Monday, December 29, 2008

DVD Give-Away Ends Soon!


HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!


I just want to drop a quick reminder that our DVD Give-away ends midnight December 31, 2008. Read here to see how to win a free copy of both A Design Gallery and Boxes and Bows, which should be released within 2 months. I am so excited about the new DVD and cannot wait to get it out to you guys. It is just jammed packed with info I think you will love!


Design Gallery DVD Preview HERE



Here is a sneak peak at the cakes featured In
Boxes and Bows:


Wedding Shower Gift Cake




Valentine Gift Box Cake



Baby Boy Shower Package Cake


Christmas Parcel Cake


Side Bow

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The SugarEd Staff and I want to thank you for helping us have a very successful 2008. We look forward to serving you in 2009. Please stay safe on New Year's Eve. We wish you a very healthy, prosperous and peaceful year.


Sharon

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things


I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Ours was wild, crazy, hectic, exhausting and super fun. Way too much eating go on for the last few weeks! (Going to have to diet a bit before we shoot the topsy turvy DVD, LOL) We had a big family party to attend on Christmas Eve and I hosted dinner at my house for 17 people on Xmas day. Now that I have slept for the better part of 3 days I am ready to roll! OK, maybe not quite yet.


What did you guys get? Santa was very good to me. I got a new macro lens and tripod for my camera, so I can try to kick my foody photos up a notch. I am so excited and cannot wait to try out my new stuff. But not quite yet. Still. Too. Tired.




J got Rock Band 2 for his X Box, and when he opened it he literally screamed and and ran around the house in circles. (I think that was a good gift choice.)


D got a nice winter coat and about 800 video games. (He likes video games.)

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I'm still way too pooped to bake anything, or get my photo stuff out, so I thought I would blog about some of my favorite (cake) things. I get asked all the time for my favorite recipes, brands, tools, etc. So here are a few of my favorite things:




ICING RECIPES:


Sharon's Crusting Buttercream:

** I make the following recipe to fill my 5 quart mixer. Adjust the recipe volume to fill your mixer properly as discussed in the video Perfecting the Art of Buttercream.

5 generous cups Sweetex shortening, or other brand of hi ratio shortening
5 pounds powdered sugar
4 TBS Wedding Bouquet flavoring (or substitute your flavoring of choice in the appropriate amount)
11-12 TBS hot coffee creamer liquid (as discussed in video)

Cream the shortening , flavorings, and hot liquid with paddle attachment until well combined and creamy. Then stream in first 3 pounds of powdered sugar with mixer running at speed one. When incorporated somewhat, stop and scrape down sides of bowl well. Stream in last 2 pounds of powdered sugar at speed one. When incorporated, turn the mixer up to speed 6 and let it beat for 5-7 minutes until very smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl very frequently while the mixer is going at speed 6. The goal is to get all of the icing down into the belly of the bowl and fill the bowl from side to side with no air gaps around the walls, as well as covering the paddle up to the springs. If the icing is making a sucking or "kissing" noise after all the sugar is in, add just a few drops more of liquid, while scraping down the sides,with the mixer running, until that stops. You should create a bowl full of icing side to side, where the paddle is completely submerged and beating in a vacuum under the icing. 5-7 minutes at speed 6 and you should have a smooth as silk and nearly airless icing. Cool before using. Keeps at room temp for weeks or fridge/freeze indefinitely.


Youtube clip of Sharon making icing: Video


Sharon's Chocolate Crusting Buttercream:

2.5 cups butter
2.5 cups shortening
Splash of vanilla
Dump in cocoa and mix all of the above till very dark brown (I do not measure it)
5 pounds powdered sugar streamed in
Coffee creamer liquid (as shown in DVD) in amount needed
Good at room temp for several days to weeks. Fridge or freeze also.


Kathy Finholt's Crusting Cream Cheese Icing:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco
16 oz. cream cheese
3 lbs powdered sugar
1 T vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Kathy says:

Mix on low speed for a couple of minutes.
This makes a fairly stiff icing if you use 3-1/2 lb. Powdered sugar. For a softer one you can use 3 lbs. of powdered sugar. Can stay out of fridge for several days. Freezes well.


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CAKE RECIPES:


WASC (white almond sour cream) by Rebecca Sutterby:

1 box mix (does not work well with DH since they changed their formula)
one cup sugar
one cup flour
1 1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond if desired
3 whole eggs or 4 whites
one cup sour cream
2 tbs oil

*you can make this into any flavor by starting with flavored mix, and adjust extracts as desired . Bake at 325.



Durable cake recipe from Cake Central:

**My favorite for chocolate cake and best for sculpting

This cake is moist yet very durable and will hold up to many shapes and designs. It is light in taste and stays moist if making a day or two ahead.


1 cake mix
4 egg whites
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (add 2 more TBS for choc recipe)
1 small pkg of instant pudding mix
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325.
Incorporate all ingredients together one by one on low speed.
Make sure to mix thoroughly between each ingredient.
Once all ingredients are mixed turn mixer to medium and mix for approximately 2 minutes.


**Mixture is very very thick.

Contributed by: Heartsfire on Cake Central



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FAVORITE FONDANT BRANDS (IN ORDER):


Massa Grischuna ** by far the best
Fondx
ChocoPan
Fondarific
Satin Ice / Pettinice


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TOOLS I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT:


Fondant Smoothers
Palette Knife
Clay Gun
Ribbon Cutter
Cardstock (to make templates; I luv to make templates)
Agbay Leveler
Exacto Knife
Pasta Roller
Cornstarch
Shortening
Viva paper towels
Turntable (#35-100 )

TOOLS I USE A HECK OF A LOT:

Piping gel
Melted chocolate (for glue)
Edible dusts (FDA approved)


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MY FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP:
(No particular order)

Dallas Foam (cake dummies)
Art Supply (fomecore)
Baker's Kitchen (Sweetex)
CK Products (wholesale only)
SugarEd Productions (fabulous DVDs and supplies!)


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That's all my weary brain can think of right now. I think it is nap time. Maybe a little snack first. Tell me what your favorite cake things are!


HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Sharon

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Goody Baskets


They are finally done! Hooray!

I finally got the baskets all done. Whew! I did 18 of these babies in total, mostly for hubby's employees and colleagues, and a few for friends and family.

Here is all the loot lined up ready for the assembly line. I was so pressed for time that I did not have time to set up the lights for really good photos. I apologize for the quality of these shots.



Heather and I searched and searched for hours for a good basket supply source and she found them here: Baskets. I absolutely love this place. They have the largest selection of baskets and colors I have ever seen, great customer service, reasonably priced and the baskets were great quality. This is now my go to place for baskets.


In addition to the things I already showed you, I also made some candy cane cookies covered in textured red fondant, some large square transfer cookies, dipped pretzel rods, and small squares with a candy cane sugar lay on top.


I also added some purchased items: Hershey's candy cane kisses, and choc covered peppermint sticks ( hard to see in pics). I think the baskets would have looked better had I not bagged everything, but live and learn.


I always use shrink wrap on my bags to get a professional gourmet basket look. Coordinating bow and it is done!

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Here are some pics of the baskets from last year, a snow theme:




Sugar cookies, snowman cookies, marshmallow sticks, rock candy sticks, decorated sugar cubes, snowflake Oreo molds, chocolate coffee spoons, and hard candy snowflake suckers.



The little mint candies are made with a personalized candy mold that says The Zambitos. You can get them here.



You can get the Oreo molds here.




Sugar cookies were fondant covered and over-piped with royal icing.

Shrink wrapped and ready to gift!
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So now I have to do a cookie order, and get my house ready to host Xmas dinner. No rest for the weary, and boy am I weary! Please send me pics of the goodies you guys made this year.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

Hugs and love, Sharon

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twas the Week Before Christmas


When, what to my wondering eye should appear
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

OK, so the reindeer went off to graze .....




Here is the big project I have been working on for weeks. I made this for my sister's office party. She challenges me to raise the bar every year. I try to resist, but she gets me every time.



When she saw the Santa cake I made in Bronwen's class, she asked for that for the party. Knowing that was not enough servings for 50 people, I had to think of a coordinating way to add servings.



Late at night in bed it came to me. I knew it would be very labor intensive and stressful, but I knew I just had to try. I would have never been able to live with myself if I did not.




I thought and thought and thought some more about how to go about doing this. I used dried fondant panels for the sleigh and cake made up the seat.

The loot bag was made from piled up cake scraps. Wendy made the packages for me from styro, and I threw in a few of my goodie basket candy cane cookies too.



I searched the Internet for sleigh images and clip art, and decided to use this as my template and model: Sleigh


I made my own template on card stock using this image as a guide. I cut 2 of each piece. I wanted to have extras in case of breakage. I cut them out about 10 days before I assembled the sleigh. I flipped them over every few days to enhance them drying.



After about one week, I put the scroll work on using layers of clay gun strings. (My arms and chest are still sore.) Then I painted it with gold highlighter mixed with vodka. ( Yeah, that took a while too, LOL)


My wonderful Wendy came over to help me assemble the sleigh. I was very nervous about breakage. I had invested way too much time and effort by this point to lose it all. And it certainly took 4 hands and 2 brains to get it together. We carved the cake and placed it on the bottom piece, then attached the back piece. (Melted chocolate was our glue for everything.)


Here it is just put together. I decided to double the side panels for strength, which was a very good idea. They may not have made it had I left them single. You can see the hole in the board in front of the sleigh where Santa's stand will go down into. ( Thanks to Wendy's dad for cutting the board for me.)
Wendy came with me to deliver it and assemble it. When we got there, we dropped Santa down into the hole, applied the buttercream snow and added the doo dads.


Here is my template. You can adjust the size of this, keeping the ratio proportion the same, to make any size you want. You could make cute little gumpaste or gingerbread sleighs too.

Side panels.



Back panel



Bottom panel (excuse the typo)



Front panel


Everyone at the party was just amazed and awed. It was a lot of work, and worrisome, but I am glad I rose to the challenge. I am also very glad it is over! LOL


Next on tap is assembling the goodie baskets I have been working on. I will post those pics over the weekend. Have to get my house clean for company tomorrow night. I could use a cocktail!

Happy Holiday Caking,

Sharon

Thursday, December 11, 2008

DVD Give-Away and SNOW!


In celebration of this holiday season, we are going to have another DVD Give-away!



Every purchase of The Design Gallery DVD between now and December 31, 2008 qualifies the customer for one entry into the give-away. A random drawing will be held right after the new year. TWO names will be picked, and each will receive a free copy of both the Design Gallery and the Boxes and Bows DVD when it is released in the spring.


Pre-orders of the Design Gallery placed prior to this date will also be entered into the drawing.

This offer is not yet listed on our website, but all Design Gallery DVD purchases through December 31, 2008 will be entered.


Please check out the video clip preview of A Design Gallery on our website: Gallery Video Clip

SHIPPING NOW!

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Snow in Louisiana!


We woke up this morning to the falling of snow! J was sooo excited. He went out to play for a few minutes before school and got soaked and had to redress.

We barely ever even wear coats down here. We use the A/C all year round. I have seen a light snowfall like this maybe 4 times in my 45 years of life. And I have to tell you, it was exciting. And so pretty! We got more ground coverage than shown in these 2 pics. Even though it had started to melt, there was enough left on the ground for J and the neighborhood boys to play in it after school.


This is a picture of Heather's car.



D is at college at LSU, about an hour away. He called me at 4:30 AM just as excited as he could be, to tell me they had snow there. He and his friends were up studying for exams when it started.

So of course they went out to play in it!

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How are all of you coming with your holiday baking and candy making? I am done making all the goody basket items. Now I turn all my attention to my sister's office party extravaganza cake. (Hope I can pull it off.) Wendy is going to help me, and I will post pictures next week, either success or failure! I will post pictures of the assembled baskets the week after that.

Happy Holidays Ya'll!
Stay Warm!

Sharon

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Basket Goodies

Here it is 2 AM. I am exhausted, but I am so pumped up on caffeine and have so many things running through my mind I can't sleep. I am burning the candle at both ends here trying to get everything done that needs to get done before Christmas. I am sure you guys are going though the same thing. Between working on these basket items, shopping for gifts, trying to get the house ready to host Christmas dinner, along with the normal daily chores of laundry, dishes, and homework, I feel like I need a clone! I love the holidays but they are are a lot of work!



I promised some more pics of the things I am making for my candy cane themed gift baskets this year. Here are sugar cookies decorated in fondant. You can see how tall that cookie is next to the ice cream dish. I got the cutter here.



White chocolate covered pretzels and Keebler shortbread cookies. After the white chocolate was dry, the red chocolate was piped on and red sanding sugar sprinkled on.




The artist in me thinks the basket goodies should only be done in red and white in order to really keep with the theme. But I know everyone does not like white chocolate, so I incorporate some milk chocolate items as well. Again, here we have pretzels and shortbread cookies in the back. In the front are dipped Oreos with crushed peppermint.



Marshmallows dipped in white chocolate with peppermint crunch and peppermint powder. Of course you could make your own with peppermint candies but I am way to lazy..um... busy for that!





I am still not done! I have a few more things to make for the baskets, and I am working on a big cake project too for my sister's office party. But I can't tell you what it is because she reads my blog. Stay tuned for pics next week.


So tell me what kinds of things you guys are working on for the holidays.

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Also just wanted to drop a reminder that the Design Gallery DVD will be shipping Wednesday! YAY! Finally! And this week I am going to announce another give-a-way, so stay tuned!



Happy Holidays!


Sharon
http://www.sugaredproductions.com/

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Sneak Peak!



The Design Gallery DVD is shipping out in a few days! In plenty of time for Christmas! Those of you that pre-ordered should get yours very soon and we thank you for your order. This DVD showcases over 120 photos of my cake designs, which I narrate over beautiful background music, giving you helpful hints and tips, and pointing out tools and techniques used. See the SugarEd website for full information.


Click to play preview:

video



We also still have a lot of items on sale for a little while longer, so please go check it out!

As always, we thank you for your business.

Sharon and the SugarEd Staff

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Happy and The Sad

Sometimes the happy and the sad come on the heels of each other. This week two of my very best friends on the planet experienced very emotional milestone events in their lives.


My beloved Heather, that you all know by now, lost 2 people very dear to her in one week. Both her biological and adoptive dads passed away this week. One was somewhat expected, the other sudden and tragic. I ask you to keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers, as she is going through a very difficult time right now. Those of you that personally know Heather know what a truly pure and loving heart she has. She is one of the most giving, compassionate and selfless people I know. My heart breaks for her during this time. If you are so inclined to say a little prayer, or send positive thoughts her way, I would be most appreciative.



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I would also like to you meet one my very best friends in the world, Carla. She has 2 gorgeous kids, and is also a very talented caker and crafter. We have been friends for close to 5 years now. We talk every single day, usually several times a day. We celebrate together all of our families' birthdays and holidays. Together we have been through births, deaths, hurricanes, moves, family drama, and all the little day day to day things of life that girlfriends share. I can hardly remember a time when she was not in my life, and I cannot imagine it without her in it now. The funny thing is, we have never met in person. Carla lives in Texas, and I in Louisiana. Our states are right next to each other and yet life has not allowed us to get together yet! But we will. Not having met in person has not prevented us from developing a true and solid friendship.


Her handsome son, Daniel. Hey, my son is named Daniel too! ( No she did not name him after my son, LOL). He is a wonderfully sweet, bright, energetic and funny child. I love to hear and see his daily adventures.



This is the beautiful Arianna, who just turned one this week. What a blessing to celebrate this wonderful child coming into our lives a year ago. Isn't she gorgeous? She is very curious, feisty, and has a wonderful happy disposition. Happy Birthday sweet girl!


Carla and Arianna.


Can you tell that they are Disney nuts? Carla loves Disney about as much as I love Diet Coke. That's a LOT!



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So I just wanted to share with you a little bit about these wonderful ladies in my life. I share in Carla's joy and Heather's pain. What they both bring to my life cannot be described. I love them both dearly.

Who is your best friend?

Sharon