Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Can you believe Christmas is already next week?? Precisely 7 days from today! I guarantee this week will be filled with all the Christmas classics on television like Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, and one of my faves A Christmas Story. Another classic that has been around for decades is A Charlie Brown Christmas. This animated special reminds me of a cake that I created last year for a little boy's first birthday.

In honor of Charlie Brown (the original chevron wearer), Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts Gang, I share with you this cake (and cupcakes) that was inspired by Charles M. Schulz's timeless characters who will always help us remember what the real meaning of Christmas is.

There was no doubt in my mind that I needed to create Snoopy with Woodstock on top of his iconic dog house for this order. The house would be the perfect volume for a decent sized cake and a perfect focal point for the cake table.

Of course I could not ignore the rest of the Peanuts Gang. I remember as a child, I used to get the comic section of the Sunday newspaper, cut out my favorites, and staple them together to make little booklets for me to carry around. Did anyone else do this? 

Charlie Brown and the gang was definitely part of my childhood, and I felt the need to pay homage to the beloved comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. This also meant staying true to the 2-dimensional quality for this order. So for the cupcakes, I decided to make cupcake toppers of our favorite Peanuts characters.

With rolled out colored fondant, I recreated the faces of each of these characters using a food writer. Once their heads were cut out, I placed them onto a pick and left them to harden for a couple days. This way, they would be stiff enough to stand straight up onto the cupcake.

For the rest of the cupcakes, I created a custom cupcake pick that was personal to the birthday boy's celebration. Of course these too were inspired by the comic strip.

 Unfortunately, I was not able to be at the party to set up the cake display that day. But with the help of my friend Keena, the cake table was completed and was able to get a few photos from the final product and party. Thanks Keena!

Before you know it, Christmas will be here...then New Year's Eve, and new memories to be had! Whether you were naughty or nice this year, I hope you were surrounded by loved ones to share those special moments, to celebrate your successes, to support you through the downs, to inspire you....just as Charlie Brown had with his gang.

You can catch A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC tonight, 8/7c. 

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope it's filled with lots of cake!

~Abs of Cakes~

Monday, November 26, 2012

Support Small Business!

The Vintage Emporium in Long Beach is so much more than your average local gift shop with "delightful gifts for you and your home." Not only do they carry an array of eclectic flea market and vintage finds, but they also support local artists! The Vintage Emporium is owned by a sweet vivacious lady by the name of Julie Woolley. Julie's story is so very inspiring. She turned her small dream into a thriving small business that does more than provide for her and her family, but engages the local creative community.

Every month, The Vintage Emporium chooses a Featured Artist at their sweet little boutique to showcase their unique crafts. I have the honor of being the Featured Artist for the month of November as Abs of Cakes. Join us this Thursday for their Sip 'N Savor where I will be showcasing and selling a variety of sweet treats.

Who: Abs of Cakes
What: Vintage Emporium's Featured Artist, November
When: Thursday, November 29, 2012 [1-5pm]
Where: The Vintage Emporium, 3423 Orange Ave/ Long Beach, CA 90807
Why: Support Small Business, Support the Artist

Here's a screen shot of Vintage Emporium's website. Visit their site at www.VintageEmporium.com
The Vintage Emporium
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday having passed, I'm pretty sure a lot of you got a lot of good deals and completed the majority of your Christmas shopping. If you are reading this post, I really hope you also participated in Small Business Saturday! I believe that EVERYDAY that you shop should be "Small Business Saturday". I can go on and on about how important it is to support small business, but I came across an article that explains it perfectly...Click HERE!

Come join us on Thursday, get a unique gift for your loved one, sip on some libations, pick up some sweet treats....I'll even be taking preorders for sweet packages. Hope to see you there!

~Abs of Cakes~ 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Twig & Willow

By the cross streets of 4th and Grand Ave. in the City of Long Beach, you might come across a quaint little boutique named Twig & Willow, run by partners Karen Quimby Lobo and Billie Gentry. Here you'll find things from jewelry and accessories, to clothes and gift items that cater mainly to women.

Last year, Twig & Willow celebrated their two year anniversary and "pre-web launch bash". Their dear friend, Robin Jones, Director of Events for We Love Long Beach (WLLB) and Living Long Beach, contacted me to make some special sweet treats for their big event. Long Beach supporting Long Beach! Gotta love it! As Twig & Willow's three year anniversary approaches, I'd like take this opportunity to reminisce on last year's festivities.

For the cake, I was inspired by Twig & Willow's logo. I decided to turn it into something more dimensional and focused on keeping it simple. I wanted their name to be the focal point with the red bird and brown twig serving as accents to the design...just like their logo.

Storefront Signage
Of course I had to incorporate Long Beach somewhere! I added We <3 LB to the back side of the cake.

Using wax paper over the We Love Long Beach logo, I traced it using melted chocolate in a parchment bag.
In addition to the cake, they also ordered two different types of mini cupcakes as a "thank you" to their guests. By the time I got to the party, they were all gone!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, topped with a Raspberry
Chocolate Cupcakes with a Cocoa-dusted Meringue Swirl, topped with a Torched Marshmallow
This time last year is also when I first started working at Sweet E's Bake Shop in Los Angeles, so I was unable to deliver and set up this order that morning. Luckily, I knew who I could trust for this....my partner in crime when it comes to events....Caroline Cervantez from Oh, Lovestruck Event Design and Styling! I've worked with Caroline on quite a few events already, and I know she has impeccable style and taste. I was blown away with how good she made this dessert table look, perfect and in theme with the look of Twig & Willow. She also invited Eloisa Hernandez from Storybox Collection to capture these AMAZING shots. (Twig & Willow loved the photos so much, that you can also view them on their website). 

It was a great turnout for Twig & Willow's 2nd anniversary and "pre-web launch bash". They even closed off a portion of Grand Ave to celebrate! There was a custom photo booth, live music, screen printing, and my personal fave...FOOD TRUCKS! It was a great way for the Long Beach community to come out and support their local business...not even the rain would ruin this day.

To view more photos from this event please visit www.eloisanadine.blogspot.com

This Rainy November day called for a clam chowder from the Lobsta Truck. YUM!!
Congratulations to Twig & Willow on approaching their 3rd year anniversary! Abs of Cakes wishes you continued success and prosperity. Long Beach appreciates you.

~Abs of Cakes~

Special thanks:

Twig & Willow, Venue

Robin Jones, Director of Events
We Love Long Beach (www.welovelb.org)
Living Long Beach (www.livinglb.com)

Caroline Cervantez, Styling
Oh, Lovestruck Event Design and Styling (ohlovestruck.com)

Eloisa Hernandez, Photography

Friday, October 26, 2012

Little "SHOP" of Horrors

Don't be fooled...this post is not about a man-eating plant (although that would make a really cool cake). Rather, it's about a cute little imaginative boy named Liam and his special birthday request. When Auntie Melissa asked him what he wanted for his birthday, little Liam's response was "a Spider Cake!" Melissa contacted me, and we made this boy's 3-year-old wishes come true.

A Spider Cake. Perhaps Liam was inspired by the fun spider web decorations his mom put up in their home, an eight-legged creature he saw crawling up a tree, or maybe from their evening walks in their Halloween adorned neighborhood. Whatever the inspiration, Liam is truly an October baby. And this post comes just in time for this spooky season. Keep in mind that there are numerous ways of creating these creepy crawly cakes...this happens to be how I created this one with the resources I had. 

AHHH!!! There's a BIG SPIDER in my fridge!!!
I started off by finding cake pans that resembled the form of a spider's body. I wanted this cake to be anatomically correct. You know, two body segments, fangs, four pairs of legs, four pairs of eyes. For the cephalothorax (or the spider's "head" in layman's terms) I used one-half of a ball cake pan. For the abdomen (or butt), I used two different sized oval pans.

It's been a while since I've created a sculpted cake, so I was excited to bust out my serrated knife and carve away. For Halloween, people carve pumpkins, while I carve cakes. Go figure.     

The makings of the Spider's abdomen.
Your scraps can be turned into cake pops, or fed to some sweet-toothed scavengers.
Can you see the fangs?
Melissa requested for a vanilla cake with strawberry filling, so once I was happy with the carved forms, I still needed to cut through each in order to fill. After the filling was added in each segment, they were masked with buttercream and chilled in the fridge to allow them to set.

The strawberries macerated in sugar would become the spider's "bloody guts" when cut and eaten.
A buttercream dam is necessary to prevent the filling from oozing over the sides.

The spider's body was now taking form. Next step was to cover the cake with black fondant and add the details. I used a number 6 tool to create a hairy texture and placed these layers on specific parts of the spider like its back and face. For the eight legs, I used armature wire for the skeleton and covered them in fondant. (Disclaimer: armature wire is NOT edible, but was used for the legs to create a stable dimensional effect without falling over).

Once all eight appendages were covered and textured, I added spider web designs to the cake board, eight red eyes to the head, and a special birthday message for Liam.

Strawberry juice was splattered around the webs to create a subtle bloody effect.

Liam was super stoked to see his Spider cake! I wasn't sure if it was his sheer excitement to see the spider, the sugar high from the spider's eyeballs, or just his three-year-old hyperactivity, but this boy was HAPPY and it totally made my day! 

Straight for the eyeballs!

Liam has a way with names, and thinks my name is "Avenue"...which I kinda love by the way. He also named his spider cake...."Shop"....Shop the Spider...."because him happy!" But for those that fear these venomous creepy crawlers, he's the "Little Shop of Horrors!" 


~Avenue of Cakes~

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