Monday, October 31, 2011

The Uncanny Valley - Head Cake


This cake was my fun!

For years now, I've wanted to make a head cake, or a zombie cake; this year, I followed my dreams! My husband took one look at this and judged it! His response: It is horrid! Not in the bad way, but in the Uncanny Valley way.
The uncanny valley is a theory of robotics where things look so real that they are disturbing, rather than interesting.
Hubbie was disgusted, as were my coworkers!

I wanted originally to do a step-by-step, but I didn't. Sorry! Instead, I took a few photos, well, my husband did, and I can show you the parts.

I started out with three 6-inch cakes, stacked them in a slanty way, and began to carve them into the shape of a face.

Next, and this is where I could not take photos, I used my 'mastery' of sculpting (not really), and covered the cake in modeling chocolate. This is a sculpting part, I am sure you can buy face molds if you look hard enough, but if you want it to be personal, use your creativity, explore pictures of faces, then try to re-create your own design. I used bits and pieces to piece together the face (working on muscle groups etc), making it look dead, and a little upset about it.


Finally, using cocoa powder, I brushed on some shade into the face. Then I used some luster dust (purple, pink and blue) to make cuts look like they are bruised. I scored the face with wonderful cuts, and added some corn syrup (dyed red and brown) to make it look like shiny blood.


This head looks a little upset about the whole thing.

There you have it! My head cake. I had a blast doing this. Modeling chocolate is so easy to work with, I'll post up a nice tutorial later on! But for tonight, scary movies and pizza.

Happy Halloween All!

I guess I SHOULD share my costume:

Victorian Lady, holding a head:

The costume dragged on the ground all day... I was amazed that only one kid tried to climb under the dress. Good thing I was wearing pants under it!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Something Evil this way Comes!


Because of the influx of emails asking me which recipe I used to make these cookies, I am posting a like to my sugar Cookie Recipe HERE!

Okay, back to the post:


Tomorrow for school, I get my first crack at dress-up; the kindergarten kids who only come on Tuesdays and Thursdays are having their party. I guess I need to get a makeup-check before the big day!
The ghoulies are already stealing my cookies. No, that is not my hand all yuckie with dirt.

Actually, those digits belong to the time-honored traditional Halloween baking known as:

Witchy fingers!

I've always loved the way these simple cookies make Halloween tables look. Honestly, all lined up, or piled into a jar, they look absolutely creepy! That is why I was so excited to make them!

They are the simplest cookie too. Simply roll out some sugar-cookie dough into a thin line (and hes, mine are a little thick, make your cookies thin because they spread), apply an almond shard, score the knuckles, then bake as directed.

I like to brush mine with a little cocoa-powder after baking (with a paint brush) to make the hands look dirty and contrast-like.

Honestly, this is a no-fail treat (unless there are allergies involved). I've got a super awesome treat lined up for Halloween, and it's time to start the pre-baking. It will be awesome. I can't wait!
See you all in a few days!


A lot of people have asked 'how did I do this.' The directions are true, and should be right, but if you have certain problems, look below. I will try to add answers as they are asked.

My cookies are flatter than yours: My answer to you is to be cautious of your butter to flour ratio. Oftentimes, doughs react differently at different humidities or temperatures. If you find your dough spreads a little too much, try adding a little flour to the mix before you put in the next batch. I always do a 'test batch' when baking cookies, so I know how they are going to spread.

How thin and long should I roll the dough: As for the thinness of the dough.. I rolled the dough to 3/4 of the width my own fingers, about a bit longer than a real finger. The cookies should spread but stay plump. The bottoms WILL be flat, but the edges are rounded.

Would cinnamon look good in the knuckles?: I would assume Cinnamon work, but a word of caution: Cinnamon is dry! It would be far easier to add more cinnamon to the cookie dough itself before baking than to brush enough cinnamon to make the shaded look. I would still recommend sticking to cocoa, but add more cinnamon in the dough. :)

I used Store-bought dough, and it didn't work. HELP!: I say add more flour. The dough is made to spread and thin... As attested by another baker, it works:
Michelle Junker adds: I used store bought cookie dough today, knowing I had to add flour, I ended up adding 3/4-1 C. of flour and they turned out perfect. Made them extra thin and then made boney knuckles. I also used whole almonds that I cut in half. Very happy with the results! Thanks!

I hope this helps.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooky Webs and Brains

Hurray! No more sickness!

It's almost Halloween time, and the thing I find the most scary is not the ghosts and goblins, but rather .... well, let me tell you a little story:

You are sitting at table time, or in a circle, talking to a child in your class about something or another. They are nodding, smiling, or sharing their ideas. You feel great because being a teacher is the most rewarding thing in the world. Then... IT HAPPENS! The child gets this face, all peppery, turns to you, and you think they may ask something important... but no.

THEY SNEEZE ON YOU, right in the face!

You cringe in fear! You think to your self NO, NOT THIS, ANYTHING BUT THIS! You wonder when you can get to the bathroom to wash your face and hands, but you realize it has gotten on your shirt as well, and you cannot simply leave the classroom, so you go to the sanitizing station, but that is not enough. You know in your heart of hearts, you are going to get sick too!

Well, that's how it happened anyway. One week of sickness, and I feel great... lets' see if they do it again!

But, on to cookies!

It has been a while since I've made any great fall cookies. I've not done many themed, that's for sure. So when I decided to make some Gothic looking cookies, I was very excited (not to mention the fact that there have been no sweets in my house in a week!) I decided to make some gorgeous Gothic Cookies:

(Can you spot the smudge on my camera lens?)
How could I resist not putting a spider on them. It is almost Halloween anyway?
Black and Red remind me of blood. Orange is too pumpkin, so when I was thinking of my cookies, I was thinking, dark and spooky night! The contrast of a blood red moon against the shadows.
How can you tell I'm an English major?

But, I am also part zombie. I had to do something else, so I decided to do Brains as well!

I actually wrote Brains because I was afraid no one would know what they were. It was a second guess, but I think they look rather sweet! This year, I can't be my usual Zombie self, so I get to play with a new costume... any guesses? I'll save that until Halloween! I'd love to know what you all plan on being!

This time of year certainly is awesome. There is so much beauty, so much clean, fresh air. I love that I can open my windows and let the cool breeze in! Not only that, but it is the haunting season! OH! WHAT FUN!

This year, our school is throwing a primary party, and the kids are going to do centers in costumes: I get to do the Drama/Singing center! YAY! I love seeing all the kids in their gear! I am super excited. Only 8 more days!


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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rainbows, Butterflies, and a girl's dream!

If you were asked to create a colourful cake that included the theme of rainbows for a 4 year-old girls' birthday, what would you say?

Could you say no?

No, really, Could you?

I could not! This project was just too fun to avoid!! All week I've been making sugar flowers and sugar butterflies for the perfect birthday cake.

The party was an oasis of colour, big rainbow balloon archways, rainbow balloons everywhere, rainbow parachute, rainbow building blocks and streamers, rainbow tutus... :: dies :: The colours were spectacular. As a centerpiece on the dessert table was my cake.

No, this time I did not make the dessert table, nor did I eat all the fruit off of it (as some who know me might have suspected). I simply brought the cake... enjoyed the company, and took photos. Had I forethought, I would have removed the napkin from the center of the table before the photo was taken!

Now of course you can guess that the cake is a rainbow cake. Since the party is still going on, I have yet to acquire a photo of the cake being cut, something I am quite anxious for.

Again, for sugar flowers I choose anemone flowers (tutorial here), cherry-blossoms (tutorial here) blue bells (which use the same technique as the cherry-blossoms), leaves and of course, calla lilies. The display was mounted on an un-flattened cake top that I allowed to dome to give the whole set a little more volume. Over the edges of the cake I attempted to drape blue-bells and sugar blossoms (both open and not) to give some motion to the cake.

Flying up the sides, I used gumpaste-butterflies which I cut out in rainbow colours. I adhered them to the cake using crusted buttercream, which acts as a glue. Since the wings were worked to be nice and thin, they were very light on the side.

In total, a complete success!

For now, I am thinking Halloween. I've got my costume and some great cookie ideas. I cannot wait to show all of you! Hubbie has been chastising me for wearing my costume around the house (it is decent I swear). I just ABSOLUTLY freaked out when I got it. It's so fun! You'll see :)

Now, I have some work to do! Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Youth Leadership Conference cookies

HURRAY FOR YOUTH LEADERS! This post come a little late, as these cookies were made for Monday, but given the AWESOME weather we've had, I simply delayed posting them.

At our school, we have a group of students known as "Peer Mediators," whose job it is to help their fellow students resolve conflicts and provide a positive role-model to the younger students. As a reward for their efforts, our school requested some special cookies. Who could say no to that?

Each cookie was made as unique as the children; no cookie is the same. I made them in the same way I made my Cheerleader Cookies but I feel I've refined the process a little more.

But... there were quite a few kids. I was asked to do two dozen cookies (Some Earth cookies, some kids). Here are the kids; each one is unique (My apologies for the bad photography)!

Of all the cookies, this one was my favorite:

So, this weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving (Le Jour de Grace). My parents are driving down here to celebrate. So far, the cabbage rolls are done, I'm thawing my turkey. My soup is ready. Bruschetta is stewing... so much preparation! Happy celebrations to all!

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Feta-Squash Ravioli Tutorial(Recipe)

Have you ever wanted to make your own Pasta? It's not hard, but it does take some work. The reward is something tailored to your taste, and something without preservatives! In my books, that's worth it!

This week, because of all my squash/pumpkin cook-downs, I decided that I should make some delicious Squash Ravioli!

Start with your pasta. I mix 3 eggs, 3 tbsp water (maybe more), 3 tbsp oil, and 3 cups of flour. I make a well in the center of the flour, lightly beat eggs in a separate bowl with the oil and water, and slowely whisk the eggs to the outside of the well. In my pasta, I also like to add some flavor. Should you choose, you could add some great spices (Sage, Rosemary, and Garlic are my pasta triad). Once the mix is balled, work it together so there is no lumps/flour pieces. Let rest 1 hour in a plastic sandwich bag.

While that is resting, mix your filling. Since we are making the Squash Ravioli, that's the recipe I'll give:

Squash Ravioli filling:
1 c of squash puree
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 tsp brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1/4 c feta, crumbled.

Mix contents together, set aside and wait for the pasta.

Now, take half of the ball, and roll it out either with your pasta maker, or if you are Hobo like me, grab your rolling pin and start sweating it out! Roll it flat, about 1/2 an inch thick.

Keep your pasta from drying out. Make sure to grease up your hands, and keep it moist so it does not get all icky. Mine above is starting to dry.

Now, using a small crimped circle/square cookie cutter, cut out circles for the ravioli. Place on a baking sheet. Spray them with Pam.

Once that is done, take a little water, and dab around the sides of the ravioli circles. Now you need your filling. Spoon 1/2 a tsp into the center of the circle...

Using a fork, press down around the pre-wetted edges of the ravioli to secure them down. Spray again with Pam and place on a cookie sheet. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic-wrap until you have them all completed.

BOIL SOME WATER... this part is hard!
Dump your ravioli into the water and stir to prevent sticking. After about 6-8 minutes, remove pasta from the water, place into sauce.

Beautiful! This is the inside of the ravioli! (Below)

This is a slightly sweetened supper dish. It makes about 24 ravioli, so you may want to double it for a family. It is also simple enough to get the kids involved! They can cut the pasta or even help roll it (thought it must be extreme rolled!). Nothing like a special home-cooked meal.

Other fillings I enjoy:

Rosted-Red-Pepper, feta and spinache puree



Now, again, I just feel like sharing the beauty of NWO, because honestly, it is like someone just took their paint bucket and dumped their warm colours all over the ground! IT'S STUNNING!

Notre tour en Canot

Les arbres qui sont très jolie!

Et, sur l'eau, nous (moi et mon mari) avons vu ces arbre près du garer; c'était un très belle jour pour être sur le lac!

Now, to bake cookies!

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