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Tuesday 28 February 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

For Ava's recent birthday party she requested a completely different kind of birthday cake. I use the word "cake" loosely, because her cake wasn't actually a cake. Rather, it was thick, chewy chocolate chip cookies stacked on top of each other with layers of icing in between. A chocolate chip cookie cake! Doesn't it look delicious?

The theme of Ava's birthday party was Pokémon, so in keeping with the theme I made a few cake toppers featuring some of her favorite characters. I love how the cakes turned out. They look a little more grown up than the cakes I usually make, so they're perfect for a 10 year old, but the cake toppers tie them in with the party theme and add a little fun.

I originally got the idea for a chocolate chip cookie cake from Foodstirs, a kid friendly baking subscription box that I receive each month. Each month's box features a fun baking idea along with all the (non-fresh) ingredients required. A few months back our box featured a chocoloate chip cookie cake. We ended making it for Kim's birthday in December and it was such a hit with the kids that Ava decided then and there that she wanted the same thing for her birthday.

The chocolate chip cookie mix included in the Foodstirs box was absolutely delicious, but as I have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that I like to use, I decided to go with that and modify it a little for Ava's cake. Today I'll be sharing my recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake as well as templates for the cake toppers.

What you'll need:

For the cookies:
Set of 3 mini spring-form pans (You can find them here on Amazon)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)

For the icing:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sprinkles for decorating

This recipe made enough for 6 thick cookies (two cakes). I made three cakes all up so I made the recipe twice and we had one cake left over for home.

Preheat the oven to 325F (165C).

Grease the pans and put aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. If, like me, you don't own a sifter, you can easily sift the dry ingredients together with mesh colander and a wooden spoon or spatula (see photo further down). Set dry ingredients aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy.

Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. I don't own a sifter, so I used a fine mesh colander placed over the mixing bowl, and use a spatula or wooden spoon to "sift" the dry ingredients into the bowl.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.

Fill each mini pan 3/4 full with cookie mix. Use a spatula to press the mix into the pan and to smooth the top.

Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until a skewer poked into the center of the cookies comes out clean. Depending on the thickness of each cookie, the baking time may be a little longer.

Leave the cookies in the pans to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cookies cool, make the icing by mixing the icing sugar, butter, Greek yoghurt and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth.

Once the cookies have cooled it's time to assemble the cake (something I missed taking photos of as I prepared for the party). Based on personal preference, work out the order you would like to stack the cookies. I put the thicker cookies at the bottom and tried to use ones with smoother tops at the top. Apply a generous amount of icing between each layer of cookie. I found it easiest to apply the icing to the bottom of the middle and top cookies as the bottom is nice and flat. Once the stacked cookies are stuck together with icing, decorate the top with a generous layer of icing and sprinkles.

The cake looked pretty good as is, but in keeping with the Pokémon theme of Ava's party I added four small cake toppers featuring different Pokémon charcters. I made the cake toppers using my printer and Cricut machine. You can find the printable for the cake toppers here.

I used the "Print then Cut" option in the Cricut Design Space to make these cake toppers. You could always cut them out by hand if you don't have a Cricut machine. I find curved nail scissors handy for this sort of thing. Once the cake toppers were cut out, I attached a tooth pick to the back of each with tape and they were ready to put in the top of the cake.

 Ava and her friends love her chocolate chip cookie cake. It was a novelty because it was so different from the birthday cakes I usually make, but it also tasted fantastic!

Have you ever made a cookie cake before? Trust me, after you try this one you'll be making them for every party!

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Pokémon Party Invitations

For Ava's recent Pokémon themed birthday party I made the invitations in the style of Pokémon cards. They were such a fun invitation and Ava's friends were pretty excited to receive them.

Here's a look at the invitations...

Monday 20 February 2017

Ava's Pokemon Party

Last weekend we celebrated Ava's 10th birthday with a Pokémon themed party in a local park. After all the rainy weather we've had (and still have at the moment) we were lucky to have a dry and sunny day for the party. The park may have still been a little muddy in places, but the sun was out and the day was warm. Perfect for a party in the park with friends.

Friday 17 February 2017

Bernal Heights Park

San Francisco is a city of hills. 

Some of these hills are densely built up, while others have been reserved as green space within the city. One such hill that remains undeveloped is Bernal Heights. While the lower slopes of the hill are built up with homes, the top of the hill is a spacious park with hiking trails and stunning views.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Happy Valentine's Day 2017

Did you celebrate Valentine's Day yesterday!

Valentine's Day is a holiday that we never celebrated before we moved to America. Back home in Australia, Valentine's Day is really just for couples - and I am not into all that lovey-dovey stuff! But, here in America, Valentine's Day is also celebrated in schools with kids giving out small gifts to their classmates. While I'm not into the lovey-dovey couple side of the holiday, the getting creative with the kids to make gifts for their classmates side is something I have totally embraced!

This year Ava and Lola gave out personalized cards with small heart shaped balloons attached. As always, I couldn't help myself and just had to add a cheesy greeting. To be honest, the cheesy greetings are my favorite thing about Valentine's Day! Here's a look at their cards...

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