Filly turns two tomorrow! Because I can’t be bothered to plan a party the last few occasions, I do my best with the birthday cake. You should all know by now that my crude, if cute, Robot Cake for Fella’s third made a list (in a good way) but Filly’s first birthday cake was tastier than it was pretty. I can blame that on a lot of things, but I’ll start with the silicon pan. The butterfly cake was one of those things that is a bunch of strangely shaped cupcakes that fit together like tangrams to make a larger picture, but I overfilled the pan and there were too many narrow corners and the whole thing just didn’t sit well. I had trouble frosting it, no clear vision of how to decorate a butterfly, and she didn’t want it anyway. (Filly’s just not that into baked goods.)
The robot cake was a study in rectangles and candy, and made up in charm what it lacked in finesse. I used the leftover pieces to make two cakes, one twice the area of the other, to celebrate the day that Fella was exactly twice Filly’s age.
I also made some cupcakes for Valentine’s Day this year, but I haven’t really made anything since, but I’ve eaten and seen some beautifully decorated cakes at little kids’ parties, and I was determined to step it up. My mother brought over her old cake decorating tips and bags and tints from my childhood, still stored in the Tupperware of my youth. Either I was using very good and forgiving tools, or I was inspired by the visions of the beautiful cakes from my own birthday parties, or I sufficiently read instructions, or my hands are tired of giving me sloppy work and decided all on their own to step it up, or it really isn’t that hard to do when you aren’t up at midnight trying to decorate the damn thing so you can frikkin go to bed so you can get up early enough in the morning to clean the frikkin floors, but the Flower cake is so cute!
I didn’t really have a theme in mind, until I saw a flower-shaped pan at Party City. I was going to decorate it like a sunflower, with yellow icing and chocolate chips in the middle, but then Mother bought some cute little flowered outfit for Filly to wear tomorrow, and I was inspired by the flowers in the fabric. I went with those colors instead.
I was going to use little white marshmallows for the center, but I didn’t have any in the house, and they were starting to seem too big in my mind for the space. I ended up with dots of frosting and I think it looks just fine. I wanted a bluer green for the green, but I am happy with the green that I got. I added pink as an afterthought, because the blue and green and white just seemed to be missing one thing. My mother’s friend is a feng shui advisor or something, and once told me that my gray and white and silver kitchen (it was like that when we moved here) needed something red or orange, and she was right. Because I had puh-lenty of frosting (two pounds of powdered sugar’s worth!) it was easy to whip up a small batch of pink. Because I had so many tips and tools, I didn’t even have to clean one small mess before making another one!
It was altogether easy, in the end. Too easy. I am half-expecting that the wax paper will stick to the frosting in the fridge overnight and mess up the pattern, but the frosting that I made gets a little crusty and dry because there’s not that much liquid in it (I refer you once again to the recipe on the back of the powdered sugar box), so the wax paper really wasn’t sticking at all when I covered it. Time will tell, but I am only half-expecting that the paper will wreck the cake because I am generally pessimistic; my cold, logical brain is telling me that it will be just fine. No matter what, Filly won’t care, I’ve already taken my show pictures, and I’ll be serving Thai food. Thai food cures all ills.
I am starting to think I need some better platter, though–many cakes of mine have been presented on my old bread board covered with tin foil. It’s bright and cheerful, but it reflects light in a funny way. I have nice dishes for cakes, but the ones I make are always too wide. Perhaps my next cake experiment will be to go vertical…
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
I could have sworn–SWORN–that I had a box of white cake mix in the cupboard. I know I bought one, and I think I ended up using it on the Valentine’s Day cupcakes. But I have absolutely no recollection of ever buying a chocolate cake mix. (The flower cake is chocolate.) The buttercream frosting I made was basically white/vanilla, so I’ve been thinking all week that I would make a batch of chocolate cookies to accompany the white cake. Not chocolate chip–chocolate cookies. I got a few recipe recommendations that were too fancy and insisted on things like stand mixers with paddle attachments and high-quality baking chocolate, but that was way too fussy for me. I found a simple, basic recipe that allowed me to easily substitute Hershey’s baking cocoa for real chocolate, and so required no pan for melting. I found it at About.com of all places, a site I actually hate (although far less so now that I don’t allow pop-ups anymore), and yet keep finding recipes on. This particular recipe (linked to above) is hosted by Diana Rattray and maybe posted by her, too, and it was easy and yummy. Amazingly, my cookies came out looking exactly like the cookies in the picture, so I can spare you all from more bad pictures of tasty food.
I was all set Tuesday night to make these cookies, until I realized it was already 9:00 PM and the dough needed two hours to chill. Wednesday night I just frittered away, but yesterday afternoon I mixed it up and put it in the refrigerator until after the kids went to bed. By that point I had discovered I had only a chocolate cake mix in the house (thus rendering the whole point of making chocolate cookies redundant) and was less than enthusiastic about it. Plus it’s the kind of dough that you have to roll into balls in your hands, and it starts to smear this really unappetizing squishy brown. It made way more than four dozen, and it felt like I was there for an hour rolling this crap, and then suddenly my hands were clean, the cookies were in the oven, and the buzzer was ringing before I even had a chance to complain about it in my Facebook status.
Once they were made, I was a lot happier about the cookies. They came in handy this morning when I needed to dash out the door without having a proper breakfast, and they came in handy this evening, when my father stopped by for a pre-party visit. The cookies aren’t terribly sweet, which is good. They are soft and sort of like an airy brownie. I know that doesn’t really make sense, but they would probably be excellent in coffee and you will want to coat them in powdered sugar. I think they need the sweetness boost even if you didn’t care that they wouldn’t be crinkly without cracks appearing in a white outer layer.
I think I did good work this week. Any cake is good cake, but cute cake is something special. And I have made some cute cake. There. I said it aloud. It’s on the table, as it were. Now you all can talk openly about how cute this cake is without feeling embarrassed about having to broach the subject. It’s the least I can do for people who won’t be around to share it.