Monday, January 31, 2011

By the Batch - Cupcake Bites

I'm interrupting this regularly featured cookie segment to bring you something a little different this week - cupcake bites. This recipe is straight out of Bakerella's Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for Irresistible Mini Treats and they're a twist on the cake pops that I made last year. If you've never visited Bakerella's site then you really must go; she's got tons of adorable ideas.


I'll be honest and confess that the reason for cupcake bites is that I made a cake on the weekend and when I tried to turn it out of the pans it fell completely apart. Well as luck would have it, a crumbled cake is exactly what cupcake bites call for so all was not lost!

1 box cake mix (baked as directed on box)
3/4 of a can of icing (I used about a 1 cup of homemade buttercream icing)
1 package chocolate bark (or candy melts for cupcake bottom)
Coloured melting wafers (for cupcake top)
Candy Cup Mold - shaped like peanut butter cups

Bake your cake mix according to the directions and let it cool. After cake is cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. The texture should be fine/fluffy

Using the back of a large spoon, mix thoroughly with icing. It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.


Roll mixture into balls that are just slightly smaller in diameter than your candy mold and lay on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. One cake will yield about 48 balls depending on the size of your mold.


Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes, until they are slightly firm, not frozen.

Melt chocolate bark and candy melts in microwave per directions on package.

Using a spoon or squeeze bottle, fill a mold cavity about half full of chocolate.  Then place one of your rolled balls into it. Carefully push it down until the force causes the chocolate to push up and fill in around the sides of the ball. You may have to experiment with a couple to get the right amount. Stop pushing once the chocolate reaches the top edge because you don't want to form a lip. Repeat until all the cavities are filled.

Sorry for the flash in this picture - I was working fast!
Place the mold tray filled with cupcakes in the freezer for just a few minutes to let the chocolate set. Remove and then gently pull up on the cake ball top to release from candy mold.

Now, holding the bottom of the cupcake, dip the top in another color of melted chocolate and immediately decorate with sprinkles before chocolate sets.


According to Sarah:
These cupcake bites are adorable but they take a lot of time and patience to make. There are a lot of steps in the process and a lot of waiting for cakes to cool and chocolate to harden but the end result is worth it. Here are some tips I learned along the way that will make it easier next time:
  • Don't try to skimp on chocolate by not filling up enough of the mold. Not enough chocolate means pushing your cake balls down deeper in to the cavity. If your ball hits the bottom then your cupcake bite will not release from the mold without a fight (and damage!)
  • The molded chocolate will melt quickly while you're dipping the tops of the bites so work quickly and run your hands under cold water if you need to cool them down.
  • When dipping the tops only dip enough that the two colours of chocolate meet - if they overlap then the hot, melted chocolate will begin to melt your molded bottoms.
Cupcake bites are definitely not an every day kind of dessert but they do make really pretty treats for a party or to give as a gift. There are so many colour and sprinkle combinations and they really are delicious!



Friday, January 28, 2011

Hanging Crayon Hearts & Design Changes!

Yesterday I posted about DIY Crayon Hearts but didn't show you pictures of my finished product. I had really hoped for a sunny day so that you could see how pretty they are with the light shining through but the weather has not cooperated so you'll have to take my word for it. Or make your own and hang them in the sunny windows at your house - just click back to yesterday's post for the how to.

The other thing I'm excited about today is the semi-redesign of the blog! You may have noticed my brand new header. The font is from Fonts For Peas and the graphic is from Shabby Blogs

I get the cutest handwriting fonts at Fonts for Peas!

I also repurposed a section of the header to create my very own button! I'm no graphic designer but I'm so happy with the way it turned out. Feel free to grab it - the code is in the sidebar. I'm using the same Fonts for Peas font for my dates and post titles too.

Sugar and Shimmer Button

If you have a blog of your own and you've been wanting to make some changes but don't want to spend the money on a custom design then I hope you'll be inspired - I have very little design and html knowledge but I was able to make these changes all on my own using free resources found through Google searches. Next up will be sidebar titles and a new background so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

DIY Crayon Hearts

Making hearts, leaves and other shapes using waxed paper and crayons definitely isn't a new idea but it's one I've never tried before. In case you haven't either, here's how it's done!

Start with crayons (duh). Since I was making hearts for Valentine's Day I chose reds, pinks and purples. For my hearts I used 6 crayons and they yielded approximately 3 8x10 sheets of melted wax.

Take the paper off the crayons and then use a pencil sharpener to turn them into shavings. Be forewarned that crayons are hard on pencil sharpeners. I bought a 4 pack of sharpeners from the dollar store just for this project and the crayons ruined three of them!

Take your shavings and mix all of the colours together. Here's a tip that I wish someone would have told me: if you want the different colours to show up in your final hearts then don't break up your shavings, leave them in larger pieces. Little confetti pieces mean that your colours will all blend into one colour.

Get your ironing board out or choose a different surface to iron on. Lay down a towel that you won't be sad to throw away. Trust me, you will ruin this towel. Next lay down a sheet of waxed paper and cover half of it with crayon shavings. Cover evenly but don't make it thick because you want the light to shine through your finished hearts. Put another piece of waxed paper on top (or start with a large enough piece of waxed paper that you can just fold it over). Then fold the ends of the paper to keep crayon wax from seeping out. Lastly, cover with another towel that you don't mind ruining. The wax will bleed right through the waxed paper.

Now iron the whole thing on medium. Check your crayons after every few passes of the iron because the more you iron the more your colours will muddle together. Keep an eye on the edges you folded so you don't end up with a waxy hot mess on your hands. Once the crayon shavings are all melted together into a solid piece you're done.

Once it's completely cooled take your sheet of wax and cut it into hearts. This is where you'll be happy you didn't spread the shavings too thickly because the thicker your finished wax the more likely the waxed paper is to peel away at the edges.

The last step is to hang them up in your windows. I used a hole punch and then tied them with thread but didn't get a chance to hang mine up last night. I know I probably should have waited for a picture of the final product but I was just too excited to share! So check back tomorrow for the big reveal :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Party Perfect - Kids Birthday Invite Printables

One of my favourite kids is turning two this Saturday which has got me thinking about children's birthday parties. I found some really cute Microsoft clip art images of partying children and decided to make birthday invitations with them. And since I don't have any kids of my own I figured I had better share them with those of you who do :)

To use the invitations, just click on any of the images for the full-size versions. From there you can open them in a photo editing program and add in the rest of the text or print them out and write in the text by hand. If you want to use the fonts that I did then head over to Fonts for Peas to download them for free! I used Pea Sarah for the boy version and Pea Mee-Mee for the girl version. The invites are designed to print onto 4x6 paper.

Hope you like them and please let me know if you use them because that would just make my day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DIY Heart Art & a Winner!

A couple of weeks ago I bought a heart punch on a whim and have since been trying to come up with a project to use it for. Last night inspiration struck and I created a frame full of pretty hearts.

This project could not be simpler or more inexpensive to make. I chose a piece of scrapbooking paper to be my background and then punched 11 hearts out of a piece of polka dot paper. I punched the remaining heart from a scrap of striped paper to contrast with the dots. Then I inked around the edges of all of my hearts to make them stand out a little more against my background. You can do this with an inkpad but since I didn't have one I just dragged the side of a brown paper along my edges to get ink effect. Every once in a while I purposely inked onto the front of the hearts to give it a shabby feel. The last step was to stick my hearts to my background using two-sided tape and then pop the whole thing into a frame.

The whole thing took less than 15 minutes and, since I already had the frame and paper, it cost me nothing to make. I made it for Valentine's Day but it's so pretty that I think I might leave it out all year!

On a different note, I'm excited to announce the winner of my CSN giveaway. The winner of the $20 gift certificate, selected by, is Liz!

Liz, I'll be emailing you this afternoon! Thank you so much to everyone who entered. Keep checking back because I've got another giveaway planned for next month :)

Linking this post up to:

Monday, January 24, 2011

By the Batch - Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

You may think I'm cheating by including a brownie recipe in a feature about cookies but I promise you that these Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies (and several others) are featured in the Dense & Cakey section of Martha Stewart's Cookies! Those of you without stand mixers will appreciate this recipe since all the mixing is done by hand.

According to Martha:
Dollops of peanut butter filling are spooned onto brownie batter; pulling a knife back and forth through both results in a marbleized look.

FOR THE BATTER 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
2 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
FOR THE FILLING 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter lining (not overhang).

Make batter: Put butter and chocolates in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Add flour mixture; stir until well incorporated.

Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.

Pour one-third of batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop dollops of peanut butter filling (about 1 tablespoon each) on top of batter, spacing about 1 inch apart.

Drizzle remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop dollops of remaining filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

According to Sarah:
These brownies are easy and delicious. The only real tip I have is to work quickly because the batter with the melted chocolate will firm up quickly. I thought I was moving at a good speed but there was no chance my batter was going to "drizzle" which meant I didn't get the cool marbling effect throughout the brownies. Despite this, I think they still present really nicely and the peanut butter filling is sweet enough that you don't need any icing. These will definitely be made in my house again.

P.S. Don't forget to enter my CSN Stores gift certificate giveaway; I'll be drawing a winner tomorrow!

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Stitches - A Confession

So here's the thing. At the beginning of the month I decided to give my little blog features that I'd repeat each week. I love my By the Batch and Party Perfect features but, and here's the confession, I've started to dread Fridays and my In Stitches posts! The truth of the matter is that knitting is hard work for me and it goes reaaaally slowly. The scarf that I had intended to bind off and add fringe to for today's post is still only about the size of a dishcloth! The long and short of it is that this Friday feature has got to go. Don't get me wrong, I'm really enjoying learning how to knit and I intend to continue. In Stitches will reappear from time to time as I complete new projects but it won't be a weekly feature anymore. And you know what? I don't think anyone is really going to mind ;)

If you are interested in knitting then the place to be is really Ravelry. It's a knitting and crocheting community with over 1 million members. You can sign up for free and get access to thousands of free patterns in over 200 categories plus chat with other knitters for ideas and advice.

I hope you all have a great weekend - I'll be busy turning my dishcloth into a scarf :)

P.S. Don't forget to enter my CSN Stores gift certificate giveaway!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Martha's Craft of the Day

I'm not sure how it happened but somehow I missed the fact that Martha Stewart has a "Craft of the Day" feature! Each day a new craft is posted on the website and there are some really great ideas. Just take a look at some of what's been posted so far in January.

Flower Barrettes

Family Tree Topiary

Striped Candleholders

You can either bookmark the Craft of the Day page or sign up for the email version and get a gorgeous craft idea delivered to your inbox every day!

P.S. Don't forget to enter my CSN Stores gift certificate giveaway!