Bug Birthday Party

Bug Birthday Party Blog Cover

Hey there! I hope you all had a lovely Easter break. Mine was full of food and children and family outings – perfect! It was also my middle daughter’s third birthday, and all she wanted was a party with a ladybird cake. (And a doll with a high chair which I realised, too late, makes noises. These include crying – just what I want to hear when I have a real four-month-old baby in the house – and a creepy manic laugh. But that’s neither here nor there.) So, as usual, I took the ladybird cake request and ran with it – I love a good theme, I do!

I started with DIY bug headbands. So much cuter than those pointy party hats!

Bug Headband Supplies

I used the wooden skewer to make a hole in each pom pom, then pushed a pipe cleaner into the hole. Then I stapled the ‘antennae’ onto a strip of card and covered the staples on the inside with tape, and with little stickers on the front.  I measured each headband on the kids as they arrived, then stapled the ends together, so they all fitted perfectly.

Bug Headband

Next, I made a birthday banner.

Birthday Banner Supplies

Well, actually, I cut out the shapes and letters and let my kids do the rest!

Bug Party Banner

Then it was time for the party bags. I usually make pretty cool party bags, but this year I slacked off and just filled them with sweets and chocolate. I bet the other parents loved that – sorry guys!

Party bags

The kids ranged in age from one to seven, but most of them were two or three years old, so I didn’t bother with party games. I just let them play, and also planned a ‘create-a-ladybird’ activity, which was supervised by my eldest. We got some varied results, but all were works of art, of course!

Kids Ladybirds.jpg

If you want a copy of the simple template you can download the Create-a-Ladybird template here.

Then all that remained was the food. I made ordinary party food – cheese pies, sausage rolls, salad, crisps, fruit, sandwiches … you can make anything butterfly-shaped, and anyway kids have good imaginations!

Bug Party Food

And finally, the ladybird cake itself. Served with vanilla ice cream because – yum.

Ladybird Cake

Make it!

(These are the quantities for a  20 cm half-ball pan).

One quantity Hershey’s ‘Perfectly Chocolate’ Chocolate Cake recipe, although for the ball pan the cooking time was adjusted to 1 hour 45 minutes.

One quantity chocolate butter cream from BBC Good Food.

Red, black, light green and white sugar paste to decorate, plus a wooden skewer cut in half for the antennae.

 

 

Easter Gift Boxes

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I made these cute gift boxes with the help of some silicon moulds, a brush, a makeshift piping bag and a lot of melted chocolate.

Easter Box

The moulds had the pattern on them, but I thought it was a nice touch to paint over it with a different colour chocolate.

Egg Halves

I also made and decorated little chocolates for an extra treat.

Chocolate Bites

Then I put everything on shredded tissue paper in a nice wooden box, covered with cellophane and tied with a red ribbon (the colour most associated with Easter in the country where I live).

Easter Boxes

Cute, tasty and made with love!

Craft-Passion-Meets-Chocolate Easter Egg

CPMC Easter Egg Blog Cover

I happened to see a tutorial for these sakura Easter eggs from Craft Passion the other day and I thought how pretty they were. But I’m less of a glue gun girl and more of a chocolate girl, so I started thinking how great it would be if they were edible, too.

Sakura Easter Egg

I used a regular egg-shaped mould to make the white chocolate egg (I used about 150 g of chocolate, I think, although I can’t be sure because I kept eating it!) Then I melted a couple of squares of dark chocolate and piped on the branches. By moving the bag back and forth as I was piping, I got a nice ‘tree trunk’ texture. Then I added some edible bronze paint, just because it’s pretty.

Sakura Easter Egg Collage

I used a little spring cutter I have to make pale pink sugar paste flowers, and gave them a slightly darker pink centre. I let them dry with the petals slightly curled upwards, then I stuck them on with a little water.

Sakura Easter Egg Close

Then all I had to do was keep my kids away long enough to take a photo!

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Blog Cover

The minute this video popped up on my social media feed, I knew I had to make it!

Of course, I didn’t use a box of brownie mix – that would have been a cardinal sin! Instead I used a recipe for chocolate brownie cake from BBC Good Food. It smelled so delicious when it was baking that it almost didn’t make it to the cheesecake stage!

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake Collage.jpg

As it was meant to be a birthday cake, I piped a little message on the top with some melted white chocolate, too.

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake.jpg

It was rich, but because I used dark chocolate in the cake and the ganache, it wasn’t sickeningly sweet. Definitely a recipe to remember!

Make it!

Chocolate brownie cake recipe from BBC Good Food.

Cheesecake filling and chocolate ganache recipes from this video from Buzzfeed.

Merenda Chocolate Cookies

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Like most kids, my girls both have a sweet tooth, but I try not to pump them full of sugar if I can help it. However, when the younger one asked me to make chocolate cookies – she’s two years old and pronounces it “toc-o-late too-tees” – how could I say no?

I decided to try a recipe with chocolate spread (Merenda in Greece where I live, but Nutella in the UK and USA, I believe). I used one from Sally’s Baking Addiction which has the chocolate spread swirled through the cookie dough and it was delicious! The only thing I changed was the chocolate chips. Whenever I make chocolate cookies, I never use ready-made chocolate chips. I prefer to chop up a bar of chocolate – it’s a bit more work, but worth it for chunkier chunks of chocolate!

chunky-chocolate-chips

I didn’t decorate the tops with chocolate chips and salt as the original recipe suggests either – but nobody seemed to mind!

eating-merenda-cookies

Cookies and milk, anyone?

Merenda Cookies and Milk.jpg

Make it!

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

 

Cakes with Kids: Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

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When you see the first strawberries of the season in the local market, you just have to buy a punnet. After all, what’s better than strawberries and cream for dessert? Oh wait, I know – strawberries and cream cupcakes!

strawberries-and-cream-cupcakes

This is a perfect Cakes with Kids recipe because it’s simple and straightforward, and most kids I know are nuts for strawberries. We start with the cake mixture – a simple sponge where you whack all the ingredients in one bowl and give them a good stir.

basic-sponge-recipe

Stirring is serious business.

mixing-the-mixture

Then we put a dessert spoonful of mixture in each (carefully selected) paper case, add a teaspoon of strawberry jam, and top with a second dessert spoonful of the cake mixture. The cakes take 15 minutes to bake, but make sure they’re completely cool before adding the frosting.

cream-frosting

The frosting can be piped on neatly with a piping bag, but for younger children a couple of teaspoons are easier to handle!

strawberries-and-cream-collage

Top with half a strawberry and enjoy!

enjoying-a-cupcake

Make it!

Download the Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes recipe with step-by-step instructions.

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

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I recently attended the christening of a gorgeous little boy and the guests all received a beautiful jungle-themed cupcake after the service. They had fantastic sugar paste animals on top, but underneath was the tried-and-true red velvet cupcake. Which got me thinking how much I fancied baking a batch myself. After all, who doesn’t love red a velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting?

I used Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her book Kitchen. The media can say what they will about Nigella – personally I couldn’t care less what she gets up to at home. I love her because she is genuinely, passionately obsessed with food … and I know just how that feels!

Here are some shots of the colourful cakes in the making – don’t you just love the colour of that batter? (The selfie of me and the kid is to prove that I baked these beauties one-handed while holding a screaming baby. Just be glad it’s not a video – this one has got a great pair of lungs on her).

red-velvet-collage

So here it is – the red velvet cupcake. An oldie but a goodie!

red-velvet-cupcake

Make it!

Red velvet cupcake recipe from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson.

Cream cheese frosting recipe  from The Hummingbird Bakery Cupcakes & Muffins Book.

Red sugar strands to decorate.