Monday, January 10, 2011

Heart Cakes

My baby turned 3 today. She is truly a blessing to our family. She brightens every day with her gorgeous smile and her cute little personality. On Saturday, we celebrated her birthday with cake and ice cream and some good friends.

A couple of weeks before her birthday party, I asked her what kind of a party she wanted (Dora? My Little Pony?). She just shrugged. She has the cutest little shrug. This indifference was surprising to me because my oldest had definite and detailed ideas of what her party should look like from the age of 2 on. I decided to approach the subject from a different angle, "Okay, what kind of cake do you want?" She answered matter-of-factly, "A heart cake. A BERRY heart cake." I was surprised and thought that I had misunderstood. "Do you mean Strawberry Shortcake?" "Nooooo, Mommy," she answered, "A heart cake WITH berries!" Just to clarify, I asked, "And what will the cake taste like?" Then she smiled her big, beautiful smile and answered, "Chocolate." Whew. Glad I asked...

Here's what I came up with:

As luck would have it, I purchased a small heart-shaped baking pan similar to this Wilton Dimensions Cast-Aluminum Nonstick Crown of Hearts Panat a garage sale last summer. Finally, an opportunity to use it! Going with the "chocolate" request, I baked a Devil's Food cake mix into it for the occasion.

This was super easy to decorate, the pan made for a pretty cake all on it's own, so I just traced the lines with buttercream frosting, embellished with some dots and big stars for a border, and garnished with berries. I'm talking 10-15 minutes, from start to finish!

Since this heart cake was on the small side, I decided to provide the guest of honor with her very own birthday cake and then bake tiny individual heart-shaped cakes for her friends using my Wilton 6-Cavity Nonstick Heart Mini Cake Pan.The pan only makes 6 and 12 children would be attending the party, so I baked one pan of chocolate and one pan of vanilla.

On the morning of the party, I frosted and decorated the little hearts. These were served with vanilla ice cream. I have some weird aversion to scooping ice cream during a party, so I placed individual scoops of ice cream into  muffin cup liners, put them on a cookie sheet, covered them with plastic wrap, and put them back into the freezer a few hours before the party. Before calling guests to the table for a round of "Happy Birthday", I placed one muffin cup full of ice cream next to each little heart cake. Easy-peasy.

I decorated each heart just a little differently from the next. To avoid confusion, chocolate cakes were frosted with pink....

And vanilla cake was frosted with white.


Vanilla. You get the idea...

After baking the heart cakes, I had lots of leftover cake batter. I poured the remainder into muffin cups for cupcakes for the adults in attendance. If you don't have a big star tip for frosting cupcakes bakery-style, then check this out: Decorating Tip-#1M Star. I soooo prefer frosting with this tip to holding the cupcake and smoothing on frosting with a knife. Using a decorator's bag and tip is much easier and faster and the end result is prettier!

A few days before the party, I took my daughter to the local party store. "Alright, you can pick your plates and napkins." I told her. To my surprise (and delight) she by-passed all of the themed party packages (Barbie, Disney Princess, etc.) and walked straight to some plain pink plates. "Pink, mommy!" she exclaimed as she grabbed up a 24-pack of dessert plates. Okay, then. I completely appreciated her "less is more" approach to the tablescape. It's way more my style... : )  Granted, if she had reached for plates with characters smiling back at me, I would have indulged her. After all, you only turn 3 once! We've done Elmo and Dora and Ariel the Little Mermaid in the past...but I loved that she just picked a color instead.

On the way out of the store, I grabbed streamers in two colors of pink and a roll of white for decorations.

Tip: Streamers are cheap (about $.70 a roll) and you can cover a lot of area with them, making a room look festive for a child's birthday with just a little bit o' cash.

The morning of the party, I decorated the party room (under the management of my toddler).

I realize that the decor looked VERY similar to that of her 1st birthday party, which I planned without her input. Was she trying to recapture her youth? Ha ha.

Oh, and for a centerpiece....I grabbed all of the leftover Christmas goodies from my pantry (Fudge-covered mint Oreos, candy canes, peanut brittle, caramel corn, M&M's, a separated chocolate orange) and placed them in candy jars on the table.

As we all gathered 'round to sing the birthday song, I had one happy little birthday girl! She LOVED her special cake...

One more note: That's a "Shirley Temple" in front of my daughter. This happens to be her new favorite beverage when we go out to eat. Before the party, I poured a 2 liter of Sprite into a pitcher over 1/4 jar of maraschino cherries (with the juice) and tah-dah! Kiddie Cocktails! These were the perfect beverage for the pink motif of the party.

So that's my daughter's 3rd birthday party, but these ideas would easily be applied to Valentine's Day party! It's just a little over a month away after all...

Happy Monday, everyone!

Stay tuned for some Spicy Crispy Orange Beef Stir-Fry tomorrow!


Hungry Hungry House said...

Happy Birthday Emily! Krista-she looks like a mini version of Mike-but she is just adorable!!! So cute! Your cakes and cupcakes turned out great!

teresa said...

what a lucky little girl to get such a cute cake! happy birthday sweet girl!

Desi said...

She is adorable! And your big heart-shaped cake (and the minis!) are also adorable! I need to get me a heart-shaped cake pan for Valentine's day coming up :) Happy birthday to your little cutie!

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