Blackberry Cupcakes and Homemade Dog Biscuits for a Doggy Birthday Picnic

Cole's parents' dog (Hoot) and Mark & Vale's dog (Booker) just turned 12!  They are lovable, well-behaved chocolate lab brothers that judiciously tolerate my bossy puppy-child, Georgia. IMG_5515

Vale and Cole's dad, Jim, planned a special little birthday party at Lake Anza in Tilden Park, their favorite spot.  I made the birthday boys some "Homemade Dog Biscuits" using a recipe from Flour.

dog biscuits - flour bakery

Because I didn't have a dog bone cookie cutter, I just made circles and squares.  I added a tablespoon or two of bacon/sausage drippings to the dough for some extra doggie appeal.  I'm quite interested in making more dog treats in the future...

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Dog tested, dog approved.  They also work great for bribing your dogs to sit still for a picture.

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For the humans, I had a vision.  Perhaps it was the recent warm weather or the idea of a picnic, but I was insistent on some kind of dessert that included berries.  I shuffled through Tartine and combined a few different recipes to come up with a fresh, flavorful, and compact dessert.

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The final product **which still needs a good name** is a Chiffon Cupcake sliced in half and a filling of Blackberry-Caramel Sauce, Fresh Blackberries, and Pastry Cream.  I topped it off with a swirl of Whipped Cream (Straus Cream-Top Whipping Cream is the way to go here, cute glass pint is just an added bonus) and sprinkled it with White Chocolate Vermicelli.  I used Nut & Party Cups instead of cupcake liners, which were perfect for how I assembled these.  You could probably also core the cupcake, but I didn't want to take out any of that perfect cake or limit the amount of filling I could use.

Cole thought they looked like soft, fluffy clouds.

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There always seems to be a small time frame between finishing the final product and getting on with the party where I hope to photograph the food, flawlessly.  Finding natural light, props, and a clean background need to be worked in there too.  Luckily, I get to shift this job over to my personal color consultant, taste-tester, fondant-spotter,  late-night-"oh shoot I'm out of butter, honey"-come-to-the-rescue-er (?), and food photographer, Cole.  What I love about the following series of photos is the abrupt, charming realness of our lil' life.

Observe the still-life, pristine food photography.  Almost "Gawker-esque", no?

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Now, observe the subtle change in the background...

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Hmm.  That's peculiar.  What ever could it be?

...

At this point, I just wanted to see what that lil' munchkin niece-to-be of mine was gonna do next.  I quietly observed while Cole just clicked away.

lucy does it

What Lucy Said:  "BAAAA!"

What Lucy Meant: "So, if you guys are just gonna sit there pointing that big toy at that nim nim, I'm just gonna go ahead and eat it...mmk?"

lucy cupcake

And, on with the party...

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picnic anza

In the end, it's all about the dogs.  And many more, Booker & Hoot!

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