Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

Bring out your dead!  I'm not dead yet.  I promise.  Sorry for the unexpected blogging break.  We've been out of town, and crazy busy, but I haven't given up on blogging! The kids have a Fall break so we finally made a trip to Disneyland and then on to Arizona to play and visit friends.  We had a great time, and are anxious to plan our next trip to give us something to look forward to.  Am I the only one like that?  I usually need something exciting on my horizon, it gets me through my sometimes tedious everyday life.

Anyway today instead of showing trip pictures (I will do that eventually) I wanted to show the how-to on Hallie's birthday cake and pretzel sticks.  For many of you these methods are old news, but I thought I'd document how I did them for those of you who may be wondering.

First up:  Cake.  So this is nothing new, I made a rainbow cake for Hallie's birthday cake, I simply googled "rainbow cake tutorial" and came up with plenty of tutorials.  I think the most important thing I did though was use gel food coloring, it gave me a much brighter end result.  And of course I can never just use a plain cake mix, I doctored it up with my stand-by recipe, believe me it's worth the extra few ingredients.  We used a cherry chip cake mix, yum!  So here's what you do.

Divide your batter into as many bowls as you have colors for, and mix away with the food coloring.  Then simply spoon big glops of batter into your generously greased and floured cake pans.  Don't mix or stir, simply layer.

Then bake like normal, frost and decorate.  For Hallie's cake we used white butter cream frosting and decorated it with candy that we had gathered.  My favorite idea was to use the nerd covered licorice ropes around the bottom, genius! I had seen this on a local morning show once and stored it away in my brain for this cake.  So fun.

The big lollipop was purchased at Zurcher's party store (thanks April for the tip!). I had originally bought 2 only to realize one was broken, oh well, 1 worked great.  This cake took a bit of time to make, but I felt like the results were totally worth it.  It would be fun to do a Christmas version of this with red, green, and white, or a Halloween version with orange and black.  My Mom has also done what she called a zebra cake with white and black, the possibilities are endless!

Then I wanted to make some other treats so we did our favorite caramel pretzels. My biggest tip on these is to buy some good caramel, it will save you so much work, and the results will be fabulous.  I bought Peter's caramel.  Here I bought it at a candy and cake supply store called Orson Gygi, in Arizona I used to get it at Char's Bosch store. So I know they sell it in at least 2 states and would assume you could get it online.  It lasts forever and will certainly get you through plenty of holiday treats!

For the pretzels themselves I used Snyder's Rods. I cut them in half, but big ones are great too. I just find the half size easier to make, and then your pretzels go farther.

For the dipping chocolate I cheat and use Almond Bark.  This is so easy to use, just follow the directions on the package and be very careful to not over cook, if you do you'll end up with lumpy chocolate- a point of no return in your dipping process. I also use almond bark to make white chocolate popcorn, yum!

These couldn't be any easier to make.  Just use a serrated knife to cut your pretzels, cut your caramel into cubes, melt in the microwave, and dip.  Be sure you VERY GENEROUSLY spray your pans with PAM before you place the dipped caramel pretzels onto them.  This stuff (the caramel) sticks to everything, believe me, I've tried it all, and this is the best way I've found to not have the pretzels stick.

Once they are set you can dip them into the chocolate, and this won't stick to much, so I just set them out on tin foil to dry, but I like to add sprinkles or candy or nuts or other adornments to mine.  This time I used sprinkles.
That's it!  These are really easy, don't even mess around with those small wrapped caramels, I promise you'll have much better results with the big block of caramel.  

These make great neighbor gifts for the holidays.  I like to crush up candy canes at Christmas time and use that for my extra added something.  But beware if you make these your neighbors will expect them every year, they are that good! 

Anyway I think Hallie felt loved on her birthday and appreciated the extra touches her mother loves to do. That's what's important to me.

I'll be back soon with Halloween details.  My Mom and I sewed all day on Monday to make the kid's costumes, I can't wait to show them to you, I'm so excited for them to get to wear them.


Samantha said...

I love this cake!

Now that I have a little one to bake birthday cakes for I will definitely have to keep this in mind

Maddie Bagley said...

The cake was soooo good!!!! and the pretzels were AMAZING!! :)

Sarah@AlpinePoppy said...

What a great tutorial, thanks for sharing! Also, I agree the nerds rope around the base of the cake is brilliant!!

Toria said...

yum! Those pretzels look delish- I just doubt I could find the ingredients here- I'll keep my mouth watering.
Hallie's birthday looked so cute and professional- nice work.
I'm with you- I always love to have a trip or party or something on the horizon- which reminds me, I don't really. Need to get planning- we have a nice Muslim holiday coming up with almost week off of school and work- sounds like fall break to me. Disneyland and AZ would be wonderful- but I'm thinking we won't make it that far.
wish we could have spent more than 5 minutes with you in UT! Next time!!!!

Trish said...

Oh YAY!!! I am making dipped pretzel's today and I haven't had time to go to Orson Gygi but I did happen to find a 5 lb block of caramel at Peterson's in Riverton. I figured it would be good enough. I remembered you had blogged about making pretzels so I came here for a quick recap on how you do it and guess what?!?! It's the very same caramel you used. Now I can be sure it's going to work. :)