Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Eat More Chicken

At least that is what Tom Turkey wants you to do!

I made this little topsy for our family dinner tomorrow at my sis's. I used this tutorial from the great site, Pastry Whiz, to make Tom.

Steak is good for Thanksgiving, no?

Look at that scared little face!

Giving Thanks.

Today I give thanks for all the wonderful blessings in my life, namely my incredible family and friends, without whom life would have no meaning. I also give thanks for all of you. You have all enriched my life in ways I cannot explain. I thank you for your business, your friendship, and your talent. I wish each and every one of you a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving day.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Yum to the Oh!

That is hip talk for Yummo. I know, lame attempt. I may not be hip but I can sure make a mean cake ball.

Hail the cake ball in all its glory.

Cakes balls (also known as cake bites for the more demure) have been popular on the cake message boards for as long as I can remember. It's a great way to use up the scraps you save in your freezer when you level and carve your cakes. What? You don't freeze your scraps? Well, you must start to do so now so you can partake of this delightfully delicious delicacy.

I usually have a boat load of scraps in my freezer at any give time. Since we travel the globe on holidays (OK, we house hop, but traveling the globe sounds more glamorous), it is the perfect time to get those scraps out and do some rolling!

My son J said he would make them with me, but I got ditched for a playdate with a friend. So I was thrown into cake ball world all alone. No worries... I put a little music on, got a big fizzy Diet Coke from the gas station (fountain only of course!), and I went to town.

You will find many variations of how people make the balls. Some add icing or filling or liquid flavored coffee creamers to the scraps and then mash them all up. I find that makes a mushy ball with my cake recipe, and I don't care for that. I find the cake to be moist enough that if I just squoosh and moosh the scraps together very well, they bind together perfectly and are wonderfully moist as is.

I roll the balls and dip them right away into melted chocolate. Some folks freeze/chill the balls before dipping, but when I do that the chocolate cracks from the cold. I just dip them right away and they hold their shape beautifully .

I use candy melts (also known as candy coating) rather than "normal" chocolate. Candy melts do not have to be tempered. Regular chocolate must be tempered or it will bloom (get terrible white spots all over it). Melts are not as high of a grade of chocolate, but they taste fine to me, plus you won't see any tempering going on around these parts. ( Too lazy, um I mean overbooked). If the chocolate is a little old (or cheap), it might not melt to a very smooth liquid state. In that case, I add some melted paramount crystals to get it flowing nicely again. It also gives the shells a nice soft bite in the mouth and they do not crumble all in your hands.

So now I have about a bajillion cake balls in Tupperware ready to travel the globe with us on Thursday. Hope you guys try it out if you have not already.


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Design Gallery is on sale now!

The Design Gallery DVD is now on sale and will be shipping the week of December 8th! Makes for a great stocking stuffer or little Christmas gift to yourself. As always, a portion of all profits are donated to the support of Klinefelter Syndrome.

The Gallery displays over 130 photos of some of my favorite cake designs. They are set to nice background music and arranged into 7 separate categories for your viewing convenience. I narrate a few things about each cake; mentioning tools and techniques used, helpful hints and how to avoid some problems. It will run about one hour, give or take a little bit.

Click here to get more detailed info.

We also have brand new items in stock:

Baby bootie cutters
Clay Gun
Frill cutter sets
Pearl makers
Ribbon strip cutter

And we have many other items on sale:

Textured rollers
Palette knife


Santa says this is a great time to start your holiday shopping!

Thank you everyone!
Sharon and the SugarEd Staff

And last but not least, I owe a huge thank you to my BFF Heather for designing the DVD cover and being webmaster of the SugarEd site. Thank you, H. You are the best!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

What a great movie. Brings back such good childhood memories of watching it on TV with my big sisters. Last weekend I made a cake with the Wizard of Oz theme. I was cruising the photo gallery on Cake Central and saw one using a sheet cake as the yellow brick road and got my inspiration from that wonderful cake. I took some photos of it in progress to share with you some of the techniques I used.

Taylor's Wizard of Oz cake.

I made a paper template of the shape I wanted the cake to be and used that to cut the shape from a 12x16 sheet cake.

Then it was filled and crumb coated.

I wanted to show you guys how airless my icing is. This batch was made 3 days ahead of time, covered in plastic wrap on the surface, and kept in a plastic container at room temp. (If you want to see a clip of me making my icing, look here.)

The fondant was colored yellow and a some powdered tylose was added to help it firm up. I rolled it out and then used my brick impression mat over it. I used the same paper template that I cut the cake with to cut out the fondant. I let it sit there for a good 20 minutes or so to firm up, so that when I transferred it to the cake it would not stretch or distort.

Top piece applied to the cake.

I then cut a long strip of fondant (long enough to go around entire cake) and rolled it up bandage style.

The sides of the cake were dampened with water, and the bandage unrolled around the cake and smoothed in place. I then trimmed it level with the top of the "bricks" with an exacto knife.

I applied pieces of green fondant around the perimeter of the road to make grass. I made a seam in the front that would later be covered by flowers. I put a 21 star tip on my finger (much like a thimble) and stippled the entire surface of the green fondant to mimic grass.

The rainbow was an edible icing sheet that was put on fondant and allowed to dry firm for a few days. That was attached to the back of the cake with some melted chocolate.

The lollipops were made ahead also, and sucker sticks glued to the back. I stuck the sucker sticks down into the fondant and secured them in place with melted chocolate. I propped them in place until the chocolate firmed up.

After they were secure, I covered the chocolate with a little more "grass".

The shoes were white chocolate tinted red and made in a 3D mold. Here they are right out of the mold.

I cleaned up the seams, added a fondant bow and painted them with piping gel.

A skewer in the bottom let me rotate them without messing them up with my hands as I sprinkled red disco dust all over them. (Be advised that while disco dust is non toxic, it is not truly considered food safe.)

The ruby slippers. I'll get them, my pretty!

I'm meltiiiiiingggg.....
The hat and broom were hand modeled from fondant. A little puddle of green royal icing serves as the melted wicked witch. (She scared the bejeebers out of

I had a good time making this cake. None of the techniques are particularly difficult, just a little time consuming. I hope you have a chance to try it one day! Send me a pic if you do!

Happy Caking!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Here Comes Santa Claus!


That just about sums up the class we hosted with Bronwen Weber last Sunday. She and her crew came and taught the 3D Standing Santa to 34 very eager students. They brought all the supplies and tools; all we had to do was show up. And each and every one of us left with a completed Santa cake. Very cool.

Bronwen and her assistants Heather and Francois (who is also her new hubby). All 3 of them were super nice, fun and helpful. Bronwen is total kick in the pants fun. Very positive, encouraging, relaxed and a great teacher.

The Santa starts with a skeleton of PVC piping screwed into the base board. Arms and legs are formed with modeling chocolate.

We all went up to her demo table to see each technique and then went back to our seats to do it ourselves. We had immediate assistance if we needed it.

Wendy and I were goofing off here. Santa's belly is cake supported by an acrylic plate.

Students busy at work.

A little army of Santas in the making.

Wendy kneading her fondant.

Working on my guy's coat. Of all the techniques, I found the coat pieces to be the hardest to do .

Silly girls.

Bronwen showed us 2 ways to do the face. The one on the left would be the sculpted realistic face, but it is not complete. In addition, his mouth is all messed up from Bronwen getting goofy with him , but you get the general idea. The one on the right is the more cartoonish, and easier face, as there is no real sculpting involved. I chose the easier one, mostly because I wanted the cartoonish face for the kids, but I would like to try the sculpted face one day.

This is Bronwen's Santa, with just the trim on his hat brim missing. Awesome huh?

Me, Bronwen, and my Santa. He is still wet from his vodka bath in this photo.

My Santa before his vodka bath. I still have to do a few finishing trim touches to him , and when I do, I will post some good shots of him.

I think he looks cute! I was thrilled with my cake. I never thought I could make a cake like this. I learned so many great new techniques I can apply to other cakes. It was a fabulous class and we will be hosting her here back again next year.

Gotta give a shout out to my hubby for getting us the big conference room at his place of work. Thanks Hun! And thank you to all of the students who attended and made it a great success!

Deedra's Santa flew coach home! She said everyone on the plane went nuts over him and the pilot took a picture of him!

If you guys ever get a chance to take class with her, do it. Just do it.

Happy Holiday Caking Ya'll!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

I saw these cookies on a wonderful blog, The Repressed Pastry Chef, and knew I had to make them soon. So, in my quest to procrastinate from doing my cake prep last night, I figured that was the perfect time to make them. J and I both love pumpkin, and he likes to bake, so we made these together.

I am taking a little break from caking right now to eat my dinner, so I figured I would make a little blog entry on them for you guys. It gave me another chance to practice my photography, but I am not sure if I like these pictures are not. (I am always open to suggestions from you photography buffs, BTW.)

Iced Pumpkin Cookies


1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F, line cookie sheet with silicone mat
Cream shortening, granulated sugar and pumpkin. Add egg and mix well. Add the baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and flour and mix well. Using a small-to-medium sized disher (cookie scoop) or generous tablespoon, scoop batter onto cookie sheet. Using a wet finger, smooth points/peaks and gently press down tops. Bake 15-18 minutes then remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack and cool about 10-15 minutes before icing. To Make Icing: Cook butter, milk, and brown sugar until dissolved. Cool and add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Place a sheet of waxed paper under the cooling rack, take the cooled cookies and holding one at a time dip upside down into the icing, invert and place on cooling rack. Decorate with sprinkles while icing is still wet.

I made some a little larger than others, and I liked those better, as they were more moist. I liked them even better the next day, as they softened up a little. These are seriously dangerous to have around. They are very soft, cake-like and almost melt in your mouth. Very quick and easy to make too. Hope you try them!

OK, back to work for me! Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brotherly Love

Family. Ya gotta love 'em. What would we do without them?

I was blessed (or sentenced, depending upon how look at it, LOL) to be born into a large family, the last of 5 siblings. The age gap between my older siblings and I was large enough that they really were too old to be my playmates. In fact, I think I was more an object for their entertainment by harassing and torturing me for their own evil pleasure. All of them but my brother Michael. He was never mean to me. He never stung me with rubber bands, beat up my teddy bear, or forced me to look at skeleton pictures. He never scared me with a vampire face, or tricked me by wrapping rocks to look like candy just to see me cry from disappointment. He never talked on the phone late at night when I was trying to sleep, pulled me off the desk chair to do "college work", or eat all the fresh cherries at the beach so I got none. Nope, not Mike. (You others know who you are and what you have done. I wonder how you sleep at night.) Michael does not have a mean bone in his body. I don't think I have ever heard him utter a cross word. He taught me to play chess, did word Jumble puzzles with me, and took me on vacation to the Grand Canyon. He is the most gentle, kind and selfless person I know.

Left to right: John, Mike, Janice, Barbara, and me.

And he's good to me still to this day. Whenever my PC gets all bogged down with junk and viruses, and starts to run badly, I can always take it in to him for a full clean out and tune up. He gets it running fast and clean for me again. Just like he did this week. So how do I thank him for his help? By doing the only thing I know how to do: bake!

Mike can't have sugar, so I make him sugar free cakes. Gives me a chance to try out some new recipes. He seems to like anything though; he is not picky.

This recipe I had saved on my PC, and I do not know the source to give credit. The cake was a tad dry to me, but I may have baked it a little bit too long. I would advise to take it out the oven before the toothpick comes out fully clean to prevent over baking. The icing was delicious. Squirt-the-piping-bag-right-into-your-mouth delicious. And yes, I did do that. 3 times. But not until I was finished with the cake.

Sugar-free Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
1½ cups Splenda (granular no calorie sweetener)
3/4-cup non-dairy creamer powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa
¾ cup applesauce or vegetable oil
1 cup + 2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla

Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl reserving ¼ cup Splenda. In another bowl mix the applesauce (or substitute ¾ cup vegetable oil),Milk, vanilla, and 3 egg yolks. Beat the egg whites until fluffy, slowly adding the remaining ¼ cup of Splenda. Whisk together the dry ingredients with the liquid making a smooth batter. Beat for 2 minutes until color lightens. Then fold in the egg whites. Bake in two greased and floured 8 –inch cake pans, at 350 degrees about 20 – 30 minutes. When Baking with Splenda, products bake quicker so test to see when cake springs back or when a toothpick comes out clean. They also do not rise very much. Each layer was about 1-1.5 inches tall, so I torted them and filled.

Sugar-free Chocolate Frosting

1 Large box Vanilla or chocolate instant sugar free Jell-O pudding mix
1-cup low fat milk
2 cups heavy cream

In a mixing bowl pour the milk. Measure out the heavy cream and open the pudding box. Quickly pour the pudding into the milk beating just until absorbed, add the heavy cream and continue to beat until light and fluffy.(I doubled this recipe to fill and ice my cake as shown.)

It made a nice cake and I would make it again. Janice is the real sugar free baker in the family. She doesn't know it yet, but I am going to recruit her to contribute to my blog when she tries out all her new recipes. It's the least she can do after all that childhood misery she caused me. I know how much I love sweets and cannot imagine not being able to have them because of dietary restrictions. So from time to time I will post some sugar free recipes.

What mean things did your sibs do to you?

Happy Baking!