Dragon Eggs

March 31st, 2010

Very recently I had the wonderful opportunity of helping with a going away party -of sorts- for the Fablehaven series. An exciting part of the evening was an auction hosted by the fairies. Their hope was to raise enough money to tempt Brandon to continue the series with a large advance. One of the many items in the auction was a rare jar of dragon eggs. I think you’ll find them surprisingly simple to come-by.

The dragon eggs came about after a disasterous de-panning of  red velvet cupcakes. I was trying out a new recipe and didn’t have jumbo cupcake liners on hand. You’ll come to learn I lack patience in these situations and carried on without the liners. There’s not a lot of suspense about how this story ends.

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Delicious…amazing red velvet crumbs! (this recipe is a keeper!!)

There’s only one thing to do with cake crumbs, which you already know if you follow or know anyone who follows Bakerella. Cake Balls! All those times I wept over cake layers that didn’t fully release from their pan!! Baking was truly savage before the invention  of cake balls.

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Mix with this most perfect frosting. The eye of an experienced frosteur will see that I didn’t allow the heated mixture to cool enough. Fortunately my series of disasters worked together for a happy ending.

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I can, with confidence, advise you to begin with only a portion of crumbs and frosting so you can add more of either to obtain your desired texture. Which in my case was something that could be formed into a convincing dragon egg.

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Convinced? Hold that thought…we still need a shell.

After a little time in the freezer these little guys get dipped in tinted white chocolate and smathered with gold gel. Jar’ em, tag ‘em and it’s time to find out what they’re worth on the open market.

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Evil Fablehaven Cupcakes

March 24th, 2010

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I say ‘evil’ more from a sense of moral responsibility than actually believing it to be true. There is nothing inherently evil in a graham cracker crust topped with a moist, dense devil’s food cupcake filled with marshmallow cream dipped in dark chocolate ganache crowned with marshmallow meringue. Even so, such a combination does give an overwhelming impression of sinfulness. The kind of sin that results in either additional hours on the treadmill or elastic waistbands.

We join this frightening tale after the marshmallow cream has already found it’s way into the center of the devil’s food. A momentary flashback depicts the graham cracker crust being tapped into the bottom of the cupcake liners.

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Spooning marshmallow cream into a decorator’s bag can get a little messy, but plunging the metal tip into the cakey chocolate center makes the sticky mayhem well worth the effort.

Clearly the person in charge of documenting this experience got caught up in the debauchery and failed to photograph the events in detail, so we now jump ahead to sometime after the cupcakes have been frozen for convenience, dipped in ganache, and topped with marshmallow meringue, a bit of graham cracker and a semi-sweet ‘F’.

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A cupcake of this nature isn’t going to go out in anything less than a custom design. A square of stylish fabric coated in equal parts white glue and water then shaped and left to dry in a muffin tin is all the rage this year.

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Delicious, gorgeous, evil…that can’t be expected to stay  in on a Saturday night.

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Another layer of chocolate decadence lurks inside the chest, waiting for an unassuming guest, disappointed they opted to play it coy instead of rushing the cupcake table, only then to  joyfully discover  more cupcakes hidden beneath the false platform.

While these indulgent yummies beg to be the center-fold of Modern Baking,  real beauty, and evil for that matter, comes from within…

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Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I put mine in the blender and use pulse)
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Cupcake: This time I used a Devil’s Food cake mix and added a small box of chocolate pudding.

Ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp rum extract
Slowly heat the cream on the stove top. When near boiling add chocolate chips and allow to sit for a minute or two. Stir til smooth, add extract.

Marshmallow Meringue ( This comes from the Smore’s Cupcake recipe at Annies-Eats.com)
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
½ tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler.  Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F.   Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Mix in the vanilla until combined.

Pink Pirate Party – The Invitation

September 14th, 2009

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Pink Pirates ranks at the top of my list of favorite party themes. I’ve been working on Pink Pirate Party ideas for quite some time on my personal blog, and finally put them to use for my daughters 9th birthday last month.

I was tickled by how many of the dads commented on the invitation. My kids were tickled with their assignment to empty the soda bottles!

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I dropped in a few tiny shells, pearls and a little sand into the bottle for effect. The paper roll is held bound by a gold anniversay ring from the party isle.  I’ve also used string and a band made from electrical tape stuck to itself for the same purpose. Oriental Trading provided the skull beads.  The pink pirate logo is attached below for your printing enjoyment as well.

Where I always get stuck on invitations is the wording. Here’s a stepping off point to hopefully get you started on your own piratey invite.

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Once the wording is worked out, there’s still the matter of removing the original labels from the bottles and de-stickifying them. Rubbing alcohol works well for removing the sticky. However, in this case I decided to just cover up the sticky residue with labels on both sides.

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Super-fine sand paper and some black chalk go a long way to helping things look a little worse for wear.

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Favors for Fablehaven

July 10th, 2009

Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series is rich with ideas for favors. These are the items we chose for our favor bag:

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  • Magic Knots Bracelet
  • Dizzy Crystal
  • Pixie Cocoon
  • Nero’s Gold
  • Walrus Butter

Magic Knots Bracelet:  The fairies created magic knots that kept Murie,l the witch, captive.  By blowing on a knot a person could have a wish come true, however, it also unties the knot. Our magic knots bracelet boasts only wish granting powers.

I used a basic square knot for my magic knots bracelet. This article from About.com has a number of great ideas if you’d like to add a little something extra to your bracelet.

Dizzy Crystal:  This crystal makes anyone around you disoriented. Helpful for fighting dark faries and preschool playdates.

You can find your interpretation of a dizzy crystal hanging out with the glass marbles at your craft store.

Pixie Cocoon: These magical cocoons expand into a life-supporting shelter when bitten.

I took a lot of liberty with this item. These Pixie Coccoons begins as fortune cookie batter. I started with a recipe from MarthaStewart.com. However, I added mint extract and green food coloring. Also, I cook my fortune cookies like pancakes on a griddle, instead of baking them in the oven. It makes folding them more managable for me. Even so, be prepared to destroy plenty of cocoons before you get your cocoon-rolling groove on.

Nero’s Gold: Just the right rock and a little gold spray-paint make the favor sack feel a bit more substantial and are a surprising hit with small Fablehaven fans.

Walrus Butter: Special chocolate candies made from magic walrus butter help distinguish fairies and other magical creatures. Any smartly wrapped chocolate candy will suffice.

*Potions: Vials of potion from the lab complete the favor bag. If you decide against having the kids make their own, consider preparing the potions ahead and including one or two with the favors.

We had the bonus of having Brandon himself tell our guests about the items in their bags. Without the benefit of the author’s input, I would insert a list describing the benefits of each item.

The sack is sewn from light muslin. I scanned the design from the front cover of a hard-bound copy of Fablehaven and ironed-it onto the bag.

Check online for a complete list of Fablehaven magical items to spark your favor imagination.

Fablehaven Party: Tanu’s Potions

June 23rd, 2009

The arrival activity at the Fablehaven party was Tanu’s potion lab. As the guests arrived they were led to the potion station, where they found recipes and all the ingredients they needed to create their own potions.

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During the development of this idea we went through a number of possibilities for creating potions that looked interesting, yet were still consumable. The final ingredients along with their ‘real’ identities are:

  • Umite Honey – corn syrup
  • Milch Cow Syrup – corn syrup
  • Pixie Rain Forest Water – unsweetened invisible Kool-Aid
  • Naiad Water – unsweetened invisible Kool-Aid
  • Brownie Candy Apple Granuals – Red colored sugar
  • Dragon Tears – blue food coloring
  • Wizard Slime – green food coloring
  • Swamp Hog Saliva – yellow food coloring.

Each recipe was some combination of corn syrup, Kool-Aid, and food coloring. The vials each had extra-fine glitter in them from the beginning.

Download printable potion-recipes .

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Our very first potion, for photo purposes, was actually just colored hand sanitizer with the added glitter. Unfortunately, I brought it along for display purposes along with a few other early tests. When one of the kids lost his potions I told him he could take the displays…only to remember a few minutes later that one of them was Germ-X! Rather than simply smell each vial, I foolishly dabbed them with my finger and tasted them. A little Germ-X flavor goes a long way…ugh.

I had the most fun with the labels….

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For our test tubes we visited www.testtubesonline.com. Imagine that! Plastic tubes and corks in all kinds of sizes.

I was thrilled with how well the potion lab entertained the guests. As the party was winding down many of the kids found their way back over to the potions to mix and shake some more. I hope you find an excuse to have as much with potions as we did!