Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Toddler Swing Coat for Puppy Shots

Now that I am attempting to sell my stash of crafts on my Etsy shop Puppy Shots, I have a whole new motivation to sew and knit and make all kinds of messes, guilt free. It's wonderful. So, one of my first projects with this new found freedom was this adorable little swing coat called Moppet, a free pattern from Berroco. Half way through the project I realized that this sweater was a similar color and style to one my mom had started in 1985, but that's okay, I'm calling it "vintage." I used wool-ease washable wool blend yarn and some vintage buttons I had in the stash from my days at Betty's to glam up the little sweater for the most fashionable of toddlers.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pina Colada Cake Pops

I am one of those girls who can't show up to a party empty handed, so when I was invited to friends birthday party this weekend, I instantly set to work on designing the perfect cake pop for the occasion. Inspired by this Pina Colada Cake Pop Tutorial, I made my own version. In my experience, cake pops can be too sweet for even the biggest candy addict, and adding a coating of Candy Melts never helps the problem. So, for this batch I covered the cake/frosting balls with tempered dark chocolate instead. Not only was it much easier to melt and dip, but who doesn't love dark chocolate?
Aside from the dark chocolate swap, I made a few other modifications to the tutorial. Instead of a candy melt wafer, I used a wedge of Trader Joe's Vacuum Fried Pineapple, and instead of white nonpareils I substituted white chocolate chips.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back To School Cupcakes

I know I'm a little behind in my back-to-school crafting, but I promised my team at the research lab a back-to-school treat this week at our meeting and when my advisor said "You're going to put little apples on them aren't you?" I took it as a personal challenge.
So, thanks to a little inspiration from What's New, Cupcake (this time my godmother, not my mother is to blame!) I put together some festive apple cupcakes for the group.
First, using red cupcake liners, prepare 12 cupcakes (white or yellow cake will work best). When the come out of the oven congratulate yourself on how pretty they look, because they are about to get messy and ugly.
Cut mini-donuts in half (like slicing a bagel) to make one flat side and one round side. Then, cut each round in thirds. Use 4 of these 1/3 wedges to top each still warm, lightly frosted cupcake (I know that was a lot of math-- another option is just to buy full sized donuts and cut them in half like a bagel and put half on each cupcake-- much more donut, but much less work).
Prepare frosting by adding a slightly terrifying amount of red food coloring to a tub of store-bought or a batch of homemade frosting. Move frosting to a plastic ziplock bag to use for piping. Pipe the donut covered cupcakes with pink frosting using a spiral design to cover the sides and top, then smooth out the frosting over each one to create a uniform shape. While frosting is still wet sprinkle generously with red sugar sprinkles. To reduce waste, work on a wire rack over a clean cookie sheet so that sprinkles can be "recycled" over more than one cupcake.
Cut green sour gummy strips (or any flat, soft, green candy) into leaf shapes. Top each "apple" with a small piece of pretzel and a candy leaf.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day "Beer" Cake Pops

After the white trash fiasco (see below) when I decided that one dessert simply wouldn't be enough for a Labor Day party, I decided to learn a little bit more about this great holiday that marks the end of summer every year. As it turns out, Labor Day was established as a day for people in labor unions and industry to have parades and party with their families. Finally, a holiday that's whole purpose is to party! So, completely absolved of any guilt about my plans to hang out with friends and drink on Labor Day, I decided to make a cake pop to demonstrate my support of this great holiday.
I did a little research on beer mug cake pops and found a few sites with photos, but no tutorials. So, below, is my version of the (non-alcoholic) beer cake pop.

You will need:
1 box of yellow "cupcake mix" or 1/2 box of yellow cake mix
1/3 tub of white or vanilla frosting
24 pop sticks
1 bag of white candy coating
1 bag of yellow candy coating (or oil based candy dye)
1 bag of little pretzels
Styrofoam board at least 1.5" thick, or a couple of styrofoam Halloween tombstone decorations...

Make up the cake mix as instructed on the box and bake in a 9" round pan. Allow cake to cool. Crumble the cake into a medium bowl.
Line a cookie sheet or cutting board with waxed paper and clear a space large enough for it in the freezer and the refrigerator. This, my music loving friends, is also the time to turn on music if you want it on-- soon your hands will be covered in cake and you will be working in silence and wishing that you had thought to turn it on before you got messy.
Mix about 1/3 of the tub of frosting in with the crumbled cake and combine thoroughly, until the mixture is moist. Go ahead and start out with a spoon, but you're going to get your hands messy sooner or later, so I say why bother wash another spoon?
When the mixture has turned into a "dough" form your beer mugs. If you have a cookie cutter the right size by all means use it! I just did them by hand, aiming for a shape about like a skinny marshmallow or a fat C battery. Set your 24 cake cylinders on the cookie sheet and leave in the freezer to chill for about 15 minutes.
When chilled, break pretzels in half as shown above and insert one into the side of each "mug" as a handle. Place the tray in the refrigerator while you prepare your workspace and melt the yellow candy coating. I use a coffee mug to hold the candy so that it is deep enough to dip a whole pop into.
Remove cake cylinders one at a time from the refrigerator. Dip one popstick into the melted candy then insert into the center of the cake about half way. Invert the pop and dip into the candy coating. Clean off the "handle" with your fingers or an extra stick and smooth the candy coating if necessary. Place each pop into the styrofoam to dry.
When all the pops have been dipped, place the whole lot back in the fridge and prepare the white candy coating in a shallow bowl or dish. Dip each mug into the white to give the effect of foam on the top of each beer. Allow a little to drip off the side if it happens. Beer tends to spill!
Chill at least 30 minutes to assure the coating is dry before serving.

Want an update? Check out my second attempt. 

Not White Trash Labor Day Cupcakes

When my friend told me that she was thinking of having a "white trash" themed Labor Day party I didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until she mentioned that the party theme was being changed because it seemed just a little faux pas that I realized she was probably right. The problem: I was already pretty wedded to the idea of making classed up Hostess Cupcakes for dessert. So, lets not think of them as a white trash cupcake, let's think of them as a homage to the employees of Hostess, who do so much all year long.