Adventures In Baking: Squirt Happy Turtlecakes

When my son was little, he used to call cake “Happy Cake” (probably because of “Happy Birthday” accompanying the cake). So when I came across a recipe for “Squirt Happy Turtlecakes” on Spoonful.com, the name alone was a big draw for me. 🙂  I decided to make them for my birthday, which is tomorrow.  I did let the kids help. 😉 And my daughter even suggested an improvement, which was to dye the frosting blue!

 

So if you’re coasting through this blog post without clicking the link – which is totally fine – I’ll just sum up with an explanation of what it is. The recipe isn’t so much for the cupcakes as it is for the decorations, which use candy to make cute little representations of Squirt, the baby sea turtle (offspring of Crush) in “Finding Nemo”.  The blue frosting takes the idea one step further, suggesting (along with the cupcake liners we picked out) the Big Blue and the EAC.  I won’t reprint the recipe here but do go to the Spoonful.com link above if you want to try these cupcakes, which are fun and easy!

 

Meanwhile here are the visual proofs of my labour!

Yaaay cupcakes! There IS a difference between muffins and cupcakes without frosting, though I'll admit sometimes it's a scant difference.

Yaaay cupcakes! There IS a difference between muffins and cupcakes without frosting, though I’ll admit sometimes it’s a scant difference.

Our "turtle shells" are gummi peach rings and gumdrops

Our “turtle shells” are gummi peach rings and gumdrops

An assembled turtle shell

An assembled turtle shell

Spearmint leaf candies are sliced up for front and back fins

Spearmint leaf candies are sliced up for front and back fins

Oh no! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO HIS HEAD?! (Obviously it's buried in the cupcake somehow)

Oh no! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO HIS HEAD?! (Obviously it’s buried in the cupcake somehow)

A close-up; the recipe includes mini chocolate chips for eyes but I thought that was overkill. I admit that he looks a little incomplete, though.

A close-up; the recipe includes mini chocolate chips for eyes but I thought that was overkill. I admit that he looks a little incomplete, though.

My daughter insisted on her hand appearing in the photo to show off the completed Squirt.

My daughter insisted on her hand appearing in the photo to show off the completed Squirt.

We ran out of green gumdrops (seriously, it was like 4 to a bag!! We had TWO BAGS and only got 8 heads!) so the last few got different-coloured heads. They still love and accept each other!

We ran out of green gumdrops (seriously, it was like 4 to a bag!! We had TWO BAGS and only got 8 heads!) so the last few got different-coloured heads. They still love and accept each other!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trip Report 2013: The last of Day 2! For reals, now.

After redoing Star Tours, we headed on over to Toy Story Mania to finally use our FastPasses.  It was the same ride it always is, which is to say, FUN as heck and fast-moving but I will not ride it without a FastPass.  I used the standby queue ONCE, on soft open in 2008.  It was 45 minutes and honestly?  It was WORTH it, because I was alone, the ride was fun, and Mr. Potato Head was awesome. It is a great queue! But I wouldn’t wait 45 minutes now, with my kids, and I’ll tell you one more thing: the line is never, ever as short as 45 minutes. I never see it less than 60 and sometimes up to 90 minutes.  No deal.

So long story short, I haven’t seen Mr. Potato Head in 5 years. His loss, really.

He's been waiting for me to return, all this time.

He’s been waiting for me to return, all this time.

Anyway after TSM, it was past 6:30 so we were off after dinner.  I had picked out Fairfax Fare as our dinner place, because D loves herself some mac and cheese and they have some really interesting gourmet hot dogs.  I hadn’t paid much attention to where Fairfax Fare is located but I knew it was on Sunset Blvd, and had a pretty good mental picture of where I thought it was. Because I am awesome, I was pretty nearly EXACTLY right. 😀  (Still no maps, people! I didn’t pick up a map of HS until the next day!)

Sunset Blvd is my favourite area of the park, and normally I snap a ton of pictures as I walk down it.  This time I was trying to conserve batteries, so I didn’t, but you know – it’s kind of the same most times, I’ll admit.  So here are a few from my 2011 trip. 😀

Lovin' this walk!

Lovin’ this walk!

And lovin' this view!

And lovin’ this view!

Ever buy any produce from here? I'm sure it's very Anaheimy.

Ever buy any produce from here? I’m sure it’s very Anaheimy.

I have nothing special to say about this picture!

I have nothing special to say about this picture!

Ever found this luggage?

Ever found this luggage?

I'm almost sure that when I was here in '08, this same woman was assisting a director. I'm NEARLY sure it's her. Way to climb the ladder to fame, honey! :D

I’m almost sure that when I was here in ’08, this same woman was assisting a director. I’m NEARLY sure it’s her. Way to climb the ladder to fame, honey! 😀

The downside of being on Sunset Blvd is you’re staring down Tower of Terror, which you love like whoa, and on your left is Rock N’ Roller Coaster, which you also love like crazycakes, and your daughter is scared of both so you can’t do them this trip. Ohhhh, wellll. 🙂

 

This is from 2011, but I just can't resist sneaking in a pic of this view!

This is from 2011, but I just can’t resist sneaking in a pic of this view!

 

We picked out our meals at Fairfax Fare and moved off to the side to wait for them.  My plan for dessert was to pick up a cupcake from Starring Rolls that we could split; they had a limited time Halloween Minnie carrot cupcake at various counter service places that looked delicious and I’d eyed it but decided not to go for it this time, mainly because carrot cake normally has walnuts and D is allergic to nuts.

Well, our food took a little while to come, and while we were waiting the CMs told another couple of guests that they’d get the turkey legs that they had ordered for free if they gobbled like turkeys.  I had heard this as a rumour but never actually seen it demonstrated!  Sadly, the guests declined, and paid for their food.  Ahhh, well. 😀  They must have needed to give something away for free, though, because when our food came the CM looked at the time on our receipt and said “You guys have been waiting too long – be right back” and she came back with TWO full-sized Halloween Minnie cupcakes.  D asked “Do they have nuts?” and guess what?  They DIDN’T! 😀

So a quick food review: D got mac and cheese with carrot sticks and grapes, pretty standard.  I decided to get one of these fancypants hot dogs, so I got one covered with mac and cheese, bacon, and truffle oil. Yep – TRUFFLE OIL.  To be completely honest, I… don’t know what I thought of it. 🙂  Everything on it was good, but maybe I just don’t like hot dogs enough.  Or it might be the combination of the quick serve mac and cheese WITH the hot dog, I don’t know.  Either way, I have to admit I don’t recommend it.

Gourmet hot dog from Fairfax Fare: Mac&cheese, bacon and truffle oil. I give it 2 1/2 stars.

Gourmet hot dog from Fairfax Fare: Mac&cheese, bacon and truffle oil. I give it 2 1/2 stars.

The cupcakes, on the other hand – oh, myyyyy.  Neither of us could finish them (not even one, let alone both!), but they were wonderful. The frosting is orange – and is actually orange creme flavoured cream cheese frosting.  It’s topped with a little chocolate witch’s hat, in purple and orange.  D ate the hat, and some of the cake, but she said the frosting was too sweet and she didn’t really have much more than a few bites of her own.  I ate about half of mine, and D ate more of just the cake on mine before we had to toss them both; we were too full, and the frosting on them was melting in the heat!  She really enjoyed the cake part though.

Minnie Mouse Halloween Carrot Cake cupcakes!  4 stars! :D

Minnie Mouse Halloween Carrot Cake cupcakes! 4 stars! 😀

Absolutely wonderful, though, and worked out perfectly since I was going after cupcakes and no allergies got in the way. I do LOVE carrot cake.

By now it was getting dark. I decided that it would be fun to do a little shopping for ME; and for years now I’ve been looking for a particular shirt. I saw it in 2008 and thought “Nah, I’ll get it later” and then couldn’t find it in 2011.  It’s a Tower of Terror shirt.  So in the waning light I had D follow me to the gift shop for Tower of Terror – this was neat because she was able to see the entrance, some of the spooky decor, and the sign lighting up with the attraction logo on it – and we FOUND MY SHIRT! 😀

We also browsed around for some other gifts and I got into a discussion with a CM about Star Wars Episode 7.

At this point I was lugging around several bags, and it was dark, so we decided that MuppetVision 3D would be our next, and last, attraction before we left.  (We never did make it to meet Woody or Buzz, nor several other things I had said we would “consider”. That’s OK though.  We have no regrets.)

MuppetVision is the same each time, and yet each time I laugh like I haven’t seen it before. It’s such a goofy, lovely show.  The fact that it’s one of the last Muppet projects that Jim Henson worked on, and completed, may be part of why I hold it in high regard.

So you know how D got a little acknowledgment from the Tin Man in the Great Movie Ride?  Well, Statler and Waldorf picked on me. 😉  “Hey Waldorf! Look at that guy in the Goofy mask!” “That’s not a mask!” “Oh. Sorry, lady!”

Honestly I really do feel like they're actually really up there. :D This photo is by Jack Spence @ AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/08/i_know_i_heard_it_someplace_qu_2.html

Honestly I really do feel like they’re actually really up there. 😀 This photo is by Jack Spence @ AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/08/i_know_i_heard_it_someplace_qu_2.html

I noticed during this that they were looking approximately in our direction, so I said to D, “Hey! I think he meant me!  Statler, you’re a jerk!”

D took this seriously and kept reminding me afterwards that Statler heckled me. XD

One of my big joys was that I got D to start pointing out where Bean Bunny was.  There were not many people in the audience, and even fewer were kids; plus she’s not really a big “participation” kid, but when the voices come in saying “I see one! Over there!” I kind of said something like “Hey yeah! Up there!” to go along with it – this is how we’ve always watched “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” too, with me answering the TV first and then her picking up on it.  Well, it worked this time too and she jumped right in. “Up there!  He’s right up there!”  Ahhhh, I like to think it’s probably kinda gratifying for the Sweetums guy when kids actually join in. 😀

D was also super-impressed by the state of the theatre as we left, and by the fact that by the time we were nearly out the doors, it was miraculously “fixed”. “How’d they DO that?!” she wanted to know.  Sometimes I tell her (usually if it’s something kind of scary), and sometimes I just say “Magic!” 😀

…So.  It was now nearing 8pm, and that was our time to leave.  We walked through the Muppet Stuff store in search of Fraggle Rock memorabilia (spoiler alert: there is none), then just wandered about a little bit.  I hated to leave, because I really do love this park.  Does it need some TLC?  Oh, yes.  I want it to be about the movies and Hollywood the way it used to. Kick out American Idol Experience – kick it to the curb!! – nobody likes that one.  (Now I’ll get comments from people who love it. In fact I’ll be sad if I don’t, b/c the idea that everyone really DOES dislike it is sad.)

Take out Lights, Motors, Action.  I love Indiana Jones but that show could be replaced or even removed.  I’m trying to resign myself to the reality that they will likely take out MuppetVision, even though I will cry if they do, and I hope it is still there for at least one more family trip so that my son can see it again before it’s gone… he doesn’t remember it from last time.

Star Wars Land would be fine but I would be happier if they’d revamp the Backlot Tour. I never do that anymore because frankly… what backlot?  And if they take out Graumann’s Chinese Theatre to put in Star Wars Land, I am going to kick some shins.  I’m serious.  SHIN-KICKING WILL HAPPEN.  Update the Great Movie Ride but don’t you DARE get rid of it! 😛

And that, my dear friends, is Day 2. And we can say farewell to Hollywood Studios now. 🙂

Top 5: Places to get Cupcakes at Walt Disney World

In the past few years WDW has entered into the Cupcake Game. The whole idea of oversized gourmet cupcakes has taken off and Disney has dived right in, which is… not a bad thing at all, really.

I’m going to be honest up front: I have never had one. Not a single one. I haven’t even seen them in person. I have to watch my sugar intake, so the most I’ve ever done has been to drool over pictures. I WILL have one, one day, but at this point picking one out of 50+ is like… picking a favourite child.

Meanwhile, though, there are already plenty of lists out there of the best cupcakes. You don’t need me for that, so it’s okay that I haven’t tried any. Instead, at the suggestion of Natalie from The Ink and Paint Blog, I’m going to list what I think are the Top 5 locations to get these cupcakes on WDW property. This was researched from several sources, namely the Disney Food Blog, the Ultimate Disney Cupcake Guide on A Pinch of Pixie Dust, and this post on the Disney Tourist Blog (Top 5 cupcakes. How coincidental, eh?).

Based on these and other minor inputs, here’s my Top 5 places to go to get some really good, really huge and extravagant cupcakes at Walt Disney World! As with all Top 5 lists, your experiences and tastes may vary!

Now to start out, I wanted to have the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom on here. But given that it’s closed and becoming a Starbucks… well, I can’t bring myself to do it. 😦 Now it’s SAID that the offerings will remain the same, but until the new place is open and everyone says “These are the cupcakes I remember!” I don’t think it’s fair to put this on here. Plus, I must say, the idea of having a Starbucks recommended as a place to buy cupcakes at Disney, when there are so many other great places that aren’t corporate chains (I appreciate the irony of what I just said, don’t mistake me) just sits wrong with me.

Anyway…!

Between the sugar, the chocolate, and the coffee beans, you'll be awake for a week.

Between the sugar, the chocolate, and the coffee beans, you’ll be awake for a week. Photo (c) pajamapenguinproductions.com

#5: Okay, if I had to pick ONLY one resort to go to for cupcakes, it’s going to be the Boardwalk Inn. First of all, two of the top 5 selections on the blog list I posted above (from the Disney Tourist Blog) came from their Boardwalk Bakery – the Cappucino and the S’mores cupcakes; second of all they seem to have the widest selection of any bakeries selling these sugar bombs. However, the reason this is at number 5 on the list is because, in looking around for reviews, I saw a few that suggest that the Boardwalk cupcakes aren’t always as good as they could be; whether standard experience or not, there were a couple of “dry cake” reviews and so I thought, well, what’s variety if the quality isn’t up to snuff? Not ALL were like that, but y’know. So Boardwalk Bakery makes the list, but doesn’t top the list. (Also, to be fair, Boardwalk Bakery is currently closed for refurbs and won’t open again until April 26 2013.)

#4: Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery, in Animal Kingdom.
This shop is home to three amazing cupcakes: the Cotton Top Tamarin cupcake, the White Chocolate Elephant cupcake, and the Zebra cupcake. Let me tell you an important secret: you want these cupcakes. Look at them. Now I haven’t seen these cupcakes topping any of the all-time best cupcakes list, but for style/unique design you cannot beat these. That’s some good theming, here. So Kusafiri Coffee Shop is the place to go for cupcakes you want to take a picture of before you so much as touch it.

This counts as foreign food which means I'm adventurous for eating it.

This counts as foreign food which means I’m adventurous for eating it. Photo is from a post by danicaca at Disboards.com

#3: Contempo Cafe at the Contemporary Resort
From what I have read, most of Contempo Cafe’s cupcakes are seasonal; but they appear to be really fancy-pants ones and the few that remain year-round apparently include Pina Colada, Black Forest Cherry, and Dos Leches. Now I think those are subject to availability, but honestly, if I had my choice of any one of those I couldn’t pick between them. Contempo seems to have a very appealing selection of cupcakes that is more than worth going back for. Here’s a review someone wrote of the Black Forest cupcake including photos, and some of the other cupcakes as well.

It's got fruit on it. It's healthy, right?

It’s got fruit on it. It’s healthy, right? Photo (c) MainStreetGazette.com

#2: Sunshine Seasons in the Land at Epcot.
This place has a great menu, period. Lots of variety, a good alternative to fast food, and the cupcakes – while I’m not pretending they are HEALTHY, mind you – are quite unique. Often fruit-themed, such as guava cream cheese or pineapple coconut, these are combinations you’re not going to see at an average bakery. You might need to be a bit brave to try them if you prefer the old yellow-cake-with-chocolate-frosting, though. 🙂

Here it is: Mount Butterfinger.

Here it is: Mount Butterfinger. Photo (c) DisneyFoodBlog.com

#1: Starring Rolls at Hollywood Studios.
This is partly based on my own preferences: although I’ve never tried it (and may never get to try it), Starring Rolls is known for the Butterfinger Cupcake, which just looks like heavenly death on a plate to me. They also have peanut butter chocolate cupcakes, which is a similar kind of pleasant end to meet. I hear great things about Starring Rolls, but the only reason I put it at number one is, honestly, because that Butterfinger cupcake looks like it’s got to be amazing. Plus, out of the park-based places to get cupcakes (which are predominant on this list just because I think more people spend time in all parks than at resorts they’re not staying at), Starring Rolls appears to be the best one; it’s the one I hear most about, anyway.

 

As always, leave me your own opinions if you agree or disagree!  I can only research so much. 🙂