solar system cake pops

March 29, 2011 § 32 Comments

As I consider the diminished frequency of my posts (thanks to several weeks of juggling three jobs, followed by a dramatic lifestyle change into a 9-5 as of last week), I really ought to avoid consecutive posts on the same topic.  However, I had a surplus of cake and frosting from my previous post, carrot cake pops.  The result: a further exercise in the making of cake pops, specifically marbleizing, manifested in the likeness of planets.

In the midst of my cake pop research, I stumbled across Wilton’s decorating technique of marbleizing candy for pops.  I contemplated uses for this particular technique and was inspired by something I’ve been teaching children over the past three years — to build a model of the solar system.

Simply take several colors of candy melts, swirl a tiny bit, and let the act of dipping create the full marble effect.  For Saturn’s rings, I made a marbleized candy disc on parchment, carved away the center with a knife, and slipped it over the planet.

Marbleizing is a fitting process to make planets, especially the hazy clouds of Jupiter and Saturn.  This is a fun kitchen project to do with kids.  Your little ones can learn about the colors and surfaces of each planet as each is created.  What’s best is these planetary models are not only educational, they are edible!

carrot cake pops

March 27, 2011 § 52 Comments

I have officially jumped on the bandwagon of cake pops.  A bit tardy on the trend, but better late than never.  For my first endeavor in cake pop creation, I thought to start with something simply and organically shaped — the carrot.  Of course, carrot cake is among my favorites.  Appropriately so, these carrot cake pops are both carrot in flavor and form.

I had ambitious plans to make my own carrot cake with honey walnut cream cheese frosting.  However, considering I have never developed my own carrot cake recipe (yet) and although the recipes I’ve posted here have been my own making, I decided to skip that process by sticking to the tried, tested, and true method of making cake pops — cake mix and ready-made frosting, which is what I discovered online that most people use.

Cake pops are usually in the form of balls, like a lollipop, although they are evolving with more dimension.  These carrots are my take on cake pops.  If you haven’t seen cake pops before, head straight over to Bakerella, who, from what I gather, is the person to thank for inventing cake pops in general.

I did face one very, very silly conundrum — which side of the carrot to insert the stick.  I wanted the cake pop to be held as you would hold the wider end of the carrot when being eaten (meaning the stick is at the top of the carrot).  I already knew in advance I wanted paper grass in the photo.  The stick being at the top of the carrot, I had the forethought of the carrots appearing to grow upside down and above ground.  So with that thought, I was stuck.  I chewed it over for a while.  But I thought to stick with it.  Oh, the little things that confound me.

You will need: carrot cake mix, cream cheese frosting, about three cups of orange candy melts, half a cup of green candy melts, and lollipop sticks.  All this stuff is about $10 and yields 20 carrot cake pops.

1. Bake your cake according to package instructions.  Let cool.  Crumble baked cake into a bowl and mix with 2/3 of the frosting.

2. With clean hands, take about 1/6 cup of cake and form into a carrot shape.  Chill in the refrigerator for an hour.  NOTE:  In hindsight, I realized that I could’ve achieved great details by using the edge of a butter knife to create short horizontal creases, giving more realism and texture to the surface of the carrots.  The more organic, the better.  I will try this butter knife technique next time.

3. Melt green candy melts.  Dip about 1-1/2″ of the lollipop stick.  Insert 1″ into the chilled carrot cakes.  The candy melt will automatically pool around the lollipop stick.

4. Melt orange candy melts in a tall, narrow container (I used a 6″ mug).  I did a cup at a time.  Dip the carrot cakes.  Tap off excess by holding the stick with one hand and flicking the tip of the stick with fingers of the other hand.  Stick into a Styrofoam block and let dry.

Enjoy making these carrot cake pops for Easter!

easter egg balloons

March 24, 2011 § 26 Comments

I’m a balloon type of gal.  I love balloons.  Even more than flowers.  Balloons liven up a room and turn the average day red letter.

Back in October, I decided to doodle away on a few balloons and came up with one of my favorite posts that I’ve ever made for this blog to date — Halloween balloon body parts.  Of course, being the Halloween baby that I am, I have a partiality for balloons on Halloween.  But back in October, I also knew balloons had to be on my Easter to-do list.  Fast forward to March, a month away from Easter, and I’ve got myself doodling on balloons again.  I still love my balloon body parts (especially the eyes) for their novelty and impact, but I can’t help but smile at the joy of these oversize Easter eggs.

For this project, I had to look into pastel-colored markers at my local art store, Curry’s, and discovered Sakura Permapaque.  They are water and pigment based paint markers that claim to be opaque (even on dark surfaces) and waterproof.  I wanted to ensure they wouldn’t smudge as I doodled, and sure enough, the marker dried in seconds and there was no problem of smudging as I went along.  I also ran a decorated balloon under the tap and the colors did not budge.  What’s best is they are dual-tipped (medium point and chisel — and it is very difficult to get chisel tip markers in a variety of colors).  Overall, I’m quite content with the new vibrant addition to my crafting inventory.

So if you find egg decoration is too dainty and cumbersome, you may want to try decorating these balloons for size.

easter egg carton chicks

March 19, 2011 § 150 Comments

Here’s a fun and simple Easter craft that you can do with the little ones.  Repurpose those egg cartons to make these cute candy-filled chicks.

You will need scissors, glue, and the following:

a. Egg carton

b. Yellow paint and black marker

c. Yellow and orange card stock

To make each chick:

1. Cut two egg carton cups.  Glue a 1/2″ x 1-3/4″ piece of paper to each half, acting as a hinge.

2. Paint throughout.

3. Take small pieces of card stock, two yellow and two orange, each measuring approximately 1″ x 1/2″.  Fold a 1/4″ flap from the edge.  From the fold, cut into triangles.

4. Affix one yellow triangle on each side of the inner bottom egg carton cup.  Affix one orange triangle on the front of the inner top and another on the inner bottom egg carton cup.

5. Cut orange card stock into feet and adhere to the bottom cup.  Take a black marker and draw small eyes.

Fill with candy treats, give away, and watch your loved ones chirp with delight.

black milk tea tapioca pudding

March 13, 2011 § 3 Comments

I suffer a nagging obsession over bubble tea (or boba tea, which more accurately implies tea with tapioca).  I love it so much that I rang in 2011 with sips of black milk bubble tea.  A resounding “yes!” to bubble tea over champagne.  And if it weren’t chockfull of calories, I would have it everyday.  Well, I do, in fact, prepare black milk tea (without tapioca) everyday at home.  And so, it was over one of my daily black milk tea breaks that I thought — why not black milk tea tapioca pudding?!?  I love tapioca pudding and what could possibly go wrong to flavor it like the drink I love so much?  Well, it didn’t go wrong.   And I think I just made a brand new dessert!

I made sure to use real tapioca pearls instead of opting for the shortcut, instant tapioca.  Small tapioca pearls are very inexpensive, and you can pick up a nearly one pound bag for $1 at most Asian grocery stores.  They may require a lot of patience to make, but they’re worth the wait.  Make sure to soak your tapioca in the tea overnight to get the full flavor in the pearls.

2 c water

6 bags of black tea

1/3 c small tapioca pearls (not instant)

1 c evaporated milk

1/2 c condensed milk

1 egg yolk

 

1. Boil water and place tea bags.  Turn off heat.  Steep tea and cool.

2. Add tapioca pearls to tea.  Cover.  Soak overnight.

3. Wring and remove tea bags.  Heat tapioca and tea over medium heat.

4. In a bowl, whisk evaporated milk, condensed milk, and egg yolk.

5. Add whisked milk and egg to tapioca and tea, stirring continuously over medium heat until it boils and thickens.

6. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes until desired consistency.

The use of evaporated milk and condensed milk is what makes most Asian black milk tea so special.  And appropriately, they give this tapioca pudding the authentic black milk bubble tea flavor I crave.  Too bad, this is one dessert I can’t have (mustn’t have) everyday.

potted paper shamrock

March 12, 2011 § 4 Comments

I’m sorry.  I had to do it.  I gave the Irish shamrock a tropical twist.  Blame the artificial potted orchid sitting conspicuously in my stairway for planting the idea in my head.

I hesitated on this craft all week, but finally dared this afternoon.  I’m happy I did.  I think the end result is a successful variation on St. Patrick’s Day décor, for those not looking for the obvious.

From across the room, there’s no telling about the holiday.  But the paper shamrocks are a charming surprise up close.

You will need: bowl or pot with Styrofoam block, two dried rose stems and two dried filler flower stems (lucky I only lazily considered disposing of my dried up Valentine’s Day bouquet from O.T. without actually doing so), two shades of green cardstock, scissors, tape, hot glue gun, and glue sticks.

1. Using tape, attach a dried filler flower stem close to the top of a dried rose stem to create a curved (almost horizontal) stem extension .  Most filler flowers have skinny, curved stems and make for a good stem extension.

2. Cut cardstock shamrocks in various sizes.  Make two shamrocks per flower: one large (outer) and one small (inner), some with stems, some without.  I noticed that orchids have the gradation starting from a darker center to a lighter edge, so I made the inner shamrock darker than the outer.

3. Glue together the shamrocks.  I placed a rhinestone in the center of each.  It’s gives a nice dimension, but it’s not necessary.

4. Glue the shamrocks on the stems.

5. Carefully insert the stems in the Styrofoam block.

6. Fill the bowl or pot with gold coins.  I thought the coins would give enough character, but I felt it was still lacking, so I finished it off with a rainbow ribbon.

Let this fun potted paper shamrock liven your desk or windowsill or add more green to your St. Patrick’s Day party spread.

little leprechaun hat favors

March 11, 2011 § 7 Comments

Today you will find me crafting over at Canadian Living‘s The Craft Blog.  Head right over to their site to read my super simple tutorial so you can make these little leprechaun hat favors in time for a fun St. Patrick’s Day celebration next week.

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