Sunday, February 27, 2011

Attempting Oreo-stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Say What?!? I know I primarily blog about books and crafting, but I made sure to include "and things of interest" for precisely this type of situation.

Chocolate definitely qualifies as a thing of interest, and chocolate chip cookies, doubly so.

I originally caught this post over at Craft blog. I followed the link to Amandeleine for the recipe, and I had to try it. I am not going to repost the recipe here, but I do want to add a few notes for those of you who may want to try this for yourself. I am not the best baker in the world, so I have plenty of little mistakes you can learn from. But fear not-- the cookies are delicious if not perfectly beautiful morsels!

1. I have my ingredients ready to go.

2. Wet ingredients and dry ingredients are mixed.

3. Cookies are formed! But here's where I goofed, folks. My first mistake was using too much dough to encase the Oreos. Easy does it! Also, space your cookies out for heaven's sake. No more than 6 per tray, I would say. However, it is entirely possible that fixing problem number one would also make problem number two a non-issue.

4. Here you can see where the cookies were too close. My first batch was undercooked by a minute or two, which made them very soft-- good for taste, but messy on the transfer to cooling racks.

5. Batch two did much better with the longer baking time. Here's a close-up of that golden brown exterior.

6. This is what the final product looks like. They may not be pretty, but yummmmmmmm! I could only eat one, which is saying something.

And remember: milk does an Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Upcycled Dinosaur Crayons

In addition to crafting some plush brontosaurs for my daughters' pink and yellow dinosaur party, I decided to make some dinosaur shaped crayons for the goodie bags. Since the other children at their childcare are all between 2 and 4, I figured the chunky crayons shapes would be perfect for them to color. Also, this craft gave me the excuse to upcycle all of the old, broken crayons I have sitting around the house. When I decided that I was going to do this, I also started saving all of the crayons that my kids get from restaurants (my husband deserves credit for that idea). Why let them go waste?

- crayon pieces, labels peeled off
- 1 or 2 cooking pans (depending on how many colors you are using)
- tin cans or aluminum cans (1 for each color)
- popsicle sticks or wooden skewers for stirring
- a candy mold (I used this one)
- wax paper (to cover the workspace)
- lots of paper towels (for quick clean up)

1. After peeling the labels off the crayons and sorting them by color, I put each color into a metal can. Tins cans work especially well because the edges aren't as sharp, but a cut aluminum can does just fine. I would recommend breaking the crayons up into little chunks-- they will melt faster. (I forgot to do that and it was a pain.)

2. Heat the cans in your pans on the stove. A low heat (2-3 on my stove) was sufficient. If you turn it up much higher, you start to get a funky odor and stress out your pans. Use the popsicle sticks to stir as needed. If you mix different shades of the same color, the stirring will help blend everything together.

3. Pour heated wax into the mold. The cans don't get super hot, so you could do this with bare fingers, but I thought it was easier to use a pot holder once I got the can out of the pan. Since the shapes in my mold were pretty big, each child is only going to get one crayon. I wanted each crayon to have different colors to give it a neat effect. On the first batch, I stuck the mold in the freezer between each layer of colors. This allowed each layer to be very distinct, but it took a lot of patience. On the second batch, I pour the colors into the mold without allowing cooling time in between. The result was more of a tie-dye effect, which is visible in this picture.

4. Once the crayons cool completely (again, the freezer helps speed this up), they pop right out of the mold. These are some of the crayons from my first batch to show the distinct layers. The whole process took about 45 minutes and was pretty fun. Be sure to wear clothes that can get dirty... I ended up with quiet a few splatters.

Happy crafting!