My husband and I currently live in Heidelberg, Germany. We love to travel, try new things, make new friends, and explore. I’m a self-taught home baker. A few YouTube videos on the magic of buttercream plus work on the science of baking has brought me to a place where I like the look of what I create and how it tastes. New projects and techniques are labeled ‘test kitchen’ on my blog, The Sugary Shrink, so I can remind myself that nothing has to be perfect. My goal is for the outside design to match the inside deliciousness.
I hope you like what I have prepared for you this month.
At the first hint of autumn, I get excited for my favorite holiday season. It begins with Halloween and continues through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. This year is no different. We love to invite our friends over for fun and spooky-good times! After an easy dinner of chili and cornbread, a costume contest, and maybe a talent show – we’ll attack the dessert table before settling in for an evening of classic board games.
The Dessert Table
This dessert table was inspired my all-time favorite – Candy Corn! I love the colors, the look and the flavor.
When I prepare a dessert table, I like to offer popular choices so everyone’s happy. It’s also important to appeal all the senses. The scent of the Granny Smith apples, hot cocoa, and fresh fruit kabobs is an additional draw because it mingles with the scent of cupcakes and buttercream.
Combining textures is another great technique to keep things visually interesting. The Fiesta Dinnerware paired with a wooden box next to a wire cake stand allows these different textures to play off one another.
Varying the height of displays helps break up any sense of visual monotony. I aim for visual balance, for example the box with the Slate Large Disc Pitcher on the left is at the same level as the Baking Tray of Jumbo Mugs on the right. The Appetizer Plates are balanced with the candy corn candle holder while the Bread Trays and Omni Trays establish a solid base.
I’ve stacked the Shamrock Witch Appetizer plate with a Lemongrass Dessert plate to add color and fun. The black and white paper straws are in a Poppy tapered Mug. This combination, with three different levels, keeps a nice visual balance.
I am in love with this omni tray! An omni tray means it’s a party and this time was no exception. I combined two Poppy and two Slate omni trays and added a Poppy ramekin for the center and finished with a Slate 15” Round baking tray. The combination is a real showstopper.
The center is filled with a chocolate, peanut butter, and cream cheese dip to compliment the other dessert items of yogurt covered pretzels, graham crackers, Oreos and Clementine’s.
How about a few Monster Cupcakes?
Vanilla Cupcakes are perfect for a design like these. I tint the batter to match the cupcake liner. I tinted the FrankenCupcake green, the Purple Periscope is tinted purple and the Chocolate Orange Rose tinted orange to match their respective colored cupcake liners. Monster cupcakes might be the perfect party activity for guests of all ages.
If you make these cupcakes for your party guests this season, consider topping cupcakes with crushed pretzels or nuts, flaked coconut, swirls of caramel, and always remember to add eyes for the monster effect.
Orange Ombre Cake
This chocolate layer cake is three layers of delicious! The design is forgiving and approachable for the home baker. A Sunflower 12” cake plate is ideal for the 8” round cake and the colors pair very well. The frosting is vanilla buttercream in a light orange ombré finish. I cut out a construction paper Scary Boo Cat, to echo the Lemongrass Boo Cat, and taped a coffee stir stick on the back then gently set him down off-center.
When I first started decorating cakes, I tried to make each and every cake perfect. No lines, no smears, no flaws. But that’s not real life and that’s certainly not me. Now I embrace a more relaxed style when it comes to buttercream and cake and I hope you do too.
I don’t know if I can celebrate Halloween without a candied apple and I’m not willing to find out! These Granny Smith apples are a generous size and not for the faint of heart. The white bread tray is a wonderful showcase for these treats and is perfect for taking from refrigerator to the table.
These candy apples have natural sticks that I cleaned, blanched, and then twisted into the center of the cleaned, dried apple until firmly in place. After the apple was dipped in caramel sauce, I rolled it around several different kinds of coating. This is where the fun begins!
Though peanuts are a traditional choice, not all my guests can eat nuts – so I crushed a few pretzels instead. It’s a terrific crunch and is a flavor buddy to caramel and apples; the candy corn screams party. Other options to be included next time could be cupcake sprinkles, mini-chocolate morsels, toasted coconut and toffee chips.
These three Bread Trays: White, Poppy, and Sunflower continue the theme of candy corn and Halloween.
The Poppy bread tray has two different kinds of treat, fresh fruit kabobs of dark grapes and kiwi chunks. The color of the fruit supports the Halloween theme and is a wonderful alternative to baked goods and is a beautiful contrast to the Poppy.
Sugary Shrink tip: After completing kabobs, go back and cut away the pointed end of the stick to reduce the risk that anyone is harmed with a kabob skewer.
On the other half of the Poppy bread tray is a chocolate mocha ball with coconut. I bought this at the store because it looked festive and offered a different flavor. When it comes to dessert tables– it’s about the hosts’ comfort level and reduced anxiety. If baking at home is too much, consider attempting one item. If that’s still too much, buy all the things! It’s a party and what matters is time spent with family and friends.
Rice krisp Candy Corn Wedges
You didn’t know how badly you needed these in your life until this very moment. They are as fun and easy they look. For this dessert table, I used my 10” cake round, which required about one and a half times the standard marshmallow treat recipe. Add color just at the very end of the marshmallows melting, remove from heat, stir in cereal, and press into pan. Placing a round of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan and liberally butter the sides made for a very easy release onto the cutting board. I scored the entire round with my cake slicer and sliced the wedges apart with a heavy knife.
These Jumbo Mugs are the hit of the party! They’re so much fun and it seems everyone has their favorite. Halloween is a perfect time for hot cocoa with marshmallows and this mug can handle anything you throw at it.
Five jumbo mugs fit very nicely on the White 15” round baking tray sitting on an upended Poppy Hostess Bowl. This combination adds color, height, and provides a great base for these hot mugs. Watch as your guests match their mug to their appetizer or luncheon plate, adults and children alike.
Quite frankly, this Jumbo Mug is one of my favorite, go-to mugs. I might turn right around and have cereal or oatmeal in one or later in the day, a bit of soup. It’s like a bowl with a handle.
Once the cake is sliced, the plates fill up. There are very few rules when it comes to party guests serving themselves. It’s about creating a welcoming atmosphere filled with love and acceptance and fun. Fiesta Dinnerware does that, it brings fun and says, “You’re family here.”
The best part of Fiesta and Halloween is the amusement and the memories. So many years of helping our kids get dressed up for Halloween, the occasional family costume (In 2005 we went as Yahtzee) or those drizzly nights my life partner dressed up as a mummy to hand out candy. Halloween has nostalgia and traditions.These are the same words I use when it comes to Fiesta Dinnerware. Fiesta is fun and each family has unique traditions that keep time anchored. This year as I add the Halloween Bats and Whoo Owl design to my party, I will also be adding a new tradition that extends the good memories of past years with the new memories of today.