Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easy Cheesecake Decor

My life is pulling me away from blogging, but hopefully I'll get into some kind of regular rhythm here soon.  For tonight, I've got a quick and easy tip for decorating a cake for any occasion.  My brother's birthday was yesterday.  I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, and he asked for a chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce.  So, I found a great recipe for a super easy marble cheesecake.  It was definitely yummy!  The problem is, I'm a cake decorator.  With icing.  Cheesecake and icing don't go too well together.  But, it WAS a birthday cake, so it needed to be festive somehow!  So, here's a simple trick to decorate cheesecake, cakes that won't be complimented with icing, or something to add to a store-bought cake to make it your own.  The best part?  Here's all you need:

Chocolate Chips
Ziploc Bag
Wax Paper

The first thing I did was dump a good amount of chocolate chips into a bowl.  I probably used a cup and a half (maybe a little more).  I microwaved the chocolate for one minute, stirred, and microwaved for one additional minute.  After two minutes in the microwave and some stirring, it was completely melted.  Next, I cut a small tip in the corner of the Ziploc bag and spooned the melted chocolate into the bag.  After you've done that, you're ready!  I laid down a nice size piece of wax paper, and started writing birthday sentiments.  I planned to just do one, but had extra chocolate, so kept going.  I figured the more choices I had, the better.  

This was my first time doing this, so I'll tell you what I've learned.

  • Cut a large hole (to match the thickness you want your letters) and write slowly.  I cut a smaller hole, so had to go over my writing a second time, and I didn't quite like the way that looked.  I think if you have a larger hole and write slower, you would get a better result.  
  • Make sure all your letters connect for each word.  If you notice, I even connected the "th" after 17 and the exclamation point.  It looks strange and not right when you do it, but it will make sense when it's on the cake. 
So after you've written your sentiments and/or drawn your designs, stick your chocolate in the freezer.  I slid my wax paper onto a cookie sheet to put into the freezer.  I wanted my letters to be flat (my cake wasn't that big), so I used the flat surface of the baking sheet.  You could also place it in a curved bowl or dish if you wanted your chocolate to set that way.  I let my chocolate sit in the freezer overnight plus about 6 hours.  But you're really just looking for the chocolate to be hardened, so it probably would be ready in about an hour.  

I chose my favorite words, and easily peeled them off the wax paper...

...and then just stuck them into the cake!  That's it!  (Please ignore my huge lack of water bath cheesecake crack)

I would change a few things the next time I do this, but I think it turned out alright.  It's different, simple, and still special.

Just imagine all the things you could do!  You could even use white chocolate or almond bark with added food coloring if you wanted to add some color.  I'm excited to incorporate this idea into future cakes and experiment to see what else I can come up with!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

August Date - Bookstore Scavenger Hunt

I'm excited to finally be able to share one of the dates I planned for my sis and her new hubby for their Dates for a Year Basket I gave them as their wedding gift.  I wanted their first date to be fun, exciting, and different.  So after I planned all twelve dates, I decided to put this one first because of its originality and hopefully to get them excited to open their date envelope each month.  August's date is a bookstore scavenger hunt.  I got the idea from The Dating Divas originally, then googled "bookstore scavenger hunt" to come up with more ideas.  (Kim & Larry...hold off on visiting that site, because one more date I've planned came from them!)  They have AWESOME and creative date ideas, for all types of dates (including double or group dates) and all types of budgets.  You could even take some of their ideas and transfer them for something to do with friends or family.  GREAT resource.

Anyway, here's what was included in the August envelope:
  • Date Card
  • 6 labeled envelopes including "task cards" to be opened at the bookstore

Here is the date card that was included in the envelope:

I was super excited that I happened to have coordinating stickers in different colors to label Kim & Larry's envelopes!  I didn't even realize I did until I was trying to decide how they would know which envelopes to open together.  

For the task cards, I had planned to use the ones linked on the Dating Divas site, but when I clicked on it, the link was no longer available.  This inspired me to create my own task cards, which I actually enjoyed because I made three cards instead of two, and added some other tasks of my own and some that I found online.  Here are the three different cards that were in the envelopes:

Of course, I adjusted the cards for each of them.  This is Kim's set of cards; for Larry's, I replaced his name with Kim's and his last category was called "His".  If you don't like one of these, you could change them out with other ideas or shorten them to only two cards.  I kind of catered these tasks to fit Kim & Larry, but there are a lot of other ideas out there.  At first, I thought of just making one set of task cards since they were looking for the same things.  But I like the idea of separating and then coming back together to talk about it, so Kim got pink cards and Larry got green ones.  

Kim texted me the evening of their date when she got home and said they loved it and had lots of fun.  Here's some pics of their night:

This date really only cost the time it took to put it together and assemble the envelopes.  So, if you're looking for a free date, this is an easy and fun one to do.  But just like anything that's free, it takes time to prepare to make a success.  So, there is date number 2 of 13!  Stay tuned for September's date!


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