Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ode to Samantha, GLEE fanatic and true friend

Ode to Samantha:
*She is the icing on a cupcake, the ginger in gingerbread.* *wink wink Sam*

Allow me a moment to get sappy.  I remember when making a friend was as simple as being in the same class or liking the same games in school. The older you get, the more you realize you need those people that remember how you were when you younger, happier, and didn't give a damn about anything. Making friends is harder when you're all grown up. It takes lots of work. 

Being the self-centered, attention-seeking person that I am, I haven't had a REALLY close friend in years. Mainly because, to be honest, I am a shitty friend. I am working on that. When I became engaged in March, Sam was the only woman in my life that I knew I could truly rely on. At the time, we were not particularly close, but when I asked her to be my matron of honor, she said she was so honored and got all choked up about it. She sounded so genuine that you would have thought that I had asked her to be my MOH over say.. a twin sister or something. Sam is unselfish, giving, and beautiful. She is everything I wish I could be.

Her birthday was last week, and I knew I just had to something to show her much she means to me. This is kind of hard to explain because BFF's are usually mutual. I won't pretend to believe that I am Sam's BFF, but she is most certainly is mine.

Sam loves so many things, except vegetables, seafood, and red velvet cake. Her husband had already planned a dinner out with the gang, so making her an incredible meal was out of the question. I send him a quick tweet asking if I could make her a cake. He had no objections so my confectionery gears started grinding.

I also know Sam is a fan of a few tv shows and movies, but GLEE in particular. Glee is like a culmination of so many things that Sam loves: pop music, musical theater, triumph of the under-dog, and great educators that support students.So after about 30 seconds of thought, I decided that a Glee cake was the way to go. I am thinking: fondant letters with a butter cream icing.

Sudden pause: Jonathan is freaking out when I spill this plan. He thinks this is waaaaaay to involved for transport directly after work in 100* degree heat. He applauds the thought, but thinks it is ill advised to try, yet again, a new recipe/technique when something this big is on the line. *I told him to shove it and not be so critical*

So what if I had never worked with fondant before! How hard could it be? I did a quick google search of Glee cakes, and saw 3 or 4 varieties. Then I stumbled upon some cute cupcakes involving minimal fondant and Cheerios cereals. (Apparently, this is a reference to the cheerleaders on the show, which are referred to as "the Cheerios".) I thought it was definately something I could pull off. Then, I got the idea of making some "popcorn cupcakes" so it would be like sitting around watching her favorite show with a bowl of popcorn. So here is how it went down:

Deadline: Friday  at 6:30 p.m. 

Tuesday: Went to the grocery store and bought a gagillion things. I couldn't decide on which cupcake flavor to buy, so I got a yellow/chocolate swirl. That way everyone could be satisfied. Got buttercream icing knowing she likes it best. Also, got a variety of primary-colored fondants. yum yum.

Wednesday: Day of mental preparation/anguish. Purchased shiny, silver foil cupcake papers, and a bakery box for transport of precious cargo. Made it home and began prep on the "popcorn" component of the cupcakes, which is actually marshmallows. This is how to do it:

1. Using the miniature marshmallows, take a pair of sharp scissors and make 2, crosswise cuts across the flat part of the mellow. It is incredible how realistic this looks. *note: this technique could also double as a molar on a toothy cake.* Anyway, it takes, like a dozen or more per cupcake, repeat this step approximately 9 million times if you are making a huge batch.
     2. After I had snipped about 1/2 a bag of these, I sealed them up and cut fondant squares with a knife. I used a simple template cut out of a manila folder. You have to roll it much thinner than you think you do. A little goes a long way. FYI, the hotter fondant gets, the more stretchy it is. My squares didn't stay perfect as I cut them under track lighting, but they were close enough to satisfy me.  I put them in the fridge for use later.

    3. I also spent some time printing little Glee logos off the internet, printing them in color, and cutting them out. I couldn't afford the edible paper, even if I could find it. I made a mental note to remind everyone not to eat the paper logos at the party. (Didn't work... WeeFee ate his anyway.)

    Thursday: Baked the actual cupcakes, iced the ones that were to be the popcorn ones. I added the "marshmallow popcorn" and used an aerosol food-coloring to dye it yellow as if buttered. By the way, I think I can understand why those workers at the popcorn factories talk about the toxic, butter flavoring. That dye smelled like I was using spray paint, but there was no SNAFU. It was food dye..*

    I wasn't satisfied at first, but after seeing 3 together it started to look awesome.
    Friday: Raced home from work, iced remaining cupcakes. First you adhere the fondant square in the middle, then you dip the cupcake on a plate of cheerios. After that, apply a small dot of icing to the back of the paper logo and adhere to the fondant. Add some candy sprinkles for an extra pop of color, and  you get these beautiful results...

    Glee is abounding at this point!!!
    We get the cupcakes all loaded in the car and dash across town to the restaurant without incident. We get them in the restaurant fridge just before she arrives. She has no clue they are coming out. Her expression was priceless...

    Love you Sam. Happy Birthday!

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