Vampires Are Alive – Eurodance Mondays

For a Halloween installment of Eurodance Mondays, I have an EPIC music video to share with you: Vampires are Alive, by DJ Bobo.

I love DJ Bobo, and have ever since his music made it across the pond in the earlyish 90s. Love the music, love the dancing, and love… well, the effort he puts into it. This is an artist who does NOT half-ass his performances – something that definitely shows in today’s video:

… I’ve seen feature length movies with less costuming, attention to detail, and passion put into them!

The song was an entry in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, and managed to inspire one of the Swiss political parties to petition against DJ Bobo on account of suspected Satanism. Yes. DJ BOBO. The man who brought us Love is All Around, Freedom, and … Chihuahua.

I guess there are insane political parties EVERYWHERE.

Anyway, here’s the Eurovision performance of it, again, with amazing attention to detail. (PS: I wish we had Eurovision. What an amazing event! I was so shocked to meet a local blogger – Samantha – who blogs all about Eurovision… and ATTENDS! So jealous! Check her out at ESC Insider.)

Happy Halloween!

Homemade Blueberry Liqueur

This time of year, I’m torn.

One one hand… I really hate the commercialization of certain holidays, and how THAT results in stuff like Halloween displays in Menards… in August. Christmas displays in September. It gets earlier and earlier every year. Also, really… The holiday season stresses me out. It means doing my grocery shopping at 5 am, to avoid the crowds and horrible bell-ringer-induced headaches. People body checking each other in order to get the perfect gift or the last box of cocoa on the shelf. Just.. yeah. I digress…

On the other hand, I love giving handmade gifts. There’s something really satisfying about putting the finishing touches on the presentation of your own handiwork, and seeing the joy on the recipients’ face. It’s something personal small-batch, unique, and… not pulled off a shelf at the last minute. You know. Special.

Thing is, a lot of hand made gifts require planning ahead. It does no one any good for me to give Christmas gift ideas in December, when they take 3 months to make. As my friend Karen pointed out yesterday, she always gets a laugh when newspapers publish recipes for making your own corned beef ON St Patty’s Day.

So.. I’m sorry. I know it’s the beginning of September, and I hate thinking “Holiday” this early just as much as anyone. In the interest of helping you give some awesome gifts this year, however, I’m going to write a few blog entries on homemade holiday gifts. Now.

Some will take only a couple weeks to make, others may take a couple months of wait time. Many are ingredient dependent, and best to start NOW. What’s the point of posting a recipe for fresh blueberry liqueur in mid December, for instance? Also, most liqueurs taste better (smoother) with a bit of aging,

So, let’s talk liqueur making. (more…)

Blood Orange Truffle Cake

To start off a week straight of cake recipes, I’m proud to share my “Blood Orange Truffle Torte” recipe!

This recipe made its debut in the February issue of Plymouth Magazine, where it was not only featured in a several page spread, it starred on the cover!

This cake has been a favorite offering of Celebration Generation since its creation, and has earned many rave reviews by those who’ve been served it – including the guests of the Goth Wedding that we blogged about a while back!

It’s also one of the many cake recipes featured in Evil Cake Overlord, coming out on April 30th!

Blood Orange Truffle Torte

Cake:

2 ½ cups Cake flour
1 cup cocoa
2 1/4 cups Sugar
2 Tbsp Baking powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
3 ½ oz Instant vanilla pudding mix
6 Eggs
1 ½ cup Water
1 ½ cups Butter, melted
2 Tbsp Pure vanilla extract

Blood Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
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Real Wedding Inspiration – Halloween Wedding

Now that it’s mid October, Twitter and the wedding blogs are lighting up with mentions of Halloween weddings. I’d like to take this opportunity to share my favorite Halloween wedding with you.

Now, it’s no secret that I’m being extremely selective about the projects I take on, and the people I’ll work with. Life’s just too short, you know? Aside from that, Halloween is the hardest weekend to get a booking with us, as we’re always booked to do an event in Chicago that weekend – they book us a year in advance. Ansley’s initial email to me was such a stand out, I couldn’t help but be intrigued – and bend over backward to make it work for her! Let me share:

Good afternoon,

My name is Ansley — I am getting married on October 30th of this year. After scouring the internet in the daunting task of researching wedding cakes, I fell in love with what you do. Everything else I’ve seen looks mundane and unimpressive in comparison to what I’ve viewed on your site. We are an “alternative” couple (I’ll swallow my pride a minute and admit that’s a somewhat politically correct way of calling us “goths”) and have concerns about how that effects our relations with vendors. Everyone we work with seems to assume that our Halloween wedding means skulls, plastic bats and ghosts.

Not so– we are classy and elegant, not campy. What I’ve seen on your website surely demonstrates not only your talent but that you understand that even “odd” is still art. I’d love to set up some sort of consultation with you, though I’m not sure how it is done as I’m new to this whole wedding thing and all of the chaos it entails!

Thank you for your time,

Ansley

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done. Polite, coherent, complimentary, eloquent, AND expressing a desire for something different? I was in love with this wedding – and clients! – before I met them!

The wedding was to be “Simple, elegant and most importantly, black”, taking the bulk of its visual inspiration from the Nine Inch Nails music video for “The Perfect Drug”. The wedding and reception were held at the The James J. Hill Reference Library in Downtown Saint Paul… an absolutely gorgeous, unique venue.

If this is starting to sound familiar at all, you may have seen our blog entry about the cake she ordered, “Glam Goth Wedding Cake“. If you haven’t – or want a refresher – be sure to click that link to view her cake photos!


James J. Hill reference Library, during setup.

Anyway, long story short, we juggled to make the logistics work out, and Ansley was a dream to work with. Absolutely one of my favorite brides ever! The cake was delivered, and I anxiously awaited photos of the event. I swear, nothing could have prepared me for the finished product! Ansley looked absolutely amazing in gorgeous black and blue gown, the black candelabra were a perfect compliment to the super high ceilings in the library… sigh. Must have been the perfect wedding to attend! Let me share the photos, courtesy of the bride, groom, their guests, and photographer – M. Doucet:

As always.. I LOVE when brides go their own way with their weddings. This was just amazing, and I’m sure her guests will be talking about the experience for years to come! Also, I’m sure her vendors will be, as well! Love it!

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Blood Orange Cranberry Toffee

So, it’s officially fall! All over Twitter and the blogosphere, people are talking about getting back to baking. It’s always fun to see what everyone’s up to. However, as someone who bakes year round, fall means something else to me, culinarily speaking – it means CANDY MAKING season.

Sure, it’s easy to make candy year round.. I just don’t, really. In the fall, you not only have the pretty colors and crisp air to inspire you.. you have references to Halloween – some subtle, many not! – all around you. Fall is when we here at Celebration Generation start looking forward to our annual Halloween trip out east, and plan trips to pick apples. Mmm freshly picked apples. Mmm freshly picked apples, dipped in molten, flavored sugar. Yum. Have you tried making candy apples at home? If not, click that link – our recipe is easy and tasty!

Well, I went on a candy making binge this past weekend, and will be sharing the recipes with you over the next few days. 3 different styles of fudge, plus one toffee… all flavored with blood orange essential oil, and crammed with sweetened, dried cranberries!

Blood orange essential oil is my favorite flavoring, by far. It’s the oil pressed from the peels of blood orange rind – not an alcohol infusion, such as vanilla extract. It’s sunny, it’s potent.. and it’s pure awesomeness. Yes!

If you don’t have blood orange essential oil on hand, I highly recommend ordering some online. A quick Google search yields a ton of results for ordering online. I now order bulk from a wholesaler, but when I first played around with it, I ordered small bottles from Anabell’s Escentials on Ebay. Good stuff!

Anyway, let’s get started!

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Decorated Sugar Cookies

Well, Halloween is just around the corner, so now’s a great time to post our recipe for decorated sugar cookies!

These are great to serve guests at your halloween party, or as a weekend activity for kids, or even to hand out to your favorite Treat or Treaters. Very easy to make, and can be a lot of fun!

Cookie Ingredients

2 cups butter, softened
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
4 egg yolks – Reserve egg whites for icing!
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract*
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 cups all purpose flour

Icing Ingredients

4 egg whites
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4-6 cups powdered/confectioner’s sugar

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add in eggs and egg whites, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla extract, and mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Mix remaining 3 ingredients together, carefully stir into wet ingredients until fully incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, grease cookie sheets.

On a floured counter, roll cookie dough out to about 1/4″ thick (can be up to 1/2″ thick if you prefer a thicker cookie). Use cookie cutters to cut out whatever shapes you’d like, place cookies 2″ apart on greased cookie sheets.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms look lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving. Cookies need to cool completely before decorating.

In clean stand mixer, whip egg whites until foamy. Add lemon juice, whip for another minute. Slowly add powdered sugar until cookie icing reaches desired consistency. You will want a thicker frosting for piping details and borders. If you’re wanting to “flow” the icing within piped borders, icing can be thinned with a little lemon juice or water.

* 2 tsp Anise extract can be substituted for a fun variation. I especially like using anise (black licorice flavor) for doing cookies that will be shaped/decorated like black cats or bats.