witch brooms

witch broomsThis was my second experiment of the weekend and it also turned out well. It’s really simple and once again can be made egg and dairy free for the little ones with food allergies simply by using dairy free chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • Pretzels, small sticks (Tip: Look at your local brands, you want the thinnest pretzel stick you can find so that the chocolate holds it together easily)
  • Melting chocolate (I used Wilton’s orange candy mold chocolate; it melts easily with no clumps)
  • Decorating sugars

Tools:

  • Wax paper
  • Tie wrap
  • Resealable bag

Steps:

  • Taking 10 pretzels, tap them flat so that they are all the same length and then place a tie wrap about a 1/3 of the way down (I left one on in the picture for reference)
  • With your hand, gently turn the bottom of the pretzels to give them a fan effect so that they will stand on their own
  • Place about 4-5 chocolate blocks in a resealable bag. Heat it in the microwave for no more than 15 seconds at a time, massaging between, until you have a smooth chocolate to work with
  • Snip the corner, no more than a 1/8 inch, of your bag and pipe a dollop on the top of the pretzels. Allow it to set for a moment and then apply one pretzel stick as the handle. You may need to pipe a little extra chocolate on top so that the bottom of the stem is covered
  • Hold the handle with your finger for about 10 seconds and then it should stand on its own while it dries (Tip: You want your chocolate warm, but not hot, when you apply the handle, otherwise you’ll have to hold it much longer.)
  • Embellish with sprinkles immediately before the chocolate hardens
  • After the broom has been allowed to dry for at least 15 to 20 minutes, you can pick it up, remove the tie wrap and pipe on an icing band as decoration

Tip: Store your brooms in an air tight container if you’re not serving them immediately, otherwise your pretzels will get stale.

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caramel apples

caramel appleOne of my favorite fall treats is the caramel apple. I used to buy the sheets of caramel from the grocery store… okay, I still do sometimes, but mostly I melt down my own so that I can decorate the apples with chocolate, nuts and even crushed candy bars. These are dipped in caramel and then rolled in Butterfinger candy bars and finally topped off with drizzled chocolate. As many treats as I make, I can’t eat them all, so I often package them up and give them away. These are best in clear cello bags with a nice ribbon.

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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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bug-a-licious cookies

Bug cookiesWhen I was a little girl, my uncle would bring me M&Ms all the time, and they are still my weakness today. So when I was scouting for bug cookie ideas, these made my mouth water. I only wish I had known about them before my youngest son’s first birthday party. Yes, it was all the buzz… with bumble bees and butterflies.

Here’s how to make these cool cookies from brightideas.com for your next party.

Image: brightideas.com 

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princess pops

Princess PopsPlaying around in the kitchen this weekend we made princess pops: Oreos dipped in pink chocolate, embellished with a crown outline and packaged in clear cello bags with pink ribbon. These could be a great treat for goody bags or add a name tag and use as your placecard. Here’s how you can make some for your princess.

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flooding cookies

So sorry… yesterday just got away from me. On top of the norm, I hosted my book club last night; they are great group of ladies. Anyway, here are the tips I promised:

Icing

First of all, you have to have the right type of icing: royal icing. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s just one pound of confectioner’s sugar, five tablespoons of meringue powder (can be found at William’s Sonoma or another similar bake shop), a half cup of water (or less) and gel-paste food coloring (again, William’s Sonoma has a great set). You’ll need to mix the icing until it’s fluffy, yet dense, about seven to eight minutes. Then you’ll need to use the icing immediately or transfer it to an airtight container.

Coloring

Separate your icing into the number of colors you need for your project. Then color your icing one drop of gel at a time. It’s a lot stronger than you might think. Once all the icing is the colors you need, separate them again so that you can thin one half for flooding. With your second set, thin each color with one teaspoon of water at a time. Often, one teaspoon is all it takes depending on how many times you’ve separated your icing. Now you have thick and thin versions of all the colors you need.

Tools

Trim one corner of a Ziploc bag and insert a #3 icing tip with a connector. Repeat this process for each of your colors (thin and thick). Then spoon each into a bag. (I always mark the thin bags so I don’t accidentally ruin a cookie by trying to trim it with the thin icing.)

Flooding

Now that your icing is prepped, take a cooled sugar cookie and pipe an outline around the shape. Allow it to set for 10 to 15 seconds and then you can flood the cookie with the thinner version of the color. While the flooded color is still wet, you can add a different thinned color to make polka dots or other designs. Allow the flooded colors to set for several minutes before adding any additional piping or layers to your design.

I hope these few tips are helpful in making your own fun creations.

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princess bling cookies

princess cookiesHere’s a great way to add a little bling to your princess’s special day. These cookies were simple to make. (The cutter is available with our princess invitation and decor.) The best advice I can give with shaped sugar cookies is:

Make more than you need for the party,

Always chill your dough shapes before baking,

Take them out of the oven just as they are starting to show color,

Always move them immediately to a baking rack, and

Don’t forget to experiment and have fun with the icing.

For the crowns, I used a flooding technique. It takes a little prep, but gives you a great result. I’ll post some tips about flooding cookies tomorrow.

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