It has been cold and snowy here for the past few days. Which has made going outside to play a much less appealing activity for me... But there is still a Little Girl to entertain, so I have been doing my best to be creative. One problem though, is that when I ask Little Girl what she would like to do, her answer is usually "Elmo!" Well, we can only watch so many Elmo DVDs in a day (that would be one...!), and her Elmo stuffed animals and coloring book don't hold her attention for as long as other activities. So today I decided to get creative. It had been a few days since I had baked anything, and we should be getting some company tomorrow, so I thought it only appropriate to multitask. I asked Little Girl if she would like to help me make Elmo cupcakes. She was pretty excited about the idea, so I figured we should go for it. I started my looking on-line for different examples of Elmo cupcakes. I then needed to think about what I had on hand to use for decorations. My two concerns were: 1) I didn't have enough eggs to make both cakes and frosting and 2) the only red food coloring I had was liquid drops - I knew that would water down the frosting and end up pink... So Little Girl and I made a quick trip to the craft store and the neighboring grocery store for gel color and eggs. Tools in hand, it was time to bake.
I used my regular yellow cake recipe, but added a whole lot of red (liquid) food coloring to it. How much? Oh, something like 18 drops. And the result? Still pink. But oh well, the cakes cooked up nicely, so I figured that the pink base would be fine...!
Next, it was frosting time. I used the same frosting recipe I used for my birthday cake a few weeks ago. I then added my new red gel food coloring. I watched the gel mix into the white frosting... and watched it turn pink. I added more gel. Still pink. Hmm... Not how I had hoped things would go... I decided to use the pink as a base coat on the cakes while I tried to figure out how to make sure Elmo didn't wind up being pink through and through...
When I spoke with my sister later in the day she offered her bright red sanding sugar to me, but the little matters of a 45 minute drive between our houses and her just getting home after having a baby (welcome home, Baby Boy!!) made it so that the genuine offer wasn't very practical. But it got me thinking. With the gel coloring, I wouldn't have to worry too much about dissolving... I would try to make my own red sugar! While I think that my fingers might be permanently stained, I wound up with a great color that was much more appropriately Elmo than the pink was!!
With the color right, it was time to make the facial features. I didn't have marshmallows or black decorating icing or anything. But I did have miniature spice gel candies, mini chocolate chips and small chocolate sandwich cookies. Those turned into eyes, noses and mouths.
This was a lot of prep work, and I wasn't even done yet. But it was finally time for the last step. Assembly. I have to admit, though, I was enjoying myself the whole time. (Well, except for the part where it was a little creepy seeing 16 pairs of little googly eyes staring at me...!) I couldn't wait to see how they looked put together. And I was also curious to see if Little Girl would like them.
When she woke up from her nap I brought her to the kitchen to see who was there. She took one look and answered, with a huge smile:
ELMO!!!Totally worth it!