My 30th Birthday Party

My dessert table and I

Yes, it’s true. I’m finally finally 30! I’ve been waiting since I was about 12 to turn 30 and I’m pumped that I’ve finally made it.

To celebrate, I threw myself a county fair themed birthday party. It was basically an excuse to do a ton of baking and make a dessert table. I also organized a few games of skill and a 1981 trivia contest.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I will bore you with lots of photos* from the day. Here we go!

Dessert table
The dessert table

Whiskey Apple Pie
Whiskey Apple Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (this was the hit – not even crumbs left!)

Vegan Blueberry Pie
Vegan Blueberry Pie

Vegan Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Vegan Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Vegan Ice Cream Conecakes
Vegan Ice Cream Conecakes

Caramel Apple Cake Pops
“Caramel Apple” Cakepops


* Some of these photos were taken by my sister-in-law Megan Duffy, but I can’t remember which are which. Obviously, any with me IN them were taken by her.

Upcoming Events Where You Can Find My Baked Goods!

September is a busy month for me! Not only did I spend Saturday baking for seven straight hours in anticipation of my 30th Birthday Party (more on that soon), but I am also baking for two different events at Word Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The first event, “An Evening with Craig Thompson” is this Saturday. Craig Thompson is an incredibly talented graphic novelist who is responsible for some incredible books, including “Good-bye, Chunky Rice and my favorite graphic novel “Blankets”. He has just recently completed his first book in about seven years, “Habibi”. It’s the tale of two refugee child slaves and, as Amazon tells me, “at once contemporary and timeless, “Habibi” gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.”

Tickets for the event are $40 and include a copy of the book. There will be a question and answer session, as well as a cocktail hour in which attendees can meet and mingle with Craig Thompson. This is where I come in. I will be baking two different Middle Eastern cookies for the cocktail hour; Baraziq cookies, which are cookies coated on one side with sesame seeds and on the other with pistachios and Hab el Hal, which are Cardamom cookies.

I understand tickets are going fast, so get yours today!

The second event at Word will be another Largehearted Lit event sponsored by blogger Largehearted Boy. You might remember that I previously baked Doukhobor treats for an event featuring Alina Simone. This time around, the authors are Libba Bray and Steve Brezenoff. Bray is promoting her new book “Beauty Queens” and Brezenoff is promoting his book “Brooklyn, Burning”.

For this event, I will be baking vegan Pink Lemonade Cupcakes and (non-vegan) Brooklyn Blackout Cupcakes. This event is free and both books are young adult friendly!

Come on out, check out some great books and eat some goodies!

Vegan Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Vegan Cookies and Cream Cupcake

This past weekend Rob and I had a backyard barbecue for Father’s Day. We invited Rob’s dad as well as his sister and her fiance over on Sunday for some beer and grilled meats.

Well, grilled meats and a grilled black bean patty for my vegan sister-in-law.

I knew I’d be baking something vegan for dessert, so I pulled out my trusty copy of “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”. There was a very tempting lemon and blueberry number that I almost went for, until reading that it needed to be served immediately after assembling. I planned to bake the night before the barbecue, so I needed something that would hold up for 12 hours or more.

I flipped to the beginning of the book and looked at the chocolate cupcake and noticed the Cookies and Cream variation. It’s basically a chocolate cupcake with vanilla ‘butter’cream frosting with half a package of chocolate sandwich cookies crushed up and thrown in. Sounded like something i could definitely do.

I forgot to make a turn down the organic section at our grocery store and quickly discovered that that is probably where they keep the Newman-O’s, so I picked up Oreos instead. Yes, folks, Oreos are vegan! Which means that there isn’t anything even resembling milk in those bad boys. Hooray for chemicals! Tasty, tasty chemicals.

Anyhoo, everything went according to plan, save for the fact that I used a large round tip to frost them when I should have went with a star tip. It worked out okay, I think. Everyone was very happy with these cupcakes and four of us polished off two each in short order. Rob’s dad was the only one with any restraint.


Vegan Cookies and Cream Cupcake

Vegan Cookies and Cream Cupcake
So stunning in black and white!

Vegan Orange Cupcakes with Orange Pudding Filling and Orange ‘Butter’cream

Vegan Orange Cupcake with Orange Pudding Filling and Orange 'Butter'cream

On Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I threw our first barbecue of 2011. We fired up our grill and made some delicious Pat LaFrieda burgers and invited over our friends Brian and Alison and their three kids.

The two eldest kids have some dairy sensitivities, so I decided to make vegan treats for them. A chance view at a baking blog revealed Orange Cupcakes, which I realized came from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”. They looked delicious, so I decided to tackle to them.

These are fairly simple to make, if a little time-consuming. And they’re soooo tasty. We all really enjoyed them and they’ve made the list to be repeated.

Vegan Engagement Party Cupcakes

As you know from my last post, my sister-in-law and her fiance had their engagement party three weeks ago. The Mr. Met Cake Pops were a hit and a big surprise, but the main thing I baked for the party were vegan cupcakes.

The recipe for these cupcakes came straight outta “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”. I decided to go with the basics: Chocolate and Vanilla, and frosted them all with the Vegan ‘Butter’cream Frosting.

Megan and Michael are planning a wedding with a vintage New York City theme, and deep jewel-toned colors like green, blue and purple.

The first thing I knew that I needed were toppers. And I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pull them off, so I turned to the place where I knew I would find something awesome: Etsy.

I think I typed in ‘cupcake toppers’ and scrolled through the astoundingly large selection until I stumbled upon the cutest moustache and lipstick print toppers.

Cupcake toppers from Purple Peony Couture on Etsy

They immediately struck me as vintage, fulfilling one of the wedding’s themes.

These toppers are made by Purple Peony Couture, and the talented artist behind them has a myriad of styles in cupcake toppers, as well as many other fun items.

I contacted her to see if she might be willing to do some customized toppers for me. She was game, so I put her to work making the moustaches and lipstick prints, feminine and masculine ‘M’s and a New York City-esque skyline with ‘Love’ in the background, fulfulling the second of the three themes.

And they were all going to be printed on dark green, blue or purple paper, which met the third theme.

She got them to me in record time, so I set to work on my part of the work – the cupcakes.

I put them all in gold foil wrappers, and tinted three bowls of frosting with purple, blue and teal (dark green frosting didn’t sound totally appealing to me).

I managed to get them to the rec center in New Jersey were the shower would be taking place and set them up on Michael’s mom’s cupcake tower.

Here’s a shot of the completed Cupcake and Cake Pop table:

Cupcake Tower

And here are some close-ups of the cupcakes and the toppers:



The bride and groom with their custom desserts!

The happy couple with their desserts

The Brooklyn Baker Bakes! Fourth of July Desserts

Long weekends mean baking for me. I’ve had the desire to bake a ton of stuff for a while now, but I haven’t had the time. My weekends have been so full lately that the only time I spend in my apartment is to sleep.

So with the Fourth of July approaching, I started thinking about what I could bake. My husband’s aunt and uncle invited me, my husband, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over to their house in New Jersey for a little barbecue, so I knew I had to bake something.

I settled on two things; an apple pie and vegan cupcakes.

The apple pie would be easy enough to make. I’ve made several of them throughout my baking career. But I didn’t want it to be the same old, same old pie, so I started looking through various recipes to find something that was a little different.

The winning idea came from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook”. In it, she features a blueberry pie with a top crust made up of stars cut out of pie dough. I was really craving an apple pie, so I decided to use Martha’s apple pie recipe and put it in the star pie crust.

Fourth of July Apple Pie

I followed the pie recipe pretty closely, although I added ginger and cloves to Martha’s somewhat paltry cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness. The pie turned out great.

Fourth of July Apple Pie

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The Brooklyn Baker Bakes! Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemony Buttercream Frosting

My sister-in-law recently started living la vida vegan. Being a baker and having vegans in your life means you need to have some vegan dessert recipes under your belt so that your non-animal-product-eating friends don’t get left out of the goodies.

I’ve fiddled with vegan recipes in the past and had success with a few, but I’ve got to step up my game. So on Father’s Day, when my father-in-law, sister-in-law and her boyfriend all came over to our apartment for dinner and dessert, I pulled my copy of “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World” off the shelf.

My sister-in-law is the one who actually gave me this book as a Christmas present last year. Talk about a return on your investment!

I selected the Gingerbread Cupcake mostly because I love gingerbread and this recipe did not require the purchase of too many ingredients that I wouldn’t normally use (soy milk being one of them).

The batter was ridiculously gingery and I thought it was going to be too much, but the flavor mellowed out substantially upon baking, leaving behind that wonderful warm feeling that ginger provides. The ‘butter’cream frosting was actually a combination of shortening, margarine, powdered sugar and lemon juice and zest. It came out very well, although I always find recipes that substitute shortening for butter to be lacking just a bit. But that’s just me. I love butter.

My sister-in-law enjoyed her tailor-made dessert, and I think the other diners that night did as well.

Vegan Gingerbread Cupcake with Lemony Buttercream Frosting

(Because this is a long weekend, and because my husband’s aunt and uncle are hosting a family barbecue this afternoon, I’ve been crazy-busy baking. I’ll post my exploits over the next week, including another vegan cupcake.)