Archive for January, 2012


So, a few days ago I made cupcakes. A friend made fun of me because they were only chocolate with cream cheese filling, not pony themed.

CUPCAKE!

If Pinkie were a baked good...

Now they’re pony themed. To start 7 days of cupcake experimentation, I picked Best Pony Pinkie Pie. They didn’t turn out as pink as I wanted, turns out even red raspberries are really really purple, but they taste amazing and next time I make them, they’ll be perfect. I’d make more tomorrow, but the recipe I (strongly) altered for these made 1.5 dozen normal sized cupcakes. I got a dozen normal, and nearly two dozen minis. Someone’s math was wrong.

Here’s my lovely, flowery description, since I’m sure you’re curious as to why there is green (it was colorful and fun, like Pinkie), and what they taste like:

Raspberry cupcake with Almond whipped cream frosting and lime syrup filling with inverted sprinkles

These cupcakes are too dark to really look like Pinkie’s colors, but the spirit of this pony runs wild in the unique and unexpected blend of flavors and colors. Curled loops of frosting mimic the party-pony’s hair, and a bite into the cupcake reveals a rainbow of hidden sprinkles, sure to bring forth a smile or laugh from even the most staid of hearts.

Wait, there are no sprinkles in the picture!

Sprinkles?

There they are!

Look closely, see those slivers of color beneath the frosting? Yeah, those are sprinkles BENEATH the frosting. Totally a Pinkie move. (Also, I know it doesn’t look purple, but it really is!)

Now for the recipe. I based this on a basic cupcake recipe and made a lot of alterations. The following is my finalized recipe. Follow it, and you should end up with cupcakes that are less purple and more pink. My problem is that I used a million and ten real raspberries, and even the reds, as it seems, bake purple. I’ve replaced a lot of the berries with extract in the following recipe, and that will cut down on color without losing flavor.

Recipe:

Cupcakes

½ cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

1 ¼ cups flour

½ tablespoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

¾ cup milk

1-2 tablespoons of mashed raspberries

¼ teaspoon raspberry flavor or extract

Pink or red food coloring, gel or liquid

Round or colorful sprinkles; do not use colored sugar sprinkles

Cream together butter and sugar. Mix dry and wet teams in separate bowls. When butter and sugar are creamed (3-5 minutes, should be fluffy and homogenous), add dry and wet teams in three or four additions, starting with the wet. Make sure that the butter/sugar mixture fully absorbs the milk before adding the first installment of dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add food coloring to the desired shade (remember, it will get darker after it’s baked). Fill cupcake papers or greased cupcake pan 2/3 to ¾ full and bake for 10 minutes at 325°F. Remove and sprinkle with sprinkles. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool.

Frosting

1 cup heavy whipping cream

5 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon almond extract

Red food coloring

Mix all ingredients except for dye on high until fluffy and airy. Add 4 drops liquid food color for light pink (change amount depending on type of dye used and shade desired). Scoop into icing bag with a medium round piping tip.

Syrup

½ cup water

1 cup sugar

Green food dye (unless another color is desired)

2 tablespoons lime juice (more or less to taste)

Boil water. Add sugar and boil down until thick and syrupy (about 5 minutes, but this varies). Remove from heat and add lime juice and color.

When cupcakes are completely cooled, inject lime syrup into the center of each. This is sort of by ear, just add syrup until it begins to feel a bit heavy. You can add more or less or omit entirely if you want, but ideally it should just add a cool bite of lime to the middle of the cupcake. After this, pipe the whipped cream on in easy loops to resemble Pinkie’s hair (regardless of the fact that the frosting is probably a lighter pink than the cupcake… shhh!). When you’ve piped the frosting on, use a honey drizzler (other tools, even a spoon, will work, but this is what the honey drizzler is designed for) and drizzle the syrup on the frosting in zigzags or big loops.

Store in a cool area (whipped cream topping, after all).

Yum!

The fruits of your labor!

Enjoy! Adaptations for the rest of the mane six plus Spike have already been planned.

Cosplay-related posts will return next week, after the cupcake binge.

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So, while my plan was to use this as a commission page until I get my actual commission site up, I’ve decided to start in on the blagging thing now. Mostly because I can’t do pictures in my dA journal, and the plan was always to eventually convert this to cosplay and sewing/crafting related blogs.

This first blog has to do with a subject on which I am no expert, but one that is important to many cosplayers.

Photo lighting.

Unless you happen to be a professional or semi-pro photographer on the side, I bet you’ve tried to take some quick pictures of yourself or friends and had no option but to use natural or available lighting. This is fine, except for the hard and uneven shadows it can cause, which may lessen an otherwise awesome picture. I have a problem where I like to take pictures of myself using the timed interval setting on my camera. I rarely have a photographer friend around, and this helps me figure out better posing and what parts of my costume may not be working. It’s always so disappointing when I love a shot, but for the horrid shadows and yellow cast caused by the overhead light. Photoshop can only go so far to fix these, and many a good picture has been lost to the delete button.

Cut to New Year’s Eve. I was high on an unexpected daily deviation and had the house to myself (which is never a good thing on its own). I had been wanting to take some pictures of Hawkeye for a while, but I couldn’t go outside because it was raining all day, and when I would try to get pictures inside… just no. Struck with sudden inspiration, I built my own studio lighting set-up in my living room, intending to even everything out and counter-act the gross yellowy bulb light from the over head.

What do you know, it worked.

Not pretty, but functional

I had comparison shots that showed the before and after with the lighting, but I accidentally deleted the before. Trust me, there was a huge change. Not as good as you’d get in a studio, of course, but still there, and it was enough for my modest needs.

Not to go about building your own. You’ll need two boxes or pieces of cardboard, two bright desk-lamps (and maybe an extension cord, desk-lamps aren’t made for distance), a all tripod or other stand for your lighting (I used a telescope tripod), and a tripod or stable surface for your camera, and two little clamps (those HUGE paper binder clips probably work, but I had access to clamps), two scraps of white-white fabric, and pins. Note: my camera was too short, which made my chubby round face look chubbier. Be aware of the angle you want and where you place your camera.

It's hard to see

It’s hard to see, but look at the corner of the box. The fabric is pinned down. I used one straight pin into the box in each corner, pulling the fabric as tight as I could. The fabric is doubled over because it was long enough, and because more white=more reflective. Do this to both boxes. Now attach one light to your stand (I had a clamp-base light, so I just clamped it on, you’ll have to figure out your own method based on your light and your stand), and then put one on the floor a few feet over, and face both away from the target area. you’ll want your reflected light to come from top and bottom and both sides to cancel out as many shadows as possible.

Turn off all your lights, and then turn on one of your lamps. Use a box and try to reflect the light from the lamp to your target area. Test until the area seems to be well flooded with light, and mentally note that area. Repeat with your other lamp. When you’re done, turn off your lamps and turn on your big lights, and it’s time to get clamping.

Get the clamps!

This part will involve some trial and error based on your stand and your box/cardboard. I used a pizza box, but that couldn’t clamp on by itself. I had to cut a flap off the corner and stick it out straight, using a folded piece of cardboard to keep the box from falling forward on the crease. Two clamps kept it steady. Practice and adjust till your box is secure and both box and light are positioned properly. The second box on the floor should only need some propping. My couch served this purpose.

Now get turn on all lights and get your camera snapping! Like I said, I have no comparison pictures, but the overhead lights in this room always give really harsh top-to-bottom shadows, and it’s very yellow. The picture below is taken with this reflector set up, and there is absolutely no photoshop (if there was, I’d have removed or lessened the reflection of my reflectors in the window ^_^;; )

Hope this helps!

The reflection is proof!