My favorite part of my little ones' birthdays is, of course, the CAKE! Not really eating it, though I suppose I like birthday cake as much as anyone, but decorating one. I love trying something I have never attempted before, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Last year my Iron Giant cake resembled a rock with two bright green spots of, I don't know, perhaps fungus on it.
This year I had to make up for it, though Carter actually kinda dug the idea of a rock cake. :)
He's really into the movie Peter Pan nowadays, especially 'Captain Hookhand,' so I decided to try my hand at a pirate ship. Really, all the boy cares about is that his cake is chocolate, but I have to play too, ya know! I found instructions for a cake that was both cute and doable all of 44 hours before the party was scheduled to begin. I like to plan ahead, you know...
Last spring my friend Laura gave me the coolest cupcake book, Hello Cupcake! In it are so many wonderful ideas and very helpful instructions, I may well spend the rest of my adult life trying to come up with reasons to try every design. Since not every child would want chocolate cake, I rationalized that as an excuse to also make vanilla cupcakes--with sharks on them!
Armed with a crazy list of treats I never-ever-ever buy (Twinkies??), I collected everything to make both, and baked the cake layers the day before the party so as to not repeat the 'cake won't cool quickly enough to decorate in time for the party' debacle of 2008.
Then it was simply a matter of putting all the components together in a way that would hopefully look nice.
With the book very close at hand, and a strong coffee to keep my mind defuzzed, I started to cut off pieces of Twinkie. By the way, Twinkies suck! I popped a little piece of an end into my mouth and... ewwwwww. It didn't taste at all like cake or whipped cream. I always cringed when my mom claimed this or that tasted like chemicals when I was a kid, but these just tasted like unpronounceable preservatives. Blech. However, they did work well for this, and a Twinkie every year or less probably has never killed anyone. (As far as I know.)
The Twinksters were then glued onto the tops of cupcakes. Is it just me, or could these also be the start of some really morbid Titanic sinking commemoration party treats? Huh, huh?
Then I cut little slits into the cakish yellow things, and inserted some lemon waffle cookies that were trimmed a bit into the slits to make a dorsal fin shape. The book said to use a different kind of cookie that I could NOT find without going to a second store, and probably not finding them there either, so these had to do. And they were fine. If I had not bought these, I would have gotten yet another thing I never buy, Oreos, and "unscrewed" them to use just the cookie part. After this step, they were put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or however long it took me to dash around tidying up and ordering the kids to NOT MAKE ANY MORE MESSES (so probably closer to 30 minutes).
I used ordinary icing from a can tinted gray and heated in the microwave until kind of like melted chocolate, and dipped the shark part of the cupcakes into that to coat it, then added a few details to transform the sad Titanics into...
SHARK ATTACK CUPCAKES! Perfect for aquarium parties, people afraid to swim in the ocean... so many uses! By the way, true story: the first movie my parents ever took me to was Jaws. I was three. This explains so much, no?
The pirate cake was really a lot more straightforward to assemble and decorate than it appears. The cake layers were cut into half circles and laid all in a row with the rounded sides down, and bunches of different premade treats were used in pretty neat ways to fashion cannon balls, cannons, and railing. Bunny and I made the sails with construction paper and skewers, and the pirate is part of one of Carter's toy sets. I was extra fancy and washed the toy before using it... Party Guests, you're welcome for that. :)
As much fun as it was to make, the real payoff was that Carter was delighted, and it tasted good, too.