Birthday Cupcakes: Bears on the Beach

Mason turns 2 next Sunday. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, but it’s astonishing that he gets even more fun as the months go by. I thought 6 months was the best age, then 1, then 18 months, and now my vote goes to the age he is right now.

In the spirit of his upcoming birthday, we traveled to Columbus, Ohio, last week to visit family. My mom hosted a celebration for him, and all of our family was there, as well as Amber, my closest friend from college, and her two boys Declan and Liam, stopped by as well.

The kids played in the kiddie pool, in the sandbox, and in a giant bouncy house. They blew bubbles, and raced cars. And of course they ate cupcakes.

My mom made simple cupcakes from a mix, frosted them, and then created a little beach scene on top. A sprinkling of coarse sugar made the sand. A piece of fruit roll-up became towels and little cocktail umbrellas offered shade for Teddy grams wearing either a bikini or swim trunks made from frosting. The treats looked adorable–and they were very easy to make.

Now I just have to come up with a good cupcake design for his class party next week.

Here are the Elmo cupcakes that another of Mason’s classmates recently had for his school celebration, so I want to go another route for Mason (but hopefully be just as creative!) I’m going to start with the mix–I’m thinking carrot cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting–but I need a fun decorating idea.

Care to share your ideas?

Adorable Elmo Birthday Cupcakes

I love that my kid rocks out at daycare. And with Elmo, to boot.

I was frantically catching up on email yesterday when a note popped up from Aesook, Logan’s mom. Little Logan is one of Mason’s BFFs at school, and he celebrated his second birthday in class on Monday with superĀ cute Elmo cupcakes that Aesook made. After dessert they rocked out to a song from the Wiggles–and she was there to capture it all on camera.

Aesook is the same mom who gave me the recipe for Japanese Egg-Salad Sandwich–she writes the blog Working Mom Cook Fusion–and I loved the cupcakes so much that I asked her for directions on how to make them.

You can start with any basic cupcake recipe. She made a cream cheese frosting (recipe here), and then created the Sesame Street character using a combo of fruit and candy. His body is a fresh strawberry. The whites of his eyes are small marshmallows, with tiny M&Ms for the eye balls. Half an Oreo cookie makes his mouth and a dried apricot is the perfect nose. She used melted chocolate to hold everything in place.

Awesome idea, right? Care to share any of your own creative birthday treats? Post ’em on High Chair Times’ Facebook page.

Photos by Aesook Kim

Creative DIY Birthday Cakes in Less Than 30 Minutes

It’s only April, but I’m already thinking about what we’ll do for Mason’s second birthday in August. There’s been lots of birthday talk among the LIC Mamas–many of us have spring and summer babies–and it’s gotten me thinking about how I want to celebrate Mason’s big day. I had so much fun planning his bash last year (a safari-theme cookout) that I can’t wait to dream up this year’s plan. But first I have to come up with a good theme…suggestions welcome!

Although the details are still murky in my mind, I know I want to make Mason’s cake. (Last year I splurged on fancy cupcakes from Sprinkles because I was too overwhelmed with the prospect of planning Mason’s first birthday party to deal with making the cake.) But that milestone accomplished, making his cake every year is just something I want to be able to do for him.

Here’s the catch: I’ve never baked a cake. My mother wasn’t a big baker when I was growing up, so I never really learned how to bake, beyond a simple batch of cookies or muffins. And while a good part of my career has been in food, my focus has been primarily on cooking and wine-pairing, so I never really had to hone my baking skills. But now that I’m a mom I feel like I need to become a better baker. Chalk it up to my love of those Duncan Hines commercials with the mom baking and the kids smiling.

Anyway, Mason’s second birthday is probably not the best occasion for my first foray into cakes. But I’ll practice a lot before then, and I’ll get advice from my co-worker Erica, a trained chef who is also the food editor for Parents. She recently came up with six DIY birthday cakes, including the “Mini Smash Cake” (above, left), that are beautiful but not complicated. Mason loves dogs right now, so perhaps I’ll make him the Paw-Print Cake (above, right)–she used Necco Wafers and Smarties candies for the prints! And I think the Rainbow Cake (left) covered with jelly beans is really fun.

Wish me luck. I have this image in my head of me covered in flour from head to toe with splotches of frosting in my hair. But I’ve got faith that I can do it. My baking process might not be pretty, but the smile on Mason’s face when I serve the cake will be totally worth the effort. (Plus he’ll only be two–too young to judge me if the cake is lopsided!) Stay tuned for pictures of the whole debacle adventure.

Is your tot’s birthday coming up? What kind of cake will you make (or buy)?