Saturday, 26 April 2014

Afternoon tea anyone?

It was my niece's 20th birthday this month and I got to make her cake. She wanted a proper tea service for her present and an afternoon tea party celebration, so the cake of course had to follow the theme.
I had lots of fun making a miniature tea service out of fondant and once the pieces had dried, painting them with gold edging and little roses. I was really pleased with the finished cake and my niece loved it. 

I found a really helpful tutorial on how to make the tea set (take a look here) which I followed to make the tea pot and handles on the tea cups. I made the tea cups by rolling out the fondant reasonably thinly and cutting a circle and a rectangle and then forming the rectangle into a tube and fixing it to the circle before adding the handle. 
I filled each of the tea cups with some piping gel that I coloured brown which made it look like black tea/coffee. If I do a similar cake again, I would try to make the tea look milky and to fill the milk jug with "milk" - but that's something to figure out next time. I also filled the sugar bowl with real sugar on the day which worked well.
The finishing touches were a vase with roses in, a celebration cake for the middle of the table and some "jam" sandwiches on each of the plates.

© 2014 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Chocolate party - Alpine village cake

Sophie's 8th birthday party was all about chocolate (see my previous post here). The obvious choice for a cake was an all out choco-tastic creation but no cakes I found online inspired me. I have learnt from previous years that if the cake isn't particularly creative I feel cheated and disassisfied with the end product so I needed to come up with something I could really get my creative teeth in to. Cue Alpine village cake.
cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house
I don't know where this idea sprang from and I couldn't find any similar cakes to what was in my head so I had to build it as I went along. First piece of inspiration came from the Lakeland's fairy tale village moulds and I used this to make chocolate houses. Using milk, dark and white chocolate, I poured melted chocolate into each part of the moulds for mix and match houses. Sadly I didn't do a very good job of tempering the chocolate and all but the dark chocolate rooves bloomed, but actually it didn't notice once all the other decorations were on and the chocolate still tasted good!

I had also collected a selection of chocolate sprinkles, hearts, jazzies, pebbles and other bits along the way which all got put to good use. I ended up baking one rectangular sponge and two 9" circular ones (chocolate sponges of course) and layering them for a staggered mountain slope sort of effect.
cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house

I knew I wanted to a stream across the cake and that idea developed into a babbling mountain stream ending in a lake. I mixed two colours of blue fondant together, but didn't totally mix them so there was some marbling still. This ended up looking fab and I finished off the stream with some sugar sprinkles I had left over from the Octonauts cake I made earlier this year.
cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house
I had the mountain stream coming out of a chocolate pebble and I edged the mountain lake with some more of the chocolate pebbles and some of the small chocolate sprinkles. The finishing touch for the lake was some piping gel (something new for me to play with) which I spread across the lake for a water effect. This worked fantastically and I will definitely be playing with this again another time.
cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house

cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house

cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house
The strange indentations on the picture of the plain green covered cake above were deliberate! They turned into a footpath from the top house, linking it to the house on the mid-levels and I added some orange chocolate Matchmakers to provide some steps for the little chocolate people I added right at the end (sadly no photos of the cake with these little guys on) to get down to the lake and their friends in the bottom house!  
cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house
cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate housecake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate housecake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house
The finishing touch was to add literally a hundred plus fondant flowers in lots of bright colours, Sophie's name and a number eight candle placed behind the silver Happy Birthday.
cake, alpine village, chocolate, chocolate house
For the first time Sophie had very definite ideas as to how she wanted the cake but I couldn't really understand or translate some of these into reality. Thankfully, she was very happy with the finished cake so all was good in the Snowballs house.

© 2014 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

It's all about the chocolate ...

We decided on a chocolate theme for Sophie's 8th birthday party this year. Originally I was thinking that the party guests could make lots of chocolate goodies (such as chocolate pizza and chocolate rice krispie cakes) but when Sophie came up with a guest list of 20 children I knew that this wasn't going to be feasible, so Plan B was created.

Plan B swiftly took shape with some help from Pinterest (where else would you go?) and I came up with games involving huge amounts of chocolate to fill the two hour party. As always, I did the planning and pulling the activities together and Mr Snowballs did the amazing job of keeping 18 children entertained and stuffed with chocolate goodies on the day.

I couldn't find any invitations I liked that included chocolate so I came up with a simple one made from chocolate jazzies stuck onto rice paper with a bit of melted chocolate, and the rice paper stuck onto the invitation with the party information printed on the back (the rice paper stopped the oil from the chocolate "glue" seeping through and spoiling the back of the invitation). Sophie drew the ribbons and bow for each balloon. Feedback was that many of the parents didn't get to see the "balloons" as they were consumed pretty swiftly. And a word of advice to anyone thinking to copy this, make sure the pens and glue glueing the rice paper onto the invitation are non-toxic as the rice paper was also peeled off and eaten by quite a few of the children!!
As I mentioned above, the party was full of games that involved chocolate in lots of ways: including chocolate anagrams to start, guess the chocolate bar (you could tell the chocoholics straight away in this game as they were the only ones to get almost all the answers correct!) ...
 ... pass the chocolate orange without using your hands ...
 ... chocolate dress up (where you roll a dice and when you get a six you have to put a coat and gloves and scarf on and cut off squares of chocolate using a knife and fork!) ...
 ... moving smarties from one plate to another using suction power through a straw (they were surprisingly good at this) ...
 ... and my favourite, chocolate kisses, where you place a square of chocolate on the party guests lips while they are lying down and the last person to eat the chocolate wins. A lot harder than it sounds as the chocolate starts melting.
 Mr Snowballs made it harder by adding slices of chocolate orange along the way!
After each game, the winning children (everyone was a winner according to Mr Snowballs) got to visit the Chocolate Shop for a small chocolate prize. By the time it came to sitting and eating the birthday tea, lots of the children were suffering from chocolate overload. Some judicious eating of cool carrot sticks and they were ready to tackle the chocolate fountain, which they had all been waiting patiently for since they spotted it at the start of the party!
Chocolate overload or not, the children had a great time and the party girl enjoyed it more than all the rest. And Mummy enjoyed the mountain of chocolates left over for the next week!!

I am just launching a series of Host Your Own Party guides. These are aimed for those of you who want to host a great party for your child but don’t know where to start? The Host Your Own Chocolate Party pack gives you all the information you need to organise and run a chocolate-tastic party and all for only £4. Send me a mail for more information or if you would like to buy the guide.


© 2014 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.