Archive for the ‘Candy Crafts’ Category

On Martha Stewart’s Valentine’s Show today at 11 a.m. (CST) on the Hallmark Channel, Weddings Editorial Director Darcy Miller showed off the Valentine she’s giving to her own family and friends: Customized glass jars filled with Candy.com Valentine’s candy! (See the how-to and resource guide on Darcy’s blog and view the segment.)

Here are two photos from this morning’s show. (Thank you Jenn!)

Darcy’s Valentine candy jars were darling and seemed simple enough to make, even for a novice crafter like myself (see my humble DIY Valentine’s Hearts). I’m pretty sure I’m going to steal this idea down to Madelaine’s red chocolate lips!

p.s. – Steal the idea, too. Check out the Valentine’s segment with Martha Stewart and Darcy Miller.

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A few months ago, I heard about a famous pastry chef who opened up a unique storefront just minutes from my home. Turns out it’s like a mini Willy Wonka Factory.

Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen in Geneva, IL, is filled with Chef Alain Roby’s life-sized chocolate and sugar creations, including a replica of his own custom kitchen made out of 1,500 pounds of Barry Callebaut chocolate.

Chef Alain Roby sculpting sugar into edible art.

Last week, I sat down with the French pastry chef and found out how he went from studying culinary art in Paris to becoming one of the world’s best sugar and chocolate artists. (He also earned two Guinness World Records, had a 20-year career as corporate pastry chef for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and several Food Network shows in between. Overachiever!)

Frosty the Sugar-man.

While I was  sipping inhaling Chef Roby’s signature hot cocoa, he showed me the top of his “World’s Tallest Chocolate Sculpture,” which is on display in the shop and in the Guinness World Book of Records.

Right as he was explaining how he constructed the chocolate skyscraper, he got an e-mail asking if he’d be interested in a third Guinness World Record: making the world’s tallest chocolate cactus. Not sure if he’s going to do it, but he was thinking out loud about how he’d construct it. If he winds up in the 2012 Guinness World Book of Records with an enormous edible cactus, you heard it here first.

Also on display in the shop/museum are life-sized chocolate sculptures, including a Chicago Blackhawks hockey player, a dinosaur, and an astronaut. (Funny story on the astronaut: Chef Roby originally created it for Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. Every two weeks, he says he’d get a call from the Planetarium asking him to come out and replace one of the chocolate fingers, which, I presume, was broken/eaten by one of the field-trip kids.)

The all-chocolate kitchen.

The painting in the kitchen was done by Chef Roby's artistic wife, Esther, who used white chocolate as her medium.

If you’re in the Chicago area and have an interest in culinary arts, chocolate, and heavenly hot cocoa, Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen is well worth the trip … and 100% kid-friendly.

If you go, there’s a good chance you’ll see Chef Roby making chocolates or sculpting sugar figurines in the middle of his shop.

Admission to the edible museum is free. The storefront offers a sit-down cafe with Chef Roby’s hot cocoa, chocolates, and pastries, as well as freshly brewed Starbucks coffee. Private tastings, birthday parties, and demonstrations are available upon request.

Visitors can also learn about the Saving Tiny Hearts Society, which is something near and dear to Chef Roby and his wife Esther’s hearts as their own son was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. A portion of the profits from Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen are donated to the organization.

Chef Roby's gorgeous truffles.

GO Chef Roby’s All-Chocolate Kitchen, 507 S. Third St., Geneva, IL,
 (630) 232-2395, ChefAlainRoby.com. Hours: Fridays from 12 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Mondays from 2 to 7 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Steve Eisen Photography


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Gulp. Right after Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I’m going to let all of the junior guests create gingerbread cottages.

I say “cottages” because I’m going to hot glue graham crackers together ahead of time, and if you’ve ever done it, it’s easiest to keep the structure modest: four short walls and one roof. Besides, McMansions are so 2002.

I’ve got green, white, and chocolate frosting at the ready along with Dots, Twizzlers, mini candy canes, holiday M&M’s, Skittles, Hershey Candy Kane Kisses, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, Peeps snowman, and Peeps Christmas trees.

Am I missing any items you’ve found successful in the construction/decoration of gingerbread houses?

I think I may need Tootsie Roll Midgees and cherry fruit rolls for campfires outside each cottage.

I plan on a follow-up blog post to show you the finished products, let you know which candies worked best for the build outs, and any interesting home decor/exterior items the kids dreamed up during construction.

In the meantime, please do send me any tips for creating killer gingerbread houses. I’m all ears!

(Speaking of tips, I recently came across the book No Bake Gingerbread Houses for Kids, which has some great examples of gingerbread houses constructed out of graham crackers, cookies, ice cream cones, and waffle bowls. Another good resource is Martha Stewart’s photo gallery of no-bake gingerbread houses and cookie cottages.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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Last weekend, my niece and nephew popped in for a sleepover with my kids (A.K.A. cousin camp).  As luck would have it, Greg at Candy.com stocked me with all the necessary supplies to make chocolatey Halloween suckers with the kids, ranging in age from 6 to 10.

So, away we went on Saturday night with our science project. We unleashed our sucker sticks, microwaved each pound of orange, white, and milk chocolate discs, and carefully poured our just-barely-melted chocolates into Jack-O-Lantern and Skull chocolate molds.

The kids loved “painting” the eyes, nose, and mouth on the Jack-O-Lanterns and Skulls with chocolate after the pops cooled (we put them in the freezer). We found that small craft paint brushes worked best.

Another tip? Insert Icing Eyeballs into the molds before pouring in the melted chocolate. I didn’t try this trick, but Greg at Candy.com says it works like a charm.

The kids did everything but microwave the chocolate and had at least two hours of fun creating and eating their treats on a stick. The final products might not be Martha Stewart worthy, but not bad for the young chocolatiers.

I am going to experiment with more molds from Candy.com to see what else we can cook up at the Gillerlain household over the holidays. My son is planning on making chocolate suckers for an upcoming fundraiser in lieu of a standard baked goods sale. My thought is to package the suckers in clear mini cello bags and finish them off with a twist-tie bow. Why not give it a whirl?

If you’re in need of an all-ages and edible DIY project, check out Candy.com’s crazy huge selection of inexpensive chocolate molds and hard candy molds. You’ll find molds in the shape of lipstick tubes, teapots, states, business cards, police badges, pineapples, zodiacs, owls, you name it. (Note: You can use Candy.com’s hard candy molds with chocolate, but you can’t use the chocolate molds to create hard candies.)

Lastly, and most importantly, if you’ve experimented with chocolate and chocolate molds, share your creations and tips. Add your comments after this post or on Facebook.

Thanks!

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