A dear friend of mine is pregnant with her first child, a daughter and our circle of friends held a baby shower in her honor this past Sunday. I was in charge of picking the theme, developing the menu and preparing a few of the dishes.
The future-momma is thrilled to be having a girl — she has always been a girly-girl (her wedding colors were baby pink and chocolate brown), so we chose “Sugar & Spice” as the theme for the day, incorporating her favorite colors and love of all-things frilly.
As I was brainstorming the theme, I created a collage of inspirational images that really helped us to visualize our theme. I usually have as much fun creating the brainstorm board as I do planning the final event!
The menu included lots of warming comfort food and just a touch of spice throughout, with things like a spicy arugula & fennel salad; baked mac & cheese with a touch of nutmeg and cayenne; spice-glazed baked ham, and a dessert bar featuring chocolate-dipped marshmallows, lemon cookies and chocolate-glazed gingerbread cupcakes.
We also offered hot spiced cider and hot tea, along with cinnamon sticks and pink rock candy stir sticks. Finally, each of the attendees recieved a bottle of cinamon sugar with a custom label as a party favor. All in all, it was a fun party and I think our friend really appreciated our efforts.
It was lots of fun to plan and prep for. I made the cider, salad, mac & cheese, marshmallow pops and the cupcakes. The cupcakes were an interesting experiment because I’ve never made a glaze frosting before. It was actually super easy to make and apply (just melt, dip and drip!). The gingerbread cake was also a new experiement. I based the recipes off of a version I found on Martha Stewart. The cake was moist and spicy and the frosting was rich and smooth…though its a very rich one-two punch. Next time I might try the cake with a cream cheese frosting. Or do the chocolate glaze with a yellow cupcake. But both recipes really are pretty outstanding.
That said, it was a pretty action packed weekend. In addition to all the cooking, I also had book club Saturday afternoon. My book club is always lots of fun but we usually end up enjoying alot more wine than we do intelligent discusion of the book. Between all the activities, I’m left feeling a little zapped today, but trying to rally as I have two nights of classes and then I’m off on a long-planned business trip for the balance of the week. But, once February arrives I’ll be back in a comfortable routine. And hopefully much more blogging!
How about you guys….have you planned any fun parties recently? Did you come up with a theme or make any amazing treats? I’d love to hear about them!
Adapted from recipes on MartaStewart.com
Makes about 20 regular size cupcakes
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup tap water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 tsp. groung ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and stir in baking soda. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl sift together flours, spices, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and brown sugar for a few minutes, until the mixture us fluffy and light. Beat in molasses until evenly combined. Then, add the flour and baking soda/water mixture in thirds, alternating back and fourth: flour, then water, then flour, then water, then flour, then water, just until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Fill muffin tins two-thirds full with batter (these suckers really rise, so don’t overfill!), then place cupcakes in the oven and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle cupcake. Remove cupcakes to a rack to cool before decorating.