Christmas Cake Pops

December 23, 2011

A couple of my lovely friends have mastered the art of the cake pop and I have looked upon their creations with envy, so with festive treats in mind I thought I would give them a go. My (limited) understanding of the methods of cake poppery has been gleaned from these friends and I may have completely misunderstood them or completly invented the shortfalls in my experience so I apologise to them and any other cake poppers who come across this post, this is probably not the correct or easiest method, but I am very pleased with the results.

Chrismas this year is a gluten free one as Martha and Alice’s cousins are coeliacs, so these are made with sainsburys free from ginger cake slices. If I was making these for gluten glutons like myself I think I would have liked to use a Mcvities Jamaican Ginger Cake, (I think of ginger and gingerbread as a festive flavor  along with mincemeat, tangerines, cranberry, peppermint and booze). I made a small batch of cream cheese icing, (25g butter, 60g cream cheese and 150g icing sugar) and mixed 3 packs of the ginger cakes in all crumbled up. This makes a kind of dough that you can shape into balls and pop in the fridge to set a bit. I bought the lolly sticks from Hobbycraft and when the balls were quite firm I inserted the sticks, melted some dark chocolate cake covering (unlike real choc you can melt it easily in the microwave as its less likely to burn) and dipped each pop into the chocolate, Learning on the job I realised that you need to have worked out a lolly stick holding device before dipping, I had planned to insert each pop into a hole cut in a small box, but this kept tipping over so in desperation I ended up using a potato cut in half, I also learned it’s easier to re-melt the chocolate then try to work with it as its solidifying – so one of the pops is a bit lumpy looking! After dipping they were returned to the fridge. The planned design for the pops were christmas puddings, so for decoration I melted some more chocolate cake covering this time white chocolate flavor and dribbled this onto the top of the pop to look like brandy custard and with coloured fondant icing left over from Martha’s birthday party cake (I promise to post about this soon!) I made two small green leaves and a couple of red berries to suggest holly, (which Martha helped me with along with sampling the various icings and chocolates). I stuck these onto the cake pops with a small blob of the melted white chocolate. I popped them still on their potatoes back in the fridge to set and have since transfered them into freezer bags to continue keeping them cool without the potatoes or the risk of them developing ‘fridge’ flavor.

I am quite pleased with the results, I have no idea how they taste, we will have to wait for teatime on christmas day to get the verdict from the kiddies, but they look good enough to eat anyway. If I do them again I will make sure I have some recycled polystyrene blocks to hold my pops for me  as the potatoes were a bit off putting, but are, at least, gluten free!

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Christmas Cards

December 5, 2011

I know I am spoiling the surprise for anyone on our christmas card list this year, but I think we did a really good job of these. The girls found some new glitter in their advent calender yesterday morning. Hobby Craft has come to Staines so I picked up a bottle of ‘confetti’ glitter glue, with iridescent glitter and tiny stars in it, and the Christmas fairy popped it into Sunday’s drawer in our wooden advent calender. To be honest I didn’t really have a plan for this years christmas cards until the last minute but I had bought some gold doilies in Saisbury’s during the last big shop, with an idea to use them somehow, and picked up the glitter and the blank cards (with envelopes) in Hobby Craft earlier in the week. Then on an quick inspiration hunt on the internet I spotted this gorgeous vintage angel posted on one of my favorite craft resource blogs ‘graphics fairy’, (http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com). I love the graphics fairy, her blog is jam packed with lovely vintage images, and this pretty little cherub, was just asking to be printed, cut and pasted onto our christmas cards with a gold doily ‘frame’ and the new glitter glue, adding sparkle to her stary sky. (The stars in the new glitter even matched the tiny stars in the picture.)

I promptly downloaded the picture took it into photoshop, resized it and made an A4 page with 8 angels on it, and printed 5 of these onto some gloss photo paper I had knocking about. I sat and cut out all the angels and cut the frilly bits off the edges of the doilies and then cut into triangles. Then I filled a beaker with PVA glue and got the kids. I painted a rough star shape onto the card with glue and the kids stuck the triangles onto it to make star shape and then stuck the angel picture into the middle. Then we painted the glitter onto the angel picture, which was certainly the girls’ favorite bit. Some are of course better than others, but I quite like that they are all a bit different. They certainly look homemade which is the whole point. We only have one that opens backwards this year!

‘Printed’ shopping bags

January 13, 2011

Happy New Year! It has been too long since my last post, the chaos of the Christmas festivities have provided many posting ideas but none of them actually committed to the written word!

I made these shopping bags as Christmas presents, we filled them with various ‘hamper’ produce (some homemade and some bought) for various friends. Even tough she is getting more and more grown up all the time Martha still finds it quite hard to commit to making multiple items, the novelty wears off after the first one or maybe two, so I find transferring her artwork onto a easily repeatable medium stops me feeling like I have her in a sweatshop. She printed a very pretty composition of pink stars onto some yellow craft paper, using a star shape cookie cutter. The I scanned the image and printed it onto iron on transfer paper and then ironed them onto plain canvas shopping bags I bought from Midpac (www.midpac.co.uk) they were £10.65 for 10, so £1.65 each – plus postage. The bought the iron-on transfer paper from ebay sometime ago but it wasn’t expensive, you just print your image (I have a standard domestic inkjet) cut out the design peel off the backing paper cover it with the ‘greaseproof’ paper it comes with and voila! I iron these on a pillowcase on the kitchen worktop so it is not too squishy underneath and hold a hot iron on the design for 30 secs. I think they would make nice gifts on their own, but filled with goodies they became a re-usable gift bag.

Christmas Bird Decorations

December 2, 2010

The Christmas Fairies left a pack of 4 new glitter tubes in the Advent Calendar this morning (along with 2 equal sized chocolate coins and 2 identical Father Christmas Stickers – there is no need for an argument first thing in the morning!). And as luck would have it Mummy (me) had managed to cut out 4 birds from mountboard the night before. So we decided to cover them in glitter to make Christmas tree decorations.

We found some embroidery silk (left over from my enormous bag of them found in a charity shop in the summer – see https://mrspeacocksthingstomakeanddo.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/cute-as-a-button/), and cut 4 lengths to be used as the loops to hang them from. We picked an aquamarine colour, doubled it over and stuck the cut ends to the bird with sellotape. Then Martha liberally painted the whole surface of one side of each bird with PVA glue and sprinked that with glitter one colour each for each of the birds so we got royal blue, gold, purple and dark pink (the Christmas Fairies picked up the glitter pack in Sainsbury during the late night big shop on Monday – didn’t get round to the online order this week!).

Then I pegged them by their hanging string onto a wire radiator drying rack, until they were dry enough to glue and glitter the other side of the birds. And we had to make a glitter picture too. I used mount-board as the base for these birds as I had some in the house and am not afraid of a craft knife/scalpel to cut them out with, but I think you could easily use corrugated/box cardboard or some other stiff card that would stand up to the sogginess of the glue and glitter, that you could cut with sharp scissors. The ‘eye’ was punched using a desktop hole punch, just wedge the board in under one of the cutters and smash down hard on it, the quicker you can do it the cleaner the cut.

Despite trying to contain the glitter as much as possible my whole house is now a little bit sparkly, it actually looks quite festive already!

Advent Calendar

November 30, 2010

Its the 1st of December tomorrow! So its time to get the wooden, little drawer, advent calendar out from the loft. Its kinda cute, I got it from Great Little Trading Company a few years ago (http://www.gltc.co.uk/). I like that I can fill it with whatever takes my fancy, although its really the Christmas fairies that put the treats in! Previous years have set up the expectation that each drawer has at least a chocolate coin and a sticker each. In previous years I have made the stickers by printing free online, Christmas clip art onto address labels. However this year I was super organised, last Christmas I picked up some discounted stickers in Early Learning Centre (http://www.elc.co.uk/) and packed them away with the calendar for this year- I know I even impressed myself.

However the night before I know we are going to do something like making Christmas cards or decorations I might pop a tube of glitter into the drawer for the girls to find in the morning.

We also usually keep the chocolate coin foil and use them to decorate a painting of a Christmas tree, adding a few pieces of foil a day until its all covered and sparkly – I will make a post about this soon.