t allow her to work with the oven so I did that.  The icing was already colored blue from my cake so she had to work with that color but she pipped the cupcakes.   She told me she was going to make fondant birds for them and I left the kitchen to her.  I came back to see that she made these adorable molded birds, eggs and nests!  The colors were perfect, so cheerful and modern!  Beautiful work and consistency on each topper.  Best of all she enjoyed doing it and that’s what makes me happiest.

I’d like to give credit to my husband and friend Jenn for the title of this post.  Its an inside joke but also describes these cakes perfectly :)

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Filed under City Mouse + Country Mouse, SugarCoated

Candy Party Cake and Invitations

For my daughters 10th birthday we celebrated at Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City.  The party is all-inclusive but the cake and invitations included were not my style so I made my own.

My candy cake was inspired by the signature cakes that Dylan’s Candy Bar uses in photo spreads and displays in the store.

The striped second tier was the most tedious to decorate.  Each fondant stripe was cut to a taper as it wrapped the top of the cake, making a beautiful color wheel.  The top-tier mimicked a strip of nostalgic candy buttons and was topped with real lollipops.

Each sweet guest was sent a custom candy invitation that included a real candy necklace.  See my post on making these candy invitations HERE.

Also pictured is a gumball necklace that my daughter made and wore at her party.  I’ll be posting my methods and tips on making those soon!

To see how the party at Dylan’s Candy Bar turned out click HERE!

Like the cake?  It can be yours!  I am now offering a made to order Faux / Prop Candy Cake in my Etsy shop.  She the listing HERE!

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Filed under Celebrations, Paper + Fabric, SugarCoated

Lego Pirate Cake

Lego Pirate Cake

I have held this cake post hostage for 5 months.  Im not sure why I have taken so long to post it, its one of my favorite cakes ever!  This Lego Pirate cake is a real eyeful.  Its design is four-sided and has so much detail to find on each turn it was hard not to be click heavy with my camera.

This cake was for a cute little boy, Will, that lives down the hall from me and is a playmate of my son’s.  His mom, Nicole is a super chic lady.   When we sat down to together to discuss the cake we instantly clicked and the ideas flowed easily.   I squeezed all of those ideas into this little cake and think its one of the best original cakes I’ve ever executed.  The party theme morphed from just pirate to Lego Pirate after Nicole’s husband designed a Lego Pirate invitation for the party.  I instantly knew that I wanted to do a peel away Lego wall on the cake, its a cake design that I’ve always thought was whimsical and fascinating for little kids to see, as it looks like the cake is made from Legos and the sugar covering is peeling off.  Sometimes its paired with a construction theme and it looks like the Lego Men are constructing the cake.   I also knew that Im not the type of cake artist that needs to recreate what is readily available to feel that my cake is successful.  I had no intentions to make Lego Men or Lego Blocks when my design called for true to scale anyway.

This cake is full of pirate elements like a treasure map, gold coins and pirate ship.  The design was really about mixing all those elements together and balancing the colors and pieces.  Each side is a little scene.  With the back being the most surprising, the fondant is peeled away to suggest that the cake is made from a pirates booty of Lego Bricks.  Heavily guarded by Lego Pirates the bricks take on a sense of treasure themselves.

By using real Lego Men and Lego Bricks I made it a little easy on myself in the details.  But Im never one to take the easy road, I enjoy a challenge and put a lot of work into creating more elements on a cake than I typically would.  The treasure map dashes around the second tier to locations that include a parrot, anchor and finally the infamous red X.

One of the biggest obstacles I face on cakes is coming up with innovate ways to create an element. While its easy to just mold a large hunk of fondant into something, I wanted the treasure chest and pirate ship to be delicious too. Both are made from Little Debbie brownies.  I needed to make those pieces quickly and I wanted them to be sturdy.  The Little Debbies molded like play doh in my hands and the fondant laid on smooth and effortless.  I think it was a better base to work with than rice crispy treats.  At the party I knew they were a big hit when all the children tried to claim them as their cake piece.

My daughter being 10 years old and my son being only 2, I have a lot more experience doing girl themed cakes.  I surprised myself on how much I really enjoyed creating this cake.  Boy themes are growing on me!  This cake could easily be created for a pirate party without the Lego theme.  Just imagine a skull and bones as the flat topper and remove all the Lego toys.

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All My Duck Cookies In A Row

I recently received my biggest cookie order to date. I made 100 cookies for Joffrey Ballet School for their  gifts to the dancers after the spring recital.

Duck shaped sugar cookie with royal icing piping

I would have never guessed that sourcing a duck cookie cutter would be hard in NYC.   But I went to more than 6 bakery, party or home goods stores (by foot and train) to locate a simple duck cookie that I know existed online but I didn’t have time to have shipped on short notice.  I finally found a suitable cutter, not the one I really wanted but it worked out fine, more than fine the ducks looked great!

100 duck cookies

I really enjoyed making this large order of cookies, its seems like it doesn’t matter if its 10 cookies or 100 cookies, once you get all the ingredients out, the oven is hot and you have taken the kitchen over anyway, might as well make 100 cookies!  Its think that 100 cookies might be all the space my kitchen has for each round, it’s a good thing my table is an expandable.

After piping I added a quick brush of luster dust for sparkle and each duck was package in a favor bag with blue crinkle gift filler.   Of course all the girls loved them, they were delicious & fresh, (baked just 2 days before the recital), as well as cute.  And best of all Macy was proud to let everyone know that her mom had made them.

 

Macy Berry and her duck cookie

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Hello Kitty Cake

Hello Kitty Cake

Just a short but sweet post to show off a cute little cake I made for a dear friend.  This 6 inch 2 layer cake is the purrrfect size for a small get together with friends to celebrate a birthday.   For this one I used a white cake mix with  1/3 of the batter set aside and mixed with dry strawberry jello.  Then I poured the strawberry flavored batter in the pan already filled with plain white batter.  This gives it a bullseye of strawberry and a surprise when it is cut.  The icing is cream cheese icing  and all the pink piping and dots are also colored from a little bit of dry strawberry jello.  The strawberry jello made it a beautiful pink color that has an orangish tone.

Hello Kitty Cake

Creating a flat fondant topper like this is super easy.  Just find the images online.  Scale the internet window to the correct size and lightly trace the image on to paper.  Then use the paper as a template to cut out the topper in fondant.

Enjoy!

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Dylan’s Candy Bar Invitation

After a promise made more than two years ago, Macy’s dream party at Dylan’s Candy Bar in Manhattan will come true in just a few short weeks.  This weekend 10 special little girls received this original and SWEET birthday party invitation.

Although a Dylan’s Candy Bar Sweetie Pie birthday party is all-inclusive and the fill in invites they provide are perfectly fine, I can’t help myself from using this opportunity to create something fabulous.  I knew from the start that I wanted to send the girls candy necklaces with the invitation but the style of the card came to be after I stumbled upon the bracket shaped cards from Paper Presentation.  They come in a color called Fiji that looks like the exact shade of teal that is a Dylan’s Candy Bar signature color.  Once I had the bracket card, designing the rest of the invite was a piece of cake!  Here is how I created this special invitation for my special little girl.

  • For the address label wrappers I used Photoshop to create a striped design in Dylan’s Candy Bar colors, I downloaded the bracket shape from Paper Presentations web site & I printed them on full sheet label paper.
  • The base of the invite is a 5×7 pre-shaped bracket card from Paper Presentation.
  •  The bracket cards also come in 4×6 for layering but Im not sure how I would print on that shape so I made my invite on regular paper, carefully measuring the words to fit within a 4×6 space.
  • I didn’t want to put directions on the invitation, so I added an additional lollipop shaped card.  To make this I used an image of a lollipop from a candy website and altered it with a brush stroke filter in Photoshop.
  • The envelopes are regular 6×9 white envelopes, we hand delivered nearly all of them, a padded envelope would be better for mailing.
  • Real candy necklaces make this invitation extra sweet!

  • The address label wrappers, lollipop note and printed bracket cards are cut out and ready for assembly.
  • I wanted the candy necklace to still be edible so affixing with tape and glue were out of the question.
  • I sewed the necklace to the back of the card with two quick loops of thread.  It was very important to do this BEFORE glueing on the printed front bracket card layer because the stitches needed to be hidden on the front.
  • The first side of the candy necklace ties on at any point.
  • The spot to tie the second side is judged by how you want the candy necklace to drape.  I stood it up and held the spot with my finger.
  • Theres no right or wrong way, just as long as the necklace is entirely within the boundaries of the card.  Macy liked the shape because it looked “like a smile”.
  • Using spray adhesive  (outside on a surface protected by a paper bag) coat the back of the printed white bracket card layer.   Adhere it to the front of the  base bracket card with the candy necklace sewed on the back.
  • Full sheet label paper makes the address label wrapper supper easy to peel and stick but you could print them out on regular paper and glue them on instead.
I can’t wait to share Macy’s 10th birthday party at Dylan’s Candy Bar with everyone, look for that post after June 23rd.

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Filed under Celebrations, SugarCoated

Tea Party Treat Toppers

I am so ecstatic to share these beautiful tea party treat toppers.  Michelle at Daydream Believers, a fellow mom, blogger and crafter extraordinaire asked me to design treat toppers and cake decorations for her daughter’s 3rd birthday party.  Since we speak the same birthday party language, it was a lot of fun working out the details for the toppers with her.   Michelle used the toppers I sent to add to her own fresh-baked treats and cake, you can see her party on her site HERE.

All of the toppers were made from fondant dried hard enough to ship and still yummy to eat.  I presented Michelle with 8 sketched topper ideas, to which she chose these 3 styles.  Each one was a piece of art!  The most traditional and elaborate topper was compiled with 3 layers of fondant and tiny hand rolled roses.  So exquisite!  To add an element of formality and sparkle I painted details of golden luster dust on each topper.

The larger teapot was for the cake, Michelle added it to a Bundt cake.   I found this a very fitting cake style for a traditional tea party.  I also made oversize pearls painted with pearl luster dust.

Inspired by the beautiful colors that I mixed for the toppers I couldn’t help experimenting with some flower techniques, the results were these beautiful brooch like blooms with pearl nonpareils centers.

 

Just because you don’t have cake artist in your town, doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful sweet treats at your next party.  Ordering fondant toppers from an Etsy seller is very easy to do!  Please contact me at nberryid at gmail.com if you would like to order toppers or cake decorations of any kind.

 

 

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Filed under Baby + Child, SugarCoated

Where The Wild Things Are Party

LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!

For Hudson’s 2nd party we choose a Where The Wild Things Are theme.  Always a classic and beloved story, we have given the book by Maurice Sendak as gifts many times.  I was not only proud to do this party for my son but to share it with thousands of readers on a very popular party site called Amy Atlas Events.  Amy Altas choose my party for a featured guest dessert submission, you can see the feature HERE!  It was a big honor to be featured among the best parties on the web!  If you don’t follow her blog you must check it out, and by the way her first book is coming out this week!

I have to give some credit to my talented sister Jes again for helping me come up with ideas for parties, we often work together on my niece Emma’s parties and I always bounce ideas from Jessica for my own as well.  She mentioned adding fur to the back of the invite and it was a brilliant idea that I can’t believe I haven’t come up with before!  So here is our awesome Wild Thing invite:

I can only imagine the Monster Party possibilities for this treatment on cards! To make the back of the card I cut the fur patches out the size of the card before I affixed the fur to the back of the card with spray mount.  Sticky fingers and fur can be a little messy, so if you try this, use utmost care in handling, have everything laid out on kraft paper (paper bags cut open-work too) and don’t rush!  To make the front of the card I scanned in images from the book to use on paper goods and for the first time ever I purchased a font to use in Photoshop.  This was a big deal for me, as I am self-taught in photoshop and pretty clueless to much of what Graphic Designers learn in school.  I just make it up as I go along and do what I need to do to get the job done!  These cards were hand delivered but an oversized envelope would allow for extra room the fur needs, I don’t think it would need extra postage, it wasn’t heavy but again, I didn’t try to mail any.

The fur started an inspirational goal for this theme, I continued searching for ways to express the wild forest feeling of the story through texture.

Real wood is a perfect natural texture, so I hiked it over to the New York Flower District to shop for some wood cuts.  My scores were a (very heavy) tree cut to use as a cake stand, a few birch branch cuts I used to stretch a paper bunting across and shorter ones to use as small display stands.  The flower district is an amazing couple of blocks just south of Madison Square gardens, it used to be a very large district but like most of Old New York times are changing, and there is only a couple of blocks left.  You must go early, like before 8am early, by 11am the vendors are putting their leftovers back into the coolers and shutting down for the day.

I repeated the faux fur from the invite as a runner on the desert table, which read more as grass than monster fur because it was green but it worked with the theme regardless.

What about that exotic background?   I don’t think it would have mattered what anything else on the table looked like, the background made it super impressive. All different greens, shapes and sizes and it was all paper, This made it inexpensive but it was all handmade, which made it time-consuming.   I used tissue paper for the top canopy foliage and the leaves, origami flowers, vines and fan flowers were made from construction paper.  You can find cheap packs and multiple shades in teacher/parent supplies stores.   Its better quality than a pack of typical construction paper but not as expensive as archival scrap-book paper, so I didn’t feel bad about tossing it.

Hudson’s party was a small soiree of his playmates,  I have a hard time doing parties small….I can’t help but to make a big production regardless of the guest size but I did restrain myself in the amount of sweets for this party: just cake, cake pops and a take home cookie, this was plenty for 25 guests.  Another table held an assortment of snacks….. and plenty of wine….gotta have the mommy juice around when the kids out number you.

The cake was a two tier yellow butter cake, buttercream icing and fondant decorations.  Each tier represented a part of the book, the bottom was the forest in buttercream & fondant, the top was fondant scales in the style Maurice Sendak illustrated on the main Wild Thing, Carol’s legs and the topper was Max’s crown simply made from fondant and dried till it was able to stand on its own.   Inside the cake was multi layered in yellow and orange representing the shirt also from Carol.

Cake pops are fun but not as simple to make as people pretend them to be.  This is my second time making pops and I’m still learning the techniques to make them as good as Bakerella.  I did learn that candy melt needs to be thinned out with shortening to make it dip smoother.  I also realized that the cake crumb has to be more finely crumbled in order for the ball to roll smooth….after I finished these.  So all that being said, here are my little cake pops!  I cut triangles from fondant and placed them around the top of the pop to represent  Max and his “king of all wild things” crown.  The pops are in a tin wrapped in natural birch bark that I picked up at the NY flower district, but you can purchase it here on www.Save-on-Crafts.com.  Which is an awesome resource for building party decorations and dessert tables, by the way.  I see many of these same items at the NY Flower District but I can get them for subway fare instead of shipping and handling and its also fun to haggle the vendors on pricing :)

The next treat was one that I probably worked harder on then the cake,  my Carol cookies were super detailed.  A mix of fondant and royal icing, I layered on each facial element to give just the right 2D/3D look.  My favorite part was being able to use the Wilton grass tip #233 to zip through the last element, his fur mane.  After the cookie set up, I packaged them in standard 4 inch wide treat bags and topped them with a card stock topper that I designed and printed using an image from the book and the famous words “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”  I found it very fitting to give as a departing favor.  On the back it said “Thank you for joining us at Hudson’s 2nd Birthday”

Another favor the children took home was a set of twig colored pencils.  I love these pencils and have also used them as favors at Macy’s Woodland Fairie party.  My husband and I laugh about the twig pencils being a “chic and new idea”,  because you can pick up all sorts of wood pencils and rural decor at a Tennessee or Kentucky truck stop.  So we call them,“Country Chic”, LOL, we are from Tennessee so we can make fun of it all we want :P

A main element for the party was an 8′ long 30″ high vinyl banner with illustrations from the book. I scanned & uploaded my pdf image and ordered the banner on sale at Vista Print.  I arranged these monsters specifically for their relationship to the guests.  The Wild Things were literally the size of the two year olds.  I double sided taped the banner to two cardboard science project boards and used it for a background where the kids played in the living room.  The kids loved it and now the banner lives wrapped around the 24″ cement column in our Brooklyn loft style apartment.  Hudson wouldn’t let me put it away when he saw me rolling it up after the party.

AND here’s the birthday boy, Hudson Oliver Berry, age two!  He had a ball at his party with all his little friends.  Luckily I caught his picture before the party because he had too much fun to hold still during the party ;)

As a very special birthday gift, Hudson received for his second birthday an Eames Elephant!  If you’d like to learn more about this elephant you can read my post about it HERE.

Lastly is a picture of what our guests saw first, a forest covered door that was my husband’s creation.  I solely let him have creative control over this decoration.  I had pictured the leaves arranged different when he explained that he wanted to put leaves on the door.  I was so happy with how it turned out and glad that I let him just do it.  We left it up for about a month!

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Happy Birthday Hubby Cake

We celebrated my husband’s birthday a few weeks ago.  He’s never too picky about a cake, he always tells me to just use the chance for experimenting a new idea.  Sometimes I let my daughter design the cake and she could have easily done this one.  I was inspired by a beautiful paper party napkin with colorful beaded shapes that I interpreted to be twisted streamers.  It was so simple to cut the irregular oval shapes in fondant and line them up marching up and down a plain white cake.  I would definitely recommend this as a DYI :)  Enjoy!

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Happy Beer Day Cake

It’s not really Beer Day, although I’m sure its a holiday somewhere.  This is what my husband said to me when I surprised him with a Guinness Chocolate Cake at 9am yesterday morning.  We came across this recipe in a People Magazine article featuring chief Brian Leth of Vinegar Hill House ( you can see the article here)  Vinegar Hill is a nearby (like 2 miles) Brooklyn neighborhood, one we don’t really explore, but ought to, and Im adding it to our list.  Anyway my husband’s birthday is next weekend and I always ask him what type of cake he’d like.  We had it narrowed down to a Red Velvet or repeat of last years Chocolate Strawberry Tallcake when he threw me for a loop asking for this Guinness cake.  We keep Guinness in the fridge regularly so I surprised him the next morning with the cake, which means I still get to bake what I had in mind next week :)

Chocolate Guinness Cake

The cake really does have a cup of Guinness Stout beer in it and yes I had to taste test the beer to make sure of its freshness…at 8am.  Tasted great!   Other than that it was a pretty standard cake recipe.  Here is the recipe per People Magazine:

Guinness Chocolate Cake

1 cup Guinness Stout

10 tbsp. butter unsalted butter, softened

6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

2 cups granulated sugar

6 tbsp. sour cream

2 large eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree. Butter a 9in springform pan and line with parchment paper

2 Heat Guinness and butter in large saucepan over medium-low until butter melts, remove from heat. Whisk in cocoa and sugar.

3. Combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; whisk into cocoa mixture.  Whisk in flour and baking soda.

4. Pour batter into pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until cake is firm.  Remove to wire rack; cool completely.  Remove from pan. Spread frosting on top.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat 8 oz. softened cream cheese until smooth; gradually add 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, beating at low speed just until blended.  Gradually add 1/2 cup cream; beat until blended.

I followed the recipe almost exact, except I used Salted Butter and more than 2 cups of powdered sugar in the icing.  I also baked it in two 8″ round pans so I could stack a pretty cake.    So can I taste the Guinness?  No not really, but it doesn’t taste like a standard chocolate cake either, more like a brownie that is on the bittersweet side.  My husband loved it regardless and was super excited that I surprised him and thats what matters most!

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Sugar Cube Igloo

Sugar cube igloo

We have a few holiday craft traditions and this spectacular sugar cube igloo is one of them.  Its so easy to make and will last for years if you take care of it.  I first saw this igloo in an Anthropologie store, they have the most creative displays of course but this one was practical enough to copy at home.  Instead of trying to stack up and create an igloo form like a real Eskimo, use half of styrofoam ball as the base.  Then its simple to glue on the sugar cubes with Elmers craft glue.  We styled our igloo display with Schleich animals dressed for the holidays with red string bows and a red liquorice tree that I made in using a styrofoam cone as well.

Sugar cube igloo, liquorice tree and Schleich animals Christmas decoration

Dont miss my next craft and christmas decoration post: Easy Candy Houses

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Snowflake Cake

One Christmas years ago, my husbands grandmother asked me if I would like to make the holiday cake for their family’s christmas dinner.  For as long as GranNana has had her own family she has made them a special coconut cake for christmas dinner.  So, YES I was very honored and nervous she was passing the torch on to me.  This was very early in my cake making life but my red velvet Snowflake cake knocked the socks off everyone!

Snowflake Cake by Nikki Berry

 
 I didnt want to try to recreate the coconut cake that my husband’s GranNana had made for over 50 years.  I needed to make something new and different and spectacular.  I knew that it would be white and red velvet, but it was a wedding cake covered in glistening snowflakes that inspired me to attempt a new decorating medium.   All of my cakes are a learning experience, I am self-taught in each technique I pick up.  This was my frist time using royal icing and although Im still nowhere near a pastry artist is piping skills, these simple snowflakes turned out just right.   The cake sat so proudly in my husband’s aunt’s antebellum formal dinning room and most of the 50 family member thought that years cake was ordered from a bakery.
 

Red Velvet Snowflake Christmas Cake

 
To make the royal icing snowflakes I traced images of illustrated snowflakes under wax paper.  I chose the best looking and unbroken snowflakes for the sides and piled full and partial snowflakes on the top.  It was a happy accident that it turned into a  lovely topper.
 
 

Royal Icing Snowflakes

This has always been one of my favorite cakes, I repeated it ( I dont usually repeat cakes) for Macy’s NewYears  Tea Party and plan to make it anytime I get the chance to show it off again. 

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December 1, 2011 · 10:59 pm

Halloween Madhatter Cake

Halloween Madhatter Birthday Cake

It’s offically Halloween season!   We are currently soaking up the rays in Seaside Florida but our thoughts are all about our decorations, costumes and treats.  Here I am sharing a Halloween Madhatter birthday cake I made a few years ago.  Madhatters or Topsy Turvy cakes are tough.  There are a few different techniques to make them.  Well, I’ve done them all and cant suggest one over the other.  All I’m going to say is this: google some cakes tutorials, try a practice cake first and just know that cakes are evil, gravity is against you and it might be a short-lived glory…..do the assembly just before the party!    I’ve also included the sketch I made to design the cake.  I usually do a sketch for client approval, nothing fancy but just like any other design I have to work it out on paper. 

Halloween Madhatter Cake Sketch

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Manhattan Cowgirl Birthday Party

Macy's 6th Birthday Cake

Fall is on its way and it has me thinking about cooler weather and fall parties.  Hot cider & cinnamon doughnuts, hay rides & barn parties.  A Cowgirl theme seems like a perfect fall birthday party theme to me.  Macy’s 6th birthday was Cowgirl themed…..but in NYC….in August…. and those city kids loved it! This is the first birthday party she had in NYC.  We had flown back home to Tennessee the previous 2 years.  If we had went to Tennessee for this party, it surely would have been in a barn, as we have plenty of family and friends with barns!  But Macy’s party was a “Manhattan Cowgirl” party, on a beautiful roof top garden of our apartment building in Lower Manhattan. This was the last party that she invited both boys and girls from her class.  Besides the heavy dose of pink the party it was gender friendly in games and activities and of course I didnt send the boys home with the pink boot favor bag…I got red ones for them and I used red and blue in some of the decorations too.

Macy's Cowgirl Birthday Cake

Cowgirl Cake

The centerpiece of the party was her Cowgirl cake made with layers of cow print, handkerchief paisley and rope detail.  The topper was a fondant Cowgirl hat.  For this cake I did a buttercream and fondant combination on the icing and decorations

Cowgirl Hat Invitation

For the invitation I choose a water colored hat by Julia D. Azar Designs.  I promise I really do make her invitations myself almost every year, but this was the year after the very labored Under the Sea shaker invitations and I needed a year off!

Lower Manhattan Roof Top Party

Macy's 6th Birthday On Our Lower Manhattan Roof Top

Who needs a barn with hay bales when you have this view for a party?  We were proud to host many parties on the roof top and club room of our building at 71 Broadway.  The view is amazing!  In the top picture the water beyond is the Hudson River and the New York Harbor.  In the bottom picture is the space that Trinity Church sits in and just to the right of the large black building you can see the Empire State building. Not visible from this picture, but we have many others, is a view right into Ground Zero.

Cowgirl (and Boy) Games

To keep the kids busy we played a few games.  “Lassoing the Horse” was tossing a hula hoop over a stuffed horse.  There was a “Stick Horse Race” in which they had to gallop (skip) to win. And a pull string pinata, I only do the pull string kind for safety (I was the kid that got hit in the face with the pinata stick growing up).  We’ve had some funny pinata stores over the years, this year the kid that grab hold of the magic string pulled so hard the pinata horses body came detached from its head.  Jake and I thought it was halirous….a few other parents watching…not so funny.

Cowgirl and Cowboy Dress up pictures

During the party I photographed many of the guests in Cowgirl or Cowboy costumes that we provided.  Some of the girls even showed up in their own cowboy boots, that made it even better.  My sister changed the color of the picture to sepia and added their names in a cowboyish style font in Picnik. Macy sent the prints as keepsakes in their thank you notes.

Macy's 6th Birthday Cowgirl Party Wear

 Planing for Macy’s party outfit is always apart of the party process.  This year she was ecstatic that we ordered her a real hat and boots from Texas!  Pairing them with a tutu and embellished tank made them more her style and her Cowgirl Party outfit was so cute that we had her picture made in it.
YA’LL COME BACK, YA HEAR!

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Woodland Fairy Birthday Party

Macy’s Woodland Fairie Party

I am so pleased to share this birthday party with everyone!    Macy’s 9th birthday was a Woodland Fairie theme.  I think that you will find it an inspiration for a Woodland Party theme for a boy or girl.   In the previous 8 years of Macy’s birthday parties I had not done a fairy theme and I wanted to get one last little girl party in before they all became Hollywood Glamour and Spa Day parties. My vision was inspired by our favorite cafe and I felt that this type of fairy theme was more appropriate for a 9 year old girl than the tutu and wings type. As always my children’s parties are a big production in our home, we begin planing sometimes months in advance and I design and make nearly everything myself.   I hope you find an inspiring idea for your next party in this post.

Woodland Fairy Invitation

After the party theme was  approved by the birthday girl, I started with searching for the invitation that would set the style.  I usually make them myself but when I discovered the perfect invitation by B. Nute productions, I was very glad to let someone else take care of it for me.  I was interested in a invitation that was a more graphically lavish than what I can create and her whimsical and vintage style was exactly what I had in mind to set the tone for the party design, you can see her site and with many other beautiful designs here.

Macy’s Woodland Cake

This Woodland Cake is an original that I designed and created.  The bottom layer is a dummy cake covered in fondant, carved and hand painted to look faux bois.  It turned out fantastic!  Painting fondant is super easy, just the color gels and lemon extract is needed.  I enjoyed rendering in watercolor in design school and found painting the fondant to be a lot like that.  In fact I enjoyed painting this dummy cake so much that I think I’m going to do a little bit of real watercolor soon!  The top cake is chocolate (macy said to represent earth!) and has a white chocolate ganache layer before I added fondant.  I started doing ganache under my fondant cakes last year and I love everyone of them!  It gives the cake a more solid surface to except the fondant and Ive found it easy to build up any uneven sides or corners in the ganche.  I achieve an almost flawless fondant covering every time!  The number 9, toadstools and grass are fondant, the flowers are purchased from my favorite cake supplies store NY Cake on 22nd street in the flat iron district and the butterflies are hand piped chocolate from this tutorial from http://www.chefmommy-brandao.blogspot.com.

Woodland Fairie Dessert Table Details

The details really do make up this dessert table, I put a lot of thought into the display and vessel type to make sure the theme was strongly represented.  Fairy Dust in glass tubes hung from the branches and were part of the favors going home with the guests, printable straw flags cut to length made a perfect label.  I found this birch covered bowl at a shop in the NYC flower district and placed florist foam in it to display the Sparkly Fairy Wand cake pops.  The soda of choice for Woodland Fairies must be “root” beer!  Mine were served with a paper straw that I know you have never seen displayed like this before! The idea came to me to place the straws in tags by B.Nute productions simply out of need, as I had not found the perfect vessel to hold them all in a group!   Wood slices are a must have on any rustic or woodland table display.  Adding decorative stones and moss, it becomes a very complete Fairy Cake display

There were a few other support areas around our home that received some party decorating as well. Favor bags of simple paper sacks and printed labels sat at the door to pass out as guests left.  I choose to not clutter the dessert table with the extra Fairy Cakes and paper goods, but still thoughtfully displayed them on our kitchen island.  Guest were greeted with a small display of nature from a cake dome full of pine cones and other dried naturals, a birds nest and flowers.

Le Petit Cake Brooklyn, NY

For brunch we walked two blocks away to the cafe that inspired the Woodland theme.  This cafe design is so amazing, I cant believe that it is only two blocks from our home, it looks like it was imported from Disney World.  I padded the party time an extra hour to work in the walk and wait for our table.

Woodland Party Decorations

To make ordering easier on us and our server I gave the girls the choose of 5 basic brunch items and wrote them on little menu cards before we headed to the cafe.  The girls just showed the card to the server to place their order, genius right?   The menu card and welcome sign I designed were compliments to B. Nute productions Woodland Fairie tags.  I found the stick boarder on a web site offering public domain images from old books called http://www.fromoldbooks.org.  The Twig pencils were part of the favors the girls took home.

Macy and I brainstormed the idea of a Treasure Hunt for lost things.  Inspired by stories of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, we came up with the idea of trinkets and magical fairy items to search for.  My favorite item was the Rattle which represents “a baby’s first laugh”.  From the story of Peter Pan, this is when a fairy is born!  Gathering the items for the treasure hunt was a treasure hunt for me!  It was a lot of fun to do and most of the items were found in craft stores.  I used a border image from http://www.fromoldbooks.org again to design the sign and treasure hunt card that complimented our other party decorations.  The images on the treasure hunt card came from http://www.graphicsfairy.blogspot.com, I love her images!

Fairy Houses Craft

The girls did a craft decorating fairie houses.  Macy has made real fairie houses in the woods at camp with Girl Scouts.  Those houses were made out of all natural materials like twigs and leaves.  We pre-painted small birdhouses dark brown to give a natural material feel but I felt that the girls would have more fun if the decorations were sparkly.

Woodland Fairy Dessert Table

Now that Macy is 9, she helps out a lot with the preparation of her parties (she made all the toadstools on the cake!).  She is a crafter like me and during one of our working days she sat beside me while I made the fabric bunting, turning my sewing scraps into fairy clothes,  They were quite impressive!  She also loves to share her opinion and ideas, for this party table she came up with the idea to place small sparkly pompoms hiding in the branches to represent our Woodland Fairies.  Our fairies were shy but you can see one of them above tucked in the berries.

What gave this dessert table its woodland presence was the sticks and wreath on the wall.  The Queen Fairy looks over the party with such grace!  I also found her from Graphics Fairy and spray mounted her to the same kraft paper as the table runner.  Tying it to a grapevine wreath made it look like a Woodland Portrait. Wondering how I got those sticks (that my wonderful husband gathered in Prospect Park for me) to hang on the wall?  I have some great pictures of how I made that and the wreath hang  that I will share in a Behind the Scenes of the Party post. I also made the felt toadstools for the dessert table and now sell them by the set on my Etsy Shop.

I hope you have enjoyed my daughters party pictures!  I have designed her parties for 9 years and my son’s for 1 year, as well as a few years of my nieces parties.  I am slowly getting all of my previous parties into blog posts, so be sure to check back often to see whats new!

 

UPDATE:  Due to much demand  I have decided to give away my treasure hunt printable for free!   You may download the file HERE

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Perfectly Pink Barbie Cake

Perfectly Pink Party Barbie Cake

Macy had a Perfectly Pink Pool Party for her 7th birthday party.  This was her second birthday cake for her 7th birthday, the first was for her actual birthday and was a Rose Petal Barbie cake, see it here.  To make this cake I had to basically design a dress first!  She wasnt elaborate but with the texture changes and flowers it turned out to be a very pretty cake.  Her oversized flower corsage on the bodice was very modern, I’d wear a dress that had a corsage like this!  This being my 2nd Barbie cake made with the Wilton Doll mold, I became more comfortable with dressing the doll pick bodice.  I used the Wilton doll pick with a real Barbie head and tucked the fondant all the way under the waist to elminate the need to conceal the meeting point of waist and cake.  The ruffled trim around her waist is a full circle at the top of the dress mold and the doll pick is placed on top.  I love when I can achieve a tailored finish like this!  Macy requested the birthday package to be in her hands with a candle but I didnt atempt that, I’m sure it can be done but the Wilton doll pick has very flimsy arms and it cant just balance.  So a larger package with all 7 candles sitting on the ground worked out great.  What didnt turn out great was my idea to make a ruffled underskirt at the bottom out of regular icing.  It was too soft to work with in the transportation of the cake since she sat on a cake board just the size of the ball gown.  A larger cake board or a stiffer medium will be my suggestion to anyone that would like to do this cake.

Perfectly Pink Party Barbie Cake

Macy's Perfectly Pink Party Barbie Cake

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Rose Petal Barbie Cake

Rose Petal Barbie Cake

I created this Rose Petal Barbie Cake for Macy’s 7th birthday.  She was my first Barbie cake using the Wilton Doll Cake mold.  This design is simple but creating all the petals are tedious. To make them I made three colors and three sizes.  They are formed by starting with a circle and then curling it and thinning out the edges to give it a natural shape.  My sister actually helped me crank them out and she added the leaf around the waist idea to conceal the area where doll waist meets cake.  Her dress is completed with a flower necklace.  I dont like to write on most of my cakes and it has become my signature to make a plaque to write a simple name.  For this Barbie I used the Wilton doll pick but changed the head with one of Macy’s real Barbie’s.  We snuck her to dinner that night and she was brought out by the wait staff singing Happy Birthday, Macy was so proud for everyone in the restaurant to see her fabulous Barbie cake!

Rose Petal Barbie Cake's Flower Necklace

Macy's Rose Petal Barbie Cake

I have a few other Barbie cakes that you’d love to see too!

Hawaiian Barbie and The Luau Pool Party

Mermaid Barbie and Mermaid Kelly in the Under the Sea Parties

Perfectly Pink Barbie and the Perfectly Pink Pool Party (coming soon)

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