Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hello Kitty Party!

My best friend's daughter, Kamryn, turned 5 years old yesterday, and to celebrate, we threw her an amazing Hello Kitty Pool Party over the weekend!  I love her dearly and wanted her to have the perfect party.  I should have remembered all she needed was a pool ;)

I have been looking forward to this party for months!  I absolutely adore Hello Kitty and was super excited to find out that was Kammy's theme.  I'm not going to lie, my sister and I had an all out Hello Kitty war a couple years ago.  It got pretty ugly.  I'm talking Hello Kitty scrapbooking gifts, Hello Kitty water cooler, gum ball machine, sandwich maker, hair dryer, every single car related Hello Kitty product known to man.  We eventually had to call a mutual truce before we both spent every dime to our name on Hello Kitty.  Which I would have done gladly, except, honestly, who needs a Hello Kitty bottle of wine?  Ok, I do.  Especially after the party.  But there are other products that I will not name that still disturb me to this day.  There are just some places Hello Kitty doesn't need to be...

Anyways, I decided to use this party as an opportunity to test myself.  More of my friends are finding out about my baking obsession and have asked me to help out on their weddings, baby showers, bacherolette parties....the list goes on.  But how do I agree to projects if I don't know how much of a baking load + plus working two jobs I could handle?

Well, I went a little over the top for this party.   A tad.  Lesson?  Do NOT wait until the week of the party to make all the crafts [labels for water bottles and candy, pink ruffly backdrop, labels for all the food, thank you tags, cupcake toppers...the list goes on. And on.]  I found out I can easily handle the baking load, as long as I do not mix it with +5 time consuming craft projects.  I took the time to design everything in Photoshop...which I also learned this week for the party.  Oh well, you live and learn!

Wow.  All I can say is that was the most work I've ever fit into one week, in my entire life!  I learned so much doing this party.  Here is what I made:
  • Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting tinted to the colors of her party
    • Mini chocolate cupcakes
  •  Decorated Hello Kitty sugar cookies with my brand new Hello Kitty Wilton cookie cutters! 
  • Cake pops decorated to look like Hello Kitty....they didn't work out and I do NOT want to talk about it. 
  • Cake balls 
  • A four layer, two tiered fondant cake [first time ever making such a cake!]
  • labels for all the food [which I forgot to get pictures of!]
    • Puuurrrrfect pasta salad [...pasta salad]
    • keep your paws off my sandwiches [platter of sandwiches]
    • fruity meow mix [fruit salad]
    • cat dip [ranch dip]
    • Hello Kitty loves fishes because they are so delicious! [bowl of gold fishes in a fish bowl]
    • labels for all the various desserts I made
  • Water bottle labels.  I can't believe I didn't get pictures of these!  They took forever to make, and were so incredibly adorable!  I cut out cute scrapbook paper, Laurren wrapped it around a water bottle with a scalloped circle cut out with Happy Birthday Kam! taped in the middle. 
  • Cupcake toppers
And without further ado, here is my dessert table!  I am not quite on Glorious Treats level, but come on, who is? 
Here are a few of my Hello Kitty cookies and I just love how they came out.  Hello Kitty is one of the easiest cookies to mess up because the proportions are so important.  Luckily, I have Illyria [aka my KopyKake projector], so this was a breeze!  Kammy's colors for the party were pink, orange, green, and blue, so I made some heart shaped cookies in some of her colors.

One of the longest crafts I attempted was creating my own cupcake toppers...even designing them in Photoshop.  What was I thinking?!?  I am particularly proud of "Eat me right MEOW!"  The rest of them say Happy 5th Birthday Kam!  I tried matching the party colors from the invitation but my printer was not cooperating.   I made these cupcakes using the Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake recipe, adapting it to cupcakes by baking them at 350 for 22-24 minutes and the minis for 15 minutes.  I used Glorious Treats American Buttercream recipe, which was delicious, easy, and held its shape very well while piping. Glory from Glorious Treats even has a cupcake series, teaching through tutorials all the basics; from which liners to buy, to piping frosting on the cupcake perfectly each time. 

Here are some minis with a random oval cookie I decorated last minute.  I had other plans for it, but ran out of time.  I love my new cake stands!  I got them from a Home Goods store for a decent price!  I customized the ribbon to match Kammy's colors.

Laurren, Kammy's mom, bought a bunch of matching candy, such as the Sixlets colorful pack of chocolate coated candies, and Now or Laters.  I made the labels that she taped on the jars using cute scrapbook paper cut to the desired length, with left over toppers.  I used 1.5 inch craft punches to get the scalloped edge of the "Happy Birthday" cut outs.

I found this super cute backdrop idea from a blog called How Does She...?.  Unfortunately, the umbrella that was holding it up was not cooperating, and it fell halfway through the party.  I'm not going to lie, I thought I was going to cry a little bit.  But then I had a cookie and my world was right again.  I think this would be especially cute indoors, where the wind will not blow it into all of your carefully prepared desserts.  Unless you like crepe paper in your cupcakes, in that case, this would be perfect for you!  This backdrop took me hours to make, a little at a time each night, but was so cute it was worth it.  Just layer mostly equal pieces of crepe paper and sew [hopefully using a sewing machine] down the middle, pushing the paper in a little at a time so it bunches prettily.  I started using matching threads, but towards the end even green some how got incorporated...probably because Walmart at 2:00 am just isn't my favorite place to be.

I made individual treat bags for all the kiddies with a label that said: "Kamryn and Hello Kitty speak from their hearts:  Thank you for coming to our party!".  Hello Kitty does not have a mouth because she speaks from the heart.  I was determined to include this cute saying somewhere in this party and somehow made it work for treat bags.  Most of these were gone during the party due to sugar crazed children running around rummaging for even more sugar to eat.  And I could not have been happier.
A.] I did not have to take care of any of them.
B.]  They were super adorable with Hello Kitty cookies in their hands
C.]  The worst feeling is seeing a ton of leftovers and I'm pleased to say that there wasn't many left over when I left. 

And finally....the cake!  My first fondant cake!

I don't want to begin by complaining, but this is me we are talking about, and that is just how I do things in real life.  This was not the design I had intended, but sometimes, you have to adapt!  Especially in Man vs. Wild, but also in cake decorating.  I had made a cookie topper for Kamryn the night before, but it broke :(  I tried several times to salvage it, but this cookie was determined to sacrifice itself pre-party.  I wanted to keep the cake simple because I knew the table was going to be piled high of sugar laden goodness.  The cake was very well received!  The top tier was two layers of delicious chocolate cake, linked above, and the bottom layer was a new recipe I tried.  Smitten Kitchen is an amazing blog to find consistently delicious and perfect recipes.  The yellow cake 2 layer bottom tier was also moist and tasty.  It is as close as the goodness of a boxed cake while still being from scratch and having all the ingredients processed free.

The dessert table!  Complete with cake balls and some other candies I didn't post individual pictures of. 

Yellow Cake by Smitten Kitchen
yield:  two 9 by 2 inch layers, two 8 inch squares, 9 x 13, or 2 dozen cupcakes
  • 4 cups + 2 tablespoons of cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups of buttermilk, well-shaken
Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare pans [I sprayed the bottom of each pan, cut out a piece of wax paper and placed it on the bottom of the pan, then sprayed the top of it with cooking spray and dusted with flour].
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy.
Beat in vanilla.
Add eggs one a time.
Beat well and scrap bowl.
Switch to low speed, add in buttermilk until just combined.  [if it looks nasty, you did it right.  Curdled is not a good look for anything.]
Gradually add flour, in 3 additions, beat until just incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pans and tap the sides to even the batter and bring air bubbles to the top.
Bake until golden, 35-40 minutes.  [Or at 325 for at least 40 minutes.  This will help create even layers, by having a lower temperature and baking longer.  I have tried both methods and either way they looked about the same.]  Check at the minimum baking time, using a toothpick.  If removed clean, the cake is done.
Cool in pan at least 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool for one hour.  Decorate or freeze.

I froze this cake, but have yet to bust it out and try it to see if it is worthy.  I wanted to wait until I have people come over that I can force feed cake to.  Nothing is more dangerous than having a delicious yellow cake all to yourself.

American Buttercream Frosting by Glorious Treats
yield:  enough to frost a crumb layer and another coat for 2 9x2 inch layers, a 9x13 cake, or 2 dozen cupcakes + 3 dozen mini cupcakes.
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half, or milk 
Whisk butter on medium speed until completely smooth [under a minute].
Add salt.
Add 1 cup of sugar at a time, two total.  Beat after each addition.
Add vanilla.  Beat.
Add 1 tablespoon of cream.  Beat.
Add the two cups of sugar, one at a time.  Beat.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream.  [Add one and see how the consistency is.  You want the frosting to be thick instead of runny, so that it holds its shape in the piping bag.]  I added 3 total.

This recipe doubles very well. Keep in fridge until ready to use.  This will also help you decorate the cupcakes with ease.

When I do a fondant cake next, I'll try to do a step by step tutorial of my method.  I researched how to do a tiered cake for several weeks to find a method I really liked.  I didn't have time to make the cake and a tutorial, so maybe I will later this month when I make a guitar shaped cake.  I have more pictures but I decided not to post them, because they don't look as nice.  But that is ok, because I bought myself a new camera!! Yay!

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