Friday, April 22, 2011

Hoppy Easter

What do you do when you leave buying your Easter baskets to the last minute? You get crafty of course.

As I was standing in Coles at 6.30pm last night waiting at the bakery for some hot cross buns to cook, madly calling around to all the stores in the centre to see if they had any Easter baskets left, it occurred to me that I really should have organised this sooner. But life gets hectic and never goes according to plan.

So instead of hunting around the shopping centre trying to find something that nobody else wanted. I raced over to Lincraft (got to love late night shopping) and grabbed a few supplies to make what will become my Easter Bunny Boxes/Baskets. I only had a rough idea of what I was going to do and after a bit of playing around with the kids this morning we created something unique and of course handmade.

Equipped with:
1 x packet of white noodles boxes
1 x packet of pipe cleaners
1 x packet of stick on eyes
1 x sheet of adhesive felt (pink)
1 x sheet of foam
1 x packet of large pom poms (white)
1 x packet of small pom poms (pink)
1 x packet of assorted ribbons
1 x hot glue gun
(all of the above was from Lincraft last night minus the hot glue gun)

I started off playing around with the ears (made from foam and adhesive pink felt), but wanted something to cover them so searched the cupboard for a circular shape to make a face (also made out of foam). A tin of tuna from the pantry did the trick nicely. 

Then just a couple of whiskers (pipe cleaners) I thought, but what to cover them with, a couple of white cheeks made out of foam of course. A reel of cotton worked as the perfect size template for the cheeks. So then on went the pink pom pom nose, stick on eyes and bow ties and the bunny box was complete.

But no bunny box is complete without something soft to place the eggs on inside so with some green 80gsm paper we had in the studio and the shredder, I shredded some paper and curled it with scissors to make the perfect little nest for the eggs. I had a pair of very helpful hands passing me each shred of paper to curl and placed each strand in the box. I have two very excited toddlers that can't wait for the Easter Bunny to come so they can collect some eggs and play with their bunny baskets of course.

The finishing touch was the little cotton tails (large pom pom) on the back of each box. No bunny is complete without a little cotton tail.

And a few treats inside. The noodle box is the perfect size for an easter basket for toddlers as they can't fit too many eggs inside but just enough to have lots of fun collecting eggs on Sunday (or Saturday for some people like at our house this year) LOL.

So now we are all set for the Easter Bunny to come and crisis is averted. We hope you have a great Easter and stay safe with family and friends these holidays. Bring on the Easter Bunny. Yummm.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cake Pops

Well it's been a very irregular thing for me this whole blogging thing as life just gets a little hectic from time to time. I wanted to share with you a tutorial I put together for Kidz on the Coast magazine. You will find it in their latest issue on page 16. It's a great resource for families on the Central Coast, full of lots of useful stories and information. But if you are not on the sunny Central Coast then never fear, you can read it online. 

So here it is, a little project you might like to do with the kids over the school holidays and a yummy treat to make for Easter. Plus as an extra special treat I have created an easter themed cake topper that you can use to display with your cake pops or use on the top of cupcakes. Click here for the free download.

Cake Pop Tutorial

Ingredients for Cake Pops
To make these cake pops, you will need:
       1 cake baked in a 13”x9” pan or ready made cake from supermarket or bakery
       1 tub of frosting, or about 2 cups
       1 packet of chocolate melts or cooking chocolate
       Lollipop sticks or skewers. (You can get the lollipop sticks from Spotlight or ebay).

Crumble the Cake Begin by breaking up the cake into fine crumbs. This recipe is really flexible, and you can use any flavour cake, or even substitute muffins or cupcakes etc. Whatever you use, work the cake until it's entirely crumbled.

Mix in Frosting
Take your frosting, and again you can use any flavour you like, and mix it in. you can use a spoon, but it's easier, although messier, just to use your hands. The exact amount needed will depend on the moistness of your cake.

You want the final mixture to be fairly moist to easily hold itself together when you shape it into a ball, but not so moist that it's soggy or gooey.

Roll the Cake into Balls
Roll the cake into small balls, using a teaspoon. You should get between 3-4 dozen balls depending on how large you make them. Place them on a tray with baking paper or grease proof paper.

Freeze the Cake Balls
Once they are all formed, put them in the freezer to harden for about an hour to make them easier to dip. You can also leave them overnight or keep them in an airtight container if you want to make in advance.

Melt the Chocolate
While you're waiting for the cake balls to harden, melt the chocolate in the microwave or as per the packet directions and stir until it's entirely melted and smooth.

Put Lollipop Sticks into Cake Balls
After an hour, remove the cake balls from the freezer. Use a skewer or a toothpick to poke holes in the balls, then dip the end of a lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, and stick it into the hole you just created. The melted chocolate will help hold the stick in the cake pop.

Dip Cake Balls into Chocolate
Once all of the cake balls are on sticks, it's time to dip them. Hold one end of the lollipop stick and submerge the cake pop completely in the melted chocolate. Take it out and gently tap it and swirl it upside down to remove excess chocolate.

Set the Cake Pops
Now you can just stick them upside down on baking paper to set, but this does give them flat tops.

So if you want rounded shapes, you'll need to find some Styrofoam or florist foam to stick your cake pops in while they dry. Continue dipping them until all of your cake pops are covered with chocolate. If the chocolate starts to get too stiff from the cold cake pops, re-heat it briefly.

Decorate the Cake Pops
If you want to decorate your cake pops, you can drizzle them with melted white chocolate, or add sprinkles or chopped nuts while the chocolate is still wet. I find it easiest to do directly after dipping the balls in the chocolate.

These cake pops are all the craze at the moment. They are really unique, really fun, and really tasty. Make some for your next birthday celebration or shape some into eggs and decorate for Easter. They will be the talking point at the party.

Click here to download your FREE Easter Cake Toppers 
PDF. Use a 2" circular or scalloped punch to cut out the cake toppers.