Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finger Burning Valentines

Valentines Day is coming up. Are you ready? I know, so many people don't like Valentines Day. "It's Single Awareness Day." "So-and-so thinks that's the only day they have to be lovey-dovey." "I don't like pink or hearts." I for one love Valentines Day. I always have. I loved handing out Valentines at the school party. I love seeing the pretty flowers around. I loved helping roommates (or boyfriends of roommates) plan fun surprises for their beaus. I loved getting a big group together of single college kids to play croquet, or do a bonfire, or to watch a movie out on the trampoline. I love coming up with surprises for Cameron. I just love it. Cameron and I switch off each year who is "in charge" of Valentines Day. This makes it so that we don't both plan something and end up with the plans conflicting with each other, and it makes it so that we don't both not plan anything because we think the other's planning something and we don't want to get in the way. And it just makes it fun. This year is my year and I'm excited for the day to get here (that's assuming I can get everything done and that I don't have too major of a Pinstrosity in the mean time). 

Anyway...all that to say, Valentines Day is coming up! We received a submission, which is actually a repeat to a project we already posted, but we thought it'd be great for the upcoming "day of love". 

The Original Pin
http://notsoidlehands.blogspot.com/2011/02/got-candy-canes.html
who actually got their idea from:
http://www.theidearoom.net/2010/02/heart-suckers-and-heart-candies.html
Aileen tried these out for Christmas and had a devil of a time getting them to work. She sent us her story from her blog. Here it is, in her own words:

The Pinstrosity

In my desire to over-achieve the crap out of Christmas this year, I prepared Jonathan’s to-Afghanistan holiday care package with both the sweet and the sentimental. So, naturally, I had to prepare an element that melded the two ideas, while also oozing Christmas spirit. Which sounds kind of gross, but I promise it’s not.
I found these chocolate candy cane hearts on Not So Idle Hands, and I should have been more aware that this was a craft blog and not an anybody-can-do-this-go-ahead-and-try! blog. Because, as much as I like crafts and baking, I will easily admit that I’m not actually that good at crafts and baking. Which is evidenced by the fact that I can only crochet things that basically go in a straight line, and I think I’ve given more than enough proof on this blog that I can even mess up a simple brownie recipe, so I’m not going to elaborate.
But what I lack in skill I make up for in intense neurotics and an extreme fear of total failure.
This task required a lot of room, so I waited until a weekend when I could take advantage of my parents’ huge (pink) kitchen, and also of my mom’s willingness to help despite my aforementioned neurotics. The process itself looked easy enough:
1. Unwrap the candy canes and arrange them on a baking sheet with lollipop sticks.
Beautiful. This is easy.
WRONG. It should have been a sign of things to come that the very first step (unwrapping the candy canes) took about an hour longer than I expected it to. Can you recall the last time you unwrapped a candy cane from it’s DELIGHTFUL cellophane packaging? Can you recall the last time you unwrapped a candy cane from its NOT-AT-ALL-IMPOSSIBLE cellophane packaging without breaking the candy cane? Can you recall the last time you unwrapped a candy cane from its APOCALYPTIC cellophane packaging without that cellophane packaging clinging for dear life to your hands, and then to your shirt, and then to your arm, and then to your hands again, but NEVER TO THE TRASH CAN?
It was about at this point that the F word became the only word I was capable of saying out loud. Which usually upsets my mom, but I think she was with me on this one.
2. Stick the baking sheet of cane pops into the oven for a few minutes, being careful to remove them just as the candy is melting to the stick.
Wow! This looks like it was pretty easy too!
WRONG AGAIN. See, the great thing about parchment paper is that it prevents your baked goods from sticking to the pan. But the inconvenient thing about parchment paper is that it doesn’t prevent a smooth, glossy piece of candy from sliding all over the place. Especially when you need it to remain purposefully touching the rounded edges of a lollipop stick in several places.
I remedied this by walking the pan over from the counter and into the oven as slowly as was humanly possible for me to move. Then when the candy canes all slid around anyway, I just stuck my face and the upper half of my body into the oven to fix it. Which is also what Babe from Crimes of the Heart did when she wanted to murder herself. So try not to read too far into this.
3. Working quickly, remove the candy cane pops from the oven before they melt into a pool of peppermint-flavored corn syrup, and carefully press the ends to secure them to the lollipop stick.
Hmmm, now that part sounds a little tricky.
SOUNDS TRICKY? YOU ARE CORRECT. Even though I’d stuck my head into the oven to make sure the candy canes were touching the lollipop sticks properly, most of them decided to freak out when I closed the oven, and flee from their sticks. So I got into the habit of opening up the oven every 30 seconds, sticking most of my body back in, and attempting to move the candy back onto the stick while it was melting.
When I took them out of the oven completely, I at first tried using the rounded ends of two table knives to gently press the melty candy to the lollipop sticks. But I quickly realized that the utensils were too heavy for this delicate task, and pretty much just squashed the candy cane ends into misshapen, flat little failures. But since the candy hardens again extremely quickly, I had to think on my feet.
Or, more accurately, on my fingertips, all of which I spent the next few hours burning so badly that I could probably apply to be a Men in Black agent now.
At this point, I think my mom asked if I wanted a drink.
4. Let the candy cane heart pops cool. Meanwhile, prepare your toppings.
This part actually was easy, because my mom offered to do it. Which I think was partially because she was still pissed about how many candy canes we broke while attempting to unwrap them, and needed to channel her rage appropriately.
5. Melt your chocolate, fill the pops, and add your toppings!
The instructions indicate that this part is actually a bit difficult; while the melted chocolate (or candy melts, which I used) will dry quickly once poured, if you add the toppings too soon they will weigh down the chocolate and create a sunken effect.
If you’d like an example of that incorrect sunken effect, please see all the above photos.
(If you see any that do not appear sunken, it’s because my mom did those ones.)
What the directions do not indicate is that, after you’ve applied maybe 70 candy canes to the lollipop sticks, burned off your fingerprints, and waited for them to harden again before filling them with melted chocolate, probably half of those candy canes will decide, once hardened and dry again, that they no longer feel like staying on the lollipop sticks. You will find this out when you pick up one of the finished pops, and it crashes to the beautiful pink floor in your parents’ kitchen, dusting a three-foot radius with your shattered, minty dreams.
The rest won’t be nearly as dramatic, but they will prompt you to furiously stick them back in the oven in an attempt to re-melt them to the sticks, which works a couple of times, but mostly just seems to piss off the candy canes more. 
6. Allow to cool, then package.
Wow. I know that was a lot of hard work, but the finished product is beautiful! And look at how nicely you tied that bow!
(The bow looks good because, obviously, my mom tied it.) As you can see, the candy bags I chose didn’t quite fit the massive heart pops. So my mom and I formed an assembly line, in which I would tape the bags to the pops while doing everything in my power to prevent them from snapping off the sticks, and she would tie them beautifully into a selection of ribbons I got from a holiday ribbon display at Michael’s. Some of which my mom said were perfectly fine to work with. Others, like the one seen above, coated her hands in cheap blue glitter.
Happy holidays.
7. Realize you’ve only made about half the pops you need for various care packages and holiday gifts. It’s 9:00 at night, and you’ve gotten nothing else accomplished today. Go get a drink with your friend Becky. Say you’ll make the rest later.
Clearly that does not happen. You cut your losses and use the extra materials to make candy cane bark. It is delicious. Punch yourself repeatedly in the face for not just making candy cane bark in the first place.
8. Transport them back to your apartment.
Luckily your mom has some bubble wrap that you layer between the layers of pops, and there are minimal casualties.
9. Prepare for shipping. Realize they are traveling via USPS to Afghanistan, and you could barely keep them from breaking just from picking them up and putting them back down. Rethink your future as an army wife.
10. When Jonathan receives the package and informs you that the chocolate candy cane heart pops arrived intact, pretend it’s not that big of a deal, but secretly celebrate for the rest of the day.
11. Move onto the three gifts still left for Jonathan’s care package.

Thought you would all enjoy that. I know I did. Happy Thursday everyone! 

17 comments:

  1. This is awesome! I don't know how she didn't end up storming through the town in a Godzilla-like rage (which I would have done). That's some serious patience in a frustrating situation.

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  2. This sounds like the type of project that should come with a warning label of "The annoyance factor on this project is high. Please have a bottle of vodka on hand to counteract negative effects"

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  3. Oh, my gosh! Still laughing! Thanks for sharing (and it sounds about how it'd go if *I* did it!)

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  4. If I were to do this, I think I would just put some of the chocolate/candy melts into a piping bag and then use that to connect the candy canes to the sticks. Or, if that wouldn't stay, I'd make a small batch of royal icing and use that as my glue (pretty sure that would work well!)

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  5. 1) Use smaller candy canes. The little 2 inch candy canes come in a string of little bags, you cut the bag open and the can slides out. Smaller candy canes would fit your sucker sticks better. Smaller canes means less area to fill with chocolate, means you can fill a little thicker, means the toppings are less likely to cave it in.
    2) Rather than trying to melt the candy canes to the stick, use chocolate or royal icing as a glue.

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  6. I hope my Pinterest failures can give the world a good laugh. Thanks to Pinstrosity for sharing and, should I ever decide to tempt fate with this project again, I will certainly be taking the advice in these comments.

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  7. I made these last year for my son's class for Valentines day. I used the small candy canes. They probably would work a little better than the regular sized ones. Not sure as I will not be making them again. There is a very short window of time when the candy canes are not melted enough to attach the stick and melted into a pool of red and white reindeer vomit. I like the idea of attaching the stick with chocolate. It would be so much easier. But I would also rather make the peppermint bark:)

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    Replies
    1. I'm the author of this Pinstrosity, and I'm glad to report that two of my Christmas package recipients said the peppermint bark was their favorite of all the holiday baked goods they received! It's one of the easiest things I've ever "baked," and requires no burned appendages. I say grab some pink-tinted white chocolate candy melts, and go for it :)

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  8. Smaller candy canes and also use PAPER sticks, the melted candy cane will stick to that much better than plastic sticks.

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  9. Step 1 2014: Have Mom do it.

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  10. ROFL I remember when I first saw those lovely hearts & wanted to make them. Good thing I didn't cuz they'd probably still be sitting in a container in the fridge lol. I opted to make the peppermint bark instead & I think some of the broken candy was really parts of our teeth cuz that stuff turned rock hard lol

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  11. I made these last year with the mini candy canes and had no problems! Super easy... Lay out the candy canes in heart form, pipe melted chocolate in, put the stick on, more chocolate, then sprinkles. Doing it again this year!

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  12. I made these for Christmas this year and I didn't put the candy canes in the oven. I just used smaller candy canes and candy melts. I put the melted chocolate into a piping bag, placed the candy canes on a lined cookie sheet. I placed the stick and made sure it went all the way up and touched the bottom of the hooks of the candy cane. Piped the chocolate and then just pushed the ends together. I then put them in the fridge for 10 minutes until set.

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  13. You might consider attaching the canes to the sticks using melted sugar. It takes a while to melt up, and lots of stirring, but it attaches really well and dries instantly and hold together perfectly. Seriously. We do that to assemble our gingerbread houses every year. As for the chocolate caving, no suggestions there but they did turn out really cute!

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  14. I love how these turned out. However, after reading of your experience, I shall skip straight to the peppermint bark. If I were to attempt them, I would end up overwhelmed by step 2. Don't know if I would have made it further as Captain Morgan would have joined me in the kitchen by then.

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  15. I have done these before (last Valentine's Day) and didn't have that big of an issue with it. The first time I baked them for way too long and they completely melted, so I threw those away and just kept an eye on them. I didn't have the sliding around issue. If you get the candycane melted just enough, the rest is actually quite easy!

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