Star Wars Day

May the Fourth be with you!  Happy Star Wars Day!!

If you’re in the mood to celebrate, here’s some clever cupcakes to inspire you:

A friend of my husband’s brought these to a gaming session a year or so ago and I thought they were delightful…and tasty.  Unfortunately I can’t give credit where it’s due, because I don’t know if he made them or if a friend of his did and he just brought some to share.  Either way, props to the baker!

I will be celebrating by hanging out with my Jedi Master cat (his name is Jolee Bindo) and leveling up my Consular on this TOR Double XP weekend.

Jane Austen Birthday Cake

As I mentioned the other day, my birthday is in late January, so I recently got older.  My mom has made me a birthday cake every year for my whole life, everything from animals to Disney characters to flowers in my favorite colors.  And it’s always Funfetti cake.

This year she really pulled out all the stops on this Jane Austen book cake:

We don’t like using fondant, because while it looks pretty, it doesn’t come close to a good buttercream frosting in terms of taste.  So the inside is box-mix Pillsbury Funfetti cake, the outside is homemade buttercream, and the book titles are fondant cutouts dusted with sparkly colored powder.  I’m trying to convince my mom to do a guest blog post about how she created the whole thing.

She picked these three titles because they are some of the shorter ones in Austen’s published oeuvre, and therefore the easiest to fit on the cake!  “Sense and Sensibility” is not very convenient for this kind of thing…

Of course then I had to tease her because Emma and Mansfield Park are my two least favorite Austen novels.  I jokingly refused to eat the Mansfield Park layer–I guessed that Fanny Price would give me indigestion.

Christmas cookies

My mom and I did an abbreviated version of our holiday baking this year.  We still managed to make several dozen cookies of various kinds (which my husband’s gaming group promptly devoured yesterday):

  • Peanut butter blossoms
  • Christmas M&M cookies
  • Mint chocolate chip cookies
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Buckeyes

The mint chocolate chip cookies came out way better than the M&M cookies, despite using the same recipe.  It’s so interesting how the littlest change can produce different results when baking.  For a scientific look at this, check out this cool article by Kenji Lopez at Serious Eats that can help you get your cookies exactly how you want them.

Buckeyes are a great traditional candy in Ohio: a sweet peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate so it looks like a buckeye nut (or Brutus, the OSU mascot).  The homemade ones look more authentic to my eye, marred only by the small hole left by the toothpick when I dip them.  Here’s the recipe I use.  I also use a mini-crock pot type fondue pot for melting the chocolate–I think it’s better/easier than microwaving or using a double boiler.  I also like to make them small because they are quite sweet.

The hunt for Darth Vader

Darth Vader was chillin in my medicine cabinet.

The Easter Bunny came to my house last night, and he left a bunch of…Darth Vaders?  We bought these Vader-shaped Easter eggs at Target (they have jelly beans in them).  My husband hid them so well I still haven’t found them all!

Happy Easter to all.  After Mass my family had a “traditional” dinner with ham and all that.  I made an angel food cake with strawberries for dessert (using this recipe).  It was super easy with my beautiful new stand mixer!  Angel food cakes are fun because you start by whipping a bunch of egg whites.  It’s so cool to see a cup of liquidy egg slime eventually fill up a whole bowl with fluff.  Yay science!

Merry Sithmas!

If you’re on Twitter, you should follow @DeathStarPR.

Hope everyone had a nice Chanukah and Christmas.  My house had a visitor on Christmas Eve:R2D2While I was at Mass, my husband wrapped my presents and made them into the shape of R2D2!!  That was as awesome as the presents themselves!

Christmas is when I do most of my baking during the year.  My mom and I pick a day to do all our cookie making; this year we managed to do Rice Krispie treats, peanut butter blossoms, M&M cookies, and cut-out sugar cookies (yes, I have Star Wars cookie cutters.  I made some holiday Boba Fetts.)  Instead of Buckeyes this year, we made peanut butter mice!  I took them to work where they were a big hit.  Here’s the recipe.  They were not too hard to make, you just have to make sure to get the ears and tail attached quickly before the candy coating sets.  I also made a peanut butter cheesecake for Christmas dessert (I think it was my husband’s favorite of all the cheesecakes I’ve made so far).