Treats for the Tall AND the Small
Dynamite Desserts - For one and all
Perhaps this came about because I am a very a picky eater, or maybe it's just because I hate to leave anyone out. Whatever the reason, I decided to approach the dessert portion of the menu from a slightly different angle (um, make that height).
Even as an adult I have to admit that my first thought following the words "Mincemeat Pie" is BLECH. Pumpkin and pecan pies are also traditional favorites, but most kids aren't too keen on those either. Can't say I'm much for pumpkin myself, although I can most definitely get behind a piece of pecan pie! Anyway, It occurred to me that the kids would probably enjoy something a little less traditional and a little more fun. Once I got started, I found lots of terrific ideas and I ended up making a variety of palate pleasing desserts for both the tall and the small; it's now our own little family tradition.
Please Note: While it is fairly rare for the small to pilfer the more sophisticated desserts from the tall, the reverse does NOT hold true. Translation: Make lots of the fun stuff :o)
Super Simple or Complicated Confection?
Who cares??? It's all about the decorating dahling!
Whether you are an absolute wizard in the kitchen or you are someone who thinks that "scratch" is what happens when you poke the cat, it's okay. Even when you are a talented baker, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.
So if baking isn't really your thing or you just need something snazzy in a hurry, then stick with me for a minute (don't worry, I won't hurt you). For those of you who could give Julia Childs lessons, there is a sinfully scrumptious [pain-in-the-patootie] white chocolate cake recipe further down this lens (just don't forget to come back up for the decorating :o)
First Up: Choose Your Cake
Since some cake flavors are naturally associated with fall, I went with this spice cake by Duncan Hines (it offers the added bonus of making the kitchen smell absolutely delicious). Cream cheese frosting is best suited to this cake. Yum.
What you will need for your decorations - (I work on mine while the cake is baking and cooling)
Assorted green leaves from your yard; Almond Bark; food coloring; some toothpicks (for the food coloring); a small microwaveable bowl; a small paintbrush or popsicle stick (I found the popsicle stick works best with my unsteady hands); and a piece of waxed paper.
Making the leaves while the cake is baking (then cooling) gives them plenty of time to harden (about an hour or so). This way, they will be ready to use by the time you have finished frosting the cake.
Don't forget to wash your leaves - and keep them non-poisonous if you please!
Select a handful of leaves from various plants, trees or bushes in your yard; make sure they're still flexible. Take them back inside and wash them thoroughly (and if you're not planning to use them right away, leave them in some water to keep them from drying out). I actually picked these the afternoon before and left them in a bowl of water so they wouldn't dry out.
Work one color at a time - From light to dark
Make sure your leaves are dried off before you start or the almond bark may not set properly. You will be painting on the back side of the leaves so that each leaf will look as natural as possible. Tinting the almond bark from lightest to darkest not only allows you to use only one bowl, it helps keep your colors in the same family.
Think of it like that old commercial - "A little dab will do you"
Following the directions on the package, melt a square of the almond bark in the microwave. Starting with the lightest color, tint it and cover the back of the first leaf by putting a little bit of the almond bark on the brush or popsicle stick each time.
Lightly tapping with the popsicle stick (sort of a "dotting" motion) will help it to spread smoothly along the edges of each leaf. Add the next darkest color and so on, reheating the almond bark as needed to keep it spreadable. It doesn't really matter what this side looks like (it won't show).
NOTE: Try using Wilton Candy Melts instead (much easier, but your choice of colors is pretty limited).
Frost your cooled cake - While the leaves are setting
If you've ever had trouble making your frosting job look pretty (and boy, I sure have) try using a narrow spatula and a spoon. Put the frosting on in generous amounts to cover the entire cake first, and then finesse it to a foolproof finish as shown in the next two frames.
Terrific Tip #1: Simple but snazzy sides - Sammy Spatula is the right man for the job
Keeping at a slant with a very shallow arc, work your way carefully around the cake with the skinny spatula to create a uniform look. Be sure to overlap your strokes slightly. Bottom to top was easiest for me, but either way will work just fine.
Tip #2: Susie Spoon (my bestest friend) - Bet she'll be yours too!
Using a plain old teaspoon, make small overlapping swirls with the bottom of the spoon on the top of the cake. If you find too much frosting is building up on your spoon, just scrape it off back into the container and continue lightly swirling until you have covered the entire cake top.
Next, carefully peel off the leaves - To reveal your delicious decoration
Grasping the real leaf gently by the stem, carefully peel it off to reveal your cool new candy creation. Is that awesome or what?
Arrange the leaves on the cake - Any way you want to
I chose to center these three leaves and then added a small piece of a walnut to give it a finished look. You can run them in a ring around the outside on the top of your cake instead, or scatter some nuts across the top and put your leaves around the bottom. Whatever makes you smile the biggest (which for me would be the eating of the cake :o)
Now give yourself a big pat on the back - Because woo-hoo-hoo your cake looks FABOO! :o)
Not too bad for a shaky-handed amateur and a boxed cake, is it?
As promised:The pain-in-the-patootie cake - (and yes, the taste is most definitely worth it! :o)
Don't forget the frosting - This part's a little easier!
Here's the White Chocolate Cake - Preserved forever in my scrapbook...Yum!
Not planning to bake?
Then here's a little something else that's just for you to make!
Simmering Autumn Spice Recipe - See? I told you I didn't like leaving anyone out!
The Great American Cookie Cookbook - Is well worth every penny!
This book is absolutely wonderful! The Turkeys and Cone-A-Copias coming up next are both variations from this book (pages 490 and 491). There is a section devoted to tasty treats for kids and tons of holiday cookie ideas. I just love this book!
Small to Tall and Tall to Small
Improvise and trade 'em up!
I'm not much on conformity. If someone says to do something one way, my first thought is usually along the lines of: I wonder what would happen if I did it this way?
With that in mind, feel free to change things however you like. Maybe you're having friends over (tall ones) for dessert close to Thanksgiving. Why not change the Cone-A-Copias to match a more mature palate (instructions below) and use them as a decorative addition to each plate? Bake cupcakes for the kids instead of a plain cake using festive autumn cupcake wrappers. Make a different colored candy leaf for the center of each cupcake and place it amid some fall-colored sprinkles. At our house cupcakes make everybody happy :o)
PHOTO: Cone-A-Copias for Grownups - Cones were dipped in white chocolate then rolled in Wilton's edible iridescent sparkles. Filled with Apple Cider Gourmet Candy Corn and Brachs Maple & Toffee Covered Peanuts. Topped off with narrow wire-edged ribbon in copper. Original "Recipe" is further down this lens.
Add a dash of panache - To your dessert table
Cupcakes in pretty themed papers become something new and exciting when artfully arranged (this tiered stand is on my wish list, it's lovely!)
Turkeys that are sweet and oh-so-fun to eat! - Here's all you need
Marshmallow pinwheel cookies; fudge striped cookies; candy corn; white decorator frosting; black frosting or gel; a knife; some waxed paper
A Marshmallow Pinwheel - Is for his little body
Cut a small piece off of the cookie, (this will be for his tail feathers). I don't actually have to tell you to eat that piece, do I? I didn't think so :o)
A Fudge Stripe Cookie - Serves as tail feathers
Making sure the stripes are vertical and facing toward the front, put a fudge-striped cookie in the area you just cut off and press lightly. It should stick nicely to the marshmallow.
Now add two dots for eyes - And one underneath to act as glue
Using the vanilla icing, put 3 dots on the front of your turkey. The two on top will be for the eyes and the one slightly below will hold his beak. Gently press a piece of candy corn on the lower dot with the point facing down (it should stick).
Then add a tiny bit of black - So he can look at you!
Using the black gel and a toothpick, carefully dot each eye to make a pupil (I get silly with mine, can you tell?)
Arrange them on a fun plate - Which I could definitely use
These cute little guys get gobbled up in a hurry. Okay, that was really bad (sorry, I couldn't seem to help myself).
Look at this: A silly feet treat stand - It's absolutely perfect!
Guaranteed to help you serve up those terrific treats with a smile. (Hey, I'm smiling just looking at it on the computer screen :o)
Don't forget to get some pictures
After all, you worked so hard!
One year after I finished getting the dining room all ready for Thanksgiving, I stepped back and checked to see if anything was missing. Surprisingly, nothing was (I don't know about you, but I always seem to forget something important). Looking at the table, it occurred to me how nicely it turned out. I found a pretty little strand of metallic autumn garland in a clearance pile after Thanksgiving the year before (the only way to shop :o) and had wrapped it around the handle of the silverware basket on the dessert table. Scattered across the dining room table lay a few matching leaves that had fallen off the strand; they sparkled in the light.
While our emphasis for this holiday is always first and foremost on giving thanks to God, a roof over our heads and food to eat are something we are perpetually thankful for. On impulse, I grabbed my camera and took a picture of both the dining room table and the smaller folding table I used for the desserts. These photos have been added to my scrapbook pages alongside the people pictures and everyone's quotes on what they are thankful for this year.
Clockwise from the back: Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, and Peanut Butter Fudge (I have a lens for the fudge, if you're interested).
Ice Cream Cupcakes (directions above).
Clockwise from left: White Chocolate Cake, Turkey Treats, Funfetti Cake, and Brownie Bites.
Cone-A-Copias for kids rolled first in chocolate, then autumn sprinkles, and filled with regular candy corn.
Champ greeting an "unofficial" visitor
I am happy to report that no trees were destroyed in the making of this lens. The kitchen, however, is another story...oh, MY!