Cake Pops

After the confetti cupcake disaster on Saturday night, a friend of mine suggested that I use the broken/misshapen homemade cupcakes to make cake pops. Despite my disappointment, I had saved the cupcakes — they still tasted great! So I gave it a go.

I had never made cake pops before, and honestly I had no idea how it was done. Based on the gadgets I’d seen in the stores, I thought you cooked them as little spherical cakes, kind of like a doughnut hole. After my friend’s suggestion I Googled, and what do you know? Cake pops are essentially cake meatballs.

I followed the How To Make Cake Pops Easily tutorial on Divas Can Cook, and the further into it I got, the more like meatballs they seemed. The colours of the cake I was using didn’t help; it really reminded me of ground poultry. Basically, you take a cake (your “meat” and “spices” and “filler”), crumble it (i.e. grind it up), mix it with a bit of frosting as a binding agent (the “eggs”), and shape it into balls. I’ve made enough meatballs that once I realized the similarities, muscle memory pretty much took over. Once I got to the decorating stage, though, it was new territory.

They’re definitely not perfect cake pops. They’re not spherical, the chocolate coating is sometimes lumpy, and the sprinkles aren’t artfully arranged. And forget fancy decorating; I just don’t have the skills to make them into flowers or Christmas balls or Easter eggs. But they’re a darned sight better than the cupcakes I started with. I consider this a success, especially for a first try.

To be honest, the kindergarten kids who are going to eat them are going to smear them all over their faces and clothes anyway. It doesn’t matter that the chocolate is hard, they’ll find a way.

Recycled Crayons Tutorial

Back in Girl Guides, we recycled our crayons by melting them in the microwave or in a double boiler, then pouring the different colours in layers into muffin tins (waiting for the wax to cool a bit between layers so they didn’t mix). I wanted to do something a little simpler than that with my kids yesterday — since they are younger than I was when first did this craft, I wanted a process that involved less handling of molten wax. However, this is still an activity that is done with kids, as opposed to setting them up and letting them go.

Recycled Crayons

Supplies Needed:
– old crayons
– molded cookie pans OR silicon molds rated for use in an oven OR muffin tins
– flat cookie pans
– utility knife
– large, heavy knife OR clear zipper bag and hammer
– cutting board

1. Sort through the kids’ crayons and separate out the old, broken ones, along with the ones that just don’t colour well.

2. Remove the paper wrappers from the crayons. The labels can be peeled off with your fingernails. However, the quickest way is to run the blade of a utility knife lightly down the paper to slit it, then peel it off. When I was doing it with my kids, I would cut the paper, and they would take it off.

3. Sort the crayons by colour.

4. Protect the work surface with a cutting board, then use the large knife to chop up the crayons into chunks that are approximately 1cm (0.4″) long. Sharp knives should be handled by an adult. Alternately, put each colour of crayon into a clear zipper bag, seal the bag, and smash the crayons into large chunks with a hammer. This may damage the surface underneath and will be noisy, so I suggest working on a concrete surface with a cutting board over top, and using ear protection.

5. Fill the molded cookie pans or silicon molds or muffin tins with the chunks of crayon. The molds should be almost overflowing, as the air pockets between crayon chunks will be filled as they melt. To create colour-coordinated crayons, fill each compartment with different shades of the same colour. To create more contrast, add chunks of coordinating colours. Be careful not to mix too many colours, though, as the colours will mix and they may turn an unlovely brown.

6. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C) (the oven temperature needs to be low so that the wax doesn’t catch fire). Put the crayon-filled molds on top of the flat cookie pans for support; this is especially important if using silicone molds, which are flexible. Anything to do with the oven should be done by an adult.

7. Bake until crayon chunks are thoroughly melted, 15 to 30 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after first 15 minutes is up to see if there are still any lumps. Remove trays carefully from oven, being careful not to spill the wax.

8. Cool the recycled crayons thoroughly before removing them from the molds. To make removing them easier, place them in the freezer (or anywhere outside in winter in Canada, so long as it’s protected from precipitation) until thoroughly chilled. Wax shrinks when it gets cold, so it will pull away from the sides of the mold and slide out more easily.

When I made these candles, I used three different kinds of molds:

– metal, nonstick Wilton PEEPS Bunny Shaped Cookie Pans ($3.00 each at the dollar store), which released easily
– a silicone Wilton PEEPS Chicks and Bunnies Treat Mold ($4.00 each at the dollar store), which released with a little more difficulty, but cleanly
– a silicone flower-shaped IKEA PLASTIS Ice Cube Tray ($1.99 at IKEA), which stuck to the wax, obscured detail, and were very difficult to remove

All in all, I much preferred the metal pans to the silicone versions.

We packaged these crayons up into little spring-themed bags and put them aside until the week before Easter to give out at school. Of course, we had to leave a few out for the kids to colour with right away, too.

Booboo Bunnies and Chicks Tutorial

It’s day two of March Break, and it’s still much too cold for this time of year. That means more crafts with the kiddos! Today’s craft was booboo bunnies and chicks, for which I have created a brief tutorial. They’re really very simple.

You may be wondering why are they called “booboo” animals. Well, it’s because the hole in the back of the animals caused by a loop in the fabric makes a great place to tuck an ice cube. The ice cube can then be applied to a child’s booboo without it getting their hands cold, and without it dripping all over the place. As an added bonus, the cuteness of the animal distracts the child from their injury. But don’t think that this is their only use! The hole in the back makes for a great place to stash an Easter candy; I’ve seen them made with beach towels so that one of those jumbo Kinder Eggs can fit inside. I’ve also seen them used as a creative way to present washcloths at a baby shower.

Booboo Bunny

Supplies Needed:
– one facecloth or dish cloth (without a pattern is best)
– 12″ of thin ribbon
– one pink pompom
– one white pompom
– two small googly eyes (with button shanks if you plan to sew them on)
– glue gun and glue OR needle and coordinating thread
– sharp scissors

1. Trim tags off of the cloth, if there are any.

2. Starting at one corner, roll the cloth diagonally until you have a tube.

3. Keeping the tube rolled tightly, fold it in half.

Top view.

Side view.

4. Keeping the tube rolled tightly, fold the open ends of the tube backwards. Secure by tying the ribbon tightly around the cloth, about 2/3 of the way along.

5. Tie the ribbon into a bow. Trim the ends with the scissors.

6. Using the hot glue gun, stick the two halves of the face securely together (otherwise it will look like a bum). Glue the eyes, nose, and tail to the bunny. Alternatively, sew the face together, and sew on the eyes, nose and tail. Sewing is the preferred method if you plan on using the cloth for other purposes at a later date.

Bunnicula Booboo Bunny

Don’t forget, booboo bunnies can be any colour of the rainbow! I just made white ones because that is the easiest colour of face cloth to find (and the cheapest). Don’t be afraid to experiment with decorating the bunnies, either. Above I added some glued-on felt “fangs” and used red googly eyes to create a “Bunnicula”, after a creature from a favourite childhood book. Be creative!

Booboo Chick

Supplies Needed:
– one facecloth or dish cloth (without a pattern is best)
– 12″ of thin ribbon
– scraps of yellow felt
– two small googly eyes (with button shanks if you plan to sew them on)
– glue gun and glue OR needle and coordinating thread
– sharp scissors

1. to 3. Follow steps 1-3 of the Booboo Bunny tutorial.

4. Instead of folding the cloth roll back on itself, fold it to either side, creating an “M” shape. Secure by tying the ribbon tightly around the cloth, about 2/3 of the way up.

5. Cut out scraps of felt for the beak and feet, proportionate to the size of the cloth that you are using.

6. Glue both sides of the head together, then glue on the felt pieces and googly eyes. Alternatively, sew the face together, and sew on the eyes, beak, and feet.

Once again, be creative! A chick easily turns into a penguin if you use a black cloth.

Bunnies and chicks! Now you’re all set for spring.