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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Go Canada!

A few weeks ago, my sister Adrienne and my friend Jeff both encouraged me to create an Olympic themed blog post. Since CANADA is doing so well, I decided to celebrate the success of athletes who have won medals with these adorable cupcakes! Also, since Jeff is OLYMPIC OBSESSED and Rich and I, and our friends just happened to be invited over to his house to celebrate his birthday this morning, I made the cupcakes for him!

I have to admit...I combined ideas from two of my favourite blogs: Bakerella and Sweetopia. Bakerella, of course, ended up buying a printer to print edible images for her Vintage Valentine Cookies. And Marian (Sweetopia), created her own Olympic Mascot Cookies free hand using her Kopykake machine!

So here it is, a combination of the two.  Thanks to Baked with Joy who printed the edible images for me.  This way, I was able to make the cutest little cupcakes with edible images, without having to buy my own printer!
Go Canada! 
Canada is doing so well in the 2010 Olympics! Check out all of the medals online. For the most current updates, click here!

I decided to make chocolate cupcakes, a crowd favourite! They smelled delicious and were all the same size; however, each cupcake in this batch looked like a little mountain!  To make it easier for the image to rest, I decided to cut off the tops of each one.  This created a flatter surface for the fluffy vanilla frosting that would act as a glue for the images later on.  
I first found the images that I wanted to use online. Rich helped me create a jpeg file compatible with Joy's printer. She cut them out in circles to fit on top of the cupcakes. The circles didn't have to be perfect since I would be outlining each image with vanilla frosting.  

Seriously, how cute are these mascots! Check out this website to learn more about all of the characters.

The frosting sheets were stored in a Ziploc bag until used to prevent them from drying out.  To use the frosting sheets, separate the sheet from the backing and apply immediately to a frosted cupcake.  In order for the sheet not to dry out, each part of it needs to be touching the icing.   

Apply image to cupcake with clean hands. Push out from the center to avoid any air bubbles. 

Here is what they looked like after the first part was done!

This was the fun part! I used Martha Stewart's Recipe for fluffy vanilla frosting found on page 302 in her book, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. Since I only made 12 cupcakes, I halved the recipe. See below for recipe.

Using Wilton star tip #21, I piped around the border of each image.

How adorable!  Gotta love MUKMUK the marmot!

Sumi, Quatchi and Miga are even cuter!

The excitement on Jeff's face when I brought over the cupcakes and he noticed they had an Olympic theme made him so happy! He and his son Lucas blew out the candles together.

The best part was, that his shirt matched the cupcakes...Obsessed much?!

And so did his stuffed toy mascots! Happy Birthday Jeff!

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
Makes about 4 cups

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2.  Reduce speed to medium.  Add the confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, them return to medium.  This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be pale and fluffy.

3.  Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth.  If color is desired add food colouring/gels.  (I added my sister's favourite color, turquoise!)  Frosting can be refrigerated for up to 10 days in an airtight container.  Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes. 


Friday, February 19, 2010

It's a Girl!

Our friends Clare and Jason had a baby girl on Wednesday, February 10th 2010, at 4:57 a.m.!  We are so happy for them! 
I decided to try something new to bring to Clare and Jason as part of their delivery present.  I added sticks to my cookies to make them lollipop cookies!  Before baking, add sticks through the middle of the dough until just below the tops of the cookies. Bake as usual. 

Aren't they adorable? I love the onesie cookie cutter.  I couldn't resist!
Clare and Jason named their baby, Liv Aliyah and we were thrilled to meet her earlier this week!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day Cookies

How about making your favourite person some Valentine's Day cookies this weekend?  
It would make them so happy!
Kitchen Stuff Plus has some really cute cookie cutters.
Use your favourite sugar cookie recipe and cut away!
Set up your work station.
Add food colouring to icing to make different shades of red and pink.
Decorate until your heart's content!
Tell someone you love them this Valentine's Day!
Then wrap up the cookies with love.
Trust me, they'll appreciate you even more than they already do!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baking for Haiti

Rich and I were out with our friends about two weeks ago when I received an e-mail from Sweetopia, one of the food blogs I follow. Marion came up with the most brilliant idea!  She titled her post, "Baking for Haiti." The idea of “Baking for Haiti” with my own students whirled around in my mind for hours that weekend.  I just couldn't stop thinking about it!

It wasn't until I started the work week on Monday that I approached my administration with this idea.  The rest is history! 

Planning and Organizing
Baking for Haiti is a project that my grade 6 students and I worked on as a class for the past two weeks. And what a success it was!

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, my class had many discussions about what occurred and how lucky and fortunate my students are to live the lives that they do.  To better understand the lives of the survivours and those still struggling to survive, the students were required to research an article of their choice relating to what happened.  The students summarized their chosen article and shared their ideas with the rest of the class. 

It was at that point that I wanted to do more and I knew that the students would learn so much by working together with one another on a class project to raise money for Haiti.  The class brainstormed many ideas of how we could raise more money to help the survivours. Finally, the idea of a bake sale came to life!

As a class, we discussed all of the steps involved in planning and organizing such a large scale event. I wanted the students to have ownership over this task.  I wanted them not only to sell baked goods, but rather, I wanted them to be involved in the entire process of planning an event.  This would include the making, baking, decorating, and the final sale of the products which were prepared at school.

To begin with, the students worked in pairs to create posters and announcements.  Announcements were made each day and posters were hung up around the entire school. 

Initially, the class and I thought that each student could contribute specific ingredients like eggs, flour, sugar etc. to bake cupcakes and brownies, until I spoke to my principal. She suggested partnering with grocery stores in the neighbourhood who might donate products or gift cards for our fundraiser.  What a great idea! 

It didn't take much time for me to compose a letter asking for donations!  Our community grocery stores, specifically, John's No Frills, Concord Foods,  and Cedarcroft Price Chopper, kindly donated 90% of the products used to bake the goods for the sale. Additional products like decorations for cupcakes were donated by the students' families.

The students were so excited to begin the fun part of our project! 
To my surprise, many of the boys volunteered to bake.  They each chose a role and proceeded to complete their task.

One student learned how to crack an egg for the first time, while others learned how to measure and mix ingredients together and pour the batter into paper liners! 

Decorating Cupcakes
I taught a number of interested students how to pipe icing using a piping bag.  They were excited to use different coloured icing and different tips to decorate "fancy cupcakes."

In total, the students decorated over 400 cupcakes!
The Bake Sale
Four stations were set up around the school.  This idea worked out quite well, (thanks Ghada), since each station was made up of a team of about seven students and one parent volunteer.  Everyone knew their role and worked very well together. Aside from cupcakes, parent volunteers helped prepare brownies and rice crispy squares and cookies were also prepared.
The students did such a great job decorating even the simplest cupcakes.

Counting all of the Money Raised
The cashiers were responsible for counting all of the money raised from each of their cash boxes.  We reviewed a procedure to count the money and each pair worked together to add up all of the money that their station raised.  Finally, I added all of the totals together.... 

Are you ready to hear how much money we raised?
Our class raised a total of $655.00!
I am so proud of all of the students in my class.  They did a wonderful job working together to make this fundraiser a huge success. After the event, each student reflected on their experience relating to this event. All reflections were posted on the bulletin board outside my classroom (pictured above).  Many of  the students commented on how much planning went into such a big scale event, and how time consuming an event like this was.  Another student wrote that they learned how to make a cupcake look good so that people would want to buy it and eat it!  Great job grade 6R!

There was one final step left to complete this project.   

Thanking those who helped...
We received an overwhelming number of donations from grocery stores. However, there was a lack of ovens in the school.  As a result, I invited my teacher colleagues to volunteer to bake cupcakes at home.  The response was tremendously positive!  To thank those who baked, the students prepared adorable thank you cards in the shape of cupcakes!  Thank you cards were also sent out to all parents who helped out in any way and to the grocery stores who donated products to this very important bake sale. 

To my surprise, just the other day, my students made me the biggest "Thank You Cupcake" of all!  It was a very appreciative gesture from my extremely thoughtful students.  

Overall, this was a fantastic experience for the students and for the school.  Thanks to everyone who helped out in any way.  Finally, I have to thank Marion from Sweetopia, for without her idea, this huge success would not have taken place.