I'm all about edible favors at a wedding. Everything else just seems sort of....well, lame. If you want my opinion (and if you don't, stop reading) the following favors are the lamest of lame:
1. Anything with the couple's name and/or wedding date on it. Even if the item is remotely cute, I will not use it if it's got YOUR stuff on it. Ever. I mean, my OOT bags had our names and wedding date on it and I don't use them (even though I should use them on grocery days). I was totally expecting people to throw them out (which is why I spent like zero dollars on them). I think my mom uses her OOT bag for toting books and knitting and stuff, but she's my MOM. Mom's are the exception to the lame favor rule.
2. A candle of any sort. Candles don't transport easily and people are sensitive to the stinky ones (yours truly had eyeballs that went bonky-bananas at the bridal shower this weekend where they had scented candles burning). And candles have seen their heyday, it's time to move on, folks.
3. Anything that looks like this:
Just don't do it. You'll see them left over on your tables and wonder why you bothered. So will your guests. The best favors are the edible ones, I promise. At our wedding I saw people with mutiple boxes in their hands as they were leaving our wedding. I wondered to myself, "Holy cow! Is Kathy stealing cookie favors from other guests?" And I answered myself too, "You snooze, you lose. Wedding favors are fair game if you leave them unattended."
Now, I loved baking my cookies for our favors. It was a team effort between me, my MOH and my mom and it did take a lot longer than expected, so expect that if you're heading into the kitchen. For me, I'd make these cookies a bazillion and one times so knew the recipe inside and out. However, I'd never made them en masse before and it was that part that was challenging. Plan for challenges.
So now onto the DIY part of this here post: Cake-in-a-Jar favors. Turns out it's not as hard as you think. I've been researching a shit-ton of these recipes and how-to's and it seems fairly straightforward, although there are many, many arguments as to how long these little suckers actually last. To be on the safe side, I'd say make these up to a week in advance and you're good to go. Anything longer and you might kill your guests with botulism (safety first!).
Cake-in-a-Jar (via Suite101, adapted ever so slightly by me)
You will need:
- Cake mix of choice
- Mason Jars and lids (You can use either the pint size or the 1/2 pint size. To save on cashola, go for the 1/2 pint size. They are way cuter too!) I found the best price here for $.75 a piece.
- Ziploc bags or pastry bags with tips
- Wash and dry the jars and lids. It's best to do this in a dishwasher where the water and drying are super hot. It helps sterilize the jars. Put the lids in a pot of water and set aside to be boiled later (again, boiling sterilizes the lids).
- Lightly grease the sides and bottom of the jars with shortening. Keep the rims clean.
For the Cake:
- Either use a personal cake recipe or a box cake mix, both will work fine. Prepare the cake batter according to the recipe’s instructions.
- Fill the jars about half-way with the batter, but NO MORE than 2/3 full—the batter rises significantly while baking.
- Put the jars on a cookie sheet and put them into the oven to bake. The baking is time the same as a regular cake, though if the tops are too brown or not brown enough, adjust the time accordingly. The oven I have now runs about 15 degrees hotter than it should, so watch them!
- About five minutes before the cake is done baking, start to boil the lids. When the water has reached a rolling boil, drain the lids from the pot and pat dry with a clean towel, set aside.
- When the cakes are done, remove the jars from the oven. The following steps need to be done within ten minutes of removal from the oven. The jars need to be hot in order to create a seal with the lids.
Frost and Finish:
- The simplest way to frost jar cakes is by using a pastry bag and medium tip or by taking a large Ziploc bag, filling it with frosting, and snipping one corner. Squeeze the frosting out of the cut corner into the jars. The best place to start is on the sides of the jar where the cake has cooled away from the glass.
- Add as much frosting as desired to each of the cakes. The frosting will melt a bit and run down the sides of the glass, making a cake that is frosted on all sides.
- While the jars are still hot, seal with the lids. It is very important to do this while the jars are still hot– the heat of the glass creates a natural seal with the lids that will keep the cake fresh. After a few minutes you should hear the lids making popping or "ping" sound, indicating that they have sealed. If the lids have not popped after 15 minutes or so, try re-boiling the lids to re-heat them.
- Let the jars cool and decorate the outside.
And here are some other how-to's for other yummy ideas:
Hazelnut Marzipan Jar Cakes from Vintage Mixer.
Pie (PIE!) in a Jar from Our Best Bites.
Pumpkin Cake in a Jar via Cakespy from Serious Eats.
Swirled Nutella Cake in a Jar from The Girl with a Curl.
Now, last but not least, if you think these are super cute and yet you don't have a freakin' DIY/cooking bone in your poor little body, do not despair. I just found (via Charlotte Wedding magazine) a local Charlottean who can do these for $2.50 a pop, $4 for large ones. Check out Edible Art of Charlotte. Additionally, these are awesome if you like cake, but don't want to have a regular ol' cake sitting out on your counter tempting you day and night with it's cakey-goodness. You can keep these stored away and eat them only when you're damn good and ready. Happy eating/baking/buying!