Entertaining, Sweet Treats

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star First Birthday

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 I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. On one hand, it’s an easy way to quickly search for meal or design or fashion inspiration. On the other hand, it’s an easy way to throw myself into a total inferiority complex/shame spiral. Everything on Pinterest, especially involving babies, is just so perfect. Like intensely, cutesily, professionally styled and photographed kind of perfect. And I’m just not. I’m that person whose hair always has flyaways, I most likely have a coffee stain on my shirt, and I once went out to Starbucks while wearing two completely different shoes (by accident, of course). I’m not a perfect Pinterest mom (or food blogger, for that matter) and I’ve been okay with it (for the most part). Well, at least until Lemon Baby’s first birthday rolled around– a Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star First Birthday, of course.

Lemon Baby is not only the name of my food blog, but it’s also our nickname for our second child who just turned one last week. She’s full of sunshine and loves lemons as much as I do, hence the nickname. Her name also means “star”, so I settled on a “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” theme. I wanted an elegant, small gathering (Champagne not optional). I wanted to make her smash cake myself, and I wanted it to look awesome. I came up with the idea of a dessert and champagne party because duh, they’re my two favorite things. I had one limitation: budget. Although I didn’t have an exact number I needed to stay under, I needed to do this as inexpensively as I possibly could. 

Menu

This is a unique post because normally I post original (or inspired) recipes. For this party, I somewhat relied on the Great Bakers such as Bakerella (via Pioneer Woman) to do the grunt work for me. For the cake balls and Rice Krispie pops, I am linking to other sources. I followed these recipes and just added the glitz and glam of the Wilton gold stars and sprinkles  instead of the recommended decorations. For the Rice Krispie star pops, I dipped them in the same candy coating as the cake balls instead of using the decorating gels, then decorated them with the sprinkles.

Meyer Lemon French Macarons
Chocolate Chip Buttercream Sandwich Cookies
Lavender Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
Glitzy Chocolate Cake Balls
Lavender Ombre Smash Cake
“Rice Krispie” Star Pops
Starfruit Champagne Punch

I rounded out the menu with some blueberry yogurt pretzels from Fresh Market and a 9-inch lavender rosette cake (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream) from Whole Foods.

Whenever you have a major event like this, something is bound to go wrong. In this case, three somethings went wrong. Although I’ve made probably fifty batches of nearly-perfect French macarons in my life, the second batch of lemon macarons failed. They never developed feet (those ruffles on the bottom that macarons usually have) and some of the shells cracked across the top. I blame the humidity.

My microwave died, so I tried melting white chocolate in a double boiler, and it never actually thinned enough to dip. The cake balls (which were originally supposed to be cake pops) were too heavy and ended up falling off the stick into the candy coating. I removed the sticks, cut each ball in two, reformed them, dipped them into the coating, sprinkled them, and called them cake balls. Mic drop. The lesson here is this: for every perfect Pinterest post, there’s a stickless cake ball swimming in Candiquik.

Purple and Yellow French Macarons

 


Purple and Yellow French Macarons
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Meyer Lemon French Macarons

Sunny lemon macarons,perfect for a bridal or baby shower.

Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 24
Author Amanda

Ingredients

Macarons

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup egg whites at room temperature
  • pinch salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • yellow gel food coloring to preference

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Macarons

  1. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (275 if you have a hot oven).
  2. Sift together the powdered sugar, and almond meal into a large bowl. Discard any big bits.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff and glossy (stiff peaks).
  4. Add the extract and however much gel food coloring you want (begin with dragging a toothpick in the color and add as you go), mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour almond mixture in the bowl, and using a rubber spatula, fold the ingredients together. It should take no more than 20 strokes.
  6. Deflate the egg whites but be gentle.
  7. Once it is all incorporated (but still light and fluffy), transfer to a gallon Ziplock bag. Squeeze all the air and twist it closed.
  8. Snip the corner with scissors.
  9. Pipe dollops of batter slightly bigger than a Hershey's kiss onto the parchment.
  10. Lightly rap each sheet on the counter to get rid of air bubbles.
  11. Let them sit (after all have been piped) for 30-60 minutes (30 minutes may be fine if it's a very dry day).
  12. They should be slightly dry to the touch and not stick to your finger when tapped.
  13. Bake in the oven (watching carefully) one batch at a time for 15-20 minutes.
  14. You know they're done when you can pluck one from the parchment without it sticking.
  15. Let them cool while you prepare your buttercream.

Filling

  1. Beat the butter in the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. When it's light and fluffy, add the zest, extract, and lemon juice.
  3. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until it's proper consistency.
  4. Add the cream.
  5. Add more sugar if it's too runny, more cream if it's too thick.
  6. Add food coloring and be sure to scrape the bottom.

Assembly

  1. Match each cookie to another of the same size.
  2. Pipe the filling, (in a Ziplock bag with the tip snipped) starting from the outer edge in a circle and ending in the middle.
  3. Sandwich the two halves.
  4. No filling should be on the edges.
  5. Refrigerate in an airtight container for 24 hours or up to 4 days.
  6. Take some out an hour before you want to eat them and let them come to room temp. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Buttercream Sandwiches

 


Chocolate Chip Buttercream Sandwich Cookies

These were super easy. I made a batch of mini Tollhouse cookies and sandwiched them with some leftover, undyed buttercream.

Lavender and Gold Cupcakes

 


Star-Themed First Birthday Party Cupcakes
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Vanilla Cupcakes with Lavender Buttercream

A classic vanilla cake recipe, gussied up with lavender buttercream and gold sprinkles for a perfect Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star first birthday.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12
Author Amanda

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2 sticks butter
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Buttercream

  • 1/4 cup half a stick butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • purple gel food coloring optional
  • gold sprinkles optional

Instructions

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin pan with 12 liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  6. Stir in the milk until batter is smooth.
  7. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch.
  9. Cool completely.
  10. To make buttercream, beat butter in a stand mixer.
  11. Add powdered sugar, a half cup at a time.
  12. Add milk when mixture is too thick.
  13. If mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  14. Add vanilla and gel food coloring and beat until incorporated.
  15. Frosting should be thick but still spreadable.
  16. To frost cupcakes, either spread frosting on each cupcake with a knife or put it in a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and pipe onto each cupcake.
  17. Decorate with sprinkles.

Star Cake Balls


Glitzy Chocolate Cake Balls

I used the basic recipe for Bakerella’s Cake Balls via Pioneer Woman (cake mix, frosting, coating) dipped them into vanilla Candiquik and sprinkled with gold sprinkles.

Gold Star Smash Cake

 


Lavender Gold Smash Cake
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Lavender and Gold Ombre Smash Cake

A classic vanilla smash cake, gussied up with lavender buttercream and gold sprinkles for a perfect Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star first birthday. You will need two small, round pans (4-6 inches in diameter) and an offset spatula for this smash cake.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 1 happy baby
Author Amanda

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2 sticks butter
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup one stick butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • purple gel food coloring
  • gold sprinkles

Instructions

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour both pans.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  6. Stir in the milk until batter is smooth.
  7. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch.
  9. Cool completely.
  10. To make buttercream, beat butter in a stand mixer.
  11. Add powdered sugar, a half cup at a time.
  12. Add milk when mixture is too thick.
  13. If mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  14. Add vanilla.
  15. Divide frosting into three bowls.
  16. Using a toothpick, add varying amounts of lavender gel food coloring to each bowl. (i.e. one swipe for the first bowl, two swipes to the second bowl, and three swipes to the third bowl).
  17. Mix all bowls until incorporated.
  18. Frosting should be thick but still spreadable.
  19. To frost cake, start with the lightest frosting on the top. Frost cake with an offset spatula, smoothing the frosting down the sides. In the middle, frost with the medium shade, and at the bottom, frost with the darkest shade. Use the spatula to smooth frosting for an ombre effect.
  20. Decorate with sprinkles.

Recipe Notes

To made the 1 stencil, print out a large, bold one and cut it out. Cardstock is easier. After the frosting on the cake has set up a bit, center the cut out on the top and shake sprinkles into the cut out. Press down lightly to adhere the sprinkles and make sure to lift it up straight up and carefully.

Star Shaped Marshmallow Cereal Treats


“Rice Krispie” Star Pops

For these, I followed this recipe for Rice Krispie 4th of July pops and dipped the front of each pop in vanilla Candiquik, then quickly sprinkled them with various sprinkles.

Starfruit Champagne Punch

Starfruit Champagne Punch
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Starfruit Champagne Punch

The starfruit add a lovely touch to this Twinkle Twinkle Little Star party.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 20
Author Amanda

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle Brut Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1 2 L bottle of ginger ale
  • 1/2 cup St Germain
  • 3-4 starfruit sliced
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • juice of one lemon

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a punch bowl. Chill until serving. Serve over ice.

Decor

I ordered this lavender tablecloth from Amazon. Hobby Lobby came through with sparkly gold cupcake wrappers (which disguised my not-so-perfect cupcake crowns), and an adorable gold sparkly “Happy Birthday” cake topper. Target’s Spritz line of party supplies was a godsend–I picked up gold plates and napkins and treat boxes, as well as a little gold pom pom garland for her high chair. I also snagged a mylar/burlap metallic banner from their dollar section (kind of like this one).  Lacking a pretty, white cake stand, I purchased this from Target, but the rest I borrowed from friends.

The “Like a Boss” and “Eat Well, Travel Often” frames I borrowed from baby’s nursery, as well as the Eiffel Tower and the gorgeous painting I commissioned by my dear friend Allison. Use what you’ve got, right?

One of the pitfalls of motherhood is the expectations we have for our children’s behavior. When I spent a few hours making a baby-sized cake for her sole enjoyment, I expected her to be overcome. “All this, for me?” Her eyes would widen in gleeful anticipation. She would, with the delight only a one year old baby can muster, grab handfuls of the delicious confection and shove them indelicately into her rosebud mouth, eliciting the oohs and ahhs of our closest family and friends.

Or, she could, as we sang “Happy Birthday” to her and I brought the cake over to her high chair, reach for the lit candle. Of course, my reaction to my child’s outstretched hand over a hot flame was to pull the cake out of her reach. Big mistake. I’m pretty sure there would have been fewer tears had I let her actually touch the flame. This child cannot handle having anything taken away from her, much less the two-layer sugar bomb I had just unwittingly dangled and removed. She absolutely flipped out. When Lemon Baby flips out, (usually because her brother has snatched a toy from her), she tends to throw her body forward and sort of face-plant on the floor. This she did, but in this situation, she hit the cake before the floor. As you can imagine, face planting into a cake did not improve her mood. What did (and the only thing that could) improve her mood was a mouthful of buttercream. See the progression below:

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Bottom line: Pinterest is awesome. Birthday parties are awesome. Babies are awesome. Just don’t expect them to not reach for the candle. And when they do, and they are madder than a wet hen, just shove some buttercream frosting in their mouth.

 

5 Comments

  1. I think there is a huge misunderstanding of who a Pinterest mom really is. I think there is the model Pinterest mom behind the posts we can get caught up envisioning who doesn’t really exist. We are human, we all put on our pants one leg at a time, and we are all capable of incredibly Pinterest moments such as this beautiful spread!!! I need to post photos of my daughter’s first this past May, we did Alice in Wonderland theme! And I once came to work with NO shoes on?! haha!

    Gorgeous work!

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    What a lovely celebration!! I love that you don’t just cover up those things that didn’t turn out exactly how you hoped, but instead highlight how you made it work for LemonBaby’s 1st Birthday party.

    Reply
    1. Amanda Author

      Thank you, Sarah! I think it’s important to be transparent. Everything doesn’t always go to plan, especially for big events like these! 🙂 But you gotta work with what you have!

      Reply

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