Wednesday, December 17, 2014

T’was The Week Before Christmas

Happy holidays!  Are you in a panic or as calm as a silent night? 

Thought I’d share what I’ve been up to besides workshops.

Behold!  I bring you tidings of great joy and sparkles!  I’ve been baking and decorating for a Wilton Treat Team Member Secret Santa Cookie Exchange project that will be revealed on Friday’s blog post! Here’s a sneak peek - a very tiny sneak peek as in tiny fondant decorations I’m making for the cookie decorations.  Shhh, it’s supposed to be a surprise!

Christmas Star and Snow Angel-8375

I’m also adding professional gift wrapper to my resume by request this season, so I’m setting up shop on Thursday night and the gifts will be arriving.  It’ll be fun!

To thank my friend, Shelly, for her assist at my West Elm OC Cookie Decorating Workshop, I wrapped up something special for her and added these mini spatulas from Sur la Table nestled into the bow. 

sur la table spatulas-8332.insta

Sur la Table has the cutest holiday themed goodies this year.  My candy cane striped mug and snow flake mug were a couple of my favs.  I use them each morning to hold my hazelnut girlie-brew. I don’t know if it’s the caffeine or the cheerfulness of the cups themselves but by 8:00 AM I’ve got my fa-la-la-la goin’ on!

Speaking of Sur la Table, last Sunday I took a holiday mac class.  I’ve taken a mac class before a couple years ago, but since I don’t make them regularly I like to keep up my skills.  Lauren at Newport Beach was a great instructor.  Learned so many little tips from her.  Did you know for macs to keep their color while baking you need to almost over color the batter before baking?  Covering the baking macs with foil after 3 minutes in the oven will also prevent them from becoming brown.  Continue baking another 4 minutes.  Wow!  Who knew? I don’t remember that tip from before.

Here’s our pistachio mac with rum buttercream, gingerbread with orange buttercream and peppermint with dark chocolate ganache with the rim dipped in crush peppermint candies.  I also met the nicest gals in class.  Win-win for me!

Sur la Table Macaron Class

Thanks to my mac crush, a tamis is on my Christmas list.  Just in case, you know.

We also managed to have a short trip overnight  to Pasadena to celebrate our good friend’s surprise birthday party.  I baked my OC Fair blue ribbon winning Dutch apple pie for him as apple is his favorite.  He was happy to supple the side of ham for the camera.  Funny fella.

apple pie for john

After the party, we went up to Colorado Blvd. and had a night cap at one of our favorite outdoor cafes and people watched for awhile.  It’s always entertaining.

Of course, we had to sample one of their signature pastries.  Oh my, so delish.  I enjoyed deconstructing it and we both enjoyed sharing it.  The things I do for my art.

mi piace

The next morning we awoke to the bells of the church where my mom attended high school.  We could see the the bell tower from our room and it made me miss her knowing this place was such a big part of her life.  It was hard for me to leave that day.

All these snaps are on my Instagram page which I have a lot of fun posting images I take here and there that don’t add up a complete blog post.

I’ve also been working on a new blog design that will have gallery pages for easy organization and searches and the ability to print recipes!  Yay!

I hope you’re having a good holiday season!  Please come back on Friday for some fun Christmas cookies!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Gift Wrapping Workshop at West Elm OC Sat. Dec. 13

I love big bows and I cannot lie as you’ll see in the post!

I’m returning to West Elm at South Coast Plaza this Saturday, Dec. 13 to teach an hour DIY Holiday Gift Wrapping Workshop.

West Elm OC Gift Wrapping Workshop

I’m making posh presents pop with that extra panache! (say that fast 5 times). 

If you want to learn how to glam up your presents you’ll definitely want to sign up for our DIY class.

I’m ready to unwrap my secrets on how to make the perfect showy bow, professional wrapping techniques and bow ideas for shipping your packages.  Plus, we’ll dress up a tote bag that will have everyone gasping when you walk into a room. (really, it happens every time).

I guarantee, (disclaimer: figure of speech, but I really do mean it) you’ll be known as the go-to gal or guy for posh presents after this class.

If you bring your scissors to cut the wired ribbon and some double stick tape, I’ll bring this for you:

  • gift box to wrap
  • holiday gift wrap
  • glittery wired ribbon
  • tissue paper
  • cellophane
  • more ribbon
  • chenille stems
  • tote bag
  • list of resources

You’ll take home a perfectly posh gift box all wrapped up that you can deconstruct later and refill, and a tote bag filled to the brim with poufy poshness. 

But more importantly behind all the glitz and glamour is the knowledge of how to put it all together:

  • which ribbons are best to use
  • why double stick tape is the way to wrap
  • no more knotted ribbon! (or sticky bows or wire hangers - that’s a joke!)
  • to tulle or not to tulle, hmmm
  • types of package fillers to use
  • adding sparkle to your wrapping paper
  • adding embellishments to your bows and packages
  • shredding and curling wide ribbon
  • and more!

And you know what else?  When you know how to make the perfect bow, which is so easy you won’t believe it, you can wrap up something really important, like a pie for a surprise birthday party for the guy who has everything. 

West Elm OC Gift Wrapping Workshop pie box

I can’t tell you how many people shared with me at the party this past weekend, that the first package they noticed when they walked into the room was the one with the gold shiny bow.

Humble pie?  Not a chance!  Be it ever so unhumble, even pie likes to be the center of attention at a party. :)

Don’t forget to think beyond the holidays.  Here’s some presents I wrapped for bridal and baby showers.

Soft n’ Sweet.

gift wrap bridal shower

High Tech Kitchen

Gift Wrap for a wedding shower

First comes love, then comes marriage…

gift wrap bridal shower HP

…then comes baby in the baby carriage!

gift wrap baby shower

Want to join us?  We hope you do!  Call the store or go to West Elm OC’s Facebook page and sign up there.

Wrapping this post up,

xoxo

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

West Elm South Coast Plaza’s Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Recap

I’ve been having such a fun time this holiday season!  Last week I taught a group of talented cookie decorating newbies at West Elm South Coast Plaza and we had such a great time together. 

Did you know I’m also teaching a Holiday Gift Wrapping Workshop this Saturday at West Elm too?  More about this in a bit but first I wanted to share the cookie decorating workshop with you and show you the artistry the decorators came up with.

I put together swanky swag bags for everyone and tied them up with pretty red and white polka dot bows then added blue snowflake cookie cutters. 

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson swag bags

Wilton was very generous in supplying decorating bags, tips, bag ties, squeezie bottles, straws, boards, pearlized luster powder, sprinkles and meringue powder for the multiple batches of royal icing. Thank you, Wilton!

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson Wilton Products

My good friend, Shelly, was my much needed assistant.  Thank you, Shelly!  You were the perfect, sweet cookie helper! 

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson Store

My friend, Cathy of Stitchfork assisted me in editing my booklet with recipes, tips, instructions and photos.  Thank you, Cathy!

Shelly pointed out to me my name was on West Elm’s store board.  Wow!  That was a thrill!

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson collage 2

You wouldn’t believe the creativity that was happening!

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson collage 1

Artists at work.

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson collage3

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson collage4

I gave the cookie decorators extra icing, cookies, shiny dragees and other embellishments to take with them to continue the decorating after class and guess what? 

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson-3150

Cookie decorators Bree and Ashley kept the icing flowing when they got home that night.  I love their creations.  They sent me the photo below.  Thanks for sharing gals!

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson sue's photo

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson-3122

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson-3156

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Marilyn Johnson-3145

We all had a great time!

Thank you to Tina and Lauren at West Elm South Coast Plaza for their hospitality and for the invitation to create a workshop for West Elm.

Now on to Saturday, Dec. 13 where I’ll be back at West Elm OC teaching a fun hands-on bow and gift wrapping workshop from 10 to 11.  Check out the West Elm OC Facebook page for more details!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

West Elm OC Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop Event December 4, 2014 “Oh What Fun!”

Are you ready to get your holiday on in a sweet flurry of hands-on cookie decorating fun? I am!

If you live in the SoCal area, there’s a couple spaces left for my
Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop at West Elm South Coast Plaza, Thursday, Dec. 4 at 6:30 PM!

Call the store at 714-662-1960 for more information and to reserve your place at the decked out holiday table.  I’ll be teaching the basic skills to decorate cut-out sugar cookies and then it’ll be your turn to create your masterpieces!  Plus you’ll take home many goodies in the SwagBag!  Scroll on down to see what’s it in below. 

“Oh what fun!”

We’re excited to have you join us!

West Elm Cookie Decorating Workshop 

West Elm Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop

What’s in your West Elm South Coast Plaza Cookie Decorating Workshop’s Wonderful Red SwagBag?”

  • Booklet with recipes, guides & photos
  • Decorating Tips from Wilton
  • Coupler from Wilton
  • Decorating Bags from Wilton
  • Snowflake Cookie Cutter
  • Big Squeezie Bottle for icing from Wilton
  • Pearl Luster Dust from Wilton
  • Sparkly Glitter Dust
  • Shiny Dragees
  • Brushes
  • Containers of Royal Icing
  • Cookies to decorate at home
  • Darling little spatula from Sur la Table
  • Cookie Gift Boxes from Wilton

And some fun Wilton product give-aways!

Come join the fun!

xoxo

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Snowflake Gingerbread Cake with a Cocoa Trimming Kit of Marshmallow Snowmen and Peppermint Sticks

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.  Ours was, as both boys were home and were able to stay a few days but today they’ve flown the coop again.  I never get used to that but before they left they got out all the Christmas decorations and put the garlands up on the banister while I was out shopping.  It was a perfect surprise!  It’s a big job to get the greens and lights up on our curvy staircase so I decided to let the guys continue their merry-making while I headed into the kitchen to show them how much I appreciated their thoughtfulness.

As a Wilton Brand Ambassador, I have the privilege of receiving and trying out new products on a seasonal basis.  For this holiday season, I was so excited when I opened my box of goodies a couple weeks ago to find a snowflake cake pan.  Since then, I’ve been waiting for the holidays to make a gingerbread cake with warm, spicy notes. 

Wilton Snowflake Cake Pan-38

There’s directions on the pan wrapper to tell you know how much batter the pan can hold.  It takes the equivalent of one boxed cake if you’re going with a mix, by the way.  My gingerbread recipe was made from scratch (link below) and yielded more batter so I filled the pan to where I thought it should be and poured the rest into a mini Wilton loaf pan.  Both cakes came out perfectly!

Wilton Snowflake Pan Gingerbread-8242ps

After the cake was cooled, I flipped it out of the non-stick pan.  This will be the top of the finished cake.  I got involved in holiday decorating so I forgot about my ten minute mark to take the cake out of the pan but I still came out fine even though it was completely cooled.  If I had done it at exactly ten minutes, I wouldn’t have had any little rough areas on the bottom (now top) of the cake.  It’s like a little game to flip the cake out of the pan.  I strive for cake release perfection.  If you’re a baker, you’ll understand.  ha!  

Wilton Snowflake Cake Pan-8251

Next, I glazed the cake with a mixture of sifted powdered sugar, half & half and vanilla and spread it over the cake with the back of a spoon.  If the glaze felt like taking a detour over the sides of the cake, why not?

After it was set and dry, I sifted powder sugar over the entire surface.

Taking a large, plain round tip placed into a decorating bag, I piped cream cheese frosting (recipe below) on the tips of the snowflake.  Another dusting of powdered sugar over the piped frosting gave the icing a snowy look.  I finished decorating with Wilton’s White Cake Sparkles sprinkled over the piped icing and large silver dragees.  It’s a simple decoration that’s easy, elegant and pretty.

The punched out snowflake in the middle is made with fondant that was allowed to dry and harden.  I’ve made dozens of make-ahead fondant embellishments to bring to the Holiday Cookie Decorating Class at West Elm South Coast Plaza that I’m teaching this week.  Always good to make extra fondant decorations because they can be used for any sweet decoration in the future.

Wilton Gingerbread Cake Pan-37

Know what else I fell in love with in my goodie package?  The Cocoa Trimming Kit.  It’s a pack of marshmallow snowmen with accompanying peppermint sticks! 

Wilton Holiday Pack-8097

How cute are they? They hold their shape well since they’re not as squishy as regular marshmallows and they come with individually wrapped peppermint sticks. 

Wilton Snowman Marshmallows Candy Canes 40-2 final

For our hot cocoa, I added Wilton’s pearalized snowflake sprinkles on top of the whipped cream.  I love the color combination of red peppermint sticks paired with the blue candies for accent.

With the gingerbread cake baked and decorated and hot cocoa ready to go, I put together a tray of holiday treats for my three merry-making men who by this time had just finished putting up the lights outside!  This is our second year of having green pinpoints of laser lights all over the house and landscape.  We’ve already had someone come to the door today to ask about them before we even put them up because they remembered them from last year.  Here’s a photo I posted on Instagram.  We had them up for Halloween too where we added blue lights to the green.

Wilton Snowman Marshmallows Candy Canes-43

I can’t get enough of these smiling little guys!

Wilton Snowman Marshmallows Candy Canes-8317

I love these festive touches for the holiday season.  Below you’ll find recipe links, product information and other Wilton inspired links!

Have a wonderfully sweet holiday season!

Wilton Snowman Marshmallows Candy Canes-46

Old Fashioned Gingerbread

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Cream all ingredients.  Thin with a bit of milk or half & half if it’s too thick to spread or pipe.

Wilton Products Used in this post:
Snowflake Tube Cake Pan 
Cocoa Trimming Kit
Sprinkles – Pearlized Snowflakes
White Cake Sparkles

More holiday goodies you’ll love!

Wilton Holiday 900

Past Wilton Posts

Pretty Painted Pie Crust (cutters)
Black Cinnamon Candied Apples
Decorated Ghost Cookies with Fondant
Fabulous Fondant Give-Away
Pretty Pink Petal Cake
Endless Summer Cupcakes
Sea Life Fondant & Gum Paste Mold
Fabulous Fondant Daisies
Father’s Day Golf Themed Cupcakes
My Trip to the Wilton Sweet Up (Visiting the Mothership)
Peeps Brunch Bunnies
Whimsical Springtime Brunch
Twist Quick Coupler Review
Sweet Treat Team

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pretty Painted Pie Crusts

With pie making taking center stage on Wednesday along with all my other prep work for Thursday’s dinner, I’ve planned ahead and taken some steps to make the day less hectic and more organized with “pretty” still in mind.

Truth be told, I cannot make a pie without a decorative crust finish.  When I won the blue ribbon for my Dutch apple pie at the Orange County Fair, one of the judge’s comments was how pretty the single painted apple cut-out was on top of the pie and how it added to the presentation.

I made my first pie of the season this past weekend because it was my mother-in-love’s 92nd birthday and she loves pumpkin pie.  Who says a birthday has to be celebrated with a cake? 

I used Wilton’s 6-pc. Pie Crust Cutter Set to cut leaves out of the pie crust scraps to add the decorative maple leaves and I’m going to show you how to paint the pretty colors.

Wilton Pie Crust Cutters Pretty Painted Pie Crusts-

I’ve used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Pate Brisee for my pie crusts forever.  It’s the best.  Apparently the OC judge’s liked it too.

Wilton Pie Crust Cutters -8197

I found it’s best to prepare your crust with a simple cut edge so the leaves have a wide, flat surface to adhere to.

To make the “paint” take 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten to break them up, and place them in the middle of a plate.

Add Wilton’s Decorating Colors around the inside of the plate.  The colors I used were kelly green, golden yellow, red and lemon yellow.  I also experimented with a purple but I don’t recommend using it.  Keep the colors in the lighter hues and a swipe of green only to add depth once in awhile.

Wilton Pretty Painted Pie Crusts

I used the egg yolks and the spots of color like a painter’s palette and pulled the yolk into my colors.

Paint each individual leaf with the colors.  There is no right or wrong.  I like mixing colors - painting some yellow then perhaps some red on the tips of the leaves.

Wilton Pie Crust Cutter Set

Pretty pastry leaves. 

Wilton Pretty Painted Pie Crusts

I admit to adding some glittery sparkle.  I just can’t help myself.

These can also be made days ahead or frozen.  Thaw before placing them on the pie or place them on the pie crust then freeze the entire crust.

Adhere them to the pie edge by moistening the pie crust edge with water or more beaten egg yolk.  I prefer water.

Place your leaves around the crust edge pressing a little to make sure they have adhered.

Bake your pie as directed BUT I found the colors do darken when baked so I recommend covering the pie crust’s edge with foil or with a pie crust guard after the leaves have had a time to set. 

You can also bake the leaves separately on a baking sheet and remove them from the oven before they brown too much and use them to garnish dollops of whipped cream on your pie slices.  I add this special touch to my final presentation before we dig in.

The cutters can be found at Michaels and Jo-Ann Craft Stores or wherever Wilton is sold near you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a sponsored post.  As a Wilton Brand Ambassador, I received compensation and/or product from Wilton Cake Decorating.  All opinions and endorsements of the products I mention are my own.  If I didn’t love them… you know.  :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

USC Trojan Cupcakes! Fight On!

USC Trojan Cupcakes

While I was making the USC cupcakes I had to open my college box and see what was in there since I haven’t opened it up in a couple decades.  I loved seeing dozens and dozens of handwritten letters from my friends.  What a gift!  There were letters detailing how they spent their summer vacations and hopes for the next school year.  Lots of love letters from various gentlemen which were fun to read.  Nothing will make you feel younger and older at the same time!  I revisited the humor of my senior year room mate, Lorraine, who is the funniest person I’ve ever known and I even found letters written to me by my husband-to-be when he was a freshman in college and I was still in high school.  He told me I was one of the nicest people he knew while he thanked me for making him chocolate chip cookies! 

Each letter from my friends and family is priceless.  I had no idea then how special those handwritten pieces of our souls would be.  You can feel every emotion and every ounce of personality in one’s handwriting with pen to paper.  That just isn’t possible with email.  

I also found these – various spirit buttons I would buy at the bookstore before a game. 

USC Spirt Buttons

The house button was used during sorority rush at the Tri-Delta house.  In my senior year I was voted VP.  By that big front door under the Deltas, after one of the football games, I was given a kiss that made my toes curl and liked it so much I asked for another.  Months later but right before graduation, in the same spot, my heart was broken into a million little pieces.  In the box, I found a summer letter with news of an engagement.  I remember reading that letter over and over as if doing so could change the contents.  It was painful.  We ultimately attended our respective weddings.  Funny how things work out.

USC Cupcakes Rose Bowl

I was at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day when USC won the championship against Michigan.  The energy was incredible.  I will always think USC and the team they’re going to beat should be the only teams allowed to play in the Rose Bowl on January 1.  It’s true Trojan mentality.

I loved my time at SC.  All of it.  I hope you loved my USC cupcakes even if you’re a fan of that “other” team.  A cross-town rivalry is always fun to have but if you really want to score points, at halftime, go write a letter to someone special in your life, a real one, with a pen. Red heart

USC Cupcakes

FIGHT ON!  May the best team win.  Like we don’t know who that is!  :)

Update:  Ugh.  Better luck next year!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop at West Elm South Coast Plaza

I’m so excited that West Elm South Coast Plaza has asked me me return to teach a holiday cookie decorating workshop at their store in Costa Mesa!

There’s lots of info on West Elm OC’s Facebook page where you can sign up for the class !

decorated snowflake cookies west elm

We’re going to have a flurry o’ fun!

decorated snowflake cookies west elm

Here’s the workshop info from West Elm South Coast Plaza’s Facebook page-

Want to impress your friends and family with your cookie decorating skills this holiday season? Come join us December 4th at 6:30pm and learn how to create some holiday cookies taught by local baker and award-winning blogger, Marilyn Johnson of Pink Martinis and Pearls!

A baker, entertainer, and cocktail shaker for starters, Marilyn's artistic passion is decorating cookies. She loves planning colorful and fun parties and sharing her expertise with others. She features DIY photographic tutorials on her website.

The cost for this event is $65 for an hour and a half. You will be walking away with about 5 skillfully decorated holiday cookies and a goody bag that will include:
- Booklet with recipes
- Cookie cutter
- Icing
- Piping bags
- Brushes
- Squeeze bottles
- Couplers
- Decorating embellishments
- Decorating tips

Spots are limited so please call our store to RSVP, 714-662-1960. WE can't wait!

Also, my Holiday Gift Wrapping Workshop at the West Elm South Coast Plaza store is scheduled for Saturday, December 13.  Smile

Look for more details to come on both of our Instagram pages @westelmoc and @pinkmartinisandpearls

and Facebook – West Elm South Coast Plaza and Pink Martinis and Pearls

Hope to see you at both!

Monday, November 17, 2014

USC Cupcakes Countdown …Sneak Peek

This week the countdown begins to what hopefully will be a great game against the “other team that will not be named on my blog”, but they are our crosstown rivals from Westwood and have a teddy bear for their mascot, at least that’s the effigy that was tied to a stake and burned in the pep rally bonfire on campus a couple nights before the game!  HA! It was a great rally with all the players in attendance and the coach firing up the crowd.  I wonder if they can still do that today with air pollution restrictions and teddy bear political correctness.  Hmmm.

As a USC alum, I’ve been working on some game day USC cupcakes.  Here’s a couple pics I posted on Instagram and Facebook last week.

We can always dream of the Rose Bowl.  Uh, 2016, anyone?  :)

USC Cupcakes Rose Bowl

We went to the USC vs. Cal game last week with our best buddies – my Tri-Delta room mate and her hubby.  I learned 2 two things – the Cardinal and Gold Club makes some mean margaritas and they could seriously use some USC cupcakes on their dessert table, but I could be biased.  Think so?

USC Trojans Cupcake-

But as we Trojans like to say, “The Tradition Continues” and so does my cupcake design work to get them ready for Saturday!

Check back later this week as I drag out my USC memory box (no telling what’s in there) and what USC cupcakes I’ve come up with to celebrate our pending victory against that other team. 

There’s nothing more loyal (or obnoxious) than a Trojan fan.  Smile 

Love to my ucla gal pals. Red heart Smile

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Get The Party Started with Shutterfly– Perfectly Personal™ Holiday Card Collection

Are you thinking yet about the December holidays and sitting on the fence whether to entertain and host a fun party?  With the temps in the high 80’s here in Southern California it doesn’t exactly feel like the holiday party planning season is here but it is!  Thanks to Shutterfly, I was able to find my holiday spirit while working on a project for them. 

I’m very pleased to feature a party invitation that I chose, and I think you’ll love it too because it has happiness written all over it!  It’s the Jingle Jingle Mingle Holiday Invitation from the Perfectly Personal™ line of invitations from the Holiday Cards Collection.  Every holiday season, I decorate my red front doors with silver sleigh bells so this caught my eye immediately.

Shutterfly Holiday Collection 2014F-1

Did you know invitations from Shutterfly are two-sided?  I was able to add more special touches on the back.  Of the many backgrounds to choose from, I felt red bokeh lights nicely complimented the red graphics on the front of the invitation. 

I also downloaded a photo of my of mini snowflake cookies and added a message for my guests to “bring a plate of cookies and their singing voices.”  It’s a holiday party after all!  It’s perfectly acceptable to get your fa-la-la-la-la on.

Shutterfly Holiday Collection Party Invitations

Do you give your guests a little something extra to remember the party by?  I do.  A little bag of mini snowflake cookies like the ones seen on back of the invitation will be a perfect party favor!  I ordered a set of stickers to make gifts tags to tie onto bags of decorated cookies.  I chose the Holiday Cheer Pattern Stickers and added the text line - “Have a sweet holiday”.

Making these gift tags using the stickers couldn’t be easier – Place the stickers on card stock, cut around the sticker with a decorative edged scissors, punch a hole for baker’s twine, loop the twine through and that’s it!  So cute, easy and fast to make!  These will be finished long before the time it takes Clarence to get his wings or Rick to take out the majority of the zombie population in the greater Atlanta area.  :)

Shutterfly Holiday Collection Tags-

To complete the theme of snowflakes and candy canes, I ordered custom postage stamps from Shutterfly and chose a candy cane striped border to frame the same  photos of my cookies that I had used on the back of the invitation.  Now the envelope will be a sneak peek to the call of festivities that await inside!

Shutterfly Holiday Collection Combo-

It’s really fun to browse the Shutterfly site to bring together all the elements that get the party started.  Instant holiday spirit is just a click away!

AND…if you want to learn how to decorate the mini snowflake cookies for your own gift giving and other sweet holiday decorated cookies, I’m teaching 2 holiday hands-on workshops at West Elm OC South Coast Plaza.  1.  Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7:00 PM and 2. Holiday Gift Wrapping Workshop on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 10:00 AM.  More info to come!

This is a sponsored post. I received compensation and/or product from Shutterfly.  All opinions and endorsements of the products I mention are my own but I chose this ensemble for you!  Thank you, Shutterfly!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Black Cinnamon Candied Apples

Trick or Treat!  Happy Halloween Week!  Here’s a treat that’s best made a day or two before the big night.  It’s a twist on the hard candied apples that are usually colored red but I’ve made these black and cinnamon flavored.  That would be the trick but they’re not tricky to make.

Wilton Candied Apples-7926 Black Cinnamon

To begin, clean apples thoroughly to get the wax off.  I did this by taking baking soda in my hands, dampening with water to make a paste and rubbing it over the apples.  If you sniff the apples before the baking soda rub down and then compare it to the newly scrubbed apples, you’ll notice a more pronounced apple scent afterwards.  This means the wax coating has been removed.

Place a wooden stick (pointed end helps) into the apple.  I then used a Wilton lollipop straw for an added decorative element.  This slid over my stick but if your stick is larger in diameter, you could slit the straw all the way up and slide it over the stick or you could puncture the apple and make a place to stick in the straw.

Wilton Candied Apples sticks

The Silpat mat I placed the apples on before dipping will hold them afterwards.  Parchment paper will also work well if it’s coated to be non-stick.

The sugar mixture is simple -

2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 1/2 c. water

Additions -
2 T. black decorating color
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil

In a heavy bottomed high-sided sauce pan, boil the sugar, syrup and water to 300 degrees.  This is the hard ball stage.   This means the sugar mixture will harden when it’s set.  The sugar will stay at 200 degrees for a relatively long time, about 10 minutes but then it rises quickly to 300.  Watch it or it’ll overcook and you’ll have caramel but not the soft, chewy kind.  Let’s save that recipe for another time.  A candy thermometer helps big time.  You could do it without but it’s a complicated process to check by dripping the boiling sugar mixture into water at various times to see how hard it is when it hits the water.

When the sugar has reached 300, take it off the heat and mix in the color and the oil.  Don’t panic if it looks kind of gloppy when you do this.  It’ll will settle down and be smooth.  To taste test the amount of flavoring.  Take a spoon and dip it into the sugar mixture and then run it under cold water or let some sugar drip into a glass of cold water.  You never, ever want to taste hot sugar.  NEVER!  You won’t have any taste buds left on your tongue.  The cold water will immediately harden the candy.  If you’re tasting by cooled spoon, make sure it’s cool enough for you to take a lick by touching the spoon first.  Add more flavoring to suit your tastes.

Before dipping each apple, make certain the stick is thoroughly secure.  You don’t want the apple coming off into the sugar and splashing you.  With the pan tilted, take each apple and dip it into the sugar and give the apple a twirl.  Let some of the sugar run back into the pan.  Place the coated apple on the silicone mat to set.

Your apples will quickly harden to a high shine and be ready to decorate.

Wilton Straws

Bubbles are a hit or miss thing.  Personally, I loved them on the apples.  Kind of wart-like and fitting for the holiday.

The shiny black candy is pretty as is but I wanted to go all out and add another layer of flavor and texture.  I did this with melted candy coating and sprinkles.

I melted Wilton’s candy coating in Pumpkin Pie flavored (orange) and Caramel Apple (green).  They’re seasonal flavors and are so good.  I mean really good, as in I barley had enough left to decorate the apples because the packages were opened a couple weeks ago and, well, you know how those things go, a nibble here, a nibble there, handing out samples to those who popped in.  Did I say they were really good?  I mean really good.  I love Wilton’s seasonal flavors.  I highly recommend giving them a try.

To make the melted candy coating look consistent on the apple, I placed it into a parchment cone and piped it on using an #11 plain round decorating tip.

Wilton Candy Melts Pumpkin Spice

I then added sprinkles.  Sprinkles make anything look happy and that the party has begun, don’t you think?

Wilton Halloween Sprinkles

I finished decorating the apples with pretty ribbon.  Oh, the apples aren’t sitting directly on the cleaned real leaves, waxed paper is on the bottom.  Sticking to the bottom of the apple, I cut the excess off with scissors.  There’s a trend to insert twigs from the yard into apples.  I’m kind of a sticker for not wanting sappy green wood inserted in my juicy edibles.  Besides, the straws are so colorful and fun that I feel they really add to the festive presentation.

Wilton Candied Apples

And just for fun, here’s a blast from the past Halloween party.  I was so proud of the fact I made these costumes and yarn wigs.  Apparently Andy was mature for his age with a full beard!  And, yes “Andy” still married me after this and 31 years later we’re still going strong!

Halloween Costumes

I think I have one more Halloween post I can squeeze in for us last minute pumpkin people, like me!  Come back, if you dare!

Wilton products used:

Candy Melts – Pumpkin Spice
Candy Melt – Caramel Apple (if you can’t find this flavor but like the green try Vibrant Green)
Lollipop Sticks – Orange and Black
6 Cell Sprinkles – Halloween

wilton candy melts product

As a Wilton Brand Ambassador, I received compensation and/or product from Wilton Cake Decorating.  All creations, opinions and endorsements of the products I mention are my own.  If I didn’t love them… you know.  :)

Past Wilton Posts -
Decorated Ghost Cookies with Fondant
Fabulous Fondant Give-Away
Sea Life Fondant & Gum Paste Mold
Endless Summer Cupcakes
Pretty Pink Petal Cake
Fabulous Fondant Daisies
Father’s Day Golf Themed Cupcakes
My Trip to the Wilton Sweet Up (Visiting the Mothership)
Peeps Brunch Bunnies
Whimsical Springtime Brunch
Twist Quick Coupler Review
Sweet Treat Team

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