Category Archives: Birthday

Fairy House Birthday Cake

The spring fairies must be visiting my garden!  The flowers are blooming and my daughter has been busy building fairy houses in our yard.  She just turned 7 and to celebrate, I wanted to make a fairy house cake for her party.

A few years ago, I bought a beautiful story book called Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane.  It was about a little girl who went into the forest on an east coast island to build fairy houses made only out of natural things.  My daughter enjoys the idea so, that we still go on walks to collect sticks, bark, rocks and even seashells on vacation.  You may not collect anything living.  She then builds these cute little homes for the fairies, tucked into hidden places in our gardens.  I thought it would be very fitting if she had a fairy house cake for her birthday!

Chocolate Fairy House Cake

The idea was to make the cake look like a tree stump fairy house.  It had 4 layers of chocolate cake, two 9″ layers of dark chocolate boxed cake mix and two 9″ layers of german chocolate cake mix.  The layers were alternated light and dark to add interest when you cut into it.

The chocolate ganache frosting was very simple to make.  I was inspired by a recipe from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman).

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 24 ounces bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat the heavy cream until very hot (not boiling) and add the chocolate chips.  Stir over heat until completely melted.  The mixture will turn smooth deep chocolate color.  Remove from heat and pour into an electric mixer bowl.  Refrigerate until completely cooled, but do not let harden.  After 2 hours, the bottom of the bowl was just slightly warm to the touch.  I added the vanilla and started to beat the chocolate using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Tree Stump Fairy House Birthday Cake Detail

The chocolate ganache frosting filled between each 9″ chocolate cake layer and the sides of the cake.  I covered the sides of the cake and then stroked from the bottom up to create the look of bark.  The door and windows were a graham cracker, cut with a knife to shape.  They were trimmed with a tube of orange decorative cake icing.  The vines were piped using a tube of green decorative cake icing.  The edible sugar flowers were packaged by Wilton.

Butterscotch Pudding Chocolate Ganache Fairy House Cake

To vary the color of the top of the cake, I made a box of butterscotch pudding and spread this over the top of the cake to look like the inner part of a tree.  The fairy figurine that adorned the top of the cake was purchased at a local craft store.  A piece of wax paper was placed down underneath to separate her from the cake.  The fairy figure will make a neat keepsake on my daughter’s bedroom shelf after her party.  The springy butterfly party plates napkins matched perfectly!

Happy Birthday!  Stop growing so fast!!

 

Disney Frozen Birthday Party

Hope you enjoy my recap of planning a Disney Frozen Theme Birthday Party – including an ice castle cake, snowflake cookies, party favors, “Pin the nose on Olaf” game and a grand Anna & Elsa pull string pinata!

As the girls arrived, I set up a table for them to pick a party hat and decorate it.  I had provided the hats, markers, gem stickers, foam snowflake stickers, shiny ribbon, hold punches, etc.  This is a good way for the kids to mingle and jump right in to an activity while we wait for everyone to arrive.

Decorating Frozen Birthday Hats

All of the kids sat together to eat lunch.  I had 10 kids total and used our kid’s table and coffee table together which was the perfect height and size.  The tables were covered with a plastic blue tablecloth.

After lunch, all of the kids lined up to play “Pin the nose on Olaf”.  If you have seen the Disney Frozen movie, Olaf is the snowman that Elsa created.  I found a picture online and sketched a kid-sized Olaf on two sheets of posted board.  Truly, you do not need to be an artist to do this!  I outlined him with black marker and painted the stick arms, hair and eye brows brown.  The only feature I didn’t draw was his orange carrot nose.  Using orange construction paper, I cut carrot noses for each child to stick onto the poster.  During the game, we spun each child around with a blind fold on and directed them toward Olaf.  I think the kids really got a kick out of him!  The winner was the child who pinned the nose the closest to where is should appear.

Olaf Game

After having singing to the birthday girl and eating the Disney Frozen Ice Castle Cake.  We did the Elsa & Anna pull string piñata.  I had the girls form a circle around it and gave each girl a try at pulling one of the strings.  It worked pretty good.  One string opened the box and the goodies fell out (with a bit of assistance).  All of the kids scurried to gather a bag full of treats.  Here is how I created the homemade Frozen piñata:

Disney Frozen Pinata

I used two family-sized cereal boxes.  One box was slightly bigger that the other, so I used the larger one of the bottom.  The bottom box was closed and the top open, then the other cereal box open on both the top and bottom was inserted slightly inside and taped together with duct tape.  Leave an opening in the top of the box so it can be filled later.

Once the boxes are secured, I covered it with Papier-mâché.  Papier-mâché is newsprint bound with glue (combination of flour and a small amount of water).  I filled a bowl with about 2 cups of flour and stirred in small amounts of water until the consistency was like Elmer’s white glue.  Cover the floor or table where you will work with plastic.  Strips of newsprint are dipped in the paste to cover both sides, removing the excess glue and then placed around the entire structure.  The papier-mâché needs to dry over night.

Frozen Pull String Pinata

When the structure is completely dry, I used white crepe paper (party streamers) to wrap around the structure.  Cutting slits along one edge of the crepe paper and tacking each piece in place as it is wound around.  The slits will give it a ruffled effect.

Frozen Handmade Pull String Pinata

Online, I found an image of Elsa and Anna (the two sisters from Disney’s Frozen movie).  I enlarged the images and printed them on two sheets of paper (taping the images together).  Elsa was glued to one side of the piñata and Anna was glued to the other side.

Homemade Pull String Pinata - Frozen

Now for the fun part – engineering the pull string piñata.  I made a slit in the flap of the bottom of the box and inserted one string through the slit, taping it to the inside.  The box was taped shut using a heavy duty tape, just enough to hold the heavy goodies, but not too good so that it won’t open when pulled.  I tested it to make sure it would work.  Once the box bottom was secured in place, I taped many strings to the bottom of the box and then camouflaged the strings using more white crepe paper.

Two holes were punctured in the top sides of the box and the treats were filled inside.  The piñata was ready to hang in place!

For the party favors, I found these cute little blue buckets and filled them with a few goodies including: rock candy (looks like ice!), watercolor paints, hair accessories, bubbles and lip balm and glittery nail polish.

IMG_3502

Also baked a batch of snowflake sugar cookies.  Each were individually packaged and sent home as a party favor for all.

SweetStackers Snowflake Cookies

Disney Frozen – Ice Castle Cake

Here in Chicago, the snow is FINALLY starting to melt and I think the spell that was cast by Queen Elsa has been broken.  The Disney Frozen movie has made quite an impression on my young girls.  A few months ago, my daughter knew she wanted this theme for her 5th birthday party.  My daughter favorite character from the movie was Elsa, the Ice Queen.  She built her own ice castle and here is the edible version that I created.

Frozen Ice Castle Birthday Cake

The towers come to a sharp point and I used ice cream sugar cones and thin pretzel rods.  The tip of the ice cream cones were cut, so the pretzel rod would sit tightly in the top.  One tower was trimmed off a bit to make it shorter.  I dipped them in white chocolate candy melts, sprinkled them with blue sugar and added a few snowflake sprinkles here and there.  I also dipped some small pretzel twists to create a balcony.

Frozen Ice Castle Cake Towers

I made two layers of cake using a 12″ round pan and two layers using a 6″ round pan.  Alternating yellow cake mix and devil’s food.  Will admit, I love Betty Crocker’s boxed cake mixes!   I think I had used 4 box mixes, since I was alternating flavors – made a few cupcakes and had a lot of leftover cake.  One cupcake came in handy because it elevated the tallest tower perfectly!

Like I said, I love to use boxed cake mixes because they always turn out moist and delicious.  However, I DO like to make homemade icing and filling.  This cake was frosted using a French Vanilla Icing, which I posted before.  It holds up great for constructing a towering cake!  The homemade filling was delicious and easy – love it because it is not too sweet.

Strawberry Cream Filling

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries, washed and diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring strawberries, water and sugar to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until a sauce forms.  Add heavy cream and whisk in cornstarch one tablespoon at a time.  Whisk constantly for approximately 8 minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat and cool.  Chill before filling a cake.

The cake was pretty simple to assemble.  I alternated the cake layers starting with chocolate, than yellow and they were each separated by the Strawberry Cream Filling.  The entire cake was iced with the French Vanilla Icing.  The chocolate covered cones were placed on top using an upside-down cupcake to elevate the back tower.  In front of the 6 inch layers, I placed a Disney Elsa figurine surrounded by the chocolate dipped pretzels which created her balcony.  Then placed a few snowflake sprinkles around the sides of the cake and sprinkled white sugar sprinkles on top like glistening snow.

The birthday girl’s eyes lit up with a smile from ear to ear when she opened the refrigerator in the morning!  She sure was happy and super excited about her party.  More party ideas to come…stay tuned!

Frozen Birthday – Snowflake Sugar Cookies

There is a Frozen Birthday Party brewing in our house, so keep posted for more to come!  My daughter is turning 5 and we are throwing her a kid’s birthday party at home.  She picked the theme from Disney’s Frozen for her party.  I was actually very excited because this would be very easy to pull off.  The ideas were flowing, despite party supplies don’t exist yet for this party theme.  I was able to start executing my plans by making these beautiful snowflake sugar cookies a few days ahead of the party.  The key to soft, fresh and beautiful decorated cookies is storing them properly!

Frozen Birthday Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Sift the flour and baking powder together and gradually add to the butter mixture.  Divide dough into two balls.  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut using cookie cutters.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6-7 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.  Transfer immediately to a cookie rack to cool.

Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container or decorate.

The icing recipe is so simple.  I combine about 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar to approximately 2-3 tablespoons of milk.  Stirring until a get a shiny thick icing (if not coming together, then add 1 additional tablespoon of milk).  Thick enough so the icing will not run and thin enough that it can be piped.  Add a drop or two of  desired food coloring and stir.

SweetStackers Cookie Storage

The piping was very simplistic, consisting of dots and lines.  Before the icing sets, I placed a snowflake shaped sprinkle in the center.  On a few others, I sprinkled some silver crystal sugars.  There were about 5 different patterns made.

Once the icing just starts to set, I transfer the cookies to an air-tight container to keep the cookies soft and fresh!  I don’t like the taste and crunch when the cookies are set out to dry for long periods of time (like overnight).  Sweet Stackers – stackable trays insert into a long, 3 inch deep, air-tight container.  Using a container that was approximately 9×12 inches, I was able to store 36 cookies, in 3 layers (without them touching).  Sweet Stackers are reusable and yet an inexpensive solution to storing cookies, dessert bars and even appetizers without a mess.  Stop by the product website sweetstackers.com to find out more or shop on Etsy or Amazon.

SweetStackers Snowflake Cookies

The morning of the party, I transferred each cookie to a small clear bag.  Each guest could bring home a sweet “Frozen” treat and I even added one to each party favor bucket.

 

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Birthday Party

My youngest daughter requested a Daniel Tiger birthday cake for her 3rd Birthday.  She loves the TV show on PBS, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  It is the next generation of characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood that I grew up with.  I will admit that I even get nostalgic watching it.

I wanted to recreate the neighborhood trolley…

Daniel Tiger's Birthday Party

The Daniel Tiger figurines were purchased at Toys R Us.  Thought they would be cute to set up next to the trolley cake.  After the birthday party, the birthday girl could play with her figures.

A loaf pan turned out to be the perfect shape and size to make a trolley cake.  I baked two separate box mixes using Betty Crocker’s yellow cake mix and a devil’s food cake mix.  For each loaf cake, I filled the pan about ¾ full and baked them for approximately 45 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean.  With the remaining batter, I filled a muffin tin to make a few cupcakes.

Once the cakes cooled, they were stacked one above the other with a Homemade Creamy Blueberry Filling in the middle.  (I also filled the cupcakes with this filling – so good!)  Using homemade French Vanilla Icing (see recipe below), the cake was iced white around the sides.  Reserving a small amount to dye yellow and the remaining red for the roof.  I used Twizzlers candy ropes to trim the trolley and piped yellow icing to create the seats.  Just like the neighborhood trolley on the TV show!

My daughter was so excited about her cake and kept taking peeks in the fridge.  She also enjoyed the tiger plates that I found at the dollar store along with bright-colored mylar balloons.  So cute!

Happy Birthday kiddo!  Hope this made her day special.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Trolley Birthday Cake

French Vanilla Icing

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup Crisco shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup milk (plus a little more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening on high-speed.  Gradually add the sugar.  In a small pan, heat the milk until scalded (stir constantly to prevent it from burning).  Reduce the speed of the mixer and pour a couple of tablespoons of milk into the mixture, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed.  Return the pan of milk to the heat again and repeat the process.  The key is to melt and remove the grit from the sugar.  This takes patience!  If the milk is used up, I will add a few more tablespoons of milk to the pan and repeat the process.  The icing will be creamy and grit free!

Creamy Blueberry Filled Cupcakes

If you are looking for a light, creamy, not “too sweet” cupcake filled with a fruity surprise, then this cupcake is for you!

My baby turned 3 and we celebrated her day with cupcakes!  She absolutely loves blueberries, so I wanted to incorporate blueberries into her birthday cake and cupcakes.  I developed this creamy blueberry filling because I wanted a filling that retained some fresh whole blueberries.  Everyone was pleasantly surprised when they took a bite, revealing the creamy blueberry filling.  The fresh whipped cream frosting complimented the cupcakes nicely.

Whipcream and Blueberry Filling Birthday Cupcakes

Fresh Blueberry Cream Filling

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring blueberries, water and sugar to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.  Some berries will split open and a sauce will form.  Add heavy cream and whisk in cornstarch one tablespoon at a time.  Whisk constantly for approximately 8 minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat and cool.  Chill before filling a cake or cupcakes.

Creamy Blueberry Filling Birthday Cupcakes

A cupcake plunger make it easy to uniformly scoop out the center of each cupcake.  Replacing it with a dollop of filling.

Hope you enjoyed!

Star Wars – Queen Amidala Doll Cake

My little girls have been obsessed lately with Star Wars.  Yet, I was still quite surprised that my daughter asked for a Star Wars birthday cake.  I wasn’t sure where to go with this idea.  At first, I was picturing a black cake with bright colors, but that wasn’t at all “girlie”.  Then I remembered my Wilton Wonder Mold cake pan.  I found a few 12″ Queen Amidala dolls on Amazon.com and let my daughter pick which one she wanted in her cake.  Of course she knew this would be something she could play with after her birthday too!

Happy 6th Birthday Kiddo!!

Star Wars Queen Amidala Doll Cake

I have written about how to make these doll cakes using a real doll in prior posts.  Check out my:

Rapunzel Doll Cake

Cinderella Doll Cake

As you can tell, I love my Wilton Wonder Mold cake pan!  I even made a Teapot Cake using it.

A Fairy Tea Party

This had to be one of my favorite parties!  My daughter turned 6 and she invited a few girls for a quaint fairy tea party.  The weather really worked out because we held it out in our yard under the pergola (though the backup plan was to have it indoors) and the garden was just starting to bloom.  The fairies must have stopped by to open the flowers just in time for this magical afternoon.  Don’t forget to make a place setting for the fairies!

Fairy Tea Setting

The preparations started the night before.  My daughter was just ending her Kindergarten school year and has been very excited about writing.  She left a note for the fairies by one of the many fairy houses in our backyard to “leave a sign that they were here to visit” and invited them to her party tomorrow.  The fairies really did come to visit because when she checked the fairy house first thing in the morning, fairy dust was sprinkled at each fairy house in our yard with a few “gems” or polished glass stones.  She sure anticipated her party after school!

I made the headbands for each girl that attended the party using small silk flowers, ribbon and a butterfly and I found the package of headbands at the dollar store.

Fairy Tea Party Wear

Her guests were welcomed into the yard by a “Welcome to the Enchanted Fairy Garden” sign and a fairy house.

Enchanted Fairy Garden

I made placemats for the girls out of white card stock with their name, butterfly stickers and a fairy quote “Like fairy dust gleams on butterfly wings, little girl dreams are made of magical things”.  At the end of the party I put the placemat and menu in their goodie bag so they could bring them home.

The menu for the fairy tea party was as follows:

Tea Sandwiches

Flower Power Grilled Cheese

Butterfly Egg Salad Sandwich

Ham & Cheese Snail Pinwheels

Raisin Bread with Cream Cheese and Sliced Apple

Sliced Banana and Nutella Spread on Crackers

Fresh Fruit Fairy Wands

Desserts

Chocolate Dipped Fairy Berries

Rainbow Petits Fours

Magical Dragonfly Cupcakes

Beverages

Peach Herbal Tea

Pink Lemonade

Fairy Tea Party Menu & Placemat

I served proper English style tea for the girls using a herbal peach tea.  All of the girls were willing to at least try it.  I think it is important to try new things and it was ok if they didn’t care for it, we then served pink lemonade.

I thought this menu catered to most kid’s and I avoided peanut butter in case of food allergies.  The biggest hit was the butterfly shaped grilled cheese sandwiches.  I had the bread cut, buttered and the sandwiches prepared ahead of time.  As I prepared the three tiered server, I put them on a hot griddle, flipped them and they were ready to serve.

The fresh fruit fairy wands were made using wooden skewers.

Fairy Tea Sandwiches

The dragonfly cupcakes really turned out beautiful.  I dipped pretzels in melted blue chocolate wafers and pieced them together on wax paper.  They perfectly stayed together to adorn the top of the cupcake.  The devils food cupcakes were iced with pink cream cheese frosting.

Dragonfly Cupcakes

Desserts are served!  The petit fours were easily made using frozen pound cake cut into squares and dipped in different melting chocolates.  These could be made a couple days in advance and kept in the fridge.

Fairy Tea Dessert Table

We played two games at the fairy tea party.

The first was an egg hunt in our yard and throughout the garden.  The plastic eggs were filled with small items that the girls will use to build fairy houses to take home.  Some items included, glass stones, buttons, pinecones, sea shells, etc.  The winner had found the most eggs.

The second game was played in between courses.  I filled a tray with “tea party” items and covered it with a table cloth.  Once I removed the cover, I explained the items to the girls and they had one minute to look things over.  I then covered the tray and gave them paper to list out as many items as they could remember.  For young writers, they did a great job!

Fairy Tea Party Game

After the girls finished up their dessert, I cleared the table to work on building a take-home fairy house.  I found these little odd shaped boxes that I thought would be perfect to decorate.  Prior to the party, my daughter and I filled a box with some natural items, clippings from the boxwood bushes, dried pressed flowers, sticks, pinecones and small stones.  I purchased a small bag of moss, seashells and glass stones from the dollar store.  Just a few paper plates with glue and the girls were ready to decorate their fairy houses.  The houses are perfect to be kept in a dry place outside like a covered porch.

Build Fairy Houses Party Activity

It appeared that the girls enjoyed their afternoon together and we were thankful for them coming to our fairy tea party.  The goodie bags included a book on Fairy Houses and a fairy book mark – perfectly matching the Fairy Tea Party theme.

Fairy Party Goodie Bag

A Ballerina Birthday

This perfectly pink birthday is fit for a little prima ballerina!  Complete with a beautiful pink swirl rosette cake adorned with a gorgeous ballerina figurine.  My daughter was so excited to keep the ballerina figurine on a shelf in her bedroom, a nice keepsake that she will always remember this birthday by.  This ballerina cake complements the theme, in addition to, matching pink ballerina partyware, ballerina tutu picks and cupcakes and a beautiful centerpiece of fresh pink tulips in a vase laced up with a pink satin bow.

Ballerina Birthday Theme Party

Since I filled my ballerina cupcakes with a whole strawberry, I wanted to have the cake filling compliment the flavor.  The following recipe was used for filling in between the two cake layers.

Strawberry Filling

1 – 16 oz. bag of frozen strawberries (thaw in bowl with 1/4 C sugar to make syrup)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mash strawberries and drain reserving the juice.  Add water to the strawberry syrup to make 1 1/4 cups.  In a saucepan, combine the strawberry liquid, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.  Stir until the liquid boils and thickens.  Cool completely, then mix in the strawberry pieces.  Refrigerate.

Pink Rosette Swirls Cake Icing

Cream cheese icing, devil’s food cake and strawberry filling is a delicious combination that everyone enjoyed!

The rosette pattern encompassed the entire cake.  Using a large star tip, start in the middle of the cake and create little circular swirls.  This technique is actually very easy!  The ballerina figurine was approximately 5 inches tall and made the perfect cake topper.

Birthday Cake and Ballerina Figurine

The cake turned out so pretty and delicate – just like a ballerina!

Ballerina Cake

Happy Birthday to my little ballerina!!

Ballerina Cupcakes

My little ballerina turned 4 years old and we had a ballerina themed birthday party for her.  This party theme was so pretty in pink, with a pink rosette ballerina birthday cake and matching cupcakes.  I made these darling cupcake picks that looked like a leotard and tutu.  The leotard was made out of two pieces (front and back) of white cardstock taped to a cake pop stick.  The tutu part of the dress was made from ruffle lace trim, glued to the card stock leotard and embellished with a satin ribbon bow.  So simple and beautiful.  Once they were complete, I realized that these would make a beautiful centerpiece for a princess party or bridal shower.  I displayed the cupcakes on a glass cake stand and elevated the birthday girl’s cupcake on an inverted champagne glass.  The cupcake fit perfectly on the base of the stemware.

The cupcakes were filled with a surprise in the middle.  Cupcake can be filled with many different things, but since the cake was filled with a strawberry pastry or cake filling, I thought I would change-up the cupcakes.  The cupcakes had a whole strawberry inserted into the cupcake.  Oh and were they a big hit with both the kids and adults!

The happy baker was so excited to use a new tool in my kitchen – a cupcake corer.  This made the whole process so easy to scoop out a perfect chunk of cupcake to insert a whole strawberry.  The cupcakes were then frosted with pink cream cheese icing using a large star-shaped decorator tip in a swirl rosette pattern.

Filling cupcakes with Strawberries

Who wouldn’t want to sink their teeth into one of these?

Strawberry filled Cupcakes