Red Velvet and Nutella Cake Pops

21 Sep

So after the first foray about a year ago into the Cake Pop craze, I’ve continued to make them. Sometimes for fun, sometimes for events, and sometimes, just to see what happens when I go for something a little nutty.

A colleague of mine at work asked me to make cake pops for his birthday. In April. So of course, in September, I was able to fill his request. SORRY FOR THE DELAY SCOTT! But good things come to those who wait. 🙂

Red Velvet. Red Velvet. Red Velvet. I debated for a while what kind of frosting to mix the cake with. Vanilla some offered. Others opined dark chocolate. I thought the vanilla or cream cheese wouldn’t mix evenly enough with the cake, so it would look kinda marbley. And the chocolate – I thought it would overpower the red velvet taste. Then it dawned on me. Nutella. Wonderful in color for red velvet, and tasty without being completely overpowering.

So, it began by baking a regular old red velvet box mix cake.

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After baking and letting it completely cool, I put it back in the mixer to break up. It should look like coffee grounds when done. A quick tip: Cut or break off the crunchy edges after baking and before tossing into a mixer for best results.

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If you’ve ever baked bread using a bread maker, use the same parameters. If it’s sticking to the wall of the bowl as it mixes, you’ve added too much Nutella or frosting. If it’s clumpy but doesn’t stick together, add more Nutella. It’s at the right consistency when it does this:

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Then the fun begins!

I make the cake pops by hand from the mixture, using a tablespoon. Make it into an approximate bite or two size pop. Not too big, or you’ll have problems dipping and getting the chocolate coating off of the pop.

Once you’ve used all the mix and have a tray of cake pop balls, pop them in the fridge for 15 mins to get them to harden up a little.

While they’re hardening, melt down your chocolate. I use a Wilton Candy melter. It was worth 20 bucks not to run to the microwave every few minutes. It melts a bag or so of candy melt at a time. You can get these at your local Michael’s or via Amazon.

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Then, take your pops out of the fridge and grab 6 inch lollipop sticks. Don’t do the 4 inch ones unless you’re making cake pops for Thumbellina. Dip the end of a stick into the chocolate, then put it into a cake pop. The chocolate acts like ‘glue’ holding the cake pop to the stick. (my first recipe I had for pops left out that REALLY F’n important detail. I had a lot of cake in chocolate #fails.) Repeat until you have completed your tray. Put them back in the fridge for 15 mins to harden. (This can be a really long process, and downright impossible if you have demanding young children. You can leave them in the fridge overnight and finish them the following day!)

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When you’re ready, take your pops out of the fridge and start dipping. If your chocolate isn’t running easily, add vegetable oil to the chocolate until it’s the right consistency. Whatever you do, don’t use olive oil!! Yuck!

Dipping is an art. I highly recommend watching several YouTube videos before you start. Again, #lfmf. Wilton has great series to check out. Cake Bot also had a great video tutorial. I recommend these so you can get a picture of what the candy melt of chocolate should look like.

And, once dipped, set them out to dry. I followed Cake Bot’s recommendation and covered some styrofoam. This flower block does double duty though. I cover in tablecloth wrap an use it as my cake pop stand for dessert tables.

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I took them to work the following day. And they were all gone but for one, saved for poor Scott. At least he kept an eye on it until he came back to his desk…..

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Coming soon: Red Velvet Cake Pops

24 Aug

Yes, they’re coming… Not just any red velvet cake pops. Cake pops made with Nutella. Oh yeah. It’s on!

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Who doesn’t love a Sock Monkey?

11 Aug

For J’s first birthday (And since I’d gone overboard with M’s birthday), I figured I had to do try and go overboard one more time. How often do you turn one, anyway?

So, given that this birthday party would be in the month of December, I had to plan and stick a date in the sand early – invitations were out in the mail before the month even started. Which, if you know me, that’s a feat in and of itself.

When I stumbled upon a sock monkey theme, I fell in love with it. Sure sailboats and shells are friggin’ adorable, but kinda out of place in December in Virginia. Sock monkey is timeless and works any time of the year.

Since Google’s Picasa worked so well for me last time I went back to it. However, I wanted an “old school” photo of J in a sock monkey hat. I found a sock monkey hat at World Market, and came home to put J in something cute with his hat on. In my dreams, he’d sit quietly while I took this picture and smile when I said “Smile Sweetie!” Then I remembered this is J, not M. He doesn’t sit still for a nanosecond. So, try as I might, all I did was get pants on him, and after 40 photos of J ripping his hat off of his head, I managed to get one I could crop and use for the invitation –

Once set in motion, I scoured the internets and the interwebs for party ideas. I came across some great ideas from Spaghetti Westerner and a bunch of free printables. While I only used one of the backgrounds, I ran out of time to do the balloon wreath. I will do it another day!

I went with a candy buffet for the desert table and cupcakes (again!) as the main pieces. I got some screaming deals on apothecary jars at Ross (I paid $25 for four pieces, the other “plain”cylinder one I picked up at a yard sale years ago for a buck). I dressed them up with some red and brown ribbon from Walmart and Michaels.

Also, the cupcake toppers were my own creation again. I used Cupcake Cutiees Sock Monkey artwork (OMG, for $5, you can’t beat it!) for the toppers and to make the water bottle labels. I also recommend Sprik Space for some cool background papers and overall neat stuff. Again, all free! (personal use only)

Went a little overboard and did water bottles. Yeah, a lot overboard, but they were SO FRAPPIN’ CUTE. The best part? Finding a Powerpoint based water bottle label you can manipulate to your heart’s content. Go here. It’s so easy with this template. Oh, and read this tutorial to learn how to secure them without having ink run all over your guest’s hands…or your child’s face….

I was totally inspired by Life Sweet Life’s use of chocolate mustaches. I used a regular candy mold I found at Michaels and had the same effect. I used my Cake Pop holder (i.e., big honkin’ piece of flower styrofoam), covered it in table vinyl covering, threw some more of that ribbon on, and instant hit.

So when I realized my “intimate” gathering would be about 40 people, I decided to call the professionals – Honey Baked Ham. It so happens there’s one literally .5 miles from my front door. I have to say, they are AWESOME. I sent two families home with tray-fulls of food and we had leftovers to eat for a week. I highly recommend their baked potato soup. MMM!

Instead of party favors for each kid, I decided to do something a little different – Since Santa would be on his way soon, and this requires milk and cookies to be left out, what better than to send people away with almost ready to make cookies? I stole the idea from HWTM and looked all over creation for the Sock Monkey fabric for the topper. OMG. No one had anything that even came close. After giving up (in?) I went with an ok fabric from Walmart. It was the best I could do, but I think they turned out ok! For the recipe, check out Bakerella’s Cowgirl Cookies. She’s got the layering information there, as well as the cutouts for instructions. You really could use just about any color for these. For the record, buy M&Ms during the “Holiday sale” for whatever color you’re looking for (November for pinks, after Christmas for red and green, etc). I looked to buy a 5 lb bag from the M&M store and they wanted $45 plus S&H. I picked up two mega bags of Holiday M&Ms, separated out the red and green, and it was perfect. I spent $18. My local CVS just threw those bags on sale for $5. I bought another so I can make Valentine’s jars if needed.

Darn tootin’ cute! As always, hope you enjoyed this and it serves for some inspiration for you!

 

Lego Birthday Party!

12 Oct

So when my oldest child turned 5, I was not surprised he wanted a Lego Birthday Party. He is a Lego fanatic.

I scoured every damn site I could find to get Lego birthday party ideas.  Thanks to all who provided direct and indirect inspiration.  Thanks especially to YouTube, I was able to learn how to do some of the stuff I was failing miserably with in my kitchen!

So, where else to start the party theme but with the invitation. I got inspired from Delia Creates and Living Locurto and from and busted out my camera skills and some fancy schmansy Picasa/Picnic Photo editing and came up with this:

No clone troopers were burned or injured in the making of this invitation

I put the edited file on my thumb drive, went to my local photocenter, and voila… 30 invitations for about 6 bucks.

So after the invites, I went a little nutty.  I ended up making all kinds of fun stuff for Michael’s birthday.  I thought, well shit!  That went well.  I bet I can do more of this crafty stuff!

I was inspired to make a coloring book for treat bags.  I found a number of folks had tried doing the same, I used coloring pages to help me fill the interior pages of the book.  But I really think the piece de resistance was the front and back covers of the coloring book.

Using a Lego Font I downloaded from Urban Fonts, I designed a personalized cover for Mike’s party.  Then, I found a Lego Photo App.  Yes, it will “legoize” your photos and you can change the color schemes.  It’s freakin’ cool!  I took a picture of the little man, and played with the colors until I found one I liked.  It’s a free app available in the iTunes store.

I wish they'd tell me how many of what kind of bricks to buy to make this in 3D

For the back cover, I came as close to a family photo I could get.  Someone’s always running the camera, or we can’t get the lighting right.  So, instead, I used some of Mikey’s Star Wars figures to “simulate” the family members – again, inspired by some images I found while poking around looking for ideas.  Here’s mine:

The Family Photo

For the record, Ahsoka is a right BITCH to get to stand!

Then I decided, so this camera and Publisher work is pretty cool… I’ve got this in the bag!

I decided to take the Lego font and make my own Lego banner.  I printed out the individual letters, took a golden yellow marker and colored just outside the border to simulate the yellow tracing.  I then cut out the letters, glued them onto red craft paper, hole punched the craft paper, and used a thin blue ribbon to make a personalized birthday banner.  I didn’t have a paper trimmer yet, but it looks pretty good in spite of it!

The local parks and recs place won’t let us hang stuff on the wall during parties, so we used it as table decoration.

Also, I tried the spray painted bubble wrap as a table runner.  It looked ok, but I don’t feel it was worth the time or the effort (or the lingering spray paint smell in my garage, IMHO).  I did do the mega blocks in the mason jars as balloon weights.  That was darn cute!  Again, another idea from Delia Creates.  You can see the runner and the balloon weights here:

Taken towards the end of the party, when I realized we hadn't taken a single picture!

So, I made my own cupcake toppers.  Yes, more Microsoft products to the rescue, plus my first visit to Michael’s.  Oh boy.  So I bought craft paper, a variety of paper cutters, and a circle punch.  I am in LOVE with the circle punch.  It makes it SO easy to cut perfect circles.  However, I am dumb, as I didn’t take a single picture of the cupcake set up or the cupcake toppers.  But they were darn cute!

On another note, the gift bags were a hoot.  I used the previously mentioned and loved circle punch to make circles for each bag, mimicking a lego brick.  I used the image from the invitation, did some more editing magic in Picnic, and made name tags for each of our little (and not so little) guests.

Ok. Then I lost my little mind.  I ventured into cake pop land.  Little did I know that this is the latest candy making craze and everyone with two X chromosomes is apparently bound and determined to outdo Starbucks on this craze.  After three bags of marshmellow pops and two hours watching YouTube videos, I figured out how to get the fucking things to stay on the lollipop sticks.  Nowhere on anything I read did it say to dip the stick in candy before you attempted to dip the cake pop or marshmellow in the melted candy.  This, along with adding vegetable oil to candy or chocolate if you need to thin it out a little, were the key elements to not throwing the damn things out the window.  That and it’s almost a mortal sin to throw away chocolate.

Use decorating icing. I spent $25 on decorating pens and they all looked crappy. #LFMF

Lastly, no party is complete without Thank You notes – I just ordered these from WalMart – I got folded cards, and made the inside a form note so we can just plug in the guest’s name, the gift, and Mikey can write his name on the card.  About $45, but worth it to not have to write out every single card. Mom is lazy.  Creative, but lazy. 🙂

That’s it!  Hope you liked it and it gave you some ideas of your own.  Leave me a note if you have any thoughts or questions about this stuff.