Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Somehow, I have become an amateur, and I do mean amateur cake officianado. It started with a pink princess castle for my neice's 6th birthday. It was crumby and, in my opinion, a little store-bought-tasting, but it made Haley giggle so - worth it. I even candy-dipped various shapes of ice cream cones and fashioned them into towers and butresses. Unfortunately, the oh-so-professional shots of this "masterpiece" were lost in the great phone collapse of 2009. This has taught me the value of documenting the arc of my cake decorating proficiency on a more permanent, searchable media...the blog.

These pictures are of the cakes I did for my dad's 61st birthday/family vacation in Palm Springs. The first is of the

Almond-Chocolate-Coconut Monstrosity

Here's the recipe:

  • 1 boxed Devils Food Cake mix, prepared to pour into pan

  • 1 boxed Yellow Cake mix, prepared to pour into pan

  • 1/2 cup of chopped roasted peanuts (lightly salted)

  • 1/2 cup of flaked coconut

  • 3 cans store-bought chocolate icing (not the whipped kind)

  • 1 1/2 tsps of almond extract

Prepare the two cake batters in separate mixing bowls (you'll obviously need the eggs, oil, and water prescribed on the box).

Spray two identically shaped 9x13 pans with butter flavored cooking spray. Pour half of one batter into one pan and half of the other batter into the other pan. Use a 1/4 c. measuring cup to plop doses of the leftover batters into the opposing pans (i.e. drop yellow into the chocolate pan and chocolate into the yellow pan.) Then, take a butter knife and drag through the pans cross-ways then long-ways to create cool swirly patterns.

Bake, cool, and remove from pans according to box directions. When cool, use a long serrated knife to even the two cakes into flat, stackable layers. Each cake will be a layer. Place strips of parchment paper down around the edges of your cake plate, just under where the cake will lay to protect you from icing overage. Place one cake down. Stir 1/2 tsp of almond extract into each can of frosting. Generously frost just the top of this first layer. Sprinkle with peanuts then coconut. Put the second cake on top, bottom side up to create a smooth top. Frost the whole cake, top with peanuts and coconut. Add more if you want a lot of crunch. Remove the parchment strips and serve. Makes 20 generous servings.

Hint: Yes, this is a rip-off of a Semi-Homemade recipe from Sandra Lee. But who's family only has 8 people? Not mine. Her recipe had to be altered. Love you, Sandy!

Alternate Ending: I think it would have been really yummy with a raspberry extract in the frosting and some canned cherries instead of peanuts. This could really be done a million ways by changing the extracts and additions.

Well, kids can be picky, so I also made cupcakes in case coconut and almond extract were too fussy. So, the second "cake" was a collective of cupcakes decorated to resemble a golf course.

61st Hole Cupcakes

  • 19 funfetti cupcakes (just because I know the kids like funfetti)

  • 2 cans of vanilla frosting

  • food coloring (getting the Wilton kind helps keep the consistency of the frosting right)

  • Nilla Wafers


Bake and cool cupcakes according to directions on the box. (Boxes typically make 24 cupcakes, so you'll have a snack while you work, or you could use all the cupcakes and create a more elaborate hole.) Crush 2-3 Nilla wafers in a resealable bag. Frost a couple cupcakes with the white frosting and top with your Nilla "sand." Tint some frosting a watery blue and frost a few cupcakes to be the water hazard. Tint the remainder of the frosing a bright green and frost the rest of the cupcakes. Place them all together to fashion your golf course. Add more dark green coloring to your green frosting to make the color for the "rough." Load that into a gallon-sized resealable bag and snip a small hole. Using this dark green color, pipe an outline for your fairway, crossing from cupcake to cupcake to start making it look like one "cake." Now fill in everywhere that is the rough with a quick zig-zag motion to create manicured grass. It doesn't have to be perfect, it's grass for heaven's sake. Make sure you outline the sandtrap and water hazard with a little grass too.

Extra touch: I glued two flag-shaped pieces of paper to the non-pointy end of a toothpick and wrote "61" for my dad's birthday. This could obviously be changed to any number. I stuck a mini chocolate chip (point down) where the hole should be and planted the flag next to it. Then a white non-pariel went down at the tee. It was proportional, but a little hard to see. Maybe a little less accurate and a little more visibility next time.

This post is dedicated to my mom. She would have been 61 today. And to Sheila Hooper who went to party it up with Mom and Jesus a year ago. We miss you both. Save the Tatas!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Over the last few years, I've received a lot of questions about how I do the things I do, especially in regards to hostessing, etc. Well, it's time to pull back the veil of mystery... I do nothing from scratch, few things from 100% original design, and everything with the Joy of the Lord. The purpose of this blog is to show you how to do it too...and hopefully impart a little of the Joy. It's fun for me to do this kind of stuff, so why not share it with you? So, the next time you see a plate of my cupcakes topped with hand-sculpted candy butterflies, or attend a lunch for 100 that I had 24 hours to throw together, don't think, "This is too hard." Think, "I've got to check out Dahoney Designs to see all her short-cuts."