easy peppermint cookie bark

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I’ve had several of you ask about the peppermint cookie bark that we made for the Mod Candy Cane collection photo shoot a few weeks ago so I thought I would share the recipe. It’s super easy and oh so very yummy!

Ingredients

  • 8-10 sandwich cookies (+ some for nibbling)
  • 6 oz hard peppermint candies (approximately 32)
  • 1.5 cups white chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks
  2. Place cookies in a plastic bag and break into 1/4-inch chunks
  3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler
  4. Combine candy cane chunks and cookies with chocolate, saving just a few.
  5. Pour mixture onto a wax covered cookie sheet, add last few cookie and candy cane bits, pressing them gently into the chocolate, and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm

This is the perfect recipe for a “sweet” Christmas gift. Stay tuned tomorrow for a few fun free embellishments to help you pretty up the packaging!

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allergy free Halloween treats

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Each year we get together with all of our neighbors and I host our annual Halloween block party. The premise is that everyone brings their favorite Halloween or fall treat and we all reminisce about the summer and tell any plans for the upcoming winter (besides hibernation of course!).

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This year I used my Candy Corn collection and gave it a little lighter twist from how I styled it in August for the shoppe.

And since I couldn’t control the desserts, or their ingredients, I made mostly dairy and nut free goodies. As many of you know my youngest has severe food allergies and I can’t stand for him to feel left out! There is nothing worse than that little face looking at me with sad eyes and asking me “Mommy, is that my kind?” His “kind” meaning made with soy milk or vegan butter. Of course unless I made it myself the answer is typically “I’m so sorry baby…” And any mother with a child who suffers from food allergies can attest that it breaks your heart!

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All of my desserts that night were inspired by the yummy candy corn and the first on my list was a cupcake… imagine that! By the way, Brach’s candy corn has milk in it, but the Kroger brand is dairy free (has egg though)!

So using a Duncan Hines Butter cake mix and Smart Balance Light vegan butter (be careful that you get the light; the others have dairy in them) I whipped up these cupcakes. My only advice on the butter is to use a little less than the recipe calls for because it has a very buttery taste.

And if your little one also has an egg allergy, which my little guy did for the first three years of his life, try making your cupcakes out of a brownie mix instead. Just make according to the recipe and fill your cupcake liners higher than normal. I would also suggest that you either use the tin/silver liners or you use cupcake wrappers, like we create for our collections, to hide the wrapper as brownies have oil in them and will discolor your wrappers.

For the icing I simply used Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing and tinted it using gel food coloring (liquid food coloring  thins your icing). Using resealable bags with a slit corner (for easy cleanup) I just piped one layer at a time. It was as simple as that!

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Next I made rice krispie treats, a dessert every kid… and let’s face it, every adult loves! These were gone in a flash! I used the normal ingredients, but in the place of butter I used Smart Balance Light vegan butter again.

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  1. While the treats are still warm mold them into triangles and insert lollipop sticks. Do this before you ice them or your could crack your icing, plus you want to form the treat back around the stick so that there aren’t too many pockets of air. 
  2. Gently push down, don’t crush the cereal, on the top of your treats. You’ll want a flat surface, or as flat as you can get it, for icing.
  3. Using a #7 tip, a connector and a resealable bag, outline your treats with white icing, leaving no gaps or your icing will run.
  4. Melt a small bowl of white, yellow and orange icing (one at a time) in eight second intervals. Carefully spoon the icing into the sections and pull icing to the corners with a toothpick. You want your icing warm, but not too hot and soupy or it will remelt your marshmallows. 
  5. Allow treats to dry completely before inserting them into cello bags.

I also served dairy free licorice, candy corn inspired pretzels sticks (made with tinted “real” milk chocolate so I’ll share those in a separate post) and my little guy’s favorite, gummy worms. My oldest will eat anything sweet so I knew he was covered! {wink}

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As for decorations, instead of using my cupcake picks in the actual cupcakes, I hung them from tree branches to create a dramatic and tall centerpiece (you all know how much I love height on a table!).

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And filled the glass apothecary jar, turned vase, with what else… candy corn!  You’ll notice that candy corn was also the fillers for the rice krispie treat bowl and the pretzel jar. Inexpensive and bright, just my style!

I can’t let you go without pointing out the crepe trim on the cake plate (shown in the first and third images). I just made tiny folds back and forth to give it a ruffled look and then attached it to my square cake plate with just a drop of hot glue here and there. It looked lovely, only took minutes and came right off with a light tug.

As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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crashing witch cupcakes

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Having a little fun with my boys this weekend we created our version of the crashing witch cupcake to go with our Halloween decor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • can white icing
  • orange food coloring
  • black writing icing tube
  • tangerine candy cane (or any other flavor you want)
  • Starburst (one square per shoe)
  • resealable freezer weight bags
  • #233 grass tip
  • connector
  • black and orange sprinkles

And here are the super simple steps:

  1. Ice your cupcake with white icing and sprinkle with orange and black dots.
  2. Tint a heaping tablespoon of icing orange and place in a resealable bag with a #233 tip (grass tip) and a connector.
  3. Pipe her ragged dress in the center of the cupcake.
  4. Break your candy cane in half.
  5. Heat two Starburst in the microwave for 8-10 seconds and then mold them into the shape of shoes on the candy cane ends.
  6. Pipe shoe laces onto the shoes with the tube of black writing icing. (Allow it to set for a few minutes before inserting it into your cupcake so that it doesn’t run.)
  7. Insert your witch legs (AKA candy canes) into the center of your cupcake.

Hope you love making these as much as we did. Happy baking!

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sheriff badge rice crispies

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As I mentioned in my hosting a hoe down post, my little one has food allergies. He’s a big fan of the rice crispy treat so I molded the sweet treat into star cookie cutters (available in our shoppe) and then iced them as favors for our guests. We placed them in pails that were embellished with bandana ribbon, the same used on our cake plate, and a fun wooden cowboy boot from the craft store. {50 cents already painted people!} As for the sign, I just picked up a sheet of scrapbooking paper that looked like old wooden boards and imprinted it with the Playbill font (commonly found in Microsoft products). 

Okay, back to the treat. Here’s what you’ll need to decorate:

  • Vanilla or cream cheese icing
  • Freezer weight resealable bags
  • #2 and #4 icing tips and two connectors
  • Red and blue gel food coloring
  •  Lollipop sticks

And here are the easy steps:

  1. First, one tip on molding these, make sure that you butter your cookie cutter so that the sweet falls out easily.
  2. Apply your food coloring to your icing. Gel is best so that your icing doesn’t become watery.
  3. Insert your connector into your bag, insert your icing and then add your tip. I used a #2 tip to outline the badges.
  4. Once you’ve outlined, take the outer connector and tip off of your bag and microwave your icing for seven to eight seconds. You want to heat it up just enough for flooding.
  5. Using the #4 tip, pipe in a zig zag motion inside of the badge and then pull it to the corners with a toothpick or small icing spatula.
  6. Allow the icing to set; ten minutes should do it.
  7. For the lettering I used a #2 tip and for the number I used a #4 tip.

As for packaging, allow the treats to set for four to six hours before you insert them into cello bags so as not to crush the lettering. Happy baking!

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hosting a hoe down

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My youngest is turning three and he wanted a wild west cowboy bash. So as you can imagine, I gave him one. {wink} Those who read me often know that he has severe food allergies so I needed to make a cake and treats that were dairy and nut free. (He was released from the egg allergy thank goodness; cake is not cake without eggs!)

Candidly I was really unsure what I was going to do until a few days before the party. I decided on a chocolate and vanilla cupcake tier with a 4×4″ cake (for my little guy) on top. Not only does the tier give the table height, but it also made a clear separation between his cake and the guest cakes… especially since I tried my hand at chocolate transfer. {loved it!}

So for his cake, I could use dairy-free chocolate transfer (trust me you can’t tell the difference in taste), but I’ve only been able to find it in regular chocolate, no white chocolate or other colors, and I didn’t think that was very interesting so I opted for a rice crispy  (which he loves) sherrif badge. No worries, I made more as favors for his little buddies.

However, I did use chocolate transfer for my guest cupcakes. This was actually my first attempt and I was amazed at how easy it is. Here are a few tips:

  1. Print out your design. If small enough put multiple designs on a single sheet.
  2. Tape your template to a cutting board (so that you can turn the image if you need to).
  3. Cover the image with wax paper.
  4. Use melting chocolate (available at all craft and baking supply stores). I used Wilton red, yellow and dark chocolate.
  5. Use a freezer weight resealable bag, heating your chocolate in 8-10 second intervals and massaging it with your hands between heating. (Make sure and insert your connector before melting your chocolate.)
  6. Pipe your design backwards, meaning pipe the design you want to show on top first and then layer the rest of the design on top of it. Here’s a pictorial from the Love-Sweet-Love blog.
  7. Allow the chocolate to cool, peel it off, flip it over and apply. Tah-dah!

As for the cake plate decoration, this part was a lot of fun because I got to use my glue gun! You guys know I love it! {giggle} Anyway, I embellished Martha Stewart’s square tier cake plates (8″, 10″ and 12″) with a 2″ bandana ribbon and twine. I applied the glue to the ribbon and then applied the ribbon to the cake plate. Doing it this way allows it to cool slightly before applying to the plate. As for the twine, I put it on second leaving a two inch overhang at one corner. Once the glue set, it is almost instant, I separated the twine ends and frayed them slightly.

I’ll post more ideas, including how to make the sheriff rice crispy treat, from our bash later this week. So stay tuned and happy baking!

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campout cupcake

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I designed these fun camp cupcakes a few weeks ago for my beautiful little boys and of course they go perfectly with our “campout” birthday party theme too!

My boys love tents, roasting marshmallows and fishing, so I needed to incorporate each element. If you’ve not noticed yet, there is also a little sleeping bag in the tent {giggle}. I couldn’t resist piping one since my boys love to use theirs on their beds sometimes! Oh, and by the way, these are the cupcakes I entered in the parenting.com cake and cupcake contest that I mentioned last week.

Here’s what you’ll need to decorate your white cupcakes (use egg whites only to preserve the color of your cupcake wrappers):

  • Hershey bars (2 3/4 pieces per tent)
  • Mini goldfish crackers
  • Fiber one cereal (campfire logs)
  • Cream cheese icing
  • Blue, green and red gel food coloring
  • Toothpicks
  • #46 tip (flat side for sleeping bag)
  • #107 tip (campfire flame)
  • #233 tip (grass)
  • white bakers wire (could use floral wire with non-edible items)

And here are the easy steps:

  1. Using the grass tip, ice your cupcakes. (TIP: You’ll want to add all of your decorations before the icing sets too much so that the grass will act as adhesive to keep the items in place.)
  2. Build your tents next. Take two full blocks of chocolate and trim the third, the base, to 2/3 its normal size. On the base pipe your sleeping bag, a short strip for the pillow and a long strip for the bag.
  3. Melt a block or two of chocolate in the microwave to use as adhesive for assembling your tent. Apply the chocolate with a toothpick and hold your tent in place for a few seconds to allow it to set. Place it on your cupcake.
  4. Using Fiber One cereal as your campfire logs {I know… but they look just like little sticks!}, set them up in a pyramid shape and then pipe a dollop of icing on top for the flame.
  5. Finally we create our fishing pole with a toothpick, I used colored ones, a mini goldfish and bakers wire. Simply wrap the wire around your fish and wind it around your toothpick pole. I placed it so that it is over the edge and then embellished the cupcake with a paper wave design as if they were on an island.

I hope you enjoy my little creation, my boys really did! As always, I hope you’re inspired to craft, bake, create and celebrate!

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American flag cupcakes

We should all treasure our American holidays: Memorial Day, July 4, Veteran’s Day. I’m proud that as a country we celebrate those who serve to protect us and those who have fallen to save us. 

These cupcakes are my (small as it may be) way of saying thank you to those in my family who have served (my grandfather, several great uncles, my hubby, all of his brothers, his dad and our neice and nephew; the two youngest in Iraq). I hope you enjoy them and make them for your next American celebration!

Here’s what you’ll need to decorate your cupcakes:

  • Red, white and blue icing (remember that gel food coloring work best)
  • #46 icing tip
  • Lollipop sticks
  • 2 resealable plastic bags
  • 2 icing tip connectors

And here are the simple steps:

  1. Once cooled, ice your cupcakes with white icing {cream cheese is my fav!}.
  2. Color some white icing red and some blue. You’ll likely use several drops to get even a small amount of icing bright enough.
  3. Snip the corners of your resealable bags and insert your connectors.
  4. Spoon your red icing into one bag and your blue into another.
  5. Apply your #46 icing tip to your blue bag and using the flat side pipe three stripes (1/3 the length of your flag) and then another stripe from the top {see picture}.
  6. Take your icing tip off the blue bag, clean it out and apply it to the red bag. Pipe the red stripes starting at the top of the flag using your blue stripes as a guide to keep them even. Make sure you skip just below the blue as that should be a white stripe.
  7. Finally, cut a lollipop stick in half and apply it to the side of the flag for your pole.

Have a wonderful holiday and as always, I hope you’re inspired to craft, bake and create!

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crispy pirate pops

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My oldest is celebrating his fourth birthday this week and we’re hosting a swashbuckling pirate party. I thought I would share a few of the baking ideas I’ve got cooking.

The first is a crispy pirate pop. These will not only be in the goody baskets we’re giving to his buddies, we’re also taking them to his preschool class on Friday. Here are the ingredients, a tools list and simple steps on how to make them for your matey!

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