Sugar Swings! Serve Some: January 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Candy Foxes for Valentines Day

Is it me or are you also seeing the explosion of fox related stuff everywhere? I'm not sure what started the cute little fox trend, probably last years' What Does the Fox Say video by Ylvis, but I'm predicting that foxes out cute owls for the most shared, crafted, and meme'd animal of 2014! Well it may come pretty close.  Although I think my love of foxes started with the Dr Seuss book Fox in Socks.  I mean what kid (or adult) can resist a tweetle beetle puddle paddle battle from a fox in blue socks? 

Or maybe it came from the pretty awesome Fantastic Mr. Fox - probably because I'm a child of stop motion animated movies and there are so few of them these days or maybe because it's a little dark and I kinda like that, or that George Clooney is playing the Fantastic Mr Fox aka Foxy - get it George is Foxy - can he state it any more clearly than that?!

Well if you have a weird fascination with foxes like I do (who knew I'd be typing that), follow my fox board over on Pinterest!

And when I found these cute little fox take out boxes I knew I'd be doing some sort of fox related treat soon. One of my favorite candy bars is York Peppermint Patties.  I know another weird like.  Somehow I've passed the peppermint/mint liking gene down to the kids too, they also love them.  Every Valentines Day, you can find heart shaped Peppermint Patties.  I've made valentine owls with them before here, but this year I made little foxes with them.

Step 1: Dunk in some melted candy melts (I used 1/2 cup of red and 1/2 cup of orange Wilton candy melts).  Add 1 teaspoonful of vegetable shortening to allow for more smooth coating of the patty)

Step 2: Allow to dry

Step 3: Add detail with vanilla tootsie rolls and melted chocolate

I melt the tootsie roll in the microwave for about 7-10 seconds, then roll it flat with a rolling pin.  Take a large icing tip and cut out a circle with the round part of the tip (as shown here).  Then cut the circle in half and apply it to the heart patty.  The tootsie roll is a little sticky so I didn't even use any adhesive.  It stuck on by itself.  Cut out little triangles for the ears and apply the same way.  Lastly melt some chocolate chips in a zip lock bag, snip an end and pipe on nose and eyes.  It's really pretty quick.

And that's it.  Cute little fox faces.  

I'm going to use these for valentines for the kiddo's friends in class.  I think I'm going to just put them into the fox take out box or a cellophane treat bag, tie with some ribbon and add a tag that says "What does the fox say" and then "Happy Valentines Day of course!" I'm pretty sure all the 1st graders know that song but hopefully they don't say, "That's so 2013"!

Anyhoo, hope you like the treats and stay warm, this polar vortex is a great name for it.  I think we all need to start the countdown to spring!  Have a GREAT WEEK!

Tidy Mom's I'm Loving It

Monday, January 20, 2014

Frosted Dark Chocolate Loaf Cake with Heart Inside

Yay! It's that time of year again.  Nope not Valentines Day (although I know this cake looks all valentinesy).  It's the 6th anniversary of my daughter's heart transplant.  If you follow the blog, you probably know we celebrate her special heart day almost like another birthday because it is like a birthday!

At 8 months old, she was diagnosed with a type of cardiomyopathy called non-compaction cardiomyopathy.  This is a type of heart disease where the heart muscle is more spongy and does not form the proper contraction muscle your heart needs to function properly.  Some can live with this type of cardiomyopathy but others, depending on how it impacts their heart function, may need a heart transplant, as in our case.

That said, she's been doing fantastic (knocking on wood) since and we celebrate her special heart day every January 16th.  Since I've been blogging I've done a few heart day cakes for her, like this Reverse Rainbow Cake, Flying Heart Cupcakes, and an Au Natural Red Velvet Cake.

This year I wanted to try one of those "surprise inside" cakes that are all over the place these days. Amanda from I Am Baker really started this trend.  She's done some amazing cakes and even has her first book due out in March (pre-order it here)! I've also seen some surprise cakes done by baking a loaf cake, cutting out some shapes, then baking those shapes into another loaf cake.  That seemed relatively easy so I gave it a go.

For this I just used a boxed yellow cake mix.  Mix up the batter as directed on the box but add an extra egg.  Divide the batter in half and tint one half red with some food coloring.  I use Americolor Super Red.  Bake it in a loaf pan as directed on the box.  When cooled cut out your shape (hearts of course!).  Just make sure your shapes are small enough to fit inside your loaf pan with some room on the top/bottom.  

To the other half of the batter I added some organic Taza Stone Ground Dark Chocolate and about 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa.  Really Good Stuff! Melt about 2.5 ounces in the microwave and mix into the yellow cake batter.  Definitely use good dark chocolate for this.  I promise it's so worth it!

Add a little of the batter to the bottom of a loaf pan and then add your cut out shapes.  I put mine upside down so I could use the flat side as the top of the cake.  Then add the rest of the batter to the loaf pan and try to cover as much of the shapes as you can.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Frost with your favorite buttercream and add some heart sprinkles!

I was a little nervous to cut into it, but it came out ok! Not exactly centered, but nothing is perfect - and the kids loved it giving the cake look and flavor rave reviews.  Thank goodness since they are my worst critics these days!  The dark chocolate added to the mix made the cake better than any chocolate cake mix I've had too.

And yay, I can cross surprise inside cake off my to do list.  

Happy Heart Day to my little girlie girl.  Love you lots Greta!

Also a very special thank you and virtual hug to all the donors and donor families out there.  We don't know the circumstances around Greta's donor or the family, but we think of them every time we see our little peanut.  And if you are not already, please think about registering to be an organ donor if you are not already.  So much need, so little supply.  Find out how or to make a monetary contribution here.  Thanks so for much for reading and stopping by!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Super Hero Pretzel Snacks

So guess what??? I made more pretzel snacks.  Don't groan, I know I make them all the time, but these are different.  They are super hero themed! Specifically Superman and Wonder Woman.  

They make me smile!

I always use Snyder's Pretzel Squares as the base and then add the sweet stuff on top.  Add chocolate/candy wafers to a zip lock bag and melt in microwave.  I do it in 20 second intervals until nice and melty.  Then snip an end of the zip lock and "pipe" the superhero design onto wax or parchment paper.  I flipped them over and used the flat side as the topper so if you want to do that, make sure you reverse your image for the superman logo.  (If you forget, like I did here for these superhero cupcakes, you can still use it, but the top will just be more bumpy then flat).  

One the topper is hardened, add more candy melt or chocolate to the top of the pretzel and then add your candy topper while it's still wet.  Use anything you like, then just wait 'til it's hardened.  

Pretzel snacks are really really (really) easy to make and prep.  I've made them a bunch of times, especially to bring over for parties since most people (young and not so young) love sweet and salty. They are great finger foods and also super portable.  Here are some I've made already:
  1. Snowflake pretzel snacks to go along with some Disney Frozen movie cupcakes
  2. Pretzel snacks in football team colors for a Super Bowl party
  3. Gold and chocolate pretzel snacks for an all gold dessert display (coming soon!)
  4. Flag pretzel snacks for Memorial Day
  5. Minions from the Despicable Me movies
  6. Christmas Ornament cookie and pretzel snacks from this past holiday season

You can also wrap them up for gifts, party favors, teacher gifts, or they would even make easy and fun valentines.  Or you can color coordinate for wedding and baby showers.  Add a free printable from off the inter web and you're all set!  My 6 year old wants The Flash as his next birthday cake, and I'm thinking Flash pretzel snacks would be cute goodie bag treats! (I'll spare you all another pretzel snack post - but I'm sure you may see it over on Instagram!)

OK off to take down all the holiday stuff - although it feels like I just out the tree up!  Hope you had an awesome weekend, have a great week, and thanks for swinging by!

Tidy Mom's I'm Loving It

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Disney Frozen Movie Cupcakes

Have you seen the new Disney movie Frozen? If not go see it, regardless if you have girls or boys, or no kids at all. It's based loosely Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen fairy tale but this is a really cute movie and actually a pretty good story line for girls.  It does have the absent parents that Disney works into a lot of the stories, but it's not your typical prince charming saves the distraught princess theme.  (Brave was also a really good one too!)

We saw it a couple weeks ago, and my kids got the soundtrack for Christmas, so it's been Frozen, Frozen and more Frozen over the past couple weeks.  I guess there could be worse things, at least we are past the Barney and Wiggles stage - those songs tend to be crazy earworms!  My little 6 year old girlie girl also asked for Frozen cupcakes.  So here they are with all of the Frozen main characters (well most of the characters, aside from the "people" because they are harder and take longer to do, and we needed these for a get together this past weekend).

Above are a Rock Troll and the super funny snowman, Olaf.  All Olaf wants to do is enjoy summer time, just don't tell him what happens to him in the summer (happy snowman of course)!  The Rock Troll is made from candy pebbles with the detail added with Wilton candy melt.  Olaf is made from 2 large marshmallows (head cut to size), mini marshmallows for the neck (snowmen have necks?!) and one cut in half for the feet, candy eyes, candy coated sunflower seed nose, and candy melt is used for the rest of the detail.

And below are Sven the reindeer (because reindeer are better than people!) and the icy snowman/body guard Marshmallow.  Sven is mostly candy melt with pretzel antlers, candy eyes, and an m 'n m nose.  Marshmallow is all candy melt and some blue sprinkles for his ice teeth/spikes!

And since I did want to represent the Frozen sisters Elsa and Anna, I did their colors in the frostings - light turquoise and white for Elsa and blue and magenta for Anna (pronounced "Ahhhhna - as corrected by my 6 year old a dozen times or so).  To get the 2 toned icing, I used this technique - where you add each color to a separate icing bag, then add both bags to a 3rd icing bag.  It worked great and was quick!

All the cupcakes are decorated with these fun edible snowflakes that I've been meaning to use forever which fit in perfectly with the Frozen theme! They have no real taste, its kinda like the edible easter grass made from starch.

We even did some fun snowflake pretzel snacks to go along with the cupcakes.  Pretzel snacks are my favorite go to party snack, since everyone seems to like sweet and salty - both kids and grown-ups alike.  They are just a square pretzel base with some chocolate or white chocolate drizzled on and while still wet add your favorite sprinkles. Very easy and portable too.

And you get a fun Frozen dessert platter!

And WOW -  the first post of 2014!!! Goodbye 2013 and hello 2014.  Aren't we supposed to have jetpacks and buttons to zap you anywhere you want to go by now? Come on scientists, you are a little behind the sci fi books and shows.  Well maybe 2014 is the year, at least we have Google glasses and 3D printers, although if you ask my kiddos I don't think that quite beats a jet pack or a flying car! Happy New Year to All!

Tidy Mom's I'm Loving It