This weekend my friend CM had a practice run for a milestone birthday next year by throwing a party at our local pub. Given that I put us all into a sugar coma with her Pod Cake last year, and she constructed an incredible pirate ship cake for my birthday this year (the leftovers of which supplied me with breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day as I found my ability to move from the couch had been pillaged), I thought I’d best follow on the tradition and make something tasty for her shindig.
And nothing says happy birthday like a bunch of freshly picked carrots! Oh, I was going to make sure this next year of her life would be filled with night vision like none before!
Oh, who am I kidding, I don’t have a lovely garden full of birthday carrots ripe for the plucking. Neither does CM. In fact, she’s been going through a very extended period of renovation in her house, most keenly demonstrated through the lack of a real kitchen for the past few months, so my first thought was to construct some sort of cake kitchen. This plan remains a pipe dream (ho ho) however, as I then had another great and more practical plan.
You see, my housemate had asked CM what she would like for her birthday, and the response was something along the lines of “a nice house in the hills, with a lock-up garage, loving husband and two little children”. My housemate’s immediate response, of course, was to go to Kmart and buy her a LEGO house with a little LEGO man and woman. She was unsuccessful in her quest for little LEGO children, but the set came with a dog so we figured that would be a reasonable substitute.
The LEGO house also had a little table and chairs for the happy couple to sit at, but was missing a garden. Having a lovely house in the hills without a garden just would not do. As luck would have it I very recently won a copy of Hello, Cupcake! from Bryt of Traveller of the World. Flicking through all the cupcake decoration masterpieces I came across the Garden Party Cupcakes and it all fell beautifully into place. CM’s house would have a garden after all! Also, it can get pretty dark at night in the hills without the city’s light pollution, so having keen carrot-fueled night vision would be all the more crucial, particularly with such a large dog to trip over on the way to the toilet.
Hello, Cupcake! is different from many cupcake decoration cooks and sites in that it uses readily available candy (lollies and chocolates) for the decorating supplies as opposed to fondant or other such standard decorating supplies. I think this makes for a more interesting end product that is more enjoyable to eat as you have a mixture of flavours and textures with the decorations as opposed to piles of coloured sugar with the same tooth-aching sweetness.
Unfortunately when I say “readily available” I mean readily available to the U.S. market for which it is written and as such many of the decorating supplies are not readily available in Australia. Luckily us Aussies are an inventive lot and so I channelled my fellow Aussie inventors of the black box flight recorder, winged keel and bionic ear as I paced the lolly aisle at Coles looking for suitable replacements. Unsurprisingly, Coles didn’t entirely come up with the goods despite my best inventive efforts but Ye Olde Lolly Shoppe in Carillon City was just the ticket for taking up the slack, with the bonus of super friendly ye olde school service. I would like to shop at more places where the staff are dressed in ye olde attire, though I did feel like a bit of a hussy with my ankles on display.
Everything then sourced, I got baking (carrot cupcakes of course) and then decorating. After laying down a nice thick topsoil of crushed Oreos, it was time to get busy with the vegies.
First up, the crucial carrots. These were made by moulding orange Starburst fruit chews into carrot shapes, scoring them with a knife and the rubbing with cinnamon ‘dirt’. I then got some green salt water taffy and rolled it into very thin ropes, cutting this into little sections and joining a few together before poking a hole in the top of the carrot and then poking in the leaves.
The radishes were made by getting a red Starburst fruit chew and a quarter of a white salt water taffy malleable, then joining them together and rolling into a ball. The white section was then pinched out to make the pointy end. The leaves, which were also used for the lettuces, were made by melting some green icing in the microwave and then covering bran flakes with it. They didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, as I think they could have been covered more, but the next batch of icing I made went really weird and separated in the microwave and I couldn’t be bothered making a third batch so I just made do with what I had.
The lettuce heads had inner balls made of green salt water taffy halves rolled into balls and used more of the bran leaves. It was just as well that CM would now be safe to traverse her hills house in the middle of the night as I don’t think it is possible to find something with more dietary fibre than leafy greens made of bran.
I was pretty pleased with myself when I came across mint flavoured crispy m&ms to use for the peas. Mint peas! The pods are green salt water taffies stretched out into an oval, then folded over and the ends pinched together. I couldn’t find any green laces for the little vines so I sliced some apple straps into thin ribbons.
The spades were made of Pocky joined with white chocolate, with chewing gum blades. The little seeds are chocolate and candy coated sunflower seeds, which I am confident will grow into chocolate and candy coated sunflowers. The ye olde woman didn’t confirm this but I think it’s pretty obvious.
The signs boards are Nice biscuits, first covered in white chocolate and then decorated with blue and chocolate icing. The sign posts are musk sticks, cut to pointy ends to easily spear through the cupcakes or to attack any carrot nibbling rabbits with. The posts are then reinforced with chocolate rocks (possibly also useful to throw at the rabbits).
By all accounts CM’s party was a highly successful practice run for the big one next year, and I wish her another year of happiness and laughter and good food and more mountain biking and a finished kitchen and hopefully a win in our music quiz pursuits and maybe a real house in the hills too :)