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Life's A Beach!

Life's A Beach!
Celebrate Summer by Creating a Beachy Topper! Click on photo for tutorial!



Friday, December 23, 2011

Gumpaste Star

Tutorial by Edna De La Cruz
All rights Reserved 2011

This material may not be republished or reproduced in any manner without the expressed permission of the author.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Key LIme Cookie Tree Centerpiece

Key Lime Cookie Tree
Ingredients and Supplies
·                        1 cup butter (no substitutes)
·                        1/2 cup sugar
·                        1/4 cup Nellie and Joes’ key lime juice
·                        1 teaspoon vanilla
·                        2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
·                        ¼  cup confectioner’s sugar
·                       2 tablespoon meringue powder
·                        1/4 cup warm water 

                     + 2 tablespoons key lime juice
·                        3 cups sifted powdered sugar
·                        1 teaspoon vanilla
·                        1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
·                        1 - 2 colors assorted paste food coloring-

                     mint green, teal, aqua
·                        Rolling Pin
·                        Parchment Paper
·                        2” and 1” leaf cookie cutters
·                        Thin bamboo skewers, cut to 3” lengths
·                        Tooth picks
·                        Piping bags
·                        #2 or #3 piping tip
·                        Glue
·                        6 inch Styrofoam cone
                          6-8” plastic plate or covered cardboard cake circle
·                        Small needlenose craft pliers
·                        Confectioner’s Sugar for decorating
                         silver and/or gold dragees (optional)
·                        White Sparkle gel
                         Star shaped lollipop
·                               1. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat
in sugar until combined. Beat key lime juice, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill 1 hour or overnight until easy to handle.
·                               2. Sprinkle Parchment paper with confectioner’s sugar. Roll each portion
of dough on a lightly dusted surface until 1/4-inch thick. Cut out using floured light leaf-shape cookie cutters. Lift away unused cookie dough, wrapping in plastic wrap and place back in refrigerator to cool. Insert bamboo skewer into larger leaf cookies, and toothpick into center of small leaf cookies. 

(If skewer is exposed, pinch dough up around the skewer to cover, then place that side down on the parchment
paper. )  Place the parchment with cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.
·                               3. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown around edges. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Allow to cool completely before icing the leaves.

·                               4. For icing: combine meringue powder, warm water, key lime juice, powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, then on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until smooth and of spreading consistency. Divide into portions and color with aqua, teal, and mint green paste food coloring. Use at once to frost cookies.

·                               5. Fill piping bag with icings and pipe a Line around the edge of each cookie.

When finished, thin remaining icing with water until proper consistency for flooding cookiesIcing is ready to fill  in outlines when a small amount dropped  from a spoon into the mixture disappears on the count of ten..

  Place on racks until set.
·                               6.Glue Styrofoam cone onto a plastic  plate or covered cake circle. ( I inverted a clear plastic plate purchased from the dollar store.) Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar onto the cone.

·                               7. Starting at the bottom, carefully push the larger cookies into the Styrofoam cone using a pair of small needlenose craft pliers on skewers and toothpickes. Do not push on cookies as they will break. 

Continue adding cookies , using large cookies at bottom, then adding smaller cookies toward the top of cone. Use leftover small leaf cookies to fill in gaps on lower part of cone.

·                               8.To decorate the tree, run a small line of sparkle gel around the tips
of cookies to resemble icicles.  Place dragees on the tips of leaves. The sparkle gel will hold the dragees in place. Sprinkle the tree with confectioners sugar to resemble snow. Cut stem of lollipop to 2” and
place the star lollipop on top of the tree by inserting stem into upper tip of cone.

 Tutorial and photography by Jacque Benson
All rights reserved 2011

This material may not be republished or reproduced in any manner without the expressed permission of the author.

Recipe inspired and adapted from

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Let's Call it even!-Strategies for Baking Even Cake Layers

One thing I love as a baker is when the layers come out of the oven, not only
evenly baked, but level too!

Through the years, from here and there, I have picked up a few great tips 
for baking those even layers.  Through teachers, books, the internet and even Mom, I
have garnered a few tips along the way.
Hopefully these tips may help you become a happy baker too!

I start by cutting parchment paper to fit the inside of the pan. Using parchment paper helps keep the bottom of cake from baking too dark a crust, releasing the cake from the pan very easily.
Directions Here
for correctly cutting parchment liners.

Another tool I use is Baking Strips.
Before mixing the batter, just soak the strips in water for about 1/2 hour, then wring out excess water.  These will be wrapped around the perimeter of the pan and will help to bake very even layers without humps.

The third baking tool that is essential for even baking is a heating core, especially when the cake pan measures 10" or more.
There are two type methods to ensure even baking in the center of your cake layer.

The first way uses a commerical heating core
You can find these anywhere that sells Wilton supplies.

  1.  Prepare the pan and the heating core by either greasing the bottom and sides with vegetable shortening, then flouring the sides lightly;   (or spray the bottom and sides with a prepared baking spray, such as Bake Easy, Baker's Joy with Flour, Baking Pam with Flour.)

2.Place a precut parchment paper over the bottom of pan. Grease or Spray the parchment paper lightly and place the prepared (greased and floured) heating core in the center of the pan.

 3. Wrap the pan with damp Baking Strips, and secure with pin.

 4. Pour the batter into your pan evenly, as well as into the heating core.

The second way to add a heating core to your pan is to use
an inverted stainless steel Flower Nail.

 1. Grease and flour pan...or spray with Baking Spray.

 2. Push Flower nail into the center of precut parchment paper.

 3. Place on bottom of pan, and lightly grease or spray parchment paper and flower nail.

4. Pour the batter evenly in pan, already prepared with secured dampened baking strip.
 5. Bake the cake layers in oven, leaving plenty of space for even baking air flow.
No matter what the recipe says, for the average cake, I check at 28 minutes. 
Most cakes are fully baked with the 28-30 minute time frame, depending on the size and depth of the pan, as well as the density of the recipe.

 6. When cake layers are fully baked, remove from oven onto a baking rack.

After about 5 minutes, remove the heating core by lifting out of the center.

 Cover the pans with waxed paper and invert onto baking rack to cool completely.

 Once the layer is inverted, lift the flower nail from the center.
The parchment paper enables the removal without destroying the center of the layer.

 Allow the layers to cool completely. See how beautifully even they are?

 Place the cake from the heating core in the center, then cut even with
the height of the layer.
This is a german chocolate cake.
Once completely cooled,it will be filled with coconut pecan filling.
No leveling needed, nor humps cut from the middle.

Once filled, it was iced with a milk chocolate ganache.
After chilling well, the cake was glazed with a bittersweet ganache.

So by adding a few steps at the beginning, 
I was able to eliminate a few messy steps before stacking the cake!

Happy Baking!

Tutorial and Photos
Jacque Benson
All Rights Reserved

This material may not be republished or reproduced in any manner without the expressed permission of the author.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sugar Glass Butterflies by Jennifer Dontz

I am SUPER excited to bring you this tutorial. This extremely EASY process, makes the most beautiful crystal look butterflies and leaves I've ever seen.

Let's get started!

1. Using isomalt sticks, melt them in the microwave. You need a container that will take the hot sugar. Be careful not to burn the sugar. Cook it just until melted. Once melted, let it sit on the counter for a couple minutes. This will bring the air bubbles to the surface.

ALWAYS wear some sort of glove when working with hot sugar. You can easily whip that glove off, but not your skin, if you get some on it :-) I like to use the Wilton measuring cups. They work well for me, but I am not endorsing them. Use at your own risk. 

Pour one of each side of the butterfly wings. You can use Americolors to color your sugar. Drop color into hot sugar, wait for it to stop sizzling and then gently stir it in.

Here's a link to the isomalt sticks.    
Isomalt Sticks
(This link is to the clear ones but we also handle some very pretty colors as well.)

2. Taking a Show Peel mat, pour some of the hot sugar on to the surface and quickly spread it to all the out edges of the mold, using a toothpick.

If it hardens to fast, you can quickly take a small torch like a cream brulee torch, and heat it back up. You shouldn't hurt the mold if you do it quickly. Let it dry.

Here's a link to the mini bugs Show Peel:

3. Peel the mold off and you now have two butterfly wings.

4. Taking the two wings, dip each one just a bit down at the center of each wing where it would touch the body, into the hot sugar. I would say dip it around 1/8" into the hot sugar. Taking the two wings press them together in the middle and the sugar will compress and make a body. Do this directly on the Show Peel mat or a silpat mat if you have one. At this stage you could add some stamens if you wanted. We just got in some super fine stamens from overseas. They are very hard to find and would be perfect for this.

Here's a link to the stamens:

Isn't it simply GORGEOUS!!! I put the vein side down but you can put them together however you wish. Here's one on a cake (you just attach it with a small amount of hot sugar):

We also have another Show Peel mat that has gorgeous leaves on it.
You could make beautiful crystal leaves for your wedding cakes.

It's the same process as above. If you take the piece off of the mat while it's still a little warm, you can gently bend and conform it they way you want the shape to be. Or you can hit it with the torch as well.

You can do this with the butterflies as well if you don't want the wings perfectly straight.

Here's a link to the beautiful assorted leaf Show Peel

Keep in mind, both of these mats have several shapes/forms on them. If you click on the picture on our site, it will give you an idea of size. Each mat is about the size of a normal piece of paper. Here's the mini bugs mats up close:

And the assorted leaves: (I think the leaves with the bubble in them would look great on seaside cakes)

Also, some tips when working with sugar:

  1. You shouldn't take a container that has hot sugar in it and then add cold sticks to remelt in the microwave. 
  2. All sugar in the container needs to be the same temperature. You can burn the sugar that is already hot by doing this. 
  3. In order to keep the nice shine to these, you need to do one of the following. Either spray with with edible lacquer or brush clear confectioners glaze on it or mix a 50/50 mix of baking soda and vodka and apply.   I have not tried any of the above, but will be trying all of them :-) 
  4. Also, isomalt is diabetic candy. So if someone wishes to eat it, they should only eat a small amount. Consuming a bunch can give one a stomach ache.

Have fun with this!
What a wonderful, EASY method for creating hot sugar pieces without the hassle of cooking to temperature. 

I'm am quite sure you will WOW your customers with these!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.


This tutorial was published with permission of Jennifer Dontz / SugarDelites Copyright 2011
The material and photos contained in this post may not be copied and republished in any form without permission from the author.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

This is by far one of the best Strawberry cakes out there!
It is moist and bursting with flavor not to mention the cream cheese icing that puts it over the top .
You have to admit it looks awful pretty too!

Strawberry Cake with
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting


1 18.25-ounce box white cake mix
1 3-ounce box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
15 ounces frozen strawberries in sugar, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

  • Combine cake mix and gelatin in a large bowl. 
  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat in pureed strawberries, eggs, oils, and water until smooth.
    • Pour batter into pans, dividing the batter equally between them.( I used 2- 8 inch pans.)
      • Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
        • Cool in pans 15 minutes. Then, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

          Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting


          1/4 cup butter, softened
          8 ounces cream cheese, softened
          3 ounces frozen strawberries in sugar, thawed and pureed
          6 cups confectioners’ sugar
          strawberries for garnish (optional)

          • With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
          • Beat in strawberries. 
          • Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.
          • Spread frosting on cake, covering between layers, on top, and on the sides.
          • Garnish with fresh strawberries.

            Recipe from Bake or Break

            Photography by Diane Marks 
            All rights reserved 2011
            Photos may not be reproduced without permission of
            Diane Marks

            Tuesday, August 9, 2011

            Sparkling Summer Sugar Cookies

            Sparkling Summer Sugar Cookies


            Butter Cookie Dough

            1 cup butter, softened
            1/4 cup light brown sugar
            1/2 cup granulated sugar
            1/4 tsp salt ( omit if using salted butter)
            1 egg
            1/2 tsp vanilla
            2-3 drops orange oil 
            2 cups+2 Tblsp all purpose flour
            1/3 cup finely ground pecans or almonds

            Large Gumdrops ( discard the black )

            Colored Sanding sugar

            With an electric mixer, cream butter with granulated and brown sugar. Beat in egg. 
            Add vanilla and orange oil. Gradually mix in flour.
            Mix ground almonds with confectioners sugar. Add to dough.

            Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill well for easier handling.
            If when rolling or cutting with cookie the dough becomes too soft, simply chill for about 10 minutes.

            When ready to roll out, divide dough into 4 pieces. 
            Place between sheets of wax paper and roll very thin, about 1/8".

            Remove the top sheet of wax paper.

            Using a 3" Blossom cookie cutter, cut Flower shaped cookies.

            Lift away excess dough, gathering scraps. 
            Wrap unused dough in plastic wrap and keep chilled, 
            repeating process until all dough is used.

            Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
             Flip cookies onto parchment paper and gently remove wax paper.

            Bake in a 325 degree oven for 9-10 minutes.

            While cookies are baking, cut gumdrops
            horizontally about 3/4 way down using clean scissors.

            Place the gumdrops cut side down on plastic wrap.
            Set aside.

            When edges of the cookies become a golden brown,
            remove from oven and slide parchment with cookies onto a cooling rack.

            Immediately place the gumdrops, cut side down, in the center of the cookies.

             While still warm, sprinkle the perimeter of the cookies with 
            a colored sanding sugar. I chose pink.
             Remove from parchment paper with a spatula onto a cooling rack
            and cool completely.
             Arrange on a pretty plate and enjoy the glittering cookies.
            You know how fairies love sparkly things and sweets, so leave
            a few out for them tonight too!

            Tutorial and Photography by Jacque Benson
            Copyright 2011
            This material may not be republished or reproduced in any manner without the expressed permission of the author.

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            ENJOY EACH DAY!


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