Earlier this month, we had a little baby shower. NOT for me, 'cause we are most definitely done with all that. But one of my close friends is expecting a baby boy, so several of us got together to throw her a shower.
Hostessing is not my forte, I do much better with "make yourself at home and help yourself to whatever you need". So I stuck to offering up our new house as the location, baking cake and prettying up some chocolate and let the other ladies handle the details.
Mom requested a strawberry cake, which was an new challenge, so it took me three tries to get the flavor I was going for. I ended up making a regular white cake from scratch, but adding in strawberry syrup. This technique is from Cook's Illustrated. For one recipe of cake, you cook about 2 cups of frozen strawberries until they get juicy. After straining, you have about 3/4c of juice that you reduce down to 1/4c, and that is added to the cake batter. This wasn't quite the strong strawberry flavor mom was wanting though, it was more mild. So I added strawberry flavoring also, just by continually tasting to judge how much was needed. At the end I went ahead and threw in some strawberry jello too because I still didn't have the strong strawberry flavor of the cake I was trying to imitate. That was probably a mistake. Jello changes the texture of the cake, I'll leave it out next time.
After the cake was baked, I mixed the leftover strawberry pulp in with buttercream frosting and put a thick layer of that between layers. For the outside of the cake, I used regular buttercream because I couldn't get the right color on the strawberry buttercream.
I cut a ramp into the cake, covered it with crushed oreos (I only used the cookies, not the frosting) for "dirt", and piped "grass" around the edges with a 233 wilton tip*.
Earlier in the week, I designed a wrapper sized to fit miniature candy bars. I used double sided tape to cover chocolates with these wrappers
They went into plastic treat bags and I made a card stock topper to close them up. This is one side, and the other side said, "Thank you for helping us celebrate!"
Then I sat back and let other people handle food and games because I would rather kick the corner of a dresser with my pinky toe at 2am than be the center of attention at a party.