Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Emily's baby shower was last weekend and it was as lovely as you might expect.
I "cohosted" with two other friends, which was amazing because we divvied up the work and I put dibs on dessert (duh) and went nuts with it. I can't claim any credit for the gorgeous decorations or flowers. I was busy enjoying myself during the party and didn't snap many pictures, but here are a few, followed by some recipe links and info.
Desserts: For the desserts I kept E's tastes in mind (plenty of chocolate, no nuts mixed in) and tried to choose a variety of recipes that would ensure everyone would find something to enjoy. I also wanted to include a couple of desserts that hearkened back to childhood favorites, since we were celebrating the arrival of a child.
For the standbys, I chose these reliably crowd pleasing chocolate cookies (modified to use toffee instead of nuts), rosemary butter cookies, and one of E's favorites - white chocolate chip cookies (sorry - I just used the recipe on the bag and then threw the bag away without writing it down - bad blogger). For all of these, I made the dough a couple weeks ahead of time and froze it.
I wanted rice krispie treats, but a bit fancier, so I used this recipe for a salted caramel version and they turned out great. The only modification I made was that I used a dry caramel process instead of wet, which is just my personal preference because it's a bit faster. This is just a fancy way of saying that I left out the water the recipe calls for and just cooked the sugar until it turned a nice deep amber and then tossed in the butter, cream and salt.
Emily loves s'mores so I wanted a cookie version. I found several recipes for s'mores bars, picked one, annnnd .... it was a dismal failure. The graham cracker crust was too crumbly and couldn't be cut without falling apart completely. The chocolate layer was overly sweet and hard as a brick. It was a big bummer. I contemplated that pan for awhile and acknowledged that the sane thing to do would be to shrug my shoulders, toss it in the trash and pretend I never planned to make them. There was more than enough dessert without them. It will probably surprise exactly none of you to hear that I couldn't let the dream go and made a new batch that I cobbled together from multiple different recipes. I'm pretty proud of how they turned out and I'll share that recipe soon. Okay, soonish. I should really test them again first so I can give you the yield and everything.
I also made a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting (used the German buttercream recipe I love and did the cream cheese modification) and decorated it all fancy. I was using this tutorial, and I accidentally made the colors way brighter than I intended and didn't have enough spare frosting to tone it down. The problem with amateur cake decorating is that it's hard to find enough occasions to practice. I'm sure I'd do better next time, but how often do I need a three layer cake? (I did finally treat myself to a cheap cake turntable and actual icing comb, and they made the decorating so much easier)
Drinks: For starting the party we wanted to have a drink option that would be equally delicious with or without alcohol. I opted for this grapefruit shrub and added a bit of lime juice and then cut it with Le Croix grapefruit flavored sparkling water. For the spiked version I added some vodka but with a light hand, since it was only noon. I didn't do exact proportions, but I think it was about 1 part shrub: 5 parts sparkling water: 1/4 part lime juice. For the spiked version, it was about 1 part shrub: 1/2 part vodka: 4 parts sparkling water: 1/4 part lime juice. Again, sorry for the horribly inexact recipe. Things got a little hectic pre-party, as they tend to do.
Small details: One of my favorite ways to add a quick personal touch is with a custom stamp. I think I've mentioned this before, but it's really easy (and not that expensive) to get a stamp made. I've been using rubberstamps.net for years and I like them because they ship quickly and I can usually find a discount code. I use Illustrator for design work, but you could do this in Powerpoint or Word as well, it just might be a little more time consuming!
I used the custom stamp on simple paper bags so guests could take home candy from the Sugarfina candy bar. I smuggled out several bulging bags of candy for myself because they do gummies like no one else does. I used a gold pigment stamp pad and ended up having to emboss them because the pigment ink didn't dry well on the slightly waxed surface of the bags.
I also used the stamp (and embossed it) on bakery boxes I'd purchased so we could pawn off the leftover dessert easily. This is one of my top recommendations for parties with lots of dessert - have something ready so you can send leftovers home. You can get bakery boxes at most cake shops (this is what I did for our wedding) or online (I ordered these ones for the shower and will be using up the rest of them for years).
I always like to make labels for the food so people don't have to choose blindly. I designed these ones in Illustrator, printed them and then just attached them to bamboo skewers. I didn't manage to get any decent pictures of them so you'll have to trust me that they existed.
In order to keep the design consistent I used the same fonts for the stamp and the labels. Miss B is my favorite font person, so I searched her blog for a great handwritten font recommendation, came across Bombshell Pro, and promptly recognized it from E's blog which made it seem like a match made in heaven. I used Bebas and 5AM Gender for the bold font (these two are very similar so I sometimes mix and match them).
It was such a special day and I'm really looking forward to meeting this little girl.