Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year ~ 2016

Here is wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous new year.  May your 2016 be filled with a lot of laughter, good eats (savory and sweet), good health, and good times with family and friends.  I'm not one for the usual resolutions that many people make during this time, but there are some goals which I hope to reach.  Will you be making any resolutions?

Cheers and well wishes in the new year!


Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Eggnog Cake

There is no time like the present to make a Holiday Eggnog Cake for your festive gathering.  Eggnog is one of those seasonal drinks that many of us enjoy in small quantities during Christmas parties, but if you have never had the pleasure of eating eggnog in the form of a cake, I highly recommend that you try some this year.  You don't need to have homemade eggnog on hand to make this if you aren't so inclined to use something that is spiked with alcohol. A good store bought eggnog will suffice for a cake meant to serve the entire family, but if you do have homemade eggnog, by all means use it!

This is the type of cake that you will want to bake in your favorite bundt pan so that it sits pretty on top of a cake stand when it's ready for serving.  It's up to you whether or not you want to add a glaze to it or some type of icing.  I think it looks superb with a simple sprinkling of confectioners sugar.  And if you need even more proof of how good it is, I've already baked about six of them in the last couple of weeks.  It's that good!  

The recipe itself is adapted from one that I came across on the King Arthur Flour website.  It's a simple, easy-to-make cake that whips up in minutes. What's even better is that the cake develops in flavor the following day, and it keeps well if you have any leftovers.   Serve it at your Christmas gathering with a good cup of eggnog or apple cider.

Thank you, King Arthur, for the original recipe!

Holiday Eggnog Cake

Holiday Eggnog Cake Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1-1/4 cups eggnog (homemade or store-bought)
Equipment: 10-12 cup bundt pan, buttered and floured or prepared with nonstick baking spray (I use Pam for Baking).
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (177°).  Center Oven Rack.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the canola oil, granulated sugar and fine sea salt on medium speed until lightened, 2-3 minutes.
  2. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time and beat well to incorporate after each addition.  Stop and scrape the bowl and paddle at least once during this process.  Beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder and grated nutmeg.
  4. On low speed, add one-third of the dry ingredients and then add half of the eggnog.  Add another third of the dry ingredients and the last half of the eggnog.  Add the remaining dry ingredients on low speed until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for approximately 55 minutes to 1 hour.  When fully baked, the top of the cake should spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the middle should come out free of batter.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.  Ice as desired.

Holiday Eggnog Cake, Christmas Cookies and Eggnog

I guarantee that if you leave a plate of cookies and a slice of this cake for Santa on Christmas Eve, there won't be a crumb left the following morning.  For those of you who have jadeite in your cabinets, now is the time to bring out that festive green glassware for your holiday table settings.  The hefty cups, saucers and dessert plates from Fire King's mid-century restaurant ware line are great for this time of year.  The cake stand, by the way, is from my Martha by Mail collection of L.E. Smith Glass jadeite.  It's beautiful.

Bake a Holiday Eggnog Cake soon and watch it disappear as soon as you serve it to guests.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

'Here Comes Santa Claus' Cookies

Here comes Santa Claus right down Santa Claus Lane with some tasty cookies for special individuals in my life.  This year's Christmas cookies were made with a favorite gingerbread cookie recipe of mine, and were decorated with royal icing tinted in seasonal shades.  I took out some heirloom cookie cutters that I had my eye on, as well as some easy-to-find shapes that I knew would capture the spirit of Santa bringing all sorts of good things.

If you want to invoke some of that magical Christmas spirit in your household, I don't see how you could go wrong with these charming cookies in the shapes of Santas, sleighs, snowflakes, holly leaves, gift tags and snow globes.  They make great additions to any dessert buffet, but they make excellent holiday gifts for friends and family.  Choose one of these designs and make a few cookies or use all of the designs to make dozens this week.

This is how you do it.

For these cookies, make a couple of batches of my gingerbread cookie recipe, and roll out each portion to a 1/4" thickness.  Make sure the dough is rolled out right from the refrigerator for the best results.  The cut out shapes must then be chilled again before being baked.  I like to work with this dough while it's cold and I always roll it out between floured pieces of parchment paper.  For large cookies (6"-9") use two large spatulas to transfer onto silpat-lined or parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake and cool the cookies according to my directions.

Gather all of your tools and ingredients before you begin to decorate the gingerbread cookies.  Make at least 2 batches of my Perfect Royal Icing (it's always a good idea to have extra).  Any leftover icing can get placed into zip-top bags (air taken out) and get frozen for several months.

For the holly leaves, pipe a bead of forest green royal icing along the perimeter of the cookie using a #2 piping tip, and immediately flood it with the same color.  Let the base dry completely.  Using royal icing tinted pale green (I used avocado gel paste), pipe a bead of icing with a #2 tip along the perimeter of the cookie and a vein down the middle of the leaf.  You can pipe veins toward the points of the cookie (this is optional).  Let the cookies dry.  Done!

For the gift tags (cut out a hole on the top hanging portion of the cookies as they come out of the oven), pipe a bead of royal icing in a pale avocado color along the perimeter of the cookie and a circle to block off the hole using a #2 piping tip, and immediately flood the base.  Let this dry.  Pipe dots of royal icing in the center of the cookie and immediately arrange holly leaf candies to create a wreath.  Using red royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe red dots for holly berries and let dry.

This is what the finished cookies like.  I love their simple designs and their holiday colors.  The gift tag cookies can get attached to homemade gifts or they can even serve as favors for your holiday dinner.  Personalize them by piping a monogram in the center of the wreaths if you wish.

I love these snowflakes!  Pipe and flood the bases of the snowflakes in white royal icing and let them dry completely.  Using a #1 piping tip and red royal icing, pipe spokes down the center of the snowflakes making sure they are even.  Using kitchen tweezers, carefully center a large silver dragée in the middle of the snowflake, and then carefully place smaller dragées at the ends of the snowflakes.  Continue piping stems and dots throughout the snowflake as shown.  Let the designs dry completely.

Using a sturdy cake turntable like this one by Ateco makes quick work of decorating several cookies at once.  It’s my preferred way to make these types of cookies.

Don’t the snowflake cookies look gorgeous?  I can see these being used to decorate a tree for Christmas.  But, they make great gifts too! 

The snow globes are as simple as can be once you locate a good snow globe cookie cutter and bake your cookies.  Outline and flood the base of the globe in a pale avocado royal icing using a #2 piping tip and carefully center pearl candies (these are from Williams-Sonoma).  Let this dry.

Outline and flood the globe in white royal icing using a #2 piping tip, and while the base is still wet, pipe the minimalist branches of an evergreen tree in forest green-colored royal icing using a #1 piping tip.  Immediately, but carefully, attach silver dragées here and there so that they resemble Christmas ornaments.  Sprinkle the cookie with either silver or gold fine sanding sugar to give the illusion of glitter.  Let the cookie dry completely.  Using a #1 piping tip and white royal icing, pipe dots along the edge of the globe.  Let dry.  

Isn’t it pretty?

The reindeer are also quite simple.  All you need to do is outline and flood the large reindeer cookie using a #4 piping tip (if your deer are small, use a #2 piping tip).  While the base is wet, carefully place silver dragées along the neck of the deer to mimic silver bells.  Let the base dry completely.  Using a #1 piping tip and either red or green royal icing, pipe the antlers as shown.  Using a #1 piping tip with black royal icing, pipe dots for the hooves, and a dot for an eye.  Don’t forget to pipe a nose using a #1 piping tip with some Rudolph red royal icing.  Let the cookie dry.  

These reindeer are so charming and very much ready to guide Santa’s sleigh.

Speaking of Santa Claus, cut out cookies using the Wilton Penguin cookie cutter, making sure to trim off the penguin feet before baking.  This makes Santa’s belly nice and round.  

Using a #2 piping tip and red royal icing, outline and flood Santa’s hat & coat (arms and body).  Using a #2 piping tip and white royal icing, outline and flood the trim of Santa’s hat (don’t forget the ball at the end of the hat—add candies if desired) and the beard.  Using pale pink royal icing and a #1 piping tip, flood Santa’s face.  While wet, add a small pink dot on each cheek (swirl this with a toothpick) and add a larger dot for a nose.  Using a #1 piping tip and black royal icing, pipe a belt for Santa.  Let the entire cookie dry.

To the dried cookie base, pipe the corresponding colors of each area to accentuate, using #1 piping tips.  Add white gloves, a yellow belt buckle, white swirls for a beard, small black dots for eyes and a little red dot to mimic Santa’s tongue.  Adorable!

Last, but not least, is Santa’s sleigh.  This special cookie cutter from Old River Road was a gift from one of my dearest friends.  I love the cookie shape and the generously proportioned treat.  

Using a #4 piping tip and red royal icing, outline and flood the entire body of the sleigh.  Let dry.  Outline and flood Santa’s blanket in white royal icing with a #2 piping tip.  While wet carefully place silver dragées.  Let this dry.  Using red, green, white and yellow royal icing, pipe the gifts on top of the sleigh using a #1 piping tip.  Don’t forget to add ribbons in an alternating color.  Let the cookie dry completely.  Using #1 piping tips, pipe a white outline for the body of the sleigh and the yellow stanchions and swirled runner on the base of the cookie.  You can attach silver dragées if you wish.  

I think that this is by far my favorite cookie of the entire bunch.  I’m hoping to make more of them in the coming days so that I can send them to my niece and nephews.  

I clearly remember when I was a child how mom used to wake us up on Christmas morning by telling us that we had to hurry into the living room, because Santa was delivering our Christmas presents.  My older brother and I would jump out of bed and run down the hallway into the living room to a lit tree that was covered with lots of gifts underneath.  Somehow we never got to see Santa because he was always gone before we could get there.  Mom always had the old excuse that we had just missed him flying off on his sleigh, but that perhaps next year we would get to run into him.  I love my mom for letting us believe in Santa while we were little.  

Create your very own Christmas magic for the little ones this year and include some Santa Claus cookies.  Everyone is going to love them!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

If you're looking for a special cake to bake for a celebration, try making a red velvet cake.  It's the perfect cake for a birthday, but it's also great for the winter holidays because of its hue.  Think Christmas parties, a Hanukkah feast or a get together with friends and family.  I've made this batter on numerous occasions as cupcakes, but I only recently started using it for cake layers and shapely bundt cakes. Paired with either a classic cream cheese frosting or a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, the cake is bound to become a favorite with you.  You can even make a simple milk glaze if you want a decadent bundt cake.

Rather than writing a long, detailed post, I thought I'd show you a few photos of what the layers look like on my cake decorating turntable, and then give you a link with a printable recipe so that you can make one in the coming weeks.  Easy!

(click on link above)

You can see how wonderful the cake layers look as they are being given a crumb coating of my Perfect Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

If you're making this recipe for someone special and want to surprise the recipient, bling out your cake by adding different-sized French dragées throughout the cake.  I love the combination of large dragées and minis.  As you can see, this isn't the typical Southern style red velvet cake, but it is nonetheless just as delicious and outstanding.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Happy National Cookie Day!

Gingersnap Cookie Recipe (click here)

I've always enjoyed eating cookies, baking cookies, and sharing cookies with friends and family.  From lighter-than-air morsels, to rich & dense bites, I hope you attempt to bake a cookie or two in the future and come to understand my love for the cookie jar.

Below is a list of those essential how-to posts and my favorite recipes that I go back to time and time again.  They are the recipes you've come to trust.  It's so nice to hear from readers who have made a particular cookie recipe of mine (including my mom's cinnamon orange recipe) a part of their baking tradition.  

If you're new to the blog, I encourage you to take a closer look.

How To:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

This recipe is a sure way to bring the flavors and aromas of the holiday season into your home. With delicious ingredients like butter, eggs, flour and molasses, a medley of spices gets combined to make a dough which captures the spirit of Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.   I created some simple cookies this morning for a very special client of mine, which is why I wanted to reintroduce you to the recipe.  You're going to want to try it in the coming weeks! 

Gingerbread Boy

The cookie dough is typical gingerbread dough, which is to say that it is a bit difficult to handle if you let it come to room temperature while working with it.  I like to roll and cut out my cookie shapes while the dough is still cold from the refrigerator;  you will see that it is still malleable regardless of having been chilled.

Gingerbread Christmas Tree

Once baked and cooled, the cookies will hold their shapes, the tops will dome slightly, but their texture will have you and the kids reaching for more.  Iced with a good royal icing (enter it on my search box), the cookies can get decorated according to your tastes.  
Gingerbread Men
These gingerbread men are simple, yet utterly delicious.  With a simple white outline, each cookie gets a set of eyes, a smile, some buttons down the middle, a bit of coloring along the legs and a dapper pin of holly leaves (these are candies attached with royal icing). 

Gingerbread Christmas Trees
The gingerbread Christmas trees have swoops of icing to suggest snow laden boughs.  A sprinkling of snowflake candies attached with royal icing, along with some dots for ornaments, complete the look.  Easy! 

Sometimes, the simplest of cookies are the best tasting.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Small Business Saturday

I highly encourage all of you to shop locally at a small business today and help support your fellow friends and neighbors.  Some of the things that I love doing on this particular day is to visit some antique shops and pick up anything that catches my eye, stop at a local café to sip a latte for energy, and then grab something to nibble on from the farmers market.  You should also consider the many individuals that have online shops through Etsy, their own websites and through word of mouth.  Don't forget those caterers who are at the ready to help you entertain in the coming weeks.  Shopping small and shopping locally is a very wise thing to do throughout the year, but it's especially prudent to do so during the holiday season. 


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

This is the time to gather around the dinner table with friends and family so that we can be reminded of all the good things in our lives.  Let's be thankful and grateful for what we do have.  May you have a warm place to enjoy a good dinner with friends and family no matter where you happen to be. 

Happy Thanksgiving!



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thank You for Five Amazing Years!

As the blog marks its fifth anniversary, I want to take a moment to thank every single reader, well-wisher, supporter and friend, who has taken the time to read a post or two over the past five years.  Back in 2010 when I was encouraged to start a blog by several friends, I really didn't know what I was going to be writing about, where this blog would lead me or what doors it would help open up for me.  What I can say with a certainty is that these five years have led me to some wonderful experiences.

Over the course of these five amazing years, I have made many friends and acquaintances, and it is because of your kind words and encouragement that I have managed to create content which I hope is informative.  I can't tell you how fulfilling and rewarding it is to me to hear from someone who has had success with a recipe that I've grown fond of, or to hear that I've helped solve a collector's mystery for an individual.  When a dear reader writes telling me that I've assisted in making their lives a little better and a bit nicer, or that I've inspired them to try something new, it makes everything that I create and write about all that much more worthwhile.

A reader of the blog recently sent me a kind note that summed up what I hope and wish Good Things by David means to some of you.

Hello David!

I used your sugar cookie recipe for the millionth time to make cookies for a mommy and me get together.  

Little Sammy from the bee-themed first birthday party is a big boy now with a baby sister.  Time has gone by so quickly.  Thank you for all of your inspiration and great recipes.  Though I've never met you, it is so nice to have you and your recipes as a part of our family traditions.

Much love to you and yours,

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Jessica, and thank you readers for five amazing years!  I wouldn't be here creating and sharing content if it weren't for your support.



Friday, November 20, 2015

A Beautiful Acorn Wreath

If you have an abundance of acorns covering your yard or if you happen to know of someone who has a bumper crop that they want to get rid of, make a magnificent wreath with them this season.  My friend Chris, created one of the most beautiful acorn wreaths that I've ever seen, and its symmetrical beauty, along with its rustic charm, is worthy of any home large or small.  I asked Chris how he made the wreath from start to finish, because I wanted all of you to be inspired to create something wonderful to adorn your home for the holidays.  

The instructions from Chris are straightforward and easy, so if you want to make your wreath just like the one gracing his beautiful Connecticut home, gather the tools and materials, and begin this weekend.

Acorn Wreath Tools & Materials
  • 14" Tubular Styrofoam Wreath Form (solid)
  • brown paint (spray or acrylic)
  • matte lacquer spray
  • hot glue gun (with sticks)
  • Approximately 2-1/2 - 3 gallons of acorns
  • craft paper (to cover work surface)
  • baking sheets
  • ribbon 
  • needle & thread
  1. Pick through your acorns and discard any that are blemished.  Carefully wash all of the acorns in hot soapy water to remove any detritus; pat dry.  Scatter acorns on clean baking sheets and place them in a preheated 300° F (150°C) oven.  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes.  This helps dry the acorns and kill off any bugs or microbes.
  2. Paint the solid tubular wreath form in brown paint to hide the green wreath color, and let dry completely.  
  3. Working on a surface covered in craft paper, begin gluing the acorns in a symmetrical pattern on one side of the wreath, filling in spaces as you go.  Let the one side dry and set completely.  Gently flip the wreath over and continue in the same pattern, until you have completed the wreath.  Let the wreath set.
  4. Once it is complete, spray the entire wreath with a matte lacquer spray.  This will act as a protective coating, but it will also even out the color of the acorns and give it a nice sheen, which Chris likes.  Let this dry.
  5. To hang:  loop a length of ribbon (Chris used a rustic, burlap ribbon) around the wreath to the desired length; depending on where you will hang it, this can get attached behind a mirror with a staple gun or tied around a picture nail).  Attach the end of the looped ribbon to a surface and secure it.
  6. To finish: tie a beautiful bow using the same ribbon and stitch it to the vertical ribbon.  Done!  
Chris says that it is important to have a very symmetrical wreath that is crafted on both sides if it is to be hung in front of a large mirror.  

Stitching the beautiful bow onto the looped ribbon is ingenious!

Chris likes this mixed nut wreath in the shape of a star.  Using a foamboard backing, the nuts are attached in a haphazard, yet harmonious manner.

With several holidays approaching in the weeks to come, it's nice to spruce up our homes with festive, decorative touches.  Adding a wreath or two to one's surroundings is a great way to bring some warmth, festive cheer and color to any space.  Making a nut wreath like this, which can get used for years to come, will undoubtedly be a great way to usher in any fall or winter holiday.  

Happy Crafting,


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cauliflower and Apple Soup

If you're looking for an appetizing and elegant soup to serve at your next holiday feast, try this recipe from chef Daniel Boulud.  I have made a couple of variations of his Curried Cream of Cauliflower and Apple Soup for the past week, and I have to say that it is quite delicious.  Chef Boulud uses a blend of saffron and Madras curry powder, which makes for a spicy soup that is perfect for cool weather. 

My versions of this soup don't include saffron and curry powder.  I've made it using a small amount of ground cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon) so that it doesn't overpower the flavors of the apple and cauliflower, and I have included some freshly chopped tarragon to complement the warmth of the cinnamon.  Using vegetable stock and absolutely no cream whatsoever, you can make a vegan version of the soup that is absolutely delicious!  I love using these Wedgwood drabware pieces to serve the soup. 

For Chef Daniel Boulud's recipe, click here.

Whether you make chef Daniel's version of this soup and garnish it with the curried apple dice or whether you decide to be inspired and create your own take on the tasty combination of apples and cauliflower, this soup is bound to become a favorite for your fall season menus.  A light soup for a first course or for a main course, all that is needed is some freshly ground pepper and some fleur de sel to finish.  Garnish with fresh herbs as desired.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Creating a Pumpkin Shaped Cake

Pumpkins are everywhere now that it's Fall, and many of us are using them throughout our home as decor or attractive dinnerware, but have you ever made a cake in the shape of one?  Last week I decided to make my first pumpkin-shaped cake for a Halloween party as a surprise for guests, thinking it would be a piece of cake to do.  Well, it was and it wasn't.

Pumpkin Shaped Cake on a Caramel Glass L.E. Smith Cake Stand

The first order of business was to take out my pumpin-shaped cake mold out of storage, and get it ready for baking.  This wonderful, heavy cast-aluminum cake mold was produced exclusively for the Martha by Mail catalog many years ago, and I was fortunate to have purchased one when they were around.  I'm glad I finally decided to use it.

Martha by Mail Pumpkin Cake Mold

This past month I wrote a post about the mold providing all of you with the recipes and detailed instructions for making the MBM version, right from the recipe card.  The cake ingredients looked good, so I went with it. Although I didn't create the jack-o'-lantern design that is pictured on the recipe card, I did make an adorable pumpkin cake cloaked in a burnt-orange glaze, which was given a green-colored marzipan stem as an accent.  

A pumpkin-shaped cake can be baked and iced for any fall occasion.  You don't need to reserve this delicious cake for a Halloween spectacle, because it can be served alongside the pumpkin pies, apple cakes and other desserts that many of us will make for Thanksgiving.  Filled with tasty pumpkin puree, and flavored with a bevy of spices, the Martha by Mail recipe is bound to be revisited at some point in the future.

What I have to confess to you here and now is that I encountered a problem during the cake making process, but it was all due to a mistake on my part.  It was a humbling moment for me because I thought the cake was ruined and I would have to start all over again.  We've all had those experiences when baking things that just didn't turn out the way we thought they would. These mistakes or bumps in the road are teachable moments for all of us. Don't worry, I'll give you some tips to prevent you from encountering the problems I had.  It's all in the name of learning from one's mistakes!

Whenever I bake anything, it's important to have my mise en place near the mixer, if I'm using one, so that I can make the dessert without having to pause or stop for an ingredient.  Using some yellowware bowls and an extra KitchenAid mixing bowl, I divided my ingredients up for the pumpkin cake.

Recipes for cake batters may call for the addition of stiffly beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.  Folding egg whites is a technique every baker should master. You start by adding 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the batter, gently cutting them down the middle with a large spatula, turning the batter from the bottom, up & over the egg whites.  You continue doing this until the whites get folded in completely.  Most recipes call for adding the egg whites in thirds.

And now, onto where I went wrong....

What I should have done was to fill the mold halves no more than 2/3 full of batter.  Having been in a rush, I used up all of the batter (which, as you can see, is almost to the top of the 5qt. mixer bowl) and divided it evenly.  WRONG! 

The arrows that I've placed in the photo, on the molds, show you where I should have stopped filling.  This cake batter is lightened with a lot of egg whites, so what ended up happening about 45 minutes into baking was that I found a souffléed cake which was spilling over the molds.  YES!  Thankfully I had the rimmed baking sheet underneath the molds so that the excess could spill onto it, but still, it was unsettling to watch this.

Rather than taking out the cakes, I let them continue baking.  In fact, they ended up taking at least 2 hours of baking rather than the 1-1/2 hours.  I thought this would dry out the cake, but it did not.  In fact, the baked cake was very delicious.

Long story short:  fill the molds no more than 2/3 full and bake the cake with a baking sheet underneath (just in case) for a solid 2 hours.  Make cupcakes with any leftover batter.

Live & Learn!

Look at what my molds looked like underneath when I turned out the cakes. Messy!  Nevertheless, the cakes came out intact and beautiful.  Once cooled, I placed them onto a rimmed baking sheet and chilled them thoroughly.  I would go so far as to suggest that you freeze the cakes until they're solid before you decorate them.  Since the cakes are exceedingly tender, they need to firm up before you handle them.

Note:  the bottoms of the pumpkins need to be trimmed on a 90 degree angle while they are cold so that they stand up when finished, and not topple to the sides (they bake at a slight angle because of the mold).

An orange-colored butter & milk glaze was made to cloak the pumpkin (I made this without consulting a recipe) and I whipped up some heavy cream, flavored & sweetened with pumpkin spice and vanilla sugar (1/4 teaspoon of spice to 1 cup of heavy cream), to sandwich the cake halves.

The cakes were glazed on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, and they were then sprinkled with clear sanding sugar to give a glittered pumpkin effect to the finished cake.  These were then given a thorough chilling in the refrigerator until the glaze had hardened.  Any excess drips were trimmed before assembling.

I placed one half of a glazed pumpkin cake onto a cardboard cake round, set on a caramel glass cake stand (also Martha by Mail), and I began to spread the whipped cream on the inside.  Both halves were gently sandwiched together and I then filled the crevice between the halves with more whipped cream.  With some leftover orange glaze, I poured it over this area in order to mask the halves and give the effect of a solid cake.  With some sanding sugar, I sprinkled it to make it even with the rest of the cake.  The entire cake was then chilled in the refrigerator.

Last, but not least, was the stem of the pumpkin.  I started out by adding some avocado gel food coloring to a small amount of marzipan, and then I kneaded it to get an even color.  Use gloves when working with marzipan because it is sticky.  

I had some forest green coloring in case I wanted a deeper color, but I was happy with straight avocado.  It was only a matter of shaping the stem and giving it a ridged texture, making sure I pulled some of the marzipan out to create a flat base with which to rest it on top of the cake.

Voila!  The stem attached, some leaves to cover the cake plate and that cardboard cake round, and the dessert was ready.  As you can see, I had a spectral interference while I was arranging the cake....

It's never too late to learn something new.  My lesson here is to remember that I can't rush the cake making process and that I need to pay attention to what I'm doing.  Will I make a pumpkin-shaped cake again?  Absolutely.  Will I learn from my my mistakes and not repeat them?  You better believe it.

At the end of the day, I was very pleased with my results and the guests enjoyed this centerpiece-worthy dessert.  I hope that you profit from this lesson on making molded cakes, and if you happen to have the Martha by Mail pumpkin cake mold, by all means use it and make a pumpkin cake this fall.   

As I said, live and learn!