Sunday, December 9, 2012

Handmade baby shower gifts

One of my friends is expecting her first child. When considering what to give her, I thought of the item I used everyday with my baby that, before kids, I'd never even known existed and had no idea I would need so much. This, of course, is a nursing cover.

So I made this cover, boning and all, out of a pretty fabric I found at Joann's. It's a bit complicated to put together (it was my first time using boning) but this tutorial is excellent.

To round out the gift, I made this little soft rattle filled with jingle bells for the baby. I remember my little one loving rattles, but he'd inevitably drop them on his head--and crying would ensue. So I thought soft rattles=fun with no tears! I used the directions here to put it together.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cake pops

We made these for our little man's preschool buddies last week. It was my first attempt at making cake pops and they came out great. I would recommend watching this short and helpful tutorial before making your own, because it seems like there are some things that could go wrong and you really want these to turn out right, because when they are right, they are so right, it's scary. The cake inside is moist and decadent (because it's mixed with frosting) and it combines so well with the semi-hard chocolate's just awesome.

I used a boxed spice cake mix, homemade cream cheese frosting and two bags of white chocolate chips. These buggers use up a lot of chocolate coating, more than I thought. The first step is to crumble the cake up into tiny pieces. You'll need a huge bowl or you'll just have to do it in two batches, like I did.

The next step is to add frosting, but as the tutorial and many recipes warn, do not add too much or you will get gooey, overly sweet cake. I used a big spoonful, maybe about two or three tablespoons, for half of a 9 x 13-inch cake. You want to be able to roll the cake into balls, but you don't want them sticky.

Next, you dip one end of your skewers or lollipop sticks into a little bit of the chocolate that you are going to use to coat them later and press these halfway into the balls. This step is meant to ensure that the balls won't fall off the sticks.

The cake balls can be as big as you want them, I made mine kinda large and they were a little hard to eat off the stick, that is, the weight kinda pulled them off after the first bite. Plus, they are pretty rich, so keep this in mind when you are rolling them. One box of cake made about 2 dozen cake pops.

After the sticks are in, throw the cake pops in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. I left mine in for a few days (after transferring them to freezer bags for freshness.)

When you're ready to dip and decorate, first make sure you have something that you can use to prop up your pops while the chocolate hardens. Styrofoam or floral foam works well, but I didn't have either of these lying around, so I poked some holes in a cardboard box lid and voila--it worked perfectly.

Next, you just melt your chocolate and dip those little suckers in there. Let the excess chocolate drip off so it doesn't run down the stick when you turn it right side up. Sprinkle with little candies, or don't, they look great either way. Let the chocolate harden (which doesn't take long since the pops are frozen.) Let them sit for a bit so the cake cools to room temperature and then enjoy. I kept them at room temp for a few days and they were awesome!