Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars

I decided to take a break from cake making this past weekend and make a special treat for my family that was visiting. I found a great recipe for Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake bars on the Tasty Kitchen
Cheesecake...peanut butter cups...chocolate drizzle...pretty much as delicious as you think they are going to be! Here's the recipe along with a few notes from me.

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars 
adapted from the Tasty Kitchen

1/4 cup of Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs (or 7 graham crackers crushed)
6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons All purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2- 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minis (the unwrapped ones)
2 oz of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil, making sure to leave 3-4 inches of foil draping over the sides.
To prepare the crust:
In a medium sized bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs (or alternately crush graham crackers in food processor to form crumbs) with the butter, brown sugar, flour and salt. Mix until fully combined. Press the crumbs into the bottom of your baking pan until the entire bottom is evenly covered.
Bake the crust for about 12 to 15 minutes until the crust is beginning to brown. Let cool for 30 minutes.
The filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters frequently. Gradually beat in the sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated. Beat in sour cream and vanilla extract until fully combined, about 30 seconds. Gently fold in the peanut butter cups into the cream cheese mixture. Scrape the mixture onto the prepared crust. Be sure to spread evenly.
To bake:
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges are set but the middle still jiggles slightly when gently shook.  Rotate the pan halfway through cooking.
Place the pan on a cooling rack and let cool for 2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
Remove from the pan by lifting up the foil sides. Cut as desired.
Place the chocolate into a small bowl and microwave for 1 minute at 50% power, stirring after 30 seconds until completely melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the bars. You can garnish each piece with a peanut butter cup and serve!

A few notes from me...
I was thrilled to find the mini peanut butter cups. They are new, so if your store doesn't carry them, you can buy 12 whole cups (that's 6 packages) and chop them into 4 to 6 pieces. I put my peanut butter cups into the mixture whole. If you use the minis, I suggest cutting them in half so that they are distributed more evenly. 

If you leave them overnight to chill in the refrigerator (like I did), then let them sit out a half hour or so before you serve them. I found that when eating them straight out of the fridge, the peanut butter cups where a little hard. Not that it deterred me one little bit from instantly devouring a couple ;)

This yummy recipe got me thinking...maybe trying it with snickers (my favorite) or another chocolate candy. Give it a try and let me know if you come up with another delicious combination! Enjoy :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Electric Guitar Cake {Flashback}

Last year, my nephew turned 15. He was really getting into playing guitar and was getting a new electric guitar for his birthday. Of course since he was evolving into a little metal head,  it couldn't be just any guitar. It had to be this crazy looking thing...

I mean could poke an eye out or something with this scary thing! But, then I got the equally crazy idea of making him a cake to look just like his new guitar. I had never done anything like this before and decided to just GO FOR IT!

It was ALOT of work, about 16 hours total and a good chunk of it because I had never made a cake like this. Here's a little peek at how it all came together.

First, I knew I needed a template because I wanted the cake to be as realistic as possible. I was too embarrassed to do it myself, so I sent my honey down to the guitar store with a sheet of foam board in hand. He found the guitar, set it down on the ground and traced the template for me. The guys in the store thought it was cool that his wife was making a guitar cake. I, on the other hand, would have felt like a complete idiot. But my husband is cool like that :)

My nephew requested carrot cake...which is super moist and kind of a difficult cake to carve...but I would not be deterred! If carrot cake is wanted he wanted, carrot cake he would get!

I put my cakes onto the template and cut away the shape. Of course my template was larger than my cake, so I made two cakes and had to piece some parts together. Thank goodness for frosting!

The guitar neck and head stock (I learned all these great terms when researching this cake) were made out of rice crispy treats. Cake as an art medium has its limitations, so cake artists use cereal treats for parts of some of those super cool shaped cakes you've seen on tv! I chose the cereal because I wanted the guitar neck to be offset and elevated...the way an actual guitar is. I never was able to achieve it...but a lesson learned for a future cake.

I had never covered a cake this shape in fondant before. It was challenging and I learned that you really should have more fondant than you need in order to be able to roll it out large enough. I had to piece it together which left an unattractive seam.
 Doesn't it look like a turkey carcass about now??? 

My husband came to the rescue again and suggested I create the name banner to cover it up!

Oh and can I tell you how much I loved this cake board???? It was a piece of plywood covered in WRAPPING PAPER! I happened to come across this metal grate looking wrapping paper at Target of all places. I covered the board with it, then covered the wrapping paper with clear contact paper! I loved how cool it looked! HEAVY METAL...hee hee ;)

The only non-edible parts of this cake were the guitar strings. I wanted them to look realistic and ended up using sewing thread wrapped around toothpicks inserted into the cake. It was truly a last minute "Hail Mary" move that ended up working perfectly!

My nephew was most definitely surprised and thrilled with his cake!

This weekend we will be celebrating his 16th birthday!!! I know that there is no way I can top the guitar cake. But hopefully the fun & cool cake I'm working on this week will still be a hit. I'll be sharing that cake this weekend! Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

{DIY} Photo Collage Banner

Today I'm sharing a super easy and inexpensive party decoration that I made for my daughter's recent birthday party. It's a Photo Collage Banner that is perfect for any birthday party, no matter what the guest of honor's age!

What you will need for your banner:
  • cardstock: 2 sheets plus additional for photos (1 sheet for every 2 photos)
  • scrapbook paper: 2 sheets of 12x12
  • small alphabet (or number) stickers
  • 1 chipboard letter & 1 chipboard number (child's initial & age)
  • coordinating ribbon 
  • mini clothespins (one for each photo)
  • glue dots
  • large bowl for tracing circles 
  • 2" circle punch (or small cup)
  • scissors
  • photos of your choosing (4x6)
To begin, cut your cardstock to approximately a 5x7 (one for each photo), so it's just a little larger than your 4x6 photo. Using the glue dots, mount pictures onto the cardstock.

Next, use your alphabet stickers to spell out the age on the bottom. You could use a number instead, but I just liked how cute the spelled out word looked. But if you are making this for an older child or adult, then you are probably going to be better off with numbers!

Clip a mini clothespin to each photo and put them aside for now.

Using your large bowl as a template, trace two large circles out of the cardstock. My bowl & circles are 7 3/4" across.

Using your 2" circle punch (or a small cup as a template) cut out 2 small circles. I love to use every inch of my paper, so I just used my scraps.

Attach the chipboard letter and initial to each circle (you could use a large sticker instead).

Next it's time to make the rosettes. Besides my daughter's pictures, this is my favorite part! I just love how festive paper rosettes are.

Take a sheet of your scrapbook paper and fold it accordian-style.

Fold the paper in half and cut into two equal pieces.

 Take each of those pieces and fold them in half.

 Using your glue dots, seal the open end to form a half-circle. Repeat on the other piece.

 You should now have two semi-circles.

Using your glue dots, attach both halves together and use additional glue dots to seal up the center. You should now have one very pretty paper rosette! Repeat to create the rosette with the other piece of scrapbook paper.

Now it's time to put it together! Use your glue dots to attach the small circle onto the center of the rosette and then attach the rosette to the center of the larger circle. I seriously don't know what I did before glue dots!

Cut your ribbon long enough to hang all your photos, plus 4" on each side. It's helpful to lay out your ribbon and place your already mounted photos along it to make sure you have enough. Attach the extra 4" of ribbon to your large circle using...glue dots of course! You will be attaching it to the back side so make sure your ribbon pattern (if any) is facing correctly.

Now your fabulous party banner is ready to be hung! I used rolled up packing tape to mount it to my walls, but I know not everyone is comfortable with tape on their walls...LOL! So use whatever method you prefer to adhere the banner to wherever you want it displayed.

Once you have your banner hung, clip your photos on and your decoration is ready to party!

I hope you enjoyed this fun Photo Collage Banner tutorial and are inspired to make one for your own celebration!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Super Hero Cake: The Dynamic Duo

My good friend Emily has the challenge of having her kids' birthdays in the same month. To add to that challenge, she has one boy & one girl...which can make choosing a theme problematic. But she has managed to combine their birthdays into one party successfully by choosing themes that all the kids love. This year it was one that is always popular with boys AND girls...SUPER HERO! 

She fell in love with a cake she had seen from a super hero party featured on Amy Atlas. So I was happy to make her a similar one, but tailored to her party of course.

The top tier was vanilla cake with chocolate chip filling...bottom tier was chocolate with cookies & cream filling and all the decorations were made from homemade marshmallow fondant.

A fun cake for two awesome little Super Heroes!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday's Fabulous Five {Back to School}

Next week my sweet baby girl heads off to Kindergarten! I seriously cannot believe it is happening and now truly understand what they mean when they say "in the blink of an eye". I blinked and now my baby is leaving...

But luckily, there are all kinds of inspiring ideas out there to help make heading to school the memorable and fun event it should be! I'll still be crying thank you very much...but I'll still manage to make the first day special :)

Here's Five Fabulous Ideas to celebrate your child's first day of school!

I LOVE the idea of taking a picture of your child every year on the first day of school. But I love the idea of having a ready made sign for them to hold even more! You can find these cute ones at I {heart} Nap Time for every grade.

A first day photo is a fab idea most definitely, but how about capturing what's inside their little heads too? I love the idea of editing your photo to include your child's faves! This idea and photo is courtesy of Zoot.

I've seen many printable lunch box notes out there, but I really want to be able to share my own sentiments with my daughter. That's why I love these lunchbox notes from Picklebums. They are super cute, but leave room to write something more personal!

This next idea isn't actually a "First Day" idea, but still a great "Back to School" one! Since I'm am completely new to the whole school routine, I know I'm going to need some ideas to help keep us organized. And if it can be cute too, then I'm all for it! How adorable (yet practical) are these Dry Erase Clipboards found on Design Dazzle? 

Finally, you might want to start your relationship with the new teacher off on the right foot...say with something a little sweet? It can't hurt right? ;) Love this cute "Smart Cookie" idea from the girls at eighteen25. Head over there for the free printable to make your own!

Five Fabulous ideas to start your school year off right! I hope it's a great one for you and your kids and I hope all the 1st time mommies like myself have a box of tissues handy. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

{DIY} Tutu Cake Stand

We recently celebrated my daughter heading to Kindergarten with a Kindergarten Rocks! party.  To go along with the theme, I made a rock star cake which I displayed on a cute cake stand dressed with a tutu...perfect for your glam rock star divas!

Today I'm going to show how to make this simple, but fun & rockin' cake stand!

You will need:
1 spool of tulle 
ribbon (not smaller than 5/8")
hot glue
glue dots
cake circles (3-4 in size needed for cake) (more info below)
wrapping paper or scrapbook paper
large can (more info below)

The first thing you will need to do is make a Cake Board using cardboard cake circles from the craft store that are glued together. Please follow my recent tutorial for detailed info here. You will follow the directions up until the ribbon. There's no need to attach a ribbon since we will be doing that with the tutu!

Next, measure your ribbon around the perimeter of your board and cut to size. I found this cute rock star ribbon at Walmart and based my cake design on it!

For the next step you will need to hot glue your tulle onto your ribbon. Place your ribbon with the design down, pleat or bunch up the tulle to give it some "pouf", apply a generous amount of glue to the ribbon, and then hold your tulle until the glue has seeped in and adhered. Do this in small sections at a time.

Be very careful not to burn yourself with the hot glue when it seeps into the tulle! I did the first few times until I figured out how to hold it towards the top while pressing from the underside of the ribbon. It took me just under an hour to complete the gluing on a 10" cake board and I used close to 3/4 of the spool of tulle. 

I started out not cutting the tulle off the spool and just unrolled it and pleated as I went along. But I found that the tulle kept getting in the way. It seemed to work better when I cut the tulle into large pieces and worked with it a piece at a time instead.

Once your skirt is complete, you can trim the top edges to neaten it up if you like.

Now it's time to attach it to the cake board. You can use hot glue if you want, but I chose to use glue dots so that I could remove it and save it for another use later. Plus it was just too cute to throw away ;)

In the next steps, you will create the base to attach your board to.

I made a very inexpensive base for my cake stand by using an extra large tomato sauce can from my pantry. Make sure the scale is right for your base. In other words, don't put a 10" cake board on a little bitty can of corn ;) Also be sure that the can is FILLED so that your stand will be sturdy enough to support your cake. Then wrap your can in coordinating wrapping paper or scrapbook paper.

Finally, attach the base to the board using either hot glue or more glue dots and you ready to put your cake on!

With the right ribbon, this would easily make a pretty stand for a princess party as well! Perfect for any glam girl :)

I hope you enjoy making this fun tutu cake stand
 as much as I did!

I'm linking up to these great parties:

Pure Joy Events Party Tutorial Contest

Nothing But Country

Confessions of a Stay At Home Mommy

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