Sugar Swings! Serve Some: September 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cicada Bug Cupcakes

So aren't these cute??! Bugs, but more specifically for the entomology fans out there, these bugs are supposed to be cicadas. You probably are more familiar with the sound of them in the summer when the temperatures get super hot or you may notice the shells hanging around hear and there after they shed them and molt (fun!).

BUT, if you were in select areas of the east coast this June, you may have been subjected to the CICADA INVASION OF 2013!!  What is the cicada invasion you ask, well it's when tons of a certain species of cicada (magicicada) emerged after 17 years of being underground to get some cicada booty action and then die.  A crazy month or so of nothing but cicadas.  

And if you follow my Instagram, you know I definitely was in the middle of the invasion!  Just to give you an idea of what was going on in my yard:  

From top left, shells all over the yard, that's a cicada with beady red eyes, more shells on the kids' playset, cicadas are white when they first emerge from their exoskeleton, more shells and carcasses, my kids liked to wear the shells as accessories!

At first I was pretty amazed by the cycle of life, but got over that fast enough after a few weeks of stepping over dead carcasses!  Plus they are slow flyers so it was a little silence of the lambs at times.  These guys were were pretty much everywhere, but only in select places - like if you have big trees in your yard as they apparently live on the roots while underground.

Of course I then decided to make some.  Start with some dates.  They are perfect size and look of a cicada body!

Add some black candy melt and red sprinkle eyes (you need the red beady eyes!)

And then add sugar candy wings.  I melted sugar in a sauce pan on high heat until it got nice and thick. Then just dripped the sugar with a spoon into some wing shapes onto foil.  Let harden.

Attach wings with candy melt and add some legs (more melted candy wafers)

Ta-da! Cicadas! Then just plop them on top of some cupcakes.

And if you're wondering, "what's with the super creepy white one??"  Well that's what they look like when they first emerge from their exoskeleton shell.  Ick.  And to make the white one (because I know you were wondering) just use a vanilla tootsie roll as the body, just microwave it a little so you can make it the shape you want.  All the rest is the same.  

I know you can't wait to go make these now!

And you have plenty of time before Halloween!  A nice addition to any creepy crawly parties.  For anyone interested, here is an awesome video to show you the amazing process the cicadas go through every 17 years - I wonder if I'll be in this house the next time they come around?!

Hope you enjoyed the bugs and welcome to Fall! Temps are definitely a little chilly in Jersey now so it's officially change of season time (goodbye flip flops).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tri-color Halloween Bundt Cake Colored with Spinach, Sweet Potato and Beets

So it's that time again when Halloween treats show up in September! Woohoo! Although I kinda object to how soon the seasonal stuff shows up in stores, I do like seeing all the creative treats that get posted on my fav blogs and over at Pinterest of course!

One of my fav things are the Halloween cakes that get baked and decorated up.  I especially love the Halloween bundt cakes.  You've seen them right? Lots of swirls of green, orange, black, and purple.

I pinned this awesome one ages ago and have seen it all over the place from Cooking With Sugar

And check out this fun one from Easybaked

Or my latest favorite bundt is this Eye of Newt Halloween Cake from Just Dip in Chocolate

And although I absolutely love the colors and how bright and Halloween-y they are, I wanted to see if I could come up with something with a little less artificial coloring.  (Note: not that I don't use food coloring and gels. I most definitely do, but I often like to experiment to see what is possible with natural food colors).

This cake is a doctored boxed cake and all the color for the cake come from spinach, sweet potato and beets.  Yep spinach, sweet potato, and red beets! And the veggie mix replaces the oil and liquid in the boxed cake directions.  Pretty simple actually.

For Green layer:

2 cups of fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)
1/3 cup of applesauce

Add to food processor and blend well.

For Orange layer:

1 small-medium sized sweet potato
1/3 cup of applesauce

Wrap sweet potato in damp paper towel and microwave for about 4 minutes.  When you can pierce easily with a fork, remove flesh from skin.  Mix with well with the applesauce.

For Chocolate layer:

1 can of whole small red beets with juice.
2 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup

Add 1/4 cup of beet juice and about 6 small beets to food processor along with cocoa and syrup.  Blend well.

You'll get about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the mashed up veggie mixes

Divide a yellow boxed cake mix evenly (or as best as you can eyeball it) into 3 bowls.  Add 1 egg to each along with the 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the vegetable slurries.  

Mix well

Add and swirl batters in a bundt pan (spray pan really well with floured baking spray so it releases from pan easily) and bake for about 40 minutes.

unbaked batter - love the colors!
Once baked and cooled, instead of frosting on top, I squirted lines of melted candy melts/wafers in Halloween colors.  Before the candy hardened I added some eyes on top to really Halloween it up.  The eyes are also made with melted candy melts/wafers.  You can buy pre-made edible eyes, but it's really so simple to make them.  Pipe a white circle first, then add a little black, let harden.  Simple eye balls and if they are not perfect, who cares -  lopsided eyes are even better for this. 

I had some crushed up chocolate cookies, so added them around the bottom of the cake too.

And that's it! Cut yourself a big ole' hunk since it's filled with veggies.  

OK OK, I hear ya, this may not be healthy, since it starts with a boxed cake mix, and has candy on top, but hey any veggies I can get into the kids (and my Dad!) works for me.  The colors may not be as bright as those other fun Halloween bundt cakes, but I still like the look.

BTW, you can't taste any veggies in this cake if you were worried about that.  It still tastes like yellow cake but just nice and moist - and way more fun than a plain old yellow bundt cake.


Plus aren't vegetables scary to kids? A perfect Halloween spooky cake! 

So is it too early for Halloween for you? Are you ready for pumpkin flavored everything?? I'm not really ready, but it's going to come really fast regardless if I'm ready for it or not, so *trying* to go with the flow!  Have an AWESOME weekend.

Positive thoughts to those at the Seaside Jersey Shore - they just can't catch a break.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Minecraft Cake and Treats

So are there any gamers out there?? This post will probably only make sense to them.  I don't play Minecraft, but apparently this one is a biggie and super super popular with both kids and adults.  From my limited knowledge of watching my kid play - so I know what the heck they're playing - it's kinda like a pixelated building game, where you can come up with some really cool stuff (think blocks or cubes of all types of materials) in "creative" mode or try to not to lose your stuff in "survival" mode.  All of it in a 3D world in which you try to craft materials and build while avoiding mobs and other interesting characters. You can even do a multi-player games.  It's kinda neat to see my kids building together in a virtual game!  People have made some awesome Minecraft creations too - see a bunch here or even Game of Thrones in MC, totally amazeballs.

My big kid turned 9 last month (9!!!) and asked for a Minecraft cake.  There are all sorts of them out there if you do a google search.  Most involve making one of the characters and trying to re-create the building materials in edible form. I used a square pan and made a bunch of layers. 

The bottom is actually a lemon cake - I know I know in no way does that look like lemon, but it is since that's kiddo's fav flavor I just tinted it dark grey to look like stone (and detail piped with a little black buttercream). 

The middle is a red velvet layer piped with vanilla buttercream to look like brick. 

And the top layer is chocolate piped with green buttercream to look like dirt and grass.

The yellow squares are supposed to be blocks of gold (or my kids call it butter, "because it looks like butter mom" )

The Mindcraft characters are made from candy melt. And made to look pixelated by piping smaller squares of colors until they come together in a larger square.

It's a little time consuming, but the kid only turns 9 once! I f you don't know the characters here are some:

Left side: Creeper (the main bad dudes), Cow, Skeleton, Pumpkin

 Right side: Steve (the main dude), Pig, Ghast (kinda like a jellyfish that shoots fireballs) , Sheep (I know I know looks nothing like a sheep!).

And of course you need tools, that's a diamond sword (apparently the best tool) and an iron axe and another sword.

I just added the candy melt characters around and on top of the cake layers.

And made some more building materials from rice krispie treats.  "Dirt" blocks made from cocoa krispies, "TNT" blocks made from red tinted treats (detail with candy melt), and "sand" blocks made from plain rice krispie treats.

Here's all the sides of the cake together (note to self, practice piping straight lines!)

And a view of the inside!

And you get a cake that most most Mindcrafters hopefully will like!  My kiddo was impressed, so I'll take that as a win.  He's one of my worst critics lately!  (The only issue he had with this one was the sheep face and I should have used more diamond tools, apparently!)

Anyways, hope you like the birthday cake even if you have no idea what this post is about! I've been making the kids' cakes since they were born and the requests are getting harder and harder now.  I'm managing to keep up - for now!!).

I'm off for a work trip to Brazil this Sunday for a week.  It's a work trip but I'm hoping to have some time to enjoy the food and treats of the region (which is one of my fav things to do when visiting a new country!)  Have a great rest of the week!