Ballerina Dreams

Celebrating the birthday of two young ballerinas on a beautiful spring day!

Birthday Mom and I had lots of fun planning this dessert table that included a Ballerina Cake, Ballerina Cupcakes, Ballerina Cookies and more!

 

Ballerina Cake:

The main element of this dessert table was the Ballerina Cake, which was made of chocolate (bottom tier) and vanilla cake (top tier) and decorated with Swiss Meringue buttercream and fondant. The cake topper included Ballet Shoes made out of gumpaste and many flowers. The design was based on a photo that Birthday Mom shared with me, and I made a couple of adjustments on the “bodice” design (read: my fondant started to come apart and I had to hide the BIG HOLES under another layer of fondant! LOL

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The first thing I had to figure out was the tutu on the bottom tier. The wave on the tutu was achieved by placing 6 “cylinders” of fondant around the cake before covering it with a circle of pink fondant.

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For the ruffles, I used Swiss Meringue buttercream. It is so silky and creamy!

Doing the ruffles was easier that I expected. I started with a thin layer of crumb coat and then made vertical lines all around the cake (I used the scalloped cake board as a guide. That really helped to keep my ruffles the same size. I found this video on how to create ruffles and started to pipe my life away using a Wilton Large Flower Petal Tip #125.

If I had to repeat the experiment, I would probably do a better job on the crumb coat. As the hours went by and the cake started to settle, some of the ruffles “sank” revealing sections of the chocolate cake that were not covered a 100% by the crumb coat. Thankfully, I’m usually the only one that notices these things! 🙂

 

Moving on to the top tier I thought it would be fun to try an “ombre” effect on that section of the cake. The bodice was made out of vanilla cake, but I added a few drops of food coloring to turn it pink. I guess I could have used a strawberry cake for this section, but the girls are not big fans of that flavor and so, coloring the batter was my only option. Increasing the number of drops of food coloring on each batch gave us 4 layers of cake in different shades of pink.

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I numbered the layers as they came out of the oven to help me remember which one was lighter than the other. Layers 2 & 3 were very close in color.

Once stacked the cake was placed in the freezer for a few minutes, to make carving easier (but not necessarily less messy!)

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Carving is always an interesting experience. My secret weapon is an electric carving knife! Seems to me that the cut comes out cleaner that way. For this section, I cut a piece of cardboard and used it as a guide to keep the same curve all around the cake. After a quick crumb coat, the bodice was covered with marshmallow fondant tinted pink.

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I had lots of troubles with my fondant this time. Lots of air bubbles appeared our of nowhere and a couple of places on the bodice teared apart making it look like the surface of the Moon! … Two big holes on the main section of the cake the morning of the party are not a good thing to have! But like somebody once said, there’s nothing that frosting can’t cover on a cake (including mistakes!)

Underneath the front piece of the bodice, a "moonscape" of fondant was hidden!

Underneath the front piece of the bodice, a “moonscape” of fondant was hidden!

The solution I came up with was to roll additional fondant and attach the “heart shape” section to the front of the bodice. This time I rolled the fondant thicker and cut a piece wide enough to cover the holes and it looked good as new! To finish the bodice I added a little design in royal icing and finished the look with fondant flowers. I don’t have many photos of this last section of the process because I had to take care of emergency #2: the cupcakes!

 

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The Ballerina Shoes were made out of gumpaste a few days in advance. My dear friend Google provided me with a template from Cake Central. Considering I never took ballet classes and had never seen a real ballerina shoe until I attended this party, I think I did pretty good!

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Ballerina Cupcakes:

The night before the party I baked about 30 cupcakes for the oldest of the ballerina girls. I found this beautiful cupcake liner a few days ago, a grease proof material that promised to keep its bright colors even after baking!

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I should have known that it was too good to be truth! … Only a few hours after the cupcakes came out of the oven, I noticed they had started to peel!

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Many times I have let my cupcakes rest in a plastic container (with the lid on) and nothing bad happens. I believe there was some sort of condensation, or perhaps the humidity of the cupcakes as they were cooling down inside the plastic box, AND the grease proof wrapper caused them to peel.  Only 4 or 5 cupcakes survived.

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By then it was about 1:00 a.m. (the party was in 14 hours) and I didn’t have the materials (or the energy) to bake another batch of cupcakes right away. I worked on the little bodices then and solved the problem the next morning by baking a new batch of cupcakes (thankfully my husband, A.K.A. Errand Boy, was home and he ran to the store and got me regular paper wrappers first thing in the morning.)

So, back to the process, the mini bodices started as rectangle. I made a template on a piece of cardboard and simply trimmed around with oval cookie cutters in different sizes. I finished the bodice with sprinkles and a little fondant flower and let them dry overnight so that they would be a little bit stiff by the time I had to insert them in the cupcake.

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The tutu was made out of buttercream. I simply piped lines from the outside of the cupcake towards the center. A giant round tip was used for this step and putting the little ballerinas together was a breeze (once the second batch cooled down enough for me to frost the cupcakes!)

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Ready for the Nutcracker!

Dessert Table and Party Ideas:

The Ballerina theme was the perfect excuse to day dream about additional little details to make this day extra sweet. In addition to the cake and cupcakes that I made, Birthday Mom covered unsalted pretzels with pink chocolate (candy melts) and dipped marshmallows with sprinkles. Other sweets included “alfajores” (an Argentinean pastry filled with “Dulce de leche”) and sixlets., and another friend of Birthday Mom baked the most beautiful Ballet Shoes cookies and alphabet letters that were given as favors.

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I designed special tags for the cookies and tent cards to identify the sweets on our dessert table. The name for each sweet was inspired by words related to ballet such as: Petit Allegro Cupcakes, Pas de Deux Pops, Pirouette Cookies, etc.) The girls and their guests had so much fun helping themselves at the dessert table!

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I also designed custom favor tags, straw pennants and water labels but we ran out of time and were not able to incorporate many of them in the party.

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To complete the look, 2 giant balloons (3ft wide each) were placed on each side of the table (we used pretty metal pots and artificial plants from IKEA as balloon weights) and Birthday Mom added a couple of portraits of their daughters dressed as ballerinas. They were great helpers in setting up the table before the party started!

Ballerina Helpers

Ballerina Helpers

There were about 30 girls invited to the party. Each of them received a multicolor tutu and once all the guests arrived they enjoyed a ballet class in the backyard. With giggles and smiles, they danced under the sun and made pretty poses in their ballerina shoes.

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At the end of the party each girl received a cookie beautifully wrapped. Birthday Mom gave the list of guests to her Cookie Friend and she baked letters according to their initials and put them on a stick. The favor tags that I had designed came in pretty handy! All I had to do was attach the tags to the cookies, and place them in the metal pots, at the base of the balloon strings. They looked so pretty!

Party Favors

Party Favors

Other decorations included wire dress forms that I found in Hobby Lobby and Birthday Mom finished by placing a tutu on them. We hung them on the fence and added a festive touch by placing a long line of pennant flags that my husband cut and put together the night before the party.

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He was also on charge of inflating the giant balloons and once I realized that my first batch of cupcakes was not good, he was there for moral support!  If it weren’t because he had to work on Saturday afternoon, he would have put his Delivery Boy hat on as well! He is as sweet as my cakes!

At the end, everybody had fun and seeing the happy faces of the Birthday Ballerinas was the best reward I could get! Happy Birthday P & S!

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Time to cut the Cake!

Ballerina Party Ideas

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Birthday Fun