Candy Bouquet {Dollar Tree DIY}

Since I’ve been MIA from the blog, I wanted to give you all a special gift. Like a bouquet of flowers maybe? Flowers are nice….but a candy bouquet is even better!
This is something I very quickly and easily put together from supplies found at my local Dollar Tree store. It would make a great “little something extra” for that special teacher (end-of-the-year is near!), graduations, birthdays or let the kids put one together for Father’s Day (June 21st!)
This one has a ‘base’ made of my oldest daughter’s favorite candy…Swedish Fish, but any “movie theater” box of candies will work. Then I added various candy, suckers, fun straws, and a balloon in the center. On the balloon, I put her name, using stick-on letters and her jersey # since this was for a sports thing (8th grade recognition night for Volleyball). The Skittles and gum packets were taped to lollipop sticks.
To make…you need 4 boxes of candy, the same size. Then you need one foam block, usually found with floral supplies, like this one…
Photo from Dollar Tree
It doesn’t really matter what size, as long as the boxes of candy fit around it. You can also trim the blocks down if too tall.
  • Place the boxes of candy around the foam block, using duct tape, packaging tape, or glue to keep the boxes stable and adhered to block. Next, add your candy. If using suckers/lollipops, stick them evenly into and around the foam block, like you would flowers! Then, fill in spaces with other candy (attached to lollipop/cake pop sticks) or use straws or anything else you would like. Get creative! Now you have your own bouquet to share…
At least she was supposed to share…

Copycat Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark

If you have not visited a Trader Joe’s grocery store, then you may not be familiar with their ‘Cowboy Bark’.

I have no idea why it’s named that, but I can tell you that it’s pretty darn awesome. It has that sweet and salty combo that I loooovveee. Luv. Lurve. Just imagine (or read on the above package) – dark chocolate, loaded with toffee, pretzels, chocolate sandwich cookies, peanuts, almonds and a little salt. Holla. (Anyone else watching Big Brother?!)
This is SO easy to make at home, and as you can see, the girls and I loaded our chocolate down with toppings. That’s the great thing about making this at home, you can be as generous with the toppings as you like. You can also substitute ingredients to whatever you like best or have on hand.
The only difference is that I used Oreo’s instead of Joe’s O’s and I used Heath Bar pieces instead of just plain toffee pieces, because, seriously…can you have too much chocolate?

Copycat Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark

1 lb. dark chocolate (I used Chocoley Extra Dark Chocolate, it’s not bitter at all!)
10 chocolate sandwich cookies, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pretzel pieces
1/2 cup Heath toffee bits
1/2 cup chopped peanuts and almonds
sea salt, for sprinkling – too taste
*measurements are approximates – you may want more or less, and there was an awful lot of ‘sampling’ going on while my girls helped me make this!
  • Have your cookies, pretzels, toffee, and nuts chopped and ready for placement on the bark
  • Line a baking dish, plastic container or cookie sheet with parchment paper or plastic wrap

*I used a plastic container that was a little too small and my bark came out a bit thicker than I wanted. I would recommend a cookie sheet, then you can spread it out to your desired thickness

  • Melt chocolate per instructions on bag/bar/etc.
  • Pour melted chocolate on parchment paper and spread to desired thickness.
  • While chocolate is hot, quickly add cookie and pretzel pieces. Then sprinkle on toffee, peanuts and a little sea salt.
  • Allow chocolate to set. (I placed mine in the fridge for a few minutes)
  • Break into pieces and enjoy your copycat creation!
Chocoley sent me a sampling of their products to try. No compensation was received for posting. 
 
 I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles,Tasty Tuesdays (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the Curtain,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage Chic (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Chocolate Candy Cake

I gave a little overview of my middle child’s 10th birthday last week, with a pic of her Pinterest inspired over-the-top cake. I mean a cake surrounded in Kit Kat candy bars and covered with M&M’s…every kids dream right?! (and me being the chocoholic that I am was secretly super excited to have an excuse to make it!)  Her friends were quite impressed, and deemed me the best baker ever. hahaha, candy will win them over every time!
However, the outside wasn’t the only yummy part of this cake.  The inside was also delicious.  It was chocolate cake and chocolate icing…per Miss Two’s request.  The inside was moist and chocolate-y and the icing was the new Cool Whip frosting, which was light and the perfect match for this cake.
 This cake is adapted from this one. I’ve been making it for years, but usually make it as a bundt cake.  Since I wanted this cake to be a layer cake, I changed the recipe a little to have a cake that was a little less dense and heavy. The result was ‘fluffier’, but not dry.

Chocolate Layer Cake

1 package devil’s food cake mix (without pudding in the mix)
1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm coffee
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, yogurt, oil, beaten eggs and coffee. 
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into two greased and floured cake pans. (or pan of choice!)
  • Bake for suggested time on back of cake mix box, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
  • Allow cake to cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely before icing. 
  • To assemble “Kit Kat” cake – frost cake as desired, then place full size Kit Kat bars all around the outside of the cake.  My cake used 3 “king size” Kit Kats plus one “regular size”.  I just broke the bars into singles (but I think leaving them as double sticks would be better) and stick them to the frosting on the cake.
  • Once the cake is covered all around the sides with Kit Kat bars, you can cover the top in whatever you like. We used pretzel M&M’s and mini M&M’s.  You could make this cake match whatever theme you are using, or Holiday, based on the color candy you use on top. It makes for such a cool presentation.  I added ribbon around the cake, b/c that is what I had seen on Pinterest.  I thought maybe the ribbon was needed to keep the Kit Kats from falling off, but we didn’t have any issue with that (it might happen if the frosting started to melt however).
This is definitely a “special occasion” cake, with all that candy on top makes quite an impression on kids and adults alike!

Homemade Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples, or in our case, hurricane preparation. The weather has been super yucky…days of wind and rain, so to help entertain the kids, and have something yummy to eat, we decided to make our annual caramel apples.  The kids always love doing this!
My 4 y/o was so funny, he meticulously placed individual sprinkles and M&M’s on his apple!  While the rest of us rolled ours in pretty much everything available. 
We used crushed Whoppers, M&M’s, sprinkles, pretzels, and chopped dark chocolate.
And then, of course, even better than decorating the apples…is eating them!
The caramel recipe is SO easy, and has 3 ingredients!

Caramel Apple Recipe 
from 101 Cookbooks


6 – 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold   (*I used 4 large Granny Smiths, and have a little caramel leftover)

 1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup honey

Special equipment: candy thermometer, and lollipop sticks

Line a baking sheet with parchment/wax paper.
Push a lollipop or popsicle stick deep into each apple (through the stem.)
Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.
In a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the milk touches the pan – just before a simmer.

Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 minutes minutes or until the mixture reaches about 255-260F degrees on your candy thermometer.
To stop the caramel from cooking, carefully set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of cold water you prepared earlier – taking special care not to get any of the water in the caramel mixture. Stir until caramel begins to thicken up – you want the caramel to be thin enough that it will easily coat your apples, but not so thin that it will run right off. If the caramel thickens too much simply put the pot back over the burner for 10 seconds or so to heat it up a bit.

Place each apple on the wax/parchment lined baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool, but get your decorations on before it sets.

 
As far as Hurricane Sandy, we were fortunate where I am in eastern NC. Some localized flooding, but nothing unusual. I hope everyone  is safe wherever you are!