Mickey Mouse Pops!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of helping a friend make these pops for her son’s second birthday. We had so much fun hanging out, but the actual pop making experience was challenging.  It was definitely a learning experience for both of us, but I’m glad we jumped in with both feet.  I think the finished pops were really cute!

One major change we made from the source of this recipe is that we used Oreo truffles as the base instead of cake balls.  We much prefer the taste of Oreo truffles over the cake ones, even though they are very rich and decadent.  I do think the cake balls generate a smoother ball, but again, the taste is more important in my opinion.  Also the Oreo balls are a little heavier than the cake ones, so that made dipping them difficult, but we managed.  I think the keys are to have really runny chocolate (but not too hot.  See step 11 about adding shortening to thin it out.) and to dip as fast as possible.

Please excuse my fuzzy photos, they were taken with my phone rather than a camera.  If you’re friends with me on facebook, you can see a couple more pictures there.  Also, I’m super excited that this counts as the first thing to check off from my 30×30 list.  Score!

Mickey Pops

Source:  Bakerella

You’ll need:

  • 1 box cake mix (bake as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)*
  • 1 16 oz can of ready-made frosting*
  • Wax paper
  • Baking sheet
  • White bark coating {we omitted}
  • Black candy color {we omitted}
  • Chocolate candy melts
  • Round cookie cutter
  • Paper lollipop sticks
  • Styrofoam block

*One cake makes about 48 cake pops. If you don’t need that many, then cut the cake in quarters and freeze any cake sections for another day. You’ll need at least one ounce of candy coating for each generic Mickey Mouse cake pop you plan on dipping and more for any extra decorating.

*If you substitute Oreo balls for the cake balls, you obviously won’t need any cake or frosting.  You will need one package of Oreo cookies and one package of cream cheese.   Crush the Oreos in a food processor, then add the cream cheese and pulse until combined.  Pick up at step 3 below.

Instructions:

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into a large bowl.

2. With a large spoon, mix thoroughly with about 3/4 of the can of frosting. You won’t need the rest.

3. Roll mixture into quarter size cake balls and place on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Step 3

4. Place balls in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Then transfer to the refrigerator to keep chilled and avoid freezing.

5. Prepare the ears. Use round chocolate candy melts and with a round cutter, cut off a small portion of each candy melt. Set the ears aside. Step 5
6. Melt white candy coating (we just used chocolate) in a heat-proof plastic bowl so that the coating is at least four inches deep for easier dipping. Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals on low, stirring in between. Repeat until melted and smooth. Step 6

7. Add several drops of black candy color (that does not contain water) into the white candy coating and stir until combined. Add color until you achieve the desired shade. {We skipped this}

8. Remove a couple of cake balls from the refrigerator at a time to work with.

9. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted coating and insert into the cake ball. Then, grab two candy melt ears and dip the cut side into the melted candy coating. Attach the ears to the top/side of the cake pop and the coating will set like glue. Step 9

10. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.

11. When dry, carefully dip the entire cake pop with ears attached into the bowl of melted candy coating. Dip and remove in one motion without stirring. Make sure the entire cake ball is covered. Using a deep bowl is helpful here. If your coating is too thick, you can add a few drops of vegetable oil or shortening to help thin it and make it easier to work with.

12. Remove and allow any excess coating to fall off the pop and back into the bowl.

13. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.

14. When dry, wrap in small treat bags and tie with a decorative ribbon.

Note: You can use dark chocolate candy coating instead of tinting white coating black. Then, you can use the same glueing technique to attach the ears right on the surface.

You can also attach other items like Junior Mints or separated miniature Oreo Cookies to the surface of the cake pop right after dipping and before the coating sets.

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Oreo Truffles

These could be a very popular treat for parties all throughout the year, but I only seem to remember to make them around the holidays!  I always manage to make a mess when making them, but it is worth it!

OREO TRUFFLES

{source:  Kraft}

Ingredients

1 package Oreo cookies, finely crushed using a food processor, divided

1 package {8 oz.} cream cheese, softened

2 packages {8 oz. each} Semi-Sweet Baker’s Chocolate, melted {I only used 1 and a half packages and it was just enough.}

Directions

Mix 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls. {I definitely had less than 42 balls, but I made them pretty large.  I would guess I had around 30-35?   I placed each ball on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerated for a few minutes to firm them up before dipping.}

Dip or drop balls in bowl of melted chocolate, roll to coat, lift with 2 forks allowing the excess chocolate to drain off, place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Variation – Sprinkle truffles with colored sugar or sprinkles in addition to or in place of the cookie crumbs.

Saltine Toffee

I started my Christmas baking marathon off with this recipe.  I’d never made it before, but have seen it on many blogs so my expectations for it to be delicious were high.  It did not disappoint!  I’m sure it will be one of the first treats to disappear off the cookie trays!  I love the salty and sweet combo!

Chocolate Caramel Crackers, aka: Saltine Toffee, aka: Crack

{Source:  Smitten Kitchen, but I’ve seen the recipe all over the place}

approximately 40 Saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
1 cup packed light brown sugar
A big pinch of sea salt – optional
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice – optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all parts.

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.

Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. If you’re using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts.

Once completely cool — break it into pieces and store it in a container. It should keep for a week.

Christmas Candy & Cookie Plan

I love to make {and eat!} Christmas cookies.  Unfortunately, with my stupid work schedule, I don’t have as much time to bake as I would like.  This list might be a little too ambitious, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to knock out almost everything in one long day {like I did last year}.

Of course I love to share cookie trays with family, friends and neighbors, so don’t think I make all of these for just the two of us!  Even though I hate my workplace, I’ll also take at least one tray to hell, I mean work.  Tim will probably also take a tray to his work.  Some things in particular {marked with *’s} will be for gifts.

I hope that my list inspires you to make some Christmas cookies of your own.  If an item interests you or you have questions, and I haven’t already linked up the recipe, go ahead and leave me comment and I’ll send you the recipe.

-Here’s what I want to make:

Oreo truffles

salted chocolate truffles

cookie dough truffles

buckeyes

biscotti {at least 2 kinds}

sugar cookies – cut-out with cute cookie cutters and decorated with royal icing

cranberry white chocolate cookies

thumb prints

molasses cookies {definitely a favorite!}

Russian tea cookies {We like to call them powdered sugar balls}

fudge

saltine toffee aka CRACK

pretzel bark

*peanut brittle

*homemade marshmallows

pecan tassies

-Non cookie or candy stuff:

*spiced nuts

dill cracker mix

-Stuff I would love to make if I have extra time, but will definitely get cut if I don’t {in no particular order of importance}:

chocolate crinkle cookies

some kind of shortbread or butter cookie

homemade Oreos

Rugelach or Stella cookies

German Pfeffernusse

different flavored fudge – like peanut butter or marshmallow

Pinwheels with raspberry jam filling or other fruity cookie or bar

3D cookies

icebox or roll and slice cookies – maybe cinnamon bun?

meringue kisses

homemade turtles or peanut clusters

homemade peppermint patties

homemade peanut butter cups

snickerdoodles – I would like to try a different recipe though.

chocolate covered peanut butter rice crispy treats

something eggnog flavored?

I’ll go ahead and stop there, but I think I could seriously go on and on.  If only I could quit my job and bake full-time…

What are you making?  Do tell.

Easy Fudge

It is almost time for some major holiday cookie baking and candy making.  Of course, I am already starting to plan all of the goodies that I want to make.  And as I was thinking about my list, I could not get my mind off of fudge.  It has always been my favorite treat, so I went ahead and made a batch.  I know I jumped the gun, but if it is wrong then I don’t want to be right!

Fudge

{source: Eagle Brand}

Prep time:  10 minutes, chill 2 hours.  Makes about 2 pounds of fudge.

Ingredients

3 cups {18 oz} semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 {14 oz} can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk {NOT evaporated milk}

dash of salt {1/8 teaspoon}

1/2 – 1 cup chopped nuts

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

1.  Prepare a 8″ or 9″ square pan by spraying with cooking spray, or line with parchment, or grease with butter. 

2. In a heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate chips, salt, and sweetened condensed milk together over low heat.

3. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in nuts and vanilla.  Spread evenly into 8″ or 9″ square pan.

4. Go to town licking the spatula.  What? You know you want to!

5. Chill for 2 hours or until firm.  Cut into small squares.  Store leftovers covered in fridge.

Variation – Marshmallow Fudge

Add 2 tablespoons of butter as you melt the chocolate with the sweetened condensed milk and salt.

Replace nuts with 2 cups of colored mini marshmallows.

Baby Shower

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a baby shower for a good friend of mine expecting her second child.  My other friend and co-host created 3 games, as well as made the punch and veggie and fruit tray.  Since the shower was held at 2:00, we didn’t feel the need for tons of food because it was between lunch and dinner.

Here’s what I made:

diaper cake

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There are plenty of “how to” videos out there on the web, so I’ll try to keep this short.  This is basically what I did:

I bought a package (75 count maybe) of newborn diapers (or size 1) in a mostly solid white color.  They did have a little blue/purple theme going on at the top, but I was able to roll that under (solid white is ideal though).

Other supplies I had on hand:  large glass cake pedestal, 12″ wooden dowel rods, and a ton of rubber bands in various sizes – you will definitely need some really large ones though (they should measure about 7″ unstretched).

So, I just started rolling diapers and wrapping each with a small rubber band.  I used approximately 55 diapers…so just roll a whole bunch.  Then when you have a pile of rolled diapers, gather some into a large circle on the plate stand to create the bottom (biggest) tier.  Take a really large rubber band and wrap it around the whole bundle to hold all the individual rolls in place.

Repeat with the middle and top tiers, using fewer diaper rolls.  Once you have the large rubber band holding the whole tier, you can remove the small rubber bands from the individual rolls, for a smoother look.

Stack the 3 tiers, and skewer with the dowel rods to secure (be careful not to puncture any diapers).  This allows you to transport it without it falling apart.

Decorate with ribbon, small toys, bows, fake flowers, etc…  I just used tape and small paper clips to secure the ribbons that I layered around each tier.

The great thing about making a diaper cake for a baby shower is that it can be done weeks in advance, leaving the days immediately prior to the shower free to bake and prepare other food.

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cake truffles

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I used Bakerella’s famous method for making these, of course.  She is the queen of cute cake treats!  Click the link for her step by step instructions.

Here's the supplies ready to go...

Here's the supplies ready to go...

I did 2 batches, one chocolate cake and one yellow cake.  And I used various sprinkles on them.  These doubled as treats that we ate at the shower, as well as favors for the guests to take home.  I wrapped half in small favor bags from Hobby Lobby and left the other half on trays to be enjoyed.

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cupcakes

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We decided to make cupcakes instead of buying (or making) one or two large sheet cakes.  I did one batch of French Vanilla and one batch of Dark Chocolate. Then, I made regular and chocolate buttercream for both.  I used Wilton’s 1M tip to decorate.

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individual cake

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Even though we didn’t have large cakes to serve, I still wanted to have a small individual type of cake just for the expectant mother.  So, I made a 6″ round chocolate cake and decorated it with chocolate buttercream and used white fondant for the baby foot prints.   We ended up not cutting into this at the shower and the family actually froze it to enjoy once they brought their new baby home.

cream cheese mints

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These are one of the things I always look forward to having at any shower or wedding that I attend, so I knew we had to have them!

This recipe is from Milk & Honey.  I left one batch white and tinted the other batch light blue using Wilton color gels.  One thing I did differently from the recipe was press the mixture into candy molds rather than forming them with my hands.

This is also something that can be made a few days or even a week in advance, they store wonderfully in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for longer.

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Here is part of the spread set up at the shower.  I used “It’s a boy” picks from Hobby Lobby in some of the cupcakes.

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Peanut Brittle

This is my Dad’s favorite type of candy. I was intimidated to make brittle the first time, but it was really very easy. I’ve made batch after batch and it is so simple. We doubled this recipe for my Mom, sister and I to share.

Peanut Brittle: (from A Taste of Christmas cookbook, given to me by my Mother-in-law)

2 Cups raw peanuts (I always use unsalted dry roasted)

1 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup light corn syrup

1/4 Cup water

pinch salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions:

Place nuts, water, sugar, salt, and syrup in medium sauce pan. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until it turns “orangey” gold (about 15 minutes). Turn off heat and sprinkle in 2 teaspoons baking soda. It will foam up. Stir and quickly spread onto a greased cookie sheet. Let cool, then break apart.

peanut brittle at the top right

peanut brittle at the top right