Tina’s Bridal Shower

Last month, I had the privilege of helping out with a former roommate’s bridal shower. When the maid of honor (Tina’s sister) asked me if I’d like to make some dessert for the shower, I was honored to be asked and immediately said yes!

I’ve had many roommates in the past, and Tina is one of my favorites. Is she even better than my current one? Hmmm.. that’s a tough call. She cooked for me, sometimes cleaned up after me, was a great workout buddy, gave me tennis lessons, got me into baseball, and taught me a great deal about home style Taiwanese food. To bake for her bridal shower was my way of showing appreciation for her friendship and presence in my life.

Can you tell the bridal shower had a theme? Well it did, and the theme was Tina’s favorite things: the color yellow, the color white, and polka-dots. Cheryl did all the decorations and crafted together paper pom-poms, yarn pom-poms, paper banners, balloon banners, and strew paper circle cut-outs all around the apartment. She really transformed David’s apartment into a ray of sunlight. Update: Not that it wasn’t already wonderfully decorated by the groom..

How awesome is it that guests brought presents wrapped in the same style as the decorations? We made no kind of announcement or demands for this; Tina’s friends simply know what she likes.

Kelly, the maid of honor, took care of the food, and she prepared as many yellow foods as she could think of. We had tamago sushi, assorted cheese and crackers, corn salsa on tortilla chips, deviled eggs, a yellow vegetable platter, chicken salad sandwiches, and sweet potato fries. We had quite the assortment of food, and it looked great altogether.

In addition to this honey chocolate polka-dot cake, I made a few other desserts in the same theme, and I even brought back lemon and vanilla macarons from LadurĂ©e in Paris. I’ll be sure to write more about the desserts in future posts, so check back next week!

Even more polka-dots! This is the only present picture I’m going to post. But let me say we certainly saw more white, yellow, and polka-dots among the presents.

The bridesmaids sent us home with these adorable pots of honey as shower favors. They skillfully tied various Burt’s Bees items to each honey pot with cute yellow yarn. I heard it was a great feat, so job well done, ladies.

And here the bride is with her lovely bouquet for the wedding rehearsal. Cheryl came prepared with her glue gun and craft supplies and made this fabulous gift wrap bouquet that could be fit for the actual wedding.

I can’t believe Tina will be marrying her fiancĂ© David in just one week! The bridal shower was so bright and cheery, and I hope their wedding will be filled with even more sunshine. Congratulations, you two!

Welcome, Baby Nathaniel!

Congratulations, Steve and Alice! Yesterday afternoon, my friends’ first child Nathaniel came into the world, and I can’t wait to meet the little guy. I helped host their baby shower back in December, and I can’t believe he’s already here!

It’s always an honor to help out with showers, and I had a blast working with my usual party-planning-partner Cheryl to decorate the lounge in my building for the occasion. Pennant banners have popped up all around the blogosphere over the past year, and we wanted in on the fun. We combined various shades, prints, and textured blue paper with knotted ribbon to decorate the dessert and candy bar area. Alice’s sister Nancy arranged an assortment of blue and white candies for guests to take home, and I made vanilla bean mini-cupcakes iced with blue vanilla frosting. Did I mention they had a boy?

I don’t regularly make cupcakes, but I was happy to make a classic vanilla bean cupcake dressed in blue for the occasion. I reduced the sugar amount in both cake and frosting recipes, but they were just sweet enough and full of vanilla flavor. Vanilla is anything but plain, amen? Here’s the recipe.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped out

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2. Line mini-muffin tin with mini-cupcake papers.
3. Beat butter, add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined.
5. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
4. In a separate medium bowl, scrape out the vanilla bean seeds and stir into the milk.
5. Using the alternating wet/dry method, add flour mixture and milk mixture into the butter mixture, a third at a time. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients until finishing with the dry.
6. Spoon batter into tin, filling about 2/3’s full. Bake cupcakes for about 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 60 mini cupcakes.

Vanilla Frosting
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch table salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
few drops blue food color gel

Directions:
1. Stir the cream, vanilla, and salt together in a small bowl until the salt dissolves.
2. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds.
3. Reduce the speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, and beat until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Beat in the cream mixture. At this point add in the blue food color gel. Add gel one drop at a time until reaching desired color.
4. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 8 minutes.
5. The frosting can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Before using, let stand at room temperature to soften, then whisk briefly to re-fluff. Makes about 3 cups.