Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hamilton Beach Immersion Blender

CSN Stores recently sent me an immersion blender to review, and I love it! It's a Hamilton Beach and it's pretty basic, but I've been using it like crazy today and it got to the point where I was actually looking around for something else to puree and realized that I had to stop.

I made a strawberry puree to see how smooth it could get them, and it worked perfectly. I made a batch of cake batter, and I also used the whip attachment to make a truffle, which came out perfectly too. The blender is easy to handle but I wish that there was a button to keep it on instead of just pulse. I assume that immersion blenders aren't designed to be turned on and left on, though. That could get ugly.

The final test was to make milkshakes, of course. My kids were willing to be included in this activity since it involved ice cream. They weren't too thrilled about the blender at first, but after getting the hang of it they decided that it was "epic." The milkshakes were good, too.

I'd recommend this blender as a good alternative to dragging out the regular blender for small jobs. It's convenient, and since it comes with the two attachments, it's multipurpose. It's available at CSN stores online. There's also a model with a case  for those people who tend to lose the attachments.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Monday, February 7, 2011


I've had a few people ask what kind of boards I used on the hippo cake, so I thought I'd write about my old pal the Tuffboard!

I don't know when I started using these, but I LOVE them. They're corrugated plastic, so you don't have to worry about covering them with any kind of waterproof paper. They come in tons of different sizes and you can cut them with scissors or a utility knife to the shape that you need.

They're really strong, but if you need to drive a dowel through them you can do that without them splintering. That comes in handy for shaped cakes that need to be dowelled all the way through.

I get mine directly from their website, but you have to buy them in large quantities if you do that. If that doesn't bother you, you can find some real deals on them if you go to their clearance section. That's where they put the odd colors, but who cares what color they are? They're under the tier anyway, so nobody sees them!

I get them in every even size from 6" to 16", and then if I need to cut them to an odd size I just cut off half an inch around with a pair of scissors. I get the sheet cake boards and cut those for weird shapes, and I also buy the square ones. Anything that makes the prep work faster is okay by me, and just going in and grabbing the size board that you need without having to do anything else to them is great.

They also come in what they call a combo board, which is kind of strange, but would be good for space constraints. They're a combination of a round and a square, and I guess you cut off the part that you don't need. At least that's what I do with them. There might be a different use for them, but I don't know what that would be.

There are a few sites that sell them in small quantities, but they can be pretty pricey if you buy them that way. If anyone is in the Richmond area and would like to buy some from me I could probably spare a few...

If you do buy them directly from the website the one thing that does seem to start to add up is the shipping costs, but it's totally worth it in the time saved in not having to cover them, or in worrying that your cake is going to collapse because you used weak, spindly little cardboard rounds.

And the best thing about them? They melt! That's right, you can melt them into the shape that you want, either by using a torch or by holding them over a lit burner on your oven until the area you want to bend softens up. If you have some weird kind of bend that you need to make and it's going to need support, get the tuffboards out. Just don't be a moron and set yourself on fire. You want to bend the board, you don't want to get melted plastic on your stove.

I bent this board to show how strong they are even after they've been messed with. I used a torch to heat the plastic, then I bent it into a shelf shape. Once it cools off it will retain the shape, and it supports a good amount of weight. I had my daughter hold this bottle of vanilla paste that I had sitting around, and the tuffboard held it up without the bend collapsing. The bottle weighed almost 2 1/2 pounds, so I think that's pretty impressive for a little 2" ledge of plastic.

This kind of support is good for the internal structures for computer screens, or anything else that has to be angled out from the main cake. It's also good if you just have a flat panel that needs to be freestanding, and you don't want to cover a piece of cardboard with fondant. Since the tuffboards are waterproof they won't absorb any moisture and won't change shape (unless you melt them yourself!)

So if you've been wondering about tuffboards, I hope this helped!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA