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1  COOKING / Dessert / Smeeps! on: April 18, 2014 08:31:03 AM
Looking for a last minute Easter baking project?

The stores are full Peeps right now. I don't like eating them, they are far too sweet to ingest, but I am inspired by those cute shapes and colors! I decided to make S'mores Peeps(=Smeeps). My problem was graham crackers. The rectangle shapes from the store completely hide the cute bunny Peeps and defeat my idea. So, I found a couple recipes for graham crackers off the internet, combined them and made my own, using a Peep bunny shaped cookie cutter to cut my crackers out. (I found the cutter at Michael's.)  

Thus, Smeeps! That one on the right got a bit burnt - I rolled those guys too thin.

When it is time to eat, put the Smeep in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and watch the fun. On the one I ate, the head swelled up enormously, but the bubble butt and ears stayed normal. I then went into a state of sugar-shutdown and had to sit on the couch and hold my head for a while. If you eat these, be ready for the sweet overdose, or maybe split one among two people.

What happens at 30 seconds in my microwave. The marshmallow swelling broke the bunny graham cracker before the chocolate released its hold.

I used Ghirardelli dipping, dark chocolate for the first time and it was Very Melty! There was no suitable in-between stage I could find, the chocolate was either solid chips or pure liquid, hence the drippy strips all over. I do not think this detracts from the fun deliciousness of the treat, but you might stick with a melting chocolate you are comfortable with if you make them and want a neater appearance.

Since I wanted to give away most of these, I wrapped them up in neat little bags as single or double servings for easy transport to our workplaces.

And now, the recipe with my notes. I almost always adjust recipes to accommodate my purposes and tastes, and for high altitude (Cheyenne sits about 6,000 ft above sea level - the air is 15% less dense here which changes baking and cooking noticeably) as well as for any ingredient substitutions due to availability. Your recipe mileage may vary.

Makes over 3 dozen bunny graham crackers or traditional-size rectangles and takes about five hours total to complete, with all the chilling and treat assembly.
~~If you're not at high altitude, round your baking soda up to to a fat one and a half tsp and maybe don't round the flours when you measure, just level them flat. And lower the Godiva liqueur to one TB only.~~
Ingredients for Dough:
1.5 C rounded; unbleached, high-altitude all-purpose flour
1 C rounded; graham flour
1 C level, dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt
7 TB butter, cut into .5" cubes, chilled
.33 C honey
3 TB heavy whipping cream
2 TB skim milk (if you have fatty milk, just use that - I had skim milk and whipping cream, so ...)
2 TB vanilla bean paste (if your grocer doesn't have it, Michael's does)
1 TB vanilla extract
2 TB Godiva liqueur (my go-to flavor add)

Ingredients for Top Sprinkles:
2 TB white sugar
1 TB cinnamon, plus sprinkles of your fav sweet spices (like garam masala, allspice, coriander - whatever your thing is)

Make Dough:
Combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in bowl and mix together.
Add chilled butter cubes, use pastry blender to combine to a crumbly mixture. Butter cubes should end up the size of peas or smaller.
In another bowl, mix together the honey, milk, vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract and Godiva liqueur.
Add liquids to the flour mixture and mix together. Don't overmix, you want it barely together. It will be soft and sticky.
Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour combo*, then dump dough out onto it and smush it about an inch thick.
Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about two hours or so.
When the dough is cold and firm dust a flat surface and roll half the dough out, leaving the other half in the chiller.
Use flour combo to dust as necessary, this is sticky dough.
Roll to about one-eighth to one-fourth an inch thick**, cut your desired shapes.
Using a blunt toothpick or skewer, pierce bunnies with eyes and nose - or whatever fits your shape best.

Make Top Sprinkles:
Combine last ingredients: 2 TB white sugar and 1 TB cinnamon, plus pinches of other spices as desired.
Sprinkle dough bunnies with the combined sugar spices. I ran a finger over mine to impress the sprinkling into the dough a little.

Heat the oven to 350F.
Stack the cut, sugared, and pierced dough bunnies on layers of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and keep them in the fridge until ready to bake. You want them to be firm, not floppy, when they go into the oven. Might take 30 minutes or so in the fridge.
Bake a test sheet with few bunnies to see how they do, and adjust your process as needed.
While the first batch bakes and cools, repeat roll, cut, pierce & sprinkle work with second half of dough, incorporating any rolling or baking tips you learned on the test sheet.
Bake sheets for 12-15 minutes, until barely starting to brown on the edges.
Remove from oven, allow to set for a minute or two, then remove from sheet to wire racks for cooling.
Once cool, they're ready to assemble into Smeeps.

A bottom bunny graham cracker, a layer of dark chocolate and smush a Peep bunny into it before it cools (to fix it in place) and allow them to cool. Then, another drizzling of dark chocolate over the Peep bunny and place the top bunny graham cracker on before it sets and allow to cool again.

* When I need to roll stuff out, I add aside a half cup or so of flour(s) and add the complementary spices to it (in this case cinnamon and sugar) at the beginning. I don't like the extra-flour taste you get when you have to roll out dough repeatedly and the sugar & spice additions help keep that taste at bay even with the very-last-rolled-and-rerolled-from-scraps crackers.
** Some of my one-eighth thick bunnies burned and some of my one-fourth bunnies were a bit soft. Try a few thicknesses on the test sheet to see what you like.

Hope you have fun with this!
2  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Origami Lucky Stars standing in as pixels on: June 21, 2009 04:05:46 PM
First entry on the papercraft boards.  Hi all.  
A few months ago, I saw a video on the web about making these lucky stars.  They are a great, small craft to do while watching movies or traveling on planes (which I do a lot for work) or car rides.  After I'd piled up a couple hundred, I decided I should do something with them.  I'm always looking for new banners for my blog, so I figured this would work.  

This is the finished banner, about 1120 completed stars.  I made lots more, but I didn't want any patterned papers or too many pastels, so just the bright, plain ones made it into the banner.

I tried to make myself a graph to work from in Photoshop, but one cannot select both custom colors AND custom gradients, so I gave up and just used it to make a general idea of the slashes of color.  I drew out a grid of .75" squares, punched holes in each grid corner and used that as a stencil template to put positioning Xs on a foam board I spray painted with primer.  Then, it was just placing stars where they belonged.  In the above photo, you can see me putting down the text star pixels.

Close-up of the A.
I started the placement by hand, then by dropping them and pushing them into place, but ended up using chopsticks mostly.  Got lots of chopstick practice in!  The little star arms acted like gears - if you turned one the arms would turn the arms of the neighboring stars and rows and colums would start moving along!  Very frustrating when you only want to align one.  Again, chopsticks FTW.

Finished, mostly.  I did a bit of alignment and a few color swapouts right after this photo.  It covered my whole dining table.

The husband was kind enough to climb all over our dining room to get shots of the enormous thing.

I love how they all looked like a colorful star army, lined up in ranks.

Once it was fully photographed - the demolition!  Felt great - just like making snow angels in the first pristine snow of winter.

After playing in the pile of stars for a while, I sorted them back into their plastic baggie by color.  That way, I can use them again sometime for whatever reason might come up.

I was recently in the Crafty Detective Swap; TracyinNH made me this:

She saw my blog banner of stars and used it as a guide for this cross stitched bookmark.  Very cool!  I don't think I can use it as a bookmark though.  I might have to frame it.

Thanks for looking and letting me share!
3  CLOTHING / Sewing Pattern Reviews / Simplicity 9275 Baby Jumper on: May 29, 2005 08:45:29 PM
Finished this today.  Straightforward, quick pattern with no glaring errors in the view I made.
This size seems a bit too big, but I'll have to wait to see it on my 'goddaughter' before I know for sure.

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