new book Eerie Elegance Eats is now available!

Eerie Elegance Eats Front CoverFor 2017 Britta Blvd presents Eerie Elegance Eats: A Halloween Coookbook of Creepy Cuisine! This new book celebrates over twenty years of delightfully disturbing both children and grownups alike with Halloween recipes in a niche between gory horror displays and cute but tame kid-friendly foods, making the world smile with a touch of spooky style. Over thirty exclusive new recipes plus all your favorites from both previous Eerie Elegance books are now available as one convenient Cookbook of Creepy Cuisine organized in eight chapters:

Mad Scientist Body Parts
Beverages, Brews & Potions, with safe dry ice and edible glow effects
Creepy Cuisine Contest Champions
Scary Savories
Dastardly Desserts
Spooky Spiders & Skeletons
Dia de los Muertos Delights
and Gingerbread Goodies, including the giant Ghoulish Gingerbread Haunted House!

Autographed copies of Eerie Elegance Eats are now for sale directly from the author for $24.95 +S&H, Amazon is selling it worldwide, and a digital version is coming soon! See the order page for details!

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Midsummer Scream for Halloween 2017

Eerie Elegance Scream Team at Midsummer Scream 2017My Eerie Elegance Halloween Scream Team decided to take a road trip to a new Halloween festival in Long Beach! This was only the second year for Midsummer Scream, but we had seen good reviews of last year and we had a great time. Interesting panels, good instructional demonstrations, lots of inspiration, I had fun wearing a pinup girl style spiderweb dress I barely finished before driving down plus a graveyard skirt mashup outfit, but we actually didn’t buy anything since I had just received my new Hot Wire Foam Factory electric knife set and foam La Muerte at the Sinister Circus Costume Ballcoat products the night before for my birthday! It was fantastic to be able to quiz the company owners and see products in use! Since the costume ball was on board the Queen Mary, we decided to stay the weekend there in the vintage ship hotel and also attend a couple of their ghost hunter tours, with me wearing my Madame Leota dress with crystal ball earrings for Dining with the Spirits…and I thought for sure something gory would win the costume contest at the party packed full of hundreds of people, but guess what?!? Keep reading for the whole story and photos!

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A Star Trek Beyond Birthday

Star Trek Movie Night MenuWe had the smallest group since 2010 and it was roasting hot, but we still had a fun movie night for Star Trek Beyond, and Glen surprised me with an early birthday cheesecake! Thanks to the 7 die-hard movie-goers who celebrated with me and enjoyed Ice Trek Cocktails, Starfleetza Pizzas and S’more Trek not only with custom chocolates and homemade marshmallows, but even matching chevron graham crackers!

Trekkie CoupleI wore my classic Trek miniskirt uniform for 50 Years of Trek last year, but costumes are nowhere near as fun when it’s over 100F, so this year it was t-shirts and hair up for comfort! Glen fit my early-90s convention era Starfleet Academy shirt, and I wore my even older handpainted Spock tee with film camera tripod earrings in honor of movie night…I’ve enjoyed my Spock tee for about thirty years already, but I will sure be sad when it finally disintegrates, since it already has one small hole right in front!

Homemade Trek Chevron Cookie CuttersI have made several styles of Star Trek S’mores over the years, from 2010 for Star Trek II on National S’mores Day and Free Enterprise in two different styles using a homemade silicone mold and custom-bent cookie cutter, to 2013 for Into Darkness where I used marshmallow creme sandwiched between matching chevrons, to last year when I made matching chocolate and marshmallows, but ran out of time for matching graham crackers. Since I now finally have three chevron shapes in nesting sizes, I was determined to customize all three ingredients for S’more Trek!

Making Homemade MarshmallowsHomemade marshmallows make the most mess, so they were first! I used Alton Brown’s marshmallow recipe again, but for some reason I’m always almost out of corn syrup, so I add honey to make Spreading homemade marshmallows into the prepared sheet panup the difference, which gives them a nice flavor. You definitely need a stand mixer for this recipe! While it’s mixing, prepare a sheet pan with wax paper dusted thoroughly with powdered sugar so it’s ready when you need to work quickly.

Once the marshmallows have finally fluffed to the top of the bowl, spread quickly into your prepared sheet pan. Anywhere not liberally dusted with powdered sugar will glue permanently, so fair warning! I can never get the top surface perfectly flat, so I do the best I can while spreading them into the pan, then I use a greased sheet of wax paper to burnish the Smoothing the surface of the homemade marshmallowssurface by rubbing in circles with my hands. Again, be very careful, since if there is any plain wax paper that touches the marshmallows, it will stick forever! Let the marshmallows set overnight before cutting.

Cutting Chocolate Chevrons for S'more TrekWhile you’re waiting for the marshmallows to set, you can cut your chocolate! I had made chocolate chevron molds before that were intentionally the thickness of a Hershey bar, but they were sized for the classic movie Trek belt buckles, which was a small serving of chocolate. I had leftover modeling chocolate that hadn’t been eaten as previous Tray of finished Chocolate Chevrons for Trek S'moress’mores, so I remelted it in the microwave, spread it for thicker chocolates, then used the medium chevron cutter to cut as many chocolate chevrons as I could. If the chocolate is too soft, the cuts reseal themselves too quickly, but if the chocolate has hardened too much, it will crack as you push the cutter in, so try to find the sweet spot. Refrigerate the chocolate chevrons if it’s summertime, but don’t freeze chocolate.

Custom chevron homemade graham crackersNext were the custom chevron graham crackers! I’ve been using this vegan graham cracker recipe for years, and it’s always super-tasty with no special ingredients required to purchase. It is a very crumbly dough, and whole wheat flour doesn’t absorb water as well as white flour, so have some water handy to knead in when it gets too dry. It doesn’t roll into sheets very well, so I pat the dough together as much as I can to prevent holes, then use my rolling pin to smooth out the top surface, leaving the dough a good 1/4″ thickness so the graham crackers don’t crumble apart. Cut the shapes on a silicone mat so you can pull away the extra dough instead of transporting the finished shapes, since they are too fragile until after baking. Store just like cookies in an airtight tin for up to two weeks.

Cutting marshmallow chevronsAfter the marshmallows have set overnight, it’s time to cut them! Keep a bowl of water handy for dipping your cutter, or else it gets sticky too quickly. You can dust the cut edges with powdered sugar for plain designs, but I thought that my pearlized sugar in command gold, sciences blue and services red would be the perfect pop of color! Since the cutter pushes the marshmallow at the edges of the design, leave space when cutting the next marshmallow, otherwise you’ll have an oddly-shaped edge. As soon as I cut the marshmallow slab with the chevron cutter, I gently removed the marshmallow chevron from the cutter, dipped all the cut edges into a bowl of the colored sugar, then set aside, making sure I had an even number of colors for variety.

Completed platter of S'more TrekIf not serving immediately store your marshmallows in an airtight tin or bag so they don’t harden. When ready to assemble your S’more Trek, stack the chocolate and marshmallow chevrons on the matching graham crackers for display. For eating, remove the marshmallow from the stack to roast on a stick over the fire, then smush the melted marshmallow between the chocolate and graham cracker chevrons. Yum!

Chevron CheeseSince I always have an assorted cheese plate and the smallest chevron cutter fit the slices, it was easy to make a plate of Chevron Cheeses! Since there was more white cheese than orange, I made gold chevrons like Classic Trek shirt emblems. I had a few white stars leftover from the 4th of July, so I added those around the center.

Starfleetza Pizza crusts ready to grill!Grilling pizzas is popular for my movie nights since you can completely customize your own pizza! Starfleetza Pizzas are the perfect name (courtesy of my friend Eileen several years ago), and the chevron shape is not only fairly easy to form from pizza dough, but it also holds toppings well. I made the crusts from scratch using my bread machine with the same whole wheat sourdough recipe I’ve been using for years now. The dough is pliable enough that it’s fairly easy to form into any shape you like, then parbake on silicone sheets for 2-3 minutes to set the shape. Store in gallon zip bags with wax paper between crusts, and refrigerate for about 3 days or so, but if you are storing for longer, freeze instead.

Ice Trek CocktailsAs for the rest of the menu, Federation Fruit Salad was just my normal summer fruit salad with a fun name, and I recycled the Ice Trek Cocktails from last summer since they were tasty, using hard raspberry cider, raspberry syrup and vodka for The Redshirt instead of premixed margaritas and extra tequila, but I made more elaborate recipe cards for them.

Starfleetza with Chevron CheeseWe grilled some watermelon along with our pizzas, and I added a Chevron Cheese in the middle of my pizza to highlight the matching shapes. Everyone had a good time watching some funny Star Trek comedy sketches before the trailers and the main feature.

Small audience but still fun!Partying People on the PatioStarfleet Academy Glen

Surprise Early Birthday Cake!After the movie, Glen brought out a cheesecake with candles and everyone sang Happy Birthday to me! I was completely surprised! Glen was sneaky and used his car running in the driveway as the refrigerator for the Surprise Early Birthday Cake!cheesecake, otherwise I would have seen it for sure! See how the candle in front is shorter? He said “It was a small cake, not much room for candles, so I used the natural logarithm of Britta’s age = 3.8 candles, knowing how Britta appreciates geek humor.” Hahahaha…love it!

You can click below to read the full Ice Trek Cocktail recipes and see the rest of the photos…and stay tuned for the summer season finale of Cinema Brittahytta!

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Gladrags robe with Candied Bacon Wands, Deviled Occamy Eggs, Niffler Bait and strudel!22 of us including 3 kids enjoyed a lovely evening at Cinema Brittahytta the same day I also got Owl Post from Hogsmeade, which was perfect since we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! The youngest witches enjoyed some Frozen Potions, we all enjoyed Frozen Butterbeer, Thunderbird and Swooping Evil custom cocktails, Candied Bacon Wands, teal and silver Deviled Occamy Eggs, and British “Banger” sausages on the grill, Nathania dressed in Queenie’s coat brought tasty homemade strudel, I wore a fancy new brocade robe worthy of Gladrags, and Glen must be part Niffler since he scarfed a whole pile of chocolate coins during the movie! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Fantastic Beasts Food Table with dragons galore
I had fun with the simple menu, and I had made menu cards to set by each dish, but I didn’t get the chalkboard updated this time. I did get out my copper dragon sculpture and used my two matching dragon plate stands on the table, since dragons definitely count as fantastic beasts!

Deviled Occamy EggsAs soon as I saw the movie last November, I wanted an Occamy winged serpent since they are such gorgeous colors of blues and greens! Since their eggs are pure silver, I thought why not try making deviled eggs using silver food spray, since tinting the yellow egg yolks to a bright teal should be an easy food coloring task. I found a dramatic image online of an Occamy and created a menu description, pointing out we were only eating unfertilized eggs.

Deviled Occamy Eggs

The Occamy is a plumed, two-legged serpentine-bodied creature with wings that may reach up to fifteen feet in height. It is extremely protective of its eggs, which are made of the most pure and soft silver. The unfertilized eggs are especially tasty when cooked.

Spraying edible silver on the backs of cooked egg whitesTo make Deviled Occamy Eggs, split hard boiled eggs in half lengthwise, and pop out the yolks into a mixing bowl. Clean and dry the egg whites and use food decorating spray to coat with silver. Don’t spray too much or it will run off Spraying edible silver on the fronts of cooked egg whitesthe egg and leave spots. I sprayed the backs of the eggs first, let them dry while I made the yolk mixture, then turned the egg whites over and sprayed the tops. The silver does come off on your fingers when moving them, so be careful when placing on your serving plate. The edible silver spray doesn’t come all the way off the eggs, but it wipes easily off skin.

Tinting the egg yolk mixture tealFor the yolk mixture you can use your favorite deviled egg recipe plus enough blue food coloring to make the yellow yolks teal. I used greek yogurt, mayo and some truffle salt to taste, which were delicious! I used my stand mixer to get the yolk mixture as Truffle salt, mayo & greek yogurt added to cooked egg yolkssmooth and creamy as possible, then I used a piping bag with a large star tip to pipe the team yolk mixture into the silver egg whites. I used a clear plastic deviled egg tray to show off the silver, and they looked great in place on a gold platter on one of my dragon stands!

Candied Bacon WandsAll the Candied Bacon Wands were scarfed by all my guests since they were so tasty! They would probably work better with thinner breadsticks, but no one complained. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I used the Candied Bacon Wands were tasty!matching gold platter to the Occamy eggs on the other dragon stand, since the Candied Bacon Wands would sag bend too much if placed standing display more like magic wands.

Wrapping breadstick wands in baconDepending how thick your bacon slices are compared to the length of your breadsticks, you might need to wrap two slices on one breadstick. My second package of bacon were slightly wider slices, and since the bacon will stretch a little while wrapping, I was able to use a single slice down the length of the breadstick. I did notice during baking that the bacon grease soaked into the breadsticks, making them soggy before the oven time finally made Candying Bacon Wands by sprinkling brown sugar before bakingeverything crisp, and depending how crisp the bacon was, they tended to bend a little even after cooling. Pretzel rods are thicker and shorter than the long thin breadsticks so they might not get as soggy, but pretzels are already so salty that they might be too much with the salty bacon.

Gently turn the wands over and sprinkle the other side with brown sugar to continue baking until the bacon is crispAfter wrapping each breadstick with bacon, place the loose ends down on a baking rack over a baking sheet so the grease can drain away while baking. Sprinkle brown sugar along each wand, bake for about 15 minutes, gently turn them over and sprinkle more sugar on the other side. This is when they are soggy, so be careful you don’t break any breadsticks while you are turning them. Bake until the bacon is crisp on both sides, turning over again as necessary. Cool completely then serve and enjoy!

I never knew Glen was a Niffler!The easiest food to “make” were the Niffler Bait Chocolate Coins…just buy some foil-wrapped chocolate coins and set them in a big pile, preferably on a matching gold platter! The Niffler pretty much stole the movie with his adorable antics, but Glen stole all the Niffler Bait to eat while watching! haha…

Niffler Bait Chocolate CoinsNiffler Bait Chocolate Coins

A Niffler is a creature with a long snout and a coat of black, fluffy fur. They are attracted to shiny things, which make them wonderful for locating treasure, but this also means that they could wreak havoc indoors. Nifflers have a pouch on their bellies which holds far more than at first seems possible. Nifflers are gentle by nature and could even be affectionate towards their owners. However, they could destroy belongings looking for sparkly objects, and for that reason it is inadvisable to keep them as a house pet.

Queenie made a strudel!Nathania came as Queenie, complete with reproduction costume coat, and of course “you like strudel, dontcha honey?” It was extremely tasty with unsurprisingly no leftovers!

Fantastic Fried Beasts from JerryJerry hadn’t seen the movie yet, so he even found the fancy movie font for his sign and brought Fantastic Fried Beasts! The tasty fried chicken was scarfed down, but after watching the movie he felt a little guilty that the movie creatures were friends, not food. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Custom CocktailsI couldn’t resist creating custom cocktails inspired by a couple of the Fantastic Beasts from the movie. I took inspiration from a Dark & Stormy plus the iridescent feathers and shimmery liqueur for the Thunderbird, and layered green and blue for the Swooping Evil, and both were quite tasty if I do say so myself! The shimmery liqueur is almost sickly sweet but the chai tea syrup and dark rum balance it well.

The Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is a large, avian creature native to North America, and most commonly found in Arizona in the southwestern United States. They possess multiple and powerful wings which are known to change Shimmery Thunderbird cocktailcolors as they summons storms, with iridescent feathers shifting from various shades of gold, to electrifying blue, to grey and silver, to white, and even to deep navy. A close relative of the Phoenix, the Thunderbird can create storms as it flies and is highly sensitive to danger.

ginger ale
chai tea syrup
blackstrap rum
Viniq shimmery liqueur

Pour equal parts ginger ale, chai tea syrup, and blackstrap rum over ice, then top with Viniq shimmery liqueur. Watch the swirling storm clouds brewing in your glass, sparkling with the magical powers of the Thunderbird.


Layered green & blue Swooping Evil cocktailThe Swooping Evil

The Swooping Evil is a blue-and-green winged magical creature that ooks like a cross between a reptile and an extremely large butterfly. It can be quite dangerous, as it can feed on people’s brains, but also able to deflect at least some spells by flying into their path. It secretes venom that, when properly diluted, can be used to erase bad memories.

ginger ale
blue curacao
green apple syrup

Fill a martini glass half-full of ginger ale. Add blue curacao until the ginger ale all turns blue. Gently pour the green apple syrup along the edge of the glass so it layers under the blue. Sip carefully since too much Swooping Evil venom can erase memories!

We enjoyed chatting, eating & drinking until it was dark enough for trailers, and a couple people had never seen the movie before but really liked it…hooray!

Fun Food for Fantastic Beasts Silver lips and fingers from Occamy eggs! Frozen Potions Classic Cinema Brittahytta Shot

Hope you are enjoying your summer too! Two more movies this summer still to come so stay tuned…

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Young Frankenstein for 10 Years of Cinema Brittahytta!

Igor & Inga with Fancy FrankWe opened our 10th summer backyard movie season with the first movie ever shown at Cinema Brittahytta…Young Frankenstein! Most of us had seen it before, but little Ellie had a ball viewing it for her first time, at the same age I first saw it! 14 adults & 3 kids made for a great celebration, enjoying the special themed menu, our Fancy Frank standing tall ready for Puttin’ on the Ritz, cloaked Glen with hunchback as Igor, yours truly in my lab coat as Inga, my new theatre trailer, and my new lighted movie marquee!

I first started showing backyard movies 10 summers ago, and I kept improving the experience over time with an 8-foot screen, better projector, and nice speakers. I didn’t edit my theatre policy trailer until a few years in, a very basic Star-Wars-style rolling credits into the distance over a basic starfield with my logo, but I thought it would be a nice 10th anniversary celebration to edit a new theatre policy trailer. I used the same soundtrack of audio clips from some of my favorite movies and my same hand-drawn logo, and the same text for the credits thanking everyone who contributed to Cinema Brittahytta, but I added teal theatre curtains opening to an aqua nebula moving starfield, and I added a little basic 3D to the logo spinning in from a distance at the end. Maybe for the 20th anniversary I’ll have finally learned real motion graphics? ๐Ÿ˜‰

New Movie Marquee in the backyard!The other new feature for my home theatre is a digital lighted movie marquee! I had purchased several 32″ flatscreen TVs for previous Halloween use, and I didn’t have a use for them the rest of the year, so I thought why not build a frame and load a slideshow/video on a USB stick and use one of the TVs as a digital poster frame movie marquee! Since the TV isn’t balanced to hang vertically without a wall behind it, I had to mount it on the back fence, where I happen to have a bare spot for a few years until a new tree grows. Full construction instructions will be coming soon in a separate post, including lessons learned how to improve my next attempt, but I think it works really well!

Mixing a Walk This Way cocktailWhen guests arrived for Young Frankenstein, we started with two custom cocktails as is now my summer tradition. Here some brave souls are using my Young Frankenstein the Musical shot glass to mix a Walk This Way cocktail, which was quite tasty and popular, so it might return in another disguise for a different movie someday! This “Walk This Way” cocktail is as dark as Igor’s cloak. Once you Walk This Way enough, you too will say, “What hump?” Pour equal parts blackstrap rum, chai tea syrup, lemon-lime soda over ice into a rocks glass. Stir to combine, and enjoy!

Partying people on the patioFor flavor variety I also created The Frau Blรผcher: This straitlaced black & “white” cocktail is why the horses rear in fear every time they hear the name of Frau Blรผcher! *whinny!* Pour two parts lemon-lime soda into a martini glass. Gently layer one part black vodka over the top. Enjoy the black and “white” layers, but stir before enjoying a sip. Some of the partying people on the patio were partaking in that one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Young Frankenstein 2017 MenuHere is the full menu for Young Frankenstein, listing the two custom cocktails Walk This Way and The Frau Blรผcher, then Abby Normal Brain Pate and Assorted Cheeses for Puttin’ on the Ritz, Franken-Fruit Salad, Rollz in Zee Hay, and Franks-In-Steins! Can you spot the small foam Abby Normal brain that was a souvenir from the touring musical? ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Abby Normal Brain Pate is the same Halloween recipe I’ve been making for years, still as delicious as ever with cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, shrimp & creole seasoning, Authentic Ritz crackers for Puttin' on the Ritzthen my traditional cheese slices were there too, both ready for Puttin’ on the Ritz on a plate with the logo added front and center so everyone would realize they were the authentic brand crackers!

Franken-Fruit SaladFranken-Fruit Salad was just my normal summer fresh fruit salad renamed for the occasion, but our Rollz in Zee Hay really cracked me up, since they are Rollz in Zee Haydeep-fried eggrolls that are supposedly so addicting they are locally called “crack”…haha! I bought some canned fried onion strings for the bed of “hay” under the egg rolls, and voila! Rollz in Zee Hay! They are very tasty so there weren’t many leftovers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Franks In SteinsSometimes a clever name creates a recipe you can’t resist. These are basically pigs in blankets, a vintage classic appetizer, but by forming the dough differently and adding a pretzel handle, you have little Franks-In-Steins! These will appear again for our Haunted Hollywood Halloween this coming October, as well as in my new Eerie Elegance Eats cookbook!

Partying PeopleIt was a lovely evening, not too hot and not too chilly, so we didn’t use the firepits, and we have a new projector arrangement that allows for even more seating space! The original Cinema Brittahytta projector had developed some sparkles at the Young Frankenstein 2017 audienceedges by the end of last summer, not bad for a 9 year run, but since now I have so many other projectors for Halloween illusions, one of the newer short throw projectors was perfect nice and close to the screen, so less trip hazard of power & HDMI cables through the grass, plus more people can sit in the center for an even better view!

You can see a few more photos of our 10th anniversary summer season premiere in the gallery below. Stay tuned for a couple more movies this summer, starting with a trip back to the Wizarding World for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them…

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Cuddling Dragons

Cuddling Dragons Wedding CakeI’ve known Keith since the last century from singing with him in the Choral Project, and he and Doug are an adorable pair. When they asked me if I could make cuddling dragon cake toppers for their wedding, of course I said yes! The happy couple wanted to save the dragons so they are not really edible art, but they were made as cake decor. Even though I didn’t make the full wedding cake, I was honored that I could lend my artistic talents to make their sapphire and amethyst dragon cake toppers!

Sculpting the Cuddling DragonsThey had found images online of a precious pair of cuddling dragons in exactly their wedding colors, but they contacted the artist and she wasn’t selling them anymore, so this was a design duplication instead of my own interpretation. We knew the top tier of the cake was a 6-inch square, so I cut a template and sized my sculpting to be sure both dragons could still cuddle in the allotted space with room to spare. Since they were not very large, I used solid Cuddling Dragons ready to bakeSculpey polymer clay. Too much larger and I would have used something inside to make a hollow core. The first night I made excellent progress, added the wings and spikes the next session, then they were ready to bake.

Cuddling Dragons after baking in the ovenSculpey polymer clay softens in the warmth of your hands, which is great for blending and smoothing, but not for holding vertical shapes like wings and horns. If it is still warm enough to sag while baking, you will fix it in the wrong shape! Usually letting the Sculpey cool several hours and air-dry a little will help it keep the proper shape in the oven. During baking I was checking every 5 minutes to be sure I didn’t scorch these little cuties, but that they were solid enough that none of the detail would break or bend.

Painting the Cuddling DragonsI’m pretty sure the originals were sculpted in Fimo or other colored polymer clays then coated with an iridescent varnish, but since I had found perfect iridescent sapphire and amethyst paints, I thought painting after baking would be less Final Painting Details on the Cuddling Dragonssteps overall. I took my dragons and my paints to a crafting afternoon with friends, so they got a peek at the super-secret wedding decor. ๐Ÿ˜‰ After I got home, I mixed the shimmery paints with white acrylic for the bellies and spikes, then black acrylic for the eyes and some spikes, with some black nail polish very last for shiny eyes to give them more life.

Signing the Cuddling DragonsIf you have painted anything, especially in small crevices and tiny detail, you will know that paint shrinks as it dries, so you might end up with bare spots requiring multiple coats of color. I needed three coats to cover all the bare spots, plus multiple coats really added to the shimmer effect, so it was worth the time and effort. Since this was such a special project, after everything else was fully dry, I signed the bottom of Cuddling Dragons on the Wedding Cakeeach dragon with my monogram. I forgot to take a photo, but I found a nicer box that could be used as a keepsake, and carefully wrapped them in bubble wrap. Keith & Doug were overjoyed when they picked them up, and then I had to keep them secret from our mutual friends for almost two months!

Cutting the CakeThe wedding was this past weekend, a lovely evening for a wedding cruising around the San Francisco Bay, with excellent food, fun dancing, and the final cake! The vivid purples and blues in the flowers and jewels strewn around the tables went perfectly with the dragons, the tiers were covered in the couple’s shared love of music, and even though the cake decorators didn’t understand how the dragons were designed to nuzzle each other, they were still as adorable as the newly-married couple! Congratulations to Keith & Doug!

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Beauty & the Beast Bookookies

Britta and her Beauty & the Beast BookookiesFrom November 2010 to September 2011 I was buying new hardware and setting up the new BrittaBlvd.com site, so there is a large gap for all my Cinema Brittahytta summer movies that year! Since the new Beauty & the Beast live action remake is almost here, it seemed a good time to catch up with details about when I showed the original Best-Picture nominated animated masterpiece in June 2011, especially my Beauty & the Beast Bookookies!

Closeup of the Beauty & the Beast BookookiesMy Beauty & the Beast movie night was when I originally had the concept of Bookookies that later appeared as my Caroling Cookies for Christmas. My inspiration was the opening story told along with gorgeous stained glass panels, so I transcribed the relevant phrases from the movie and sketched my own smaller versions of the matching stained glass images that could stand the limits of piping and food-coloring pen resolution. That determined the size of each large cookie.

Custom cookie cutters in processI could have cut the sugar cookie dough with a knife around a cardboard template, but I decided to make it easier on myself and make a custom cookie cutter out of copper pipe strap tape bent into shape then joined at the overlap using self-adhesive metal flashing tape. The holes in the copper strap make it a little tricky to Custom Bookookie cutter worked great!clean if your dough is too tall, but that usually isn’t a problem for me. These need to be handwashed of course, but I’ve made lots of custom cookie cutters this way over the years, including life-size Mardi Gras Mask Cookies!

Flood coat of royal icing as smooth as possibleAfter the cookies were baked and cooled completely, I spread a flood coat of white royal icing that dried overnight so the books would be as smooth as possible for drawing and lettering such details. I didn’t get my first edible printer until October 2011, so these original Bookookies were all hand-drawn and hand-lettered, sadly messier than I hoped since I was trying to make the book page curve without any guidelines to spoil my nice smooth white royal icing surface. I drew all the black stained Piping black royal icing between the color blocks of the stained glass designsglass lead lines and lettering with a food coloring pen first, then I went over the color block outlines with a thin bead of black royal icing, which also needed to dry overnight before I could continue.

Once the black royal icing was dry, I used the small tubes of gel frosting plus custom-tinted Adding the stained glass gel frostings and final edge details to the Beauty & the Beast Bookookiesclear piping gel to have a full assortment of colors for the stained glass effect. I waited until after all the gel was finished before using food coloring pens to draw the page edges and the purple book cover edge. Even though the gel tubes were small, I still needed to use toothpicks to get into the corners and the fine detail areas! You also cannot spread the gel around too much across any black lines or it will re-moisten the black food pen and smear black into the gel. The other drawback is the gel frostings never dry, so you cannot stack these cookies for storage or they will stick together and ruin the Patio table display for Beauty & the Beast, including my brass candlestick, a small clock, teacup and teapot as you-know-whodesigns. However they did give a beautiful effect, enough that my friends lectured me on making edible art that is too much work so they felt too guilty eating them! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also decorated my patio table using my brass candleabra, a small clock, teacup and teapot Glass cloche over a real red rose from my garden that happened to drop petals during the partyas you-know-who, a glass cloche over real red rose from my garden, that happened to drop a perfect amount of petals during the party, plus I displayed some Disney collectibles and my Disneyland photo with the Beast by the Cinema Brittahytta movie clapboard sign.

Disney collectibles and my Beast photo by the clapboard sign

It was a fun night with a simple backyard barbeque menu, 10 adults, one kid and one dog. We had at least one viewer who had never seen the movie before, and he enjoyed it enough that we have reserved seats for opening night of the new movie version this week!

 

Click below to view all the photos of the party, including closeups of all six designs of the Beauty & the Beast Bookookies!

 
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Vintage Outdoorsman Birthday Cake

Vintage Outdoorsman Cake for Dad's 70th Birthday!My mom had her milestone birthday last year with the number included but not advertised on the Delicious Daisies Cake, and this year was my dad’s turn! Since I sculpted him six realistic silver salmon for his 60th birthday cake, my mom & I brainstormed how to include some of his other hobbies as this Vintage Outdoorsman Cake, with an antique wicker fishing creel and vintage wood duck decoys surrounded by cut wafer paper duck blind grass saying “Happy 70th Birthday, Gary!” in “platinum” to celebrate 70 years!

My first step was measuring the cake size so I knew my canvas size to sculpt the wicker fishing creel and duck decoys, plus how large to make the digital artwork to use my edible printer with wafer paper for the duck blind grass and birthday message. My dad requested Actual duck blind grassGerman chocolate cake, which has delicious nutty caramel coconut frosting, but tricky texture to decorate! My plan was to wrap the frosted cake in plastic wrap and use the springform rings around the plastic wrap to hold the gooey frosting in place for transit, then add the duck blind grass very last. I measured the ring circumference which was about 23″, then designed the birthday message to be about 17″ long Edible wafer paper duck blind grass with platinum birthday messageby 2″ high on 3.5″-4″ grass, with extra pages of plain grass printed to piece everything together around the full circumference. I know from experience the wafer paper curls fairly quickly in ambient moisture, but the duck blind grass should stand upright, so I planned to cut the grass texture but keep the wafer sheets flat until just before presenting the cake.

Mixing white chocolate and semi-sweet to make wood-colored modeling chocolateBefore I could start sculpting, I mixed up some modeling chocolate to be a base wood color, using a mix of white chocolate and semi-sweet baking chips, so I had to guess at how much corn Mixing white chocolate and semi-sweet to make wood-colored modeling chocolatesyrup to use since all the recipes are for specific chocolate ratios, not mixes between them. I also tried mixing a wicker color of modeling chocolate by adding a small amount of semi-sweet Wood-color and wicker-color modeling chocolatechips and a touch of yellow gel food coloring to the white chocolate chips. Modeling chocolate always needs to set in the fridge overnight as slabs covered in plastic wrap first, then it’s shelf-safe as long as kept in plastic.

I think the mix of different chocolates made my modeling chocolate more brittle than usual, since I couldn’t soften it enough just by kneading at room temperature. 30 seconds in the microwave was enough that I could knead the hot, almost gooey sections with the solid First round of sculpting with modeling chocolatesections into one consistent soft ball, then continue to sculpt for an hour or so before it got too solid again. I formed the basic duck decoy shapes while the modeling chocolate was very soft, then let them set with some folded wax paper and paper towel support so the tails and necks wouldn’t slump. It was extra tricky shaping the fishing creel base until the modeling chocolate firmed up a bit, Carving details into hardened modeling chocolateand setting overnight required folded wax paper support inside so it didn’t collapse on itself. After the creel was formed, the duck decoys were solid enough to hold their shape, then I was able to continue sculpting details, including woodgrain texture using a sewing pin and eyes stamped using a large piping tip.

Antique wooden duck decoyMy mom had sent me photos of the antique duck decoy hen and drake at their house, so I used them as models to paint my chocolate duck decoys. I wanted them to look aged, not freshly painted, so letting some of the base chocolate color show was intentional like the paint was wearing away. I’ve been Painting the chocolate duck decoysusing ChocoWhite plain on dark chocolate and fudge for a couple years now, but this was my first attempt at mixing colors with the ChocoWhite to make opaque chocolate paint…very nice to discover that my gel food colors worked great! I used black, black/brown, medium brown, yellow/brown, and teal, some mixed with ChocoWhite when needed, like the yellow beaks and teal heads of the drakes. I was very pleased how they turned out so much like the originals! Since I made three duck decoys, I painted the third as another drake since they are prettier. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Adding the royal icing wicker patter on the fishing creelThe fishing creel still needed its wicker texture, but the white modeling chocolate was too chalky to roll thin enough for the wicker, so I mixed up some Not bad for piped wicker!royal icing, using yellow & brown gel color to tint the wicker color, then piped the woven pattern instead. That needed to dry overnight before I could add straps to the creel…and even though the darker modeling chocolate was fine for sculpting, I couldn’t roll it thin enough to be leather straps without it cracking, so thankfully I saved the leftover royal icing from the wicker, and it was light enough I could add enough brown and red gel food coloring for the correct leather color. My Vintage style wicker fishing creelribbon piping tip wasn’t quite as large as it should have been, Adding royal icing leather straps to the wicker fishing creelbut it ended up still looking quite similar to the original wicker creel hanging on my parents’ wall!

I used a devils food cake mix in my springform pans, but I made the nutty caramel coconut frosting from scratch using an online recipe since I couldn’t access my mom’s family recipe. Since the frosting is cooked on the stove, you need to wait until the frosting is completely cooled before frosting the cake, otherwise you have a melted mess falling off the cake. As soon as everything was cool enough, I frosted the cake on a cardboard round, then immediately covered with plastic wrap and used the open springform ring to hold the frosting in place for Frosted German Chocolate Cake locked in place for transittransit, and locked down the airtight plastic cake carrier in hopes it wouldn’t dry out between Thursday night to Saturday evening. The online frosting recipe (below) that was more opaque had 75% more evaporated milk and 2 extra eggs than the family recipe that was always more translucent. The birthday boy still liked it but my mom & I think we prefer the family recipe…that I now have in my files! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Vintage Outdoorsman CakeCutting the wafer paper sheets was easy enough, since it was just chopping the edge randomly to look like the cut grass used to make duck blinds. Since the wafer paper curls in ambient moisture, I kept it flat between two magazines until I assembled the entire cake just before serving. I did need to use some royal icing to glue the overlapping seams, and it’s easier to use a table knife to hold the wafer paper flat while the royal icing dries instead of accidentally getting wet or sticky fingers stuck to the wafer paper. Adding the sculpted decorations on top was easy since everything fit just as expected…sure glad I measured well!

Happy 70th... ...70th Birthday... ...Birthday, Gary!
Since the birthday message wrapped around the whole cake, it required three photos to read it all, so I also made a 360-degree video:

…and here is the birthday boy blowing out his candles!

Cake #1 coming out with candles... Just after the lotus candle was blown out by my brother

Double Birthday CelebrationI found the Happy Birthday letter candles so put them around the front edge. It was also my brother’s birthday in two weeks so we celebrated double birthdays when I was in town. We used another silly spinning singing lotus candle like my mom’s birthday last year for my brother’s cake, but this one didn’t do the same closing trick…darn! I told my brother he’ll get a fancier cake when he turns 70! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope you’ve enjoyed the Vintage Outdoorsman Cake as much as the birthday boy! You can keep reading to see the German chocolate frosting recipe including the differences from our family recipe…

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New Year’s Eve is Time for Cheese!

Cheese HourglassThis year we were invited to a New Year’s Eve housewarming potluck, so we decided to bring two forms of cheese edible art as Time for Cheese! One was a pastry brie decorated as a pocket watch Pastry Brie Pocket Watchapproaching midnight, and the other was Glen’s family cheese ball recipe formed into an hourglass with the chopped walnuts as the sand. Easy and tasty!

Making the Pastry Brie Pocket WatchI’ve been making my Baked Brie En Croute in different designs for over a decade, so since I knew the pastry would puff too much while baking, I used hash marks instead of small numbers, with slightly longer lines for 3, 6, 9 & 12. This time I used milk instead of egg wash, so it wasn’t as shiny, but it did brown nicely due to the protein. I had to add a couple toothpicks while baking so the winding stem wouldn’t fall off the side, but it worked out pretty well even after all the detail puffed!

Forming the cheese ball recipe into an hourglassGlen’s family cheese ball recipe made its first appearance at Halloween 2009 as the Jack O’ Lantern Cheese Ball Creepy Cuisine winner, and it even became the Gargantula this past Halloween. After mixing and chilling the cheese ball recipe in the fridge, Forming the cheese ball recipe into an hourglassit is easy enough to form into whatever shape you like, as long as you use plastic wrap to keep it from sticking to your hands. Once the shape is set, smooth the surface with a table knife, or a clean wet finger for these types of curves, then add the chopped walnuts in the pattern you like, Cheese Hourglass with Walnut Sandhere simulating an hourglass with the sand almost running out for the end of 2016. This design fit perfectly on a rectangular platter I had, and we tucked crackers along the sides for serving at the party.

We had a great time chomping & chatting all evening, playing Rock Band 4 with friends, toasting at East Coast midnight as well as West Coast midnight, and wearing our silly giant dollar-store hats & beads! Thanks to Cyd & Mike for hosting at their new house!

Happy New Year! Rock Band Panorama Rock Band selfie! Happy New Year West Coast!
Hope everyone has a Happy New Year with Time for Cheese!

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Christmas at the Castle

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season! Since we finally had Castle Brittahytta weather-stable by Halloween, we left it up and decorated it for Christmas, including projected snowfall and dripping icicles!

For 2016, Castle Brittahytta was covered in snow and dripping icicles with lighted trees in every tower window, lighted wreath and garlands, the wishing well was frozen, and even all the dragons had festive hats! As you listen to a cappella carols by Cibo Cantabimus, follow the decorations inside to see how this castle decks the halls…

Castle Brittahytta was originally constructed for Halloween 2016, details here: http://brittablvd.com/blog/halloween/halloween-2016/

For more Christmas decor and recipes, see http://brittablvd.com/blog/tag/christmas-2/

Cibo Cantabimus is Britta Peterson, Stephanie Manansala, Tracia & Doug Barbieri, Jeff Ouye, and Louie Lee, singing together each Christmas since 1990! http://britta.com/music/Cibo/

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