Hello summer! Where could you possibly enjoy the warm months better than right here in San Diego, where the living always is easy, but never more so than during beach season? The long days and late, slow-fading sunsets are perfect for sharing laid-back times with family and friends, on the patio, on the sand, at a picnic in the park – just about anywhere you can think to go in San Diego. And while I always insist on entertaining in style, I take a relaxed approach this time of year. I may put out a spread of fresh salads, cheeses and artisan breads, accompanied by my favorite wines and bubbly. A sweet course always follows, to be sure, and while I might very well choose an elegant cake or dessert for a dinner on the patio, a beautiful selection of Extraordinary Desserts cupcakes, cookies, brownies and other deluxe small pastries are also sure to dazzle adult guests and equally delight the youngsters.
I kicked off my Summer 2013 in a particularly enjoyable way. I had the opportunity to take my baking art to The New Children’s Museum (NCM) in downtown San Diego and collaborate with the museum’s creative minds to develop a camp that would inspire a group of 6 through 8 year-olds to become artist/bakers for a week.
I’ve had plenty of experience putting kids in touch with their inner cakes, but probably never enjoyed it as much as when I traveled the few blocks from my Extraordinary Desserts Little Italy location to the museum. For five days in mid-June, the very first of the summer’s “Creativity Rules” camps brought together happy youngsters for “Sweet-Makes and Cupcakes,” a hands-on program that I nicknamed Camp Cupcake.
Camp Cupcake focused on fun, but with a purpose – which is not unlike what I do when creating a new cake for Extraordinary Desserts. A week of creativity led up to Friday’s “Let’s Picnic!” party, at which parents enjoyed the artworks the kids created, and ate the clever cupcakes the kids baked, decorated and shared with the unreserved delight that youngsters bring to a project.
The camp constantly challenged the kids to turn art into play. “Pin the Cherry on the Cupcake” put a sweet spin on the classic party game when the children created a huge drawing of a cupcake and attached it to the wall. Each child created an art piece inspired by a cupcake. The camp then got into baking and decorating using cupcake recipes from my book “Extraordinary Cakes,” and the children were encouraged to use their own artistic expressions and a variety of decorative materials to come up with enjoyably eccentric creations. The kids also used fresh flowers to create designs inspired by the decor we use at Extraordinary Desserts.
I wouldn’t even try to count how many sticky fingers got licked during the camp. It was fun for the kids and a sweet treat for me. Happy Summer!