Monday, April 21, 2014

Chocolate Easter Bunnies and Chicks

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and it was a a beautiful sunny day for a picnic. I had been planning on contributing an edible item to the potluck that my friends were planning on having in a park. I didn't have much time though because last week I was super busy with job hunting related activities. So, I took out my trusty silicon mold that contains shapes of bunnies, chicks, and egg shapes. I melted Nestles chocolate chips in a bowl (1 cup for 1 minute) and used a pastry bag along with a bigger tip, like a 5, to pour the chocolate in the mold (One cup of chips is a perfect quantity for one mold). Of course you can also just cut off a small piece of the tip of a pastry bag and that works too. But I like to use the metal tip to poke around in the chocolate to pop any  that the air bubbles that may be hidden at the bottom. 

For these chocolate pieces I used good quality white chocolate and for the design I used dark chocolate. The eyes were piped on carefully with a no. 1 tip using the dark chocolate. It takes a little practice to get little round dots that don't have a pointy tip on top. You can use a pointed tool to push down the tip if necessary. The bunny noses are just sprinkles that I attached with a little powdered sugar+water.The orange beaks were made with powdered sugar, a little water, and orange food coloring, and a small brush.  I used gel food coloring thinking that it would stick to the smooth surface better but it kept pulling back together into a ball. So, after one coating, let it dry a little and then paint on a little more. Eventually the surface will be covered. Another trick that helps is to roughen the surface a little bit by making a few scratches with a needle. 

If you're not into piping on decorations or just don't have time to deal with it, then these chocolates look nice without any designs on them as well! My friends really liked the taste and the kids kept coming back for more.

If you want more colorful pieces, you could use candy melts. Or, you can make colorful designs on top of the white chocolate pieces using candy melts.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Glass Fused Dish - Colorful Weave Pattern

In this blog, I make suggestions about creative projects and I provide tutorials as well. My main goal is to spark ideas in others so that they can then go out there and do something creative themselves. I'm a firm believer in that each person should have at least one hobby because it helps to balance out your life. Anyway, I enjoy making glass fused plates, thanks to my significant other who talked me into taking on yet one more hobby : ) A couple of years ago I went to an exhibit about textiles at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. I was inspired by pieces that were not made of cloth and yet they had a woven pattern and texture so the objects looked like material. So, I started to experiment with a mold in my glass fusion class which allowed me to bend strips of glass and to weave then into each other. My second attempt is shown below and I'm happy with the way it turned out. 


Etsy Shop - Sparked Ideas Art

This plate fits into the dessert decorating theme that I've been focusing on in this blog so far because it kind of looks like strips and strings of taffy.  In case you're interested in purchasing this item for yourself or as a gift then please visit my Etsy shop which is called Sparked Ideas Art (see link the above). 




Monday, April 14, 2014

French Macaron Class

Here's an idea of a class that you can take along with a friend or family member. It also makes a great gift! I recently went to this macaron making class in San Francisco and it was great. Our instructor Thip demonstrated how to make French macarons. The process is a little trickier than with Italian macarons but if you receive good instructions, then it's easy breezy. See the link below.

Here's more information about Thip and her classes: 


The lesson takes place at her home in her professional kitchen which is very nice. It's a treat to be able to spend a couple of hours there. Thip does a great job of explaining all of the steps that are involved in making yummy macarons.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chocolate Butterfly Toppers - Attempt No. 1

After viewing some online tutorials on how to make a butterfly out of chocolate, I tried to make 12 of them for the Cupcake Meetup Group which had a meeting on March 15th. They looked really pretty right after I placed them on top of the cupcakes. However, at room temperature, most of the wings drooped and then broke off. I'll write more at a later date once I've found a better approach.

Teapot Cookies for a Piano Recital

A friend of mine, who's an awesome piano instructor (Renditions Music Services), recently asked me to bake and decorate 100 teapot shaped cookies for an upcoming children's recital. I had never done anything like this before but it sounded like it would be a great learning experience so I jumped on the opportunity.  

The following three photos show work in progress cookies and were taken prior to the event.

Next, I made the notes using a number 2 tip and a pastry bag.

On the day of the recital, I delivered the cookies to this nice community building.


We were all happy with the way these cookies turned out. I think that the teapot shape was perfect for the event because tea was served before the performances started. I was able to pull this off thanks to the great teapot cookie cutter that my friend loaned me. Regarding the musical notes, I have to admit that, at first, I was a little concerned that piping them would be difficult. But, after making a few of them (and after making some mistakes) I started getting the hang of it. Now it seems easy!

What worked:
1. Made a few test cookies and ran them by my friend before ploughing ahead and making one hundred.
 2. I made a simple sketch of 100 boxes and used felt markers to roughly draw the design and colors. Then, later on, while I was applying the icing, I checked each one off of the sketch as I made them.
3. Having several racks for drying. I borrowed some from a couple of people.
4. Flat airtight containers. These allow you to store the iced cookies in the refrigerator. A flat container isn't as bulky as a tall one and you don't have to stack the cookies.
5. Gave myself one day as a buffer in case something went wrong.
6. I asked my friend to store some of the cookies in her fridge.
7.  Covering the bottom of containers and boxes with crumpled wax paper and taping it onto the surface. This surface kept the cookies from sliding around while being transported.
8. Making the dough on the first day, wrapping it in plastic, and placing it in the refrigerator. The next day, I stamped the cookies out and baked them. 

What didn't work:
1. Not enough space in refrigerator.
2. Didn't bake enough cookies the first day and so had to bake more three days later. 
3. Needed to run to the super market more than once to buy extra flour and sugar.
4. Not enough airtight containers.

Do the next time:
1. Buy more airtight containers in advance.
2. Think about using bubble wrap at the bottom of containers the next time to avoid having the cookies slip around while in transport. 
3. Maybe paint the notes with royal icing or food coloring plus alcohol.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Chocolate Gingerbread Men and Candy Canes

I was invited to a Christmas party last week-end (yes, I know, it's March). I decided to make these chocolate gingerbread men because I thought that the kids would like them. You may have noticed that a similar post is on my blog from a few months ago but I think that these little guys look better because they have a mouth and a white dot for a nose.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Facebook Links, Group, Events

Please also join me on Facebook! I have a page related to this blog as well as a group that will often have events, raffles and fun things like that. 


Facebook (name and link):

 Sparked Ideas 


Facebook group (name and link):

Cookie Decorating Group!


Current Group Event (name and link):

Easter Cookie Event  (part of the "Cookie Decorating Group!")


Please note that the current Event is called "Easter Cookie Event". I'm sending a call out to participants and will be giving away a couple of small gifts (see image below).  These are neat because they're so realistic.