22 December 2010

3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide -Remastered & Pumped Up

This is an extremely tardy Holiday Gift Guide. Started it several weeks ago and haven't had a chance to circle back and publish it. Some of these gifts may be too late for Xmas (or maybe not if you are like me and have left your shopping for the last minute!) but you may be able to take advantage of some post-holiday sales to show the favorite cupcake baker in your life how much you really care!

I have discovered a lot of cupcake-related items through my travels, countless hours spent on the internet and through the many cupcake fans I have come to meet over this past year. Some of these ideas will not be a surprise to you because when I find something I like, I blog about it. I hope you will be just as enchanted as I am by some of the other ideas listed here. As a true cupcake afficianado, I promise you that these gift ideas will not disspaoint the cupcake lover in your life. And so without further ado, away we go......

I love how you can dress up or down a cupcake. The perfect cupcake liner can pull a whole design idea together. And this summer, I found myself literally drooling on my screen when I came across the site The Cupcake Social. I don't know where Jen, who runs the site, finds all her goodies but she stocks one of the largest arrays of cupcake cases -- for minis, regular and jumbos + a whole assortment of edible decorations and more -- that I have ever seen. I love how you can buy a batch of liners in the same design or let Jen put together an assortment for you. I love how the cases are organized by color - they are just too beautiful and I spend way too much time on this site thinking about what I could do with them! My current faves are the pink leopard, purple fieldflower and red damask liners in case anyone wants to send me a care package!

I know a lot of you have heard me talk about Sassy Apron but I have drank the Kool-Aid! I love the original designs and high-quality products Lana, who runs this Etsy shop, creates. She offers many styles in a wide range of prints (not just cupcake fabric but what else would I bake in?). She is wonderful to work with -- a truly good soul -- and ships worldwide. What are you waiting for? Go check out her store and you can easily cross several presents off your list. Be sure to tell her I sent you!

Next up is a fabulous new online store here in France that specializes in all sorts of baking goodies, Made in Cupcake. I love all the retro, kitschy items they offer including this serving tray for cupcakes. Can't you just imagine how lovely your cupcake creations would look sitting on that at a dessert table? Be sure to check out the awesome assortment of Meri Meri cupcake decorating kits they stock too - I am itching to get my hands on some!

Another online baking supply store has caught my fancy - it just opened last month but has been in the works for a few years now. I Love Cakes, is a brand new resource for us cupcake bakers run by Valerie down in Lyon. I know she has been busy scouring the world for the best items to offer like cookie cutters, stencils, cake molds and more. I see she has stocked my favorite disco dusts and has a pretty unique supply of edible decorations and the cupcake cases I normally buy in the UK. Thank you Valerie for finally bringing these great products to our side of the pond!

When I was in London a few weeks back, I had the pleasure of visiting Love Bakery on Kings Road. Sam, who runs the bakery is a baking genius and a mompreneur like me (so she gets major hi-fives in my book). I loved the cupcakes that I was able to sample there and to show my support, had to invest in a copy of her new cookbook. Inside you will find recipes for all of her best-sellers including Red Velvet and Lemon Curd Marscapone, as well as a variety of alcohol-infused cupcakes called Cuptails and whoopie pies. Even if you are not a baker, the pictures alone make this a must-have.

I have been buying tees and other accessories from other bakeries for years now and I finally decided to make some of my own gear like this Sugar Daze badge. You can check out my current selection of merchandise in the Sugar Daze store. Choose from dozens of styles of outerwear with one of my favorite movie quotes and a cupcake pic, or an apron, coffee mug and more. They're fun, fashionable and guaranteed to get other people talking.

Another cookbook I am tempted by is the new one out by the famous Bakerella, known worldwide as the pioneer of Cake Pops. Now I frequently make cake pops and I have to say they take a lot of time, patience and effort so I am always amazed by the endless talent and creativity that Bakerella infuses in hers. I will probably buy this book just to "ooh" and "ahh" at the pictures. I am sure this will be tops on many cupcake lovers lists this holiday season.

If you don't have time to make your own cupcake toppers, I can highly recommend you check out the adorable and stylish paper picks made by the TomKat Studio. They offer a wide array of free printable items like stationary, gift tags, and cupcake toppers as well as some items that can be personalized in their Etsy shop. Their blog and shop alone will give you tons of inspiration for your next party; in addition to gorgeous photographs, I'm sure you will agree their party set-ups look so whimsical and fun.

Now, let's talk serious cake decorating! Last year when I was in New York, I saw an ad for the Cricut scrapbooking machine and I thought to myself, I wonder if I could feed fondant into that thing and get it to work. Lo and behold, a few months later, a post on twitter caught my eye about the Cricut Cake Machine. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my dream come true. Now even novice bakers can make a professional-looking cake in a matter of hours. Even Martha Stewart has our own edition with unique Martha designs and fonts! I have to admit the reviews I have read are mixed and at upwards of 400 euros for the basic machine, this is a bit out of reach for many home bakers but since I just learned that one of my favorite baking supply stores in the Netherlands now carries it with shipping available to France, I figured I'd mention it!

I love cupcake bling as many of you know and absolutely adore this charm bracelet by Amy Secrest. It's available at Shanalogic and I would be ever so grateful if Santa popped one of these in my stockings this year! Love the Swarovski beads for added glitter!

For those of you with a more modest budget, check out Gaelle's, a/k/a La Peste Adoree boutique of non-edible but oh-so yummy jewelry and accessories. Every piece is unique and custom-created with Fimo, and made here in France! Her pieces are all adorable and she definitely has an eye for vibrant colors and flair.

One of my big investments of this past year was a spanking new Kenwood mixer. I had debated for many many many years as to whether to go with a Kitchenaid or Kenwood - each has its merits but in the end, I opted for the sturdiness of the Kenwood over the pretty aesthetics of the Kitchenaid. If you do a google search, you will see that much time and energy has been spent on this subject by bakers round the world; I think both are very good machines and it just comes down to your personal preference. I love my Chef and the perfect buttercreams, thick whipped meringues and more it beats up plus it's a huge time saver for when you are making large batches of batter. I've read about folks who have Kenwoods that their mothers or grandmothers passed down to them and am looking forward to getting DECADES of use out of this baby!

Last but not least, I always like to throw in some unrelated to cupcakes sparkle on my holiday gift guide and this year is no exception. Though I am roping in my tastes this year to show you a more affordable option than usual. I discovered Garnet Girl's Designs etsy store while on pinterest (yet another new obsession that has been sucking my free time and probably a big reason why I didn't publish this post earlier!). I love her designs, the hammered metals she works with and the assortment of precious stones she pairs together. Plus, I think you'll agree these are very reasonably priced!

So, what are you waiting for? Print this list and get out there! Happy Shopping, Happy Holidays and see you in the check-out line!

In case you missed them, you can check out my previous holiday gift guides from 2008 and 2009 by clicking on the dates.

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