How to Host a Slime Party

This post is sponsored by Acorn: An Influence Company #ReadySetSlime
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Imagine being asked by Nickelodeon and Walmart to create a Slime Moment with your kids to get excited for the upcoming Kids’ Choice Awards on March 28!   Now also imagine that you’re a blogger who can’t do anything small.  And then imagine that you live in Germany where you don’t have access to amazing stores like Walmart to buy your supplies.  In my world, that’s a challenge worth accepting! You can imagine how excited I was when I was chosen as one of 5 bloggers to participate in this project with Nickelodeon and Walmart and my wheels started turning with all kinds of awesome plans, recipes and decorating ideas!

Follow #ReadySetSlime on Twitter and Instagram for more fun!

How to Host a Slime Party | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

Instead of creating a slime moment for just my two kids, I invited two of my friends who have six school age children between them to join us.  Three moms, one dad and eight kids make for a fun afternoon of slime!

For this Slime Party, we made slime-filled cupcakes then got messy with some easy DIY slime and finally we finished the afternoon with a goodie bag of homemade slime-filled chocolates!  Loads of fun for all ages!

First, watch this video and then read below for all the details to Host a Slime Party! Enjoy!

Set the Scene!

How to Host a Slime Party | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

Before the party even began, I had to Set the Scene!  This was super fun to plan!  Lime green everything!  Here’s what I gathered for the party:

  • Lime green vinyl table cover, napkins and cups – I got this at my local drug store, but you can find them at Walmart too!
  • Glass milk jars –  I drink a lot of those bottled coffee drinks from that one super popular coffee joint… so I saved a bunch of those jars, took off the labels and cleaned them out.  Instant milk jars!
  • Lime green polka dot paper straws & treat bags – I ordered these online from Sweets  & Treats Boutique, but I’m certain you could find similar at Walmart!
  • Cake stand – I’ve had this white cake stand for a while, but you could use a glass stand or lime green if you had one!  I think it adds a fun focal point to the table and makes a display for the finished product!

How to Host a Slime Party | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

You don’t have to gather everything I did, just use what you have at home!  If you go to Walmart and you don’t see exactly what I found, no worries… just pick out from the selection they do have.  Get your creative juices flowing!

Slime Filled Cupcakes

Filling and decorating cupcakes is fun for kids of all ages!  At my Slime party, kids from ages 3 to 15 got in on the fun… Moms too!  Before the party, I made a few dozen cupcakes and frosting ahead of time and prepared the slime filling.

How to Host a Slime Party: Slime-filled Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

Oh, you’ll never guess what I used for the slime filling either!  LIME CURD!  Seriously.  I’ve seen other cupcakes before that have used frosting or gel for the slime, but I wanted something more delicious and less full of chemicals.  Seriously genius if I do say so myself!

Supplies:

  • Cupcakes & buttercreamI used this recipe and tinted the frosting green with leaf green gel coloring.  Bake the cupcakes in green liners.  I got these polka dot liners from Sweets & Treats Boutique, but you can find similar at Walmart.
  • Lime Curd – see recipe below
  • Disposable piping bags and round piping tips in both small and large sizes.

Directions:

  1. Core the center of each cupcake and fill with lime curd.
  2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip with frosting.  Fill another piping bag fitted with a small round tip with lime curd.
  3. Fill each cupcake using a spoon with lime curd.  Top the cupcake with a swirl of frosting then garnish with lime curd that oozes down the side of the cupcake.

How to Host a Slime Party: Slime-filled Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

After the kids all decorated one cupcake just like this, I let them go crazy with the frosting, curd and sprinkles!  They came up with some pretty creative cupcakes!  I’m certain that they could have decorated cupcakes for hours if I had more frosting and cupcakes!

How to Host a Slime Party: Slime-filled Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlimeHow to Host a Slime Party: Slime-filled Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

How to Host a Slime Party: Lime Curd
 
Prep time

Cook time

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Author:

Ingredients
  • 1 lb granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 3 large limes (or 4 smaller ones)

Instructions
  1. Zest & squeeze the limes and set aside.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt the butter on medium heat.
  3. Add the sugar, lime juice and zest, whisking until smooth.
  4. Bring to a soft, slow simmer (but NOT a boil) and add eggs and whisk thoroughly. Stir constantly until thickened. Make sure not to boil or bring the heat too high, you don’t want to cook the eggs.
  5. Cook until the curd sticks to the back of a wooden spoon and is nice and thick (approx 10 mins).
  6. Transfer to an air tight container and cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  7. Stores for up to a week in the refrigerator.

How to Host a Slime Party: Slime-filled Cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlimeSlime Time

After the fun of decorating cupcakes, it was time to get messy!  Since I have a young child, I wanted to make a slime that was non-toxic in case Matty wanted to put it in his mouth.  So, I found a recipe for slime that included only corn starch, water and a little food coloring.

How to Host a Slime Party | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

This recipe makes enough for one child to play with, double, triple or quadruple to make more! At our party, each child shared a double batch!

Supplies:

  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 sealable sandwich bag
  • green liquid coloring
  • small bowls

Directions:

  1. In the sealable bag, mix the corn starch, coloring and water together until it forms a paste.
  2. Pour the paste into a small bowl.
  3. Have fun!  The faster you move, the harder it is to work with the slime, slower movements and the slime moves!

How to Host a Slime Party | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

So you know how I said I made this non-toxic for my little one… well, he only played with the slime for about 2 minutes.  Apparently, he doesn’t like getting messy.  hehe

How to Host a Slime Party | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

Slime Filled Chocolates

As a treat for everyone to go home with, I made slime-filled chocolates ahead of time.  Don’t worry, they aren’t really filled with slime, it’s white chocolate!

How to Host a Slime Party: Slime-filled Chocolates | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlimeSupplies:

  • Candy molds
  • Semi-sweet or dark chocolate, melted – enough to make the chocolates according to the specifications on the candy mold package.
  • White chocolate ganache filling – see recipe below
  • Green sugar crystals

Directions:

  1. Fill each mold with a tablespoon of melted chocolate.  Tip and turn the mold to move the chocolate around the inside of the mold being careful not to get any chocolate above the top edge.  Flip the mold upside down and let any extra chocolate drip out.  Place the mold in the freezer until the chocolate has set, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Fill each mold with the ganache filling until just full leaving a small edge on the top.  Place back in the freezer until the ganache is firm, about 20 minutes.
  3. Reheat chocolate if necessary then use a spoon to cover the tops of the chocolates.  Press the back of the spoon on the top and pull up in the center,  this will create a finished look to your chocolate.  Sprinkle with green sugar crystals.  Chill for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.

How to Host a Slime Party: Slime-filled Chocolates | JavaCupcake.com #ReadySetSlime

 

How to Host a Slime Party: Green White Chocolate Ganache Filling
 
Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 2 cups

Ingredients
  • 9 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • green gel food coloring

Instructions
  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium glass bowl.
  2. In a small, heavy sauce pan heat the heavy cream until just boiling/simmering.
  3. Pour hot cream slowly over the white chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes without touching. With a rubber spatula, stir the ganache until all the chocolate has melted and is smooth.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract and the green gel food coloring.
  5. Chill until set or about 2-3 hours.

Doesn’t all this look like loads of fun? I know it got me excited to tune into the Kids’ Choice Awards 2015 on Nickelodeon! Follow #KCA on Twitter for all the fun this Saturday, March 28!!

Tips for Taking Beautiful Cupcake Photos

Katherine Moore is a friend I met through the power of Twitter and social media. We realized quickly that we lived only a few miles from each other and had a lot in common… our husbands are both deployed and we both have a love for cupcakes!  So, Katherine and I met in person by complete chance at the Cold Stone Creamery in our neighborhood and then got to spend time with her again at Cupcake Camp Seattle in 2011. I feel truly blessed to have become friends with such a talented baker and photographer.  I’ve asked Katherine to share with you some of her favorite tips for taking beautiful cupcake photos.  
 
You can find Katherine on Instagram or her Webiste.  All the photos in this article were taken by Katherine using her Canon 30D.

Tips for Taking Beautiful Cupcake Photos

First of all, I must say I am completely overjoyed by the oh-so-wonderful Betsy, or Java Cupcake, as she recently asked me to be a guest blogger and write a brief photography piece for her fantastically delicious blog! Cupcakes and photography? Both are individually delightful and together they are enough to provoke an over the top happy dance. I‘m not even kidding. Seriously, baking yummy cupcake treats, photographing those little lovelies and then of course the taste testing, can it get any better?

I think not!

Tips for taking Beautiful Cupcake Photos | JavaCupcake.com

Although I must admit, I’m quite new to the world of photography. So new that I just recently celebrated the first anniversary with my lovely little Canon 30D. I genuinely do not consider myself a real photographer and I’m primarily blaming this on my unwillingness to read instruction manuals or directions. I’ve always been the type to figure things out on my own and in my own way. My creativity is continuously improving and I’m finding myself more inspired each and everyday with the incredible people who do photography professionally. I’d like to think every picture I take is a new adventure – So, let me share my top three favorite pieces of advice with you.

Tips for taking Beautiful Cupcake Photos | JavaCupcake.com

First, the two most common techniques I absolutely believe in, is to utilize natural lighting and to style your subject attractively. Yep. That’s it. Very simple and extremely effective.

Although, in this wonderful State of Washington, utilizing natural light can be quite tricky. At least that’s my primary complaint during those forever long, dark and rainy winter months. I often found myself rushing to finish decorating the cupcakes to simply run outside and take a picture before the sun disappeared. In most cases, I would end up saving my cupcake creations until the next afternoon simply to take a better picture. So, if possible, take advantage of any natural lighting when it is actually available.

Tips for taking Beautiful Cupcake Photos | JavaCupcake.com

Second, most of my food and cupcake pictures are taken right in my own dining room – Hurrah for a sturdy window sill! Not only do I have ample amounts natural light but the presentation is also clean in appearance. I’m personally drawn to the simplicity and minimalism as it directs your focus to what really matters, your subject. Props and backgrounds are fun and can certainly add nostalgia to your photograph; however, using items or backgrounds that are too busy can often distract from the fabulousness of your subject. I like to think a bit of simplicity is often enough to make a photograph ‘pop’ on its own.

Tips for taking Beautiful Cupcake Photos | JavaCupcake.com

Finally, my absolute favorite piece of advice is to photograph absolutely everything you see. Yes, continue to photograph everything even if your significant other looks over to find you attempting to balance a cupcake on top of your pet Chihuahua’s head. Just ignore those judgmental stares and continue on with the silliness! You can read an instruction manual all day but the real lessons will come once you pick up the camera and begin shooting.

Enjoy the endless creativity!

Minion Birthday Party

We celebrated Matty’s 3rd birthday with a Minion Birthday Party!  It was so much fun to plan and put together that I decided to share some of the details with you!  I decided last year that his 3rd birthday would be a Minion theme.  So, I started collecting Minion everything and pinning ideas to my Minion Party Pinterest Board.

Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

I seriously could have stared at this table all day.  I am in love with how it all turned out.  I just kinda winged it when setting up, but really love how it all came together.

Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

Decorations

I went home to Seattle in February and stopped at Party City while I was there to pick up a few decorations.  I didn’t want all the decorations to be store bought with Minion prints all over them, so I picked out a table cover, balloons plus plates and napkins with minions on them.  The rest of the decor was in yellow and blue.Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

I used yellow, blue white or glass plates and bowls for serving… just the things I already had in my kitchen.  They didn’t all match in style, but their colors did, which was good enough for me.

Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

I hand made this yellow & blue tissue paper garland to go over the main table.  It brought height to this display and really made a dramatic impact.

For his birthday, Matty got a few Mega Blocks sets of Minions, so we put them together and used them on the display table as well.

Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

In Photoshop, I made a “Keep Calm and Bee-Do Bee-Do” sign, printed it and put it in a 5x7in frame I already had in my house.  After the party, I put it in my sons room as a decoration along with the tassel garland.

FREE PRINTABLE: Click here to print the “Keep Calm & Bee-Do Bee-Do” sign

Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

The balloons I bought at party city I had blown up by local balloon artist Balloon Beauty.  I loved how they kept the Minion theme going in that party of the room!

The Box of Shame was super easy to make and a big hit with the kids!  It’s basically just a cardboard box with one side of the lid flaps taped open, a hole cut out and the words “Box of Shame” in Sharpie.  Free and fun!

Minion Birthday Party - Box of Shame | JavaCupcake.com

Snacks & Drinks

The first big decision I made was that I wanted the party to be in the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to provide a big meal for anyone.  Finger foods, snacks and of course the cake and cupcakes would be all the food I would serve.  This made things a lot easier the day of because there was less food to prep.

Minion Birthday Party - Food & Drink Ideas | JavaCupcake.com

In front of all the food, were these cute table top signs.  I printed and cut them out then glued them to yellow card stock to make tent signs.  Everyone at the party thought this little detail was pretty cute!  I loved how it subtly brought more Minions to the party!  Below I’ve included a link to a free printable.  It doesn’t have the text, but you can print them to make your own table top signs and write in the food!

El Machos Salsa

FREE PRINTABLE: Minion Table Top Signs

As you can see in the pictures above, I had a mix of finger foods that were very easy to prep and prepare but for the most part were all on the Minion theme.  Chips & salsa, pineapple, bananas and blueberries were a big hit.  I also found HARIBO Minion gummies, Minion cheese and graham crackers and made Minion Munch (which was simply muddy buddies with yellow and blue M&Ms).  Slow cooker meatballs in sauce added a savory element and pineapple juice mixed with 7-up served as the beverage.

And aren’t those Minion buckets adorable?  I got them at Party City too and they were great for holding utensils and the Minion crackers!

Minion Birthday Party - Cookie Robots | JavaCupcake.com

One of my most favorite parts of the food for the party were the cookie robots!  I made my perfect chocolate chip cookies and turned 3 of the larger cookies into Cookie Robots!

TO MAKE COOKIE ROBOTS:

  1. Mold thick, sturdy wire into a “U” shape.  Make 4 of these legs for each robot.  I made 3 robots, so you’ll need to make 12.  Press four legs into each cookie.
  2. Warm 9-10 soft, chocolate candies (I used Tootsie Rolls) in the microwave about 15 seconds until pliable.  Roll the candies into a log and cut them about 2in long.
  3. Dip each roll into corn syrup and then roll in silver candy crystals.  Attach a small red sugar ball for the laser.
  4. Once the corn syrup has dried (about 10 minutes) place a toothpic in the bottom of the candy roll, leaving 1cm exposed.  Press that into the top/center of the cookie.

Minion Birthday Party - Cookie Robots | JavaCupcake.com

Mnion Cake & Cupcakes

You know, I’m obsessed with cupcakes.  I mean… if you’re a reader of JavaCupcake, then you shoud know this already.  This year though, I wasn’t sure if I could pull off Minion cupcakes.  I do not know anything about working with fondant and my buttercream piping skills are good, but not good enough to make Minions.

Minion Birthday Party - Minion cake & cupcakes | JavaCupcake.com

So I decided to make a Minion Cake and blue and yellow cupcakes to go with it.  I found the idea for this Minion Cake on Betty Crocker.  It’s really so easy to make.  Like super easy.  But, you know me… I can’t ever do anything simple… so I put the JavaCupcake spin on the cake.

TO MAKE A MINION CAKE

Supplies:

  • Chocolate Cake – I baked this recipe in two 9x13in cake pans.
  • Buttercream – I made a triple batch of this buttercream for the outside and the filling
  • Banana Filling – I used just less than 2 cups of buttercream and added 1 Tbsp banana extract and two small mashed bananas and whisked together until smooth for the filling.
  • Blue & Yellow food coloring gel
  • 3 Hershey Kisses
  • Black licorice rope
  • Black decorating icing (I used store bought in the tube)
  • White fondant
  • Tootsie rolls (about 15)
  • Silver sugar crystals
  • Corn syrup

JavaCupcake

Directions:

  1. Prepare the cake and buttercream as directed in the recipe above.
  2. Once the cake has baked, allow the cake to cool completely then trim the tops to level.  Place one layer of the cake on your cake plate and spread a thin layer of banana filling over the top.  Place the second layer of cake, cut side down on top and gently press.  Freeze the cake until firm or about 30-45 minutes.
  3. Once the cake is firm, trim the corners of the cake to make the an oblong shape of a Minion.
  4. Reserve about 1/3 of the prepared frosting and set aside.  Color the remaining frosting yellow.  Place a thin, crumb coat of yellow frosting around the entire cake.  Freeze cake for 30 minutes or until the frosting and cake is firm.  Spread an even layer of the remaining yellow frosting around the entire cake.  Freeze the cake again for at least 30 minutes or until the frosting is firm.
  5. While the cake is freezing prepare the goggles.   Roll out a piece of fondant about 1in thick.  Using a large round cookie cutter, cut out a circle.  Press a Kiss upside down to create the pupil of the eye.
  6. Using the same technique as with the Cookie Robots, you’ll make the goggles.  Warm the unwrapped Tootsie rolls in the microwave about 20 seconds until pliable.  Roll into a snake until it’s the same size as the outside of the cookie cutter you used to make the eye.  Press the ends together.  Dip the ring in corn syrup and cover in silver sugar crystals.  Set aside to dry.
  7. Once the yellow frosting is firm, color the remaining frosting blue.  Fill a piping bag with a small tip with the blue frosting.  Pipe the outline of the pants onto the cake then fill in with the blue frosting.  Using a small metal spatula, gently spread the blue until smooth.  Piping the blue on is a lot easier than trying to spread it on.
  8. Line the outside area of the top of the cake with the black licorice rope. Press two Kisses into the blue making the buttons of the Minions pants.
  9. Make a light impression into the yellow frosting with the cookie cutter as a place holder for where you’ll want the eye.  Squeeze the black frosting into a piping bag with a small round tip.  Pipe two lines, 1in apart off each side of the eye down the side of the cake to create the strap for the goggle.  Fill it in with black frosting.
  10. Place the eye onto the cake.  Gently place the goggles over the eye.  Remove any sugar crystals that may have fallen onto the cake.
  11. Cut 6 2in pieces of black licorice rope for the hair and place on the top of the cake.  Cut one more pice of rope abut 3-4in long and place under the eye for the mouth.
  12. Chill cake until ready to serve if you’ve made the cake ahead of time.  Allow to come to room temperature about 2 hours before serving.

Minion Birthday Party - Minion Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting | JavaCupcake.com

HOW TO MAKE MINION CUPCAKES

Supplies:

  • Vanilla Cupcakes & Vanilla Buttercream – I used this recipe
  • Raspberry jam – I used store bought
  • Yellow cupcake liners
  • Blue & yellow gel food coloring
  • Blue & yellow sugar sprinkles
  • Blue cupcake stand

Directions:

  1. Prepare cupcakes as directed in the recipe above in the yellow cupcake liners.  Make sure to add yellow gel food coloring to the batter before baking.  Once cool, core the center of each cupcake and fill with raspberry jam.
  2. Prepare the buttercream as directed in the recipe above.  Add blue gel food coloring to tint the frosting.  Fill a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip with frosting and pipe swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.  Decorate with blue and yellow sugar crystals.
  3. Display cupcakes on blue cake stand.

Fun & Games

Although food is awesome at parties, I did not want the kids to be running around crazy the entire time.  So, I planned some fun & games for the kids!

First up was cookie decorating! I set out a big plastic table cover on my floor for easy clean up, prepared sugar cookies & buttercream in advance and set out the supplies for the kids.  I showed them a Purple Minion and a Yellow Minion I had made in advance and let the kids at it!  They loved this!

Minion Birthday Party - Minion Cookie Decorating | JavaCupcake.com

 HOW TO MAKE MINION COOKIES

Supplies:

  • Sugar cookies – I used this recipe and used a pumpkin cookie cutter and trimmed the stems off the sides to make the Minion shape.
  • Buttercream – I used this recipe and colored the frosting yellow and purple.
  • Candy eyes
  • Wilton grass tip and piping bag filled with purple frosting
  • Black licorice rope cut into 1-2in pieces
  • Blue, yellow and purple sugar crystals
  • Butter knives, spoons, spatulas, spreaders

Minion Birthday Party - Minion Cookie Decorating | JavaCupcake.com

Directions:

  1. Set out all the supplies in small bowls with several tools to spread the frosting.
  2. YELLOW MINION: Spread a layer of yellow frosting over the entire cookie.  Place eyes on the cookie.  The press the licorice into place to make the eyes and band for the goggle, hair and mouth.  Sprinkle blue sugar crystals over the bottom third of the cookie to create the pants.
  3. PURPLE MINION:  Spread a layer of purple frosting over the entire cookie.  Pipe purple frosting onto the top of the cookie to create the crazy purple hair.  Press in licorice to create the eyes, band for the goggles and crazy mouth.
  4. Set aside for 1 hour to dry.

We also played “Pin the Goggles on the Minion!”  This game was short and sweet, but the kids liked it!  Matty wanted to pin his goggles over and over and over!

Minion Birthday Party - Pin the Goggles on the Minion Game | JavaCupcake.com

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN “Pin the Goggles on the Minion” GAME

Supplies:

Directions:

  1. Draw a giant Minion on the poster board.   Leave off the goggles.
  2. Print enough of the goggles so each child has at least one.  Cut them out.
  3. When it’s time to play, blind fold each child and hand them goggles with tape on the back.  Spin the child around 3-5 times depending on age then direct them to put the goggles on the Minion! It’s fun to see where the end up putting the goggles!

Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

Overall, I was really proud of myself for this party.  It was by far the most elaborate party to date that I’ve put together!  It was fun, the kids had fun and the parents thought the decor was awesome.  My daughter told me 10 times how impressed she was and how much fun she had.

My favorite parts were the Cookie Robots, the Minion Cake and watching the kids have fun decorating Minion cookies!  So fun!

Happy Birthday Matty!

Minion Birthday Party | JavaCupcake.com

Cooking with Core Home Products

Earlier this year I purchased a set of mini bamboo & silicone spatulas off of Zulily.  I loved the small size and shapes of them and found myself using them in the kitchen all the time.  I did a bit of research about Core Home Products, the company that made the spatulas and found of they make tons of amazing kitchen accessories!

*Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!*

A photo posted by Betsy (@javacupcake) on

Before I go any further, know I’m not getting paid to write this post.  I’m writing this because I think sharing products with my readers will help make their time in the kitchen more enjoyable!  Which is exactly what Core Home Products kitchen tools have done for me and why I want to tell you all about them! I reached out to Core Home a few months ago and asked if I could sample a few more of their products to review on my blog.  

Because I knew I already loved their product, I knew that I’d be able to give a glowing review of any product they sent me.  Cooking with Core Home Products | JavaCupcake.com They sent me (above):

  1. the Madrid Bamboo Spatula Set
  2. the Los Angeles Colored Utensil Set
  3. the Easy Grip Rolling Pin in Aqua and
  4. the Pro-Bakers Measuring Board

I haven’t had a chance to use the rolling pin and the measuring board yet, but I have used the spatula set and the utensil set almost every day since I got them!  If you’ve been following me on Instagram you may have noticed all the dinners and desserts I’ve made using Core products! Here are a few of my favorites… Those first mini spatulas I bought make putting together some creme pat for eclairs super easy! 

A photo posted by Betsy (@javacupcake) on

Stirring together some cream and chocolate to make ganache… no problem!

A photo posted by Betsy (@javacupcake) on

When I made these Apple Fritters, I used one of the utensils from the LA set to make the apples.

A photo posted by Betsy (@javacupcake) on

Searing some Italian sausage for spaghetti!

A photo posted by Betsy (@javacupcake) on

For Thanksgiving, I used my Core Utensils with everything I made, but one of my favorites was my homemade cranberry sauce!

  A photo posted by Betsy (@javacupcake) on

And most recently, I used another Core utensil to make every part of leftover Thanksgiving turkey soup!

A photo posted by Betsy (@javacupcake) on

Why I love Core Home Products

As I was thinking about why I love Core products so much I came up with three main reasons… First, the color.  I rarely find kitchen tools that are not only functional, but cute!  The colors of almost all the Core products match my blog and kitchen colors!  I love that they are so pretty!  I think the teal color is my favorite!

Second, the variety.  I appreciate that Core produces several sizes of spatulas ranging from mini to full size and everything in between.  The bamboo utensils I use in cooking may all be the same size, but their shapes are different which means I can use them in many different ways in the kitchen, no matter what’s for dinner.

Third, the stability. Core has made a sturdy product.  My bamboo utensils have been used 3-4 times a week for the last few months and show no sign of wear yet.  I have used other wooden spoons in the past for cooking meals, but they often feel flimsy and even break.  I don’t forsee Core’s products breaking anytime soon.  In fact, I feel as though they just may last for many many years to come.

Really, I have found no reason not to love Core Home Products!  In fact, I love them so much that I have a few extra goodies to share with you!

Core Home Products Giveaway

Core Home Products Giveaway from JavaCupcake.com One winner will receive 1 Los Angeles Colored Utensil Set, 1 Easy Grip Rolling Pin in Aqua and 1 Pro-Bakers Measuring Board from Core Home Products valued at $135.00. Winner must have a USA mailing address. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Homemade vanilla extract 3 ways with Beanilla vanilla beans

3 1/2 years ago I discovered the online vanilla bean company Beanilla and have been in love with their beans ever since!  When I moved to Germany, getting my hands on local affordable, high-quality beans was impossible so I was excited to have found Beanilla.

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

Before I go on… if you’re here for the GIVEAWAY scroll to the bottom for all the details! 

I reached out to Beanilla a couple months ago and expressed to them how much I loved their beans and would love to partner with them for a post on JavaCucpake!  I have been using their beans in my homemade vanilla extracts as well as in all my vanilla recipes.  Every time I split open a Madagascar vanilla bean the aroma fills my kitchen and I go to my happy place!

Since I make all my extract in bulk, Beanilla and I decided that I’d create for you a “How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract in Bulk” tutorial for you.   This tutorial will feature three distinct Beanilla beans paired with three different liquors.

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I really hope you are able to get a lot of helpful information from this tutorial! Vanilla extract is super simple to make and it really is so amazing in place of store bought extract. Once you start making it yourself, you’ll never go back to imitation!

Enjoy!

The Video Tutorial

I created two video tutorials to help you make homemade vanilla extract.  This first video below is longer with more details about the beans and alcohol I used. The video at the bottom of this post has been edited to only include the specifics of making the extract.

The Flavors

  • Madagascar vanilla beans and vanilla vodka extract – Creamy, strong, full, rich vanilla beans paired with a smooth vanilla vodka make for the ultimately perfect vanilla extract for baking

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

  • Indonesian vanilla beans and honey bourbon whiskey extract – Floral, sweet, delicate beans with tones of fruit paired with a honey infused sweet bourbon whiskey create a simply sweet vanilla extract for desserts with deep flavors

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

  • Ugandan vanilla beans and spiced rum extract – Strong, creamy, rich tones of chocolate and caramel beans paired with a caramel spiced rum produce a bold vanilla extract strong enough to hold up to any chocolate recipe.

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

The Supplies

The Technique

  1. Start with one type of beans and the alcohol paired with it.   Prepare those vanilla beans by using the straight edge of the paring knife and pressing the vanilla pod flat evenly distributing the beans inside the pod.  Split the pod in half the long way.  Repeat until all the beans are split.Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com
  2. Place the beans into the clean, dry glass jar and pour the alcohol until it reaches the neck of the bottle.  Place the cork on top and shake gently.
  3. Add a label to the jar noting the date you made the extract.
  4. Store the jar in a cool place away from direct sunlight for a minimum of one month up to four months.  
  5. Repeat this process with the two other types of beans and their corresponding alcohols.

The Labels

  1. Download these bottle labels made exclusively for JavaCupcake readers by Rachel of Glitter & Bow.
  2. Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com Vanilla Extract Labels | JavaCupcake.com
  3. Print the labels on sticker labels and adhere them to each bottle.
  4. Write in the type of extract you made along with the date made and when it will be ready to use.
  5. Alternately, you can print the labels on regular paper and use double sided tape to adhere them to the bottles.

The Giveaway

Thanks to Beanilla, I’ve also got a custom designed Vanilla Extract Kit exclusively for one of my JavaCupcake readers!

Homemade Vanilla Extract 3 Ways | JavaCupcake.com

One person will win:

You must be 18 years old to enter and have a USA or Germany mailing address.  One person will be chosen by random on Monday, December 1, 2014.  Total value of this package: $100

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to make Vanilla Extract – Condensed Version

Baking Conversion Charts

Since living in Germany, I’ve been exploring European recipes and baking… most of which are in Metric measurements.  This can be tricky since most recipes in the United States use the Imperial measurement system.

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Converting recipes can be time consuming and frustrating so I’ve teamed with with my great friend, Rachel of the Lifestyle blog Glitter & Bow to bring you these easy to follow Baking Conversion Charts!

The Basic Ingredients Conversion Chart below will help you convert basic baking ingredients such as flour, sugar and butter.  We’ve also included powdered sugar and heavy cream since those are both used in many frosting recipes.

FREE PRINTABLE Baking Conversion Chart - Basic Ingredients | JavaCupcake.com

Download & Print the Baking Conversion Chart – Basic Ingredients

The Measurements & Temperatures Conversion Chart below is designed to help you with the rest of the ingredients in your recipe.  This easy to understand chart should make converting things like liquids and nuts or baking chips from Imperial to Metric.  We’ve also included a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion to help with baking temperatures.

Baking Conversion Chart - Measurements & Temperature Download & Print the Baking Conversion Chart – Measurements & Temperatures

Finally, we’ve got a Mini Printable Temperature Conversion Chart below for you to keep close to your oven!  You could easily attach this to a magnet at stick it to your stove top!

FREE PRINTABLE Mini Baking Conversion Chart - Temperature | JavaCupcake.com

Download & Print the Free Mini Temperature Conversion Chart

I really hope you get some great use out of these charts!  A huge thank you goes out to the team who designers who made these charts possible!

Layout design by Glitter&Bow for JavaCupcake

New Feature: LIVE CHAT!

I’m super excited to announce a new feature on JavaCupcake!  LIVE CHAT! 

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Now, when you’re making a JavaCupcake recipe and you need help, you can quickly ask me a question and get an instant answer!  I’m just a few clicks away to helping you create some delicious treats for your family and friends!

I’m typically online from 1000-1500 and 2100-2300 CET every day and will have the chat line open to take your questions. (This of course is subject to change if my family/life takes me away from the computer.) If by chance I’m not available, no worries! You can just shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you ASAP… usually within a few hours!

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Getting help is easy… just follow these steps:

  1. On the lower right corner, click on the pink box that says “Need help with a recipe?”  This will open up a dialogue box.
  2. Enter your name and email address.
  3. Click on START CHAT!
  4. This will bring you to another screen where you can ask all your recipe questions and if I’m online, I’ll answer.

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If I’m not online… you can still ask a question!  Simply click on “Need help with a recipe?”, enter you information and question and send!  I’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

So easy! Right?

I really hope this new feature gives you the confidence to get in the kitchen and get to baking knowing that I’m just a few clicks away to help!

Happy Baking!

 

DIY Cupcake Tower

I’ve never owned a large cupcake tower. I know, that’s crazy-talk since I’ve made so many cupcakes for so many years! But I’ve never had a real need for a stand that held more than a couple dozen cupcakes.  Until now.  Last week I participated in Cupcake Wars, a community fundraiser for my husband’s Army unit, and needed a cupcake tower to hold at least 5 dozen cupcakes!  So, my husband, Dave,  and I took a 4 day weekend and put together my very own DIY Cupcake Tower!

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DIY Cupcake Tower | JavaCupcake.com

Typically, a cupcake tower of this size will cost anywhere from $250-500 depending on materials, size and manufacturer.  I was not about to spend that kind of money on a stand, homemade or store bought.  Dave and I ended up spending about €100 (about $130) on this cupcake tower, but I think that if we would have been in the USA, the supplies would have been even less expensive.  Our local hardware store here in Germany did not have a big selection of press board, plywood or anything similar, so we were stuck with the one kind they did have and pay their prices.

DIY Cupcake Tower | JavaCupcake.com

The entire process took about 5 days from start to finish.  We didn’t use any tutorials or online step-by-step instructions to build it either.  We simply looked at the supplies we had at our disposal and figured it out as we went along.

I did however, ask some of my other baking friends what sizes each of the shelves should be so we made it big enough and that is how we determined the sizes of each level of the tower.  The way this stand came together, 6 dozen cupcake fit easily around the edge of each shelf of the tower.  Several dozen more cupcakes could have fit behind that, so I guess that this size tower could easily fit 10 dozen cupcakes,  with a small cake on top!

The great thing about this process is that you could easily make this stand larger or smaller, depending on your needs and access to supplies!

DIY Cupcake Tower | JavaCupcake.com

Thanks to Jacob at Spork Photos for taking pictures at Cupcake Wars and providing me with some great shots of my DIY Cupcake Tower!

Now, because this was a DIY project, I wasn’t going to stop in the middle just to take pictures of the process with my fancy camera, so I whipped out my smartphone and snapped pictures and posted to Instagram along the way!

Enjoy!

DIY Cupcake Tower

Materials Needed:

* = more details below
4 – Pieces of square finishing boards 12mm thick*
16 – Solid wood square posts*
4 – Rubber feet*
4 – Screws*
1 – Quart white paint*
Small paint rollers
Paint tray
Rubber gloves
Wood glue
Finishing Nails
Sand paper
Hammer
Drill & Screw Driver
25 – Meters ribbon (optional)
Double sided tape dispenser
Time – at least 4-5 days

Square Finishing Boards:
Have your hardware store cut to size 12mm thick finishing press board to these sizes…
Top shelf: 28cm x 28cm (11in x 11in)
3rd shelf: 38cm x 38cm (15in x 15in)
2nd shelf: 48.25cm x 48.25cm (19in x 19in)
Bottom shelf: 58.5cm x 58.5cm (23in x 23in)

Square Posts:
Have your hardware store cut solid wood 2.5cm x 2.5cm square poles into 16 15.25cm long pieces.

Rubber Feet & Screws:
Round, rubber feet about 2.5cm (1in) in diameter with a screw hole in the middle.  Depending on the feet you choose, find a screw that will go at least 2.5cm (1in) past the bottom shelf into the square post

Paint:
Use pure white paint with a glossy finishing.  Choose a paint that has a top coat finish included.

Process:

NOTE:  These directions are meant to guide you to success as you build you own cupcake tower! If you find an easier way to do it… go for it! :)

  • Sand every piece of wood (shelves and poles) that will be used for this project until there are no more ruff or jagged edges or surfaces using sandpaper.
  • Using paint rollers, paint 3-4 coats of white paint on all surfaces of the the wood following the drying times on your paint can between coats.  Wait at least 24 hours after final coat has been applied before beginning the assembly process. Wear your rubber gloves for this, paint gets messy and you’ll want to stay as clean as possible during this project!

  • Determine where you want the poles between each shelf to be.  I chose to measure 3 inches from each corner of every shelf to position the poles.  This way, they will be the same distance from the edge on every level and will create a uniform appearance when you look at the entire stand.  Mark this position with a pencil on the top side of each shelf.

  • Begin with the smallest, top shelf.  To attach a pole,  hammer a nail through the top of the shelf until it just presses through the bottom.  Squeeze a dollop of wood glue where the nail and pressed through then press the pole into position.  Repeat this process with all four poles on each shelf. Gently hammer the nails into the poles until they are flush on the top.   Repeat this process with the remaining shelves until the tower has been completely assembled. NOTE:  Be patient with this process.  This was probably the most difficult and stressful part of the process for us.  We wanted everything to be perfect so measuring was done many times and we took each pole slow.

    • To attach the feet to the bottom of the base of the tower,  drill holes through the base into the bottom poles.  Place the feet in place then use the drill to screw each in place.  NOTE:  You’re screwing these into the base up into the poles so the screws will not show on the bottom shelf.
    • Allow the wood glue to set overnight.
    • Paint over the finishing nails with the white paint.  Several coats may be needed to cover them.  Allow 24 hours for the paint to dry before adding trim.

    • Adding a ribbon trim is optional.  To apply, attach the double sided tape to the side of each shelf.  Press the ribbon into place.  Begin and end the ribbon on the backside of each shelf.

If you use my tutorial to make your own cupcake tower, I’d love to see the pictures. OR… if you’ve made a DIY tower yourself, send me the pictures!! betsy at javacupcake dot com!

Happy Building!

DIY Cupcake Tower - Step by step tutorial to build your own cupcake tower that holds up to 10 dozen cupcakes! | JavaCupcake.com