Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Planning for our annual Valentine's Day Party...plus a Giveaway!

Photobucket

People keep looking at me shockingly when I tell them I am indeed hosting my annual Valentine's Day party this year. (So what if I go into labor while I'm serving lemon cupcakes??) I couldn't cancel this year. I couldn't because it's tradition. More importantly, I couldn't because Cookie, my darling friend and the woman who began this tradition, lost the battle with cancer in September, so I feel like it's never been more important to host a party that celebrates love.

I'll tell you a little more about Cookie on another day, but for today, here are some photos from last year's party, plus some ideas for this year's party to get your wheels spinning. (What? You weren't planning on hosting a V-day party? Hopefully I can change your mind. I think it's the best tradition of the year!)
Photobucket
I keep it pretty simple. No meal, just sweets.

Last year's spread included mini lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberries on top. (These were the biggest hit and I am definitely serving them again this year.)
Photobucket

I use this Ina Garten recipe, but even if you just use a lemon cake mix, they are still amazing, thanks to the frosting:

Beat 6 T softened butter, 9 oz. softened cream cheese, and 3 tsp. lemon zest with mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Next in the lineup were chocolate cupcakes with pink butter cream frosting and brownie hearts.
Photobucket
I've mentioned before that I'm not above cake mixes. I use a devil's food mix for these. For butter cream frosting, memorize this ratio (it makes perfect butter cream every time!): 1 stick butter to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar to 1 T milk. (Mix the butter and sugar and then add the milk.) For 24 cupcakes, you'll want to at least double that recipe. (I triple it since I pipe on such a huge layer of frosting!)

For the brownie hearts, just bake a brownie mix, but in a large sheet pan so they're thinner. Once cooled, cut hearts out with a cookie cutter. Use toothpicks to anchor them in the cupcakes.

The final player last year were these red velvet cupcakes.
Photobucket
I have to say, even though I think these little cake toppers were the cutest ever, I wasn't in love with my cakes. (If anyone out there has a killer red velvet recipe, do share! I've all but given up after several failures...)
Photobucket

This year, in honor of our dear Cookie, I thought it only fitting that I include cookies on the menu.

So I'll be serving:
lemon mini cupcakes with raspberries
chocolate cupcakes with chocolate glaze or butter cream
sugar cookies with glaze
(this is the only sugar cookie recipe I trust and I like this one for the glaze)
chocolate chippers with milk shots

{I'll be sure to post a recap with pics!}

Happy Valentining!
xoxo,
anne

And...here's something fun! To help you with your own Valentine's Day party, TomKat Studios is offering up a darling giveaway today! Scroll right on down and enter to win!

25 comments:

Morgan said...

These are all such a great ideas! I really want to try those lemon ones. They sound fantastic!

I have a really good red velvet recipe that I use all the time. It comes from Nancie McDermott's Southern Cakes cookbook, but I was actually able to find it online: http://www.epicurean.com/featured/red-velvet-cake-recipe.html
I always use regular cream cheese frosting instead of the one mentioned in the book. It works perfectly every time and everyone always love it!

Melissa said...

The Barefoot Contessa has a great box mix; perhaps she has one on her website? I'm in love with any Martha Stewart cupcake recipe. I did a cupcake project on my blog trying to bake through a cupcake recipe book (a la Julie and Julia), but it wasn't a very good book. When I finally gave up that book after many mediocre recipes and losts of money, I bought Martha's cookbook. Haven't found a bad recipe yet. ;)

Christina said...

When's your party? Can I invite myself!

families are forever said...

What a wonderful tradition. This year maybe you should have it early in the day, in case you receive a baby for a Valentine. Jacob was born on the 14th, so not only do we celebrate Valentine's Day, but also his birthday. Have a wonderful Valentine's Day

Bloom said...

Christina,

Saturday the 12th! Get your cute buns down here (and tell me my cupcakes are better than Trophy cakes!)!

That would be the treat of all treats!

xo

Bloom said...

Morgan,
Thanks for the tip--I'll check that one out.

Melissa,
I agree. Martha's cupcake book is EXCELLENT.

anne

Heather @ REOlisticRenovation said...

Such beautiful sweets and what a lovely tradition!

Charlene said...

Beautiful! Made my mouth water just looking at the pictures.

But, being a new reader, I guess I don't know about your annual tradition. Who's on your guest list? Is there a story on why it became an annual tradition?

Please share!

And, that sugar cookie recipe looks great. I'm going to try it tonight!!!

jeanine said...

I love your ideas! You may just inspire me to have one of my own!

Bloom said...

Charlene,

Here is how it began:

http://placetobloom.blogspot.com/2010/02/it-started-with-cookie.html

xo
anne

S said...

I have never thrown a valentines day party and I am intimidated at the prospect of it. This year I am toying with the idea. Your desserts are beautiful and I especially love the paper dolls atop the cupcakes. Lovely! Thanks for inspiring me!
Sharleen

Tanya said...

So pretty! Paula Deen has a great red velet recipe .. not easy though!

Carole said...

What a great idea, hosting a Valentine's party.

Love all of your fabulous white cake plates!

I'm very sorry about your friend. I'm sure she'd be so happy to know that you're continuing on in the tradition.

Abbie said...

I really want to throw a party like this! I'm doing it! It will make the worst month so much happier:)

L2L said...

off to check out that sugar cookie recipe!! I'm having some kiddos over to make Valentine's Day cookies and need a good recipe, the one I tried for Christmas was okay but I need something much better, lol!!!!

bjahlstrom said...

I just made a Red Velvet cake the other day that turned out smashing.

1 box Red Velvet cake mix
Add 1 box vanilla pudding
Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil
Use milk instead of water
Add a big dollop of vanilla yogurt

It was very moist, dense, and not too crumby. Good luck!

bjahlstrom said...

Oh, yes, and I added a teaspoon of real Mexian vanilla!

silly6 said...

Where did you find your fabulous white cake plates? Any suggestions would be wonderful! Thanks. :)

Bloom said...

silly6,

My cake plates come from all different places. Believe it or not, you can often find great ones at places like T.J. Maxx. Also, Martha Stewart's line of them at Macy's are excellent, and you can often get them on sale or use a Macy's coupon.

happy searching!
anne

S said...

about the mini lemon cupcakes being a hit . . . i think that mini desserts work better for women since it is hard for us to indulge in a lot of sweets all at once, but easy to indulge if it's a little decadent morsel at a time. just a thought!

Mirinda said...

I love the idea of a valentines party- but what do you DO, other than eat?

Bloom said...

Mirinda,

You can make it as structured as you like. I keep it simple--we eat, then let the children play with toys, games, puzzles, sidewalk chalk if it's warm enough...just a casual open house.

If you're more into a structured party, you could have v-day themed games, you could have the children decorate the cookies themselves, or you could have a little story time featuring v-day children's storybooks.

anne

Vicky said...

Anne, can you tell me how you converted the baking time on the lemon cake to make mini cupcakes? I'm terrible at figuring it out for myself. Thanks!

The Zhush said...

Wow, that is some menu! The brownie cupcakes are calling my name!:)

Wenni Donna said...

Joyous to know about this valentine’s day party. Couple of weeks ago, I arranged one of romantic valentine’s day party with my friends at an exemplary venue NYC. Decorated venue in a grand fashion with red flowers and balloons. We all had lovely party that day.