Easter is around the corner! I just love this time of year. I love the spring air, the pastel hues, and the promise of warmer weather. Although, that promise is often broken here in Canada. Why are groundhogs such liars? In any case, I made a new #HowToCakeIt video on how to put together your very own mini sweet table for Easter - watch it here. My good friend and flower, design and event guru Caspar Haydar helped me out - we had a blast putting together sweet tables on our Food Network show Sugar Stars, and it was no different here!
Sweet tables can seem intimidating because of all the different elements. But they don’t have to be. You can set up a mini sweet table on your dining room table, your kitchen counter, or even a coffee table.
Here are a few SWEET TABLE tips:
1. Pick a theme and colour scheme. Easy to remember right? Caspar and I went with Easter as our theme, and white, pastel blue, baby pink and spring yellow as our colours.
2. Small sized desserts work best - petite fours, cookies, mini cakes, cupcakes, marshmallows, candy, etc. Just remember, if you can pick it up with your hands and eat it, that's ideal!
3. Ask for help! Get a few friends and family together, tell them what your theme/colour scheme is, and invite each of them to bring over a dessert of their choice for your sweet table! You only need 3-4 treats on a table to make it great.
4. Decor - this is where people get nervous - but you'd be AMAZED at what you can do with little jars, bowls and decor items lying around your house. Candy makes GREAT decor, and of course FLOWERS! Add a little ribbon here and there, and have FUN!
5. Center piece - if possible, making a centre piece for your sweet table is ideal. My choice is of course a cake, in my theme and colour scheme. More on that below (:
For the Easter Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies Ingredients & Tools
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3" oval cookie cutter
3" flower shaped cookie cutter
2 x non-stick baking mats or parchment paper
**this recipe will give you appx 48 cookies in total, so 24 of each of the designs I lay out below (:
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add egg and combine on low speed. Add your flour mixture.
Once dough is mixed, split dough in half, and chill both halves for about 20 minutes.
Between two sheets of parchment paper or two nonstick baking mats, roll each of your dough halves to appx a 1/4” thickness. Chill the dough again for 20-30 minutes. Now it's time to make our two different shapes!
For the Egg Shaped Cookies with Royal Icing and Crushed Meringues
Using one of your trays of dough, cut out 24 egg shapes with your 3" oval cookie cutter and place on parchment lined cookie trays. If your dough has become soft during this time, chill it once more for 10-20 minutes.
**You'll want to bake both of your cookies at the same time, so take your other tray of dough out of the fridge, and cut 24 flower shapes using your 3" flower shaped cookie cutter.
Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. They will be ever so slightly browned on the edges. These cookies can be baked a day or two before decorating, to make your life easier! Set your flower cookies aside (we'll come back for them!), and let's get our egg shaped cookies decorated.
Royal Icing Ingredients
2 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
1 1/2 oz water
8 oz icing sugar
Combine the meringue powder and water in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk together. Add the icing sugar and beat with a paddle attachment at low speed for 3-5 minutes. Turn your mixer up to medium speed for 1 minute. Pour icing into a bowl. Here's a tip - if you make your royal icing before you're ready for it, keep the bowl it's in covered with a damp cloth until you need it.
If you find your icing too runny, you can further stiffen it by adding more icing sugar. You can also soften the icing by simply adding more water if it's too stiff! Now it's time to dip our cookies! But first...
For the Crushed Meringues
To make your life easier, buy meringues at your local bakery, in some of your favourite colours (: I went with pastel Easter shades, and then simply crushed my meringues up in a bag, using a rolling pin. They make the perfect cookie topper!
Time to decorate!
Dip the face of each egg cookie into your bowl of royal icing - using a palette knife, gently wipe off any excess and lay on your cookie sheet. Doing it this way gives a nice flat, clean surface for your crushed meringues. Try and ice quickly, so that your royal icing is still nice and tacky when you are complete. Once cookies are iced, simply take handfuls of your crushed meringues, and sprinkle away!! Don't over think it, just have fun.
For the Flower Shaped Sugar Cookies with Fondant and Edible Pearls
Ingredients & Tools
1 Tablespoon clear piping gel
Edible pearls or drageés
1/2 lb pink fondant
Roll out your pink fondant to appx 1/8" thick and chill for 20 mins.
Once chilled, cut 24 flower shapes out of your fondant using the same cookie cutter you used to make your flower shaped cookies! If you ever find your fondant is getting a little too soft, simply pop it back in the fridge for 10-20 mins.
Time to decorate!
Using a paint brush, gently brush a little clear piping gel on one of your sugar cookies. Now take your palette knife and pick up one of your fondant flowers, gently placing on the cookie, lining up your petals of course. Voila! Now again using your paint brush, brush a touch of clear piping gel on the centre of your cookie. Take 5 of your edible pearls and apply in the shape of a flower. Gorgeous and simple - only 23 more to do (:
For the Naked Chocolate Mini Cakes
Naked Chocolate Mini Cakes Ingredients & Tools
2 x 7" round chocolate cakes - I used one of my faves from Sweetapolita (recipe here)
1 recipe of Italian Meringue buttercream - (recipe here)
14" piping bag
#805 round tip
2 1/4" round cookie cutter
Remove both cakes from their pans, and level off the top with your serrated knife so they are nice and flat! Now using your ruler, cut each cake in half horizontally so that each layer is appx. 1" high.
You will now have 4 layers of yummy chocolate cake. Take your round cookie cutter, and cut 24 rounds out of these layers. Cut each circle nice and close to one another so that you get all 24 (:
Important - take a break to eat cake scraps!! Now back to work.
Get your buttercream ready in your piping bag with tip. It's time to stack, pipe and repeat!
Make a row of 8 cake rounds, and pipe each one with a good douse of your buttercream. Now layer that with another 8, pipe again, and top with your final 8 cake rounds. Make this last round of piping buttercream your best!
Because I have Caspar with me this week, it's not about the cherry on top, but the FLOWER on top. We dressed up our naked chocolate mini cakes with some beautiful spring flowers he brought along. You can use whatever you like and think looks pretty!
For the Giant Egg Shaped Cake with Mini Egg Centre
Remember how I suggested your sweet table have a centre piece?! Well I couldn't resist surprising Caspar with one. I baked each half of my egg shaped chocolate cake using egg shaped pans. Before putting the halves together however, I hollowed out a bit of space in each, and filled them with Cadbury's Mini Eggs and edible confetti - yum! I then fused the halves together with buttercream, applied my crumb coat and final layer of buttercream, and covered this baby with white fondant.
I saved the really fun part for when Caspar was with me! We splattered the egg with pastel royal icing, in the same shades as the meringues - and I mean splattered! I highly recommend this as a great stress reliever. Go nuts! Caspar and I believe every cake needs a name, so Shelly it was, and she looked amazing! When we cut the cake open, I think the edible surprise inside knocked Caspar’s designer socks off.
Decor and Design
The flowers! I really think they add beauty to any table and the flowers Caspar brought were the perfect highlight. They brought our mini Easter sweet table to life. We used simple crystal bowls with gold accents, and white and pastel coloured cake stands. My FAVOURITE decor item were the simple mason jars decked out with gold paint that Casper used as vases. Genius, and so simple to do at home with some painters tape and spray paint! The other key thing he did to make this baby pop was utilizing the drawers of the simple butchers block table we used - he stuffed them with flowers. Perfection.
Don’t forget to check out Caspar’s amazing work!
Can't wait to see you next week on my YouTube Channel! Subscribe here.
Now GET CAKING!