2014 Valentines (Part One)

We love Valentine's Day in the Christian household! Maybe it's because it's the middle of winter. Maybe it's because I like pink and red. Maybe I just need an excuse to do something fun or eat candy. I don't know. But I do enjoy making Valentines with my kids (some more than others). Here are a couple that we did this year that I thought I'd share with you! First up, are these marshmallow pops that I found from Mommy Gaga. So much easier than cake pops!

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First, you start off with some basic ingredients:

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I got jumbo marshmallows, vanilla candy wafers, sprinkles, paper straws, treat bags, and 1/8" wide ribbon in pink and white. I found most everything at our local Hobby Lobby in the cake and candy making section.

I had never heard of paper straws (aka cookie sticks or paper sticks) before, but evidently, you can get them in all kinds of patterns and colors besides white. Because I did not have time to order them from Amazon (these would look really cute with Valentine colors!), I had to just take the plain white ones our store offered. Oh well. (If you'd like to see other designs, just search "paper straws" on Amazon and they'll bring up a huge variety.)

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Originally, I was going to use just the regular large marshmallows, but then I saw these at our local Target:

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These are not just large, they are extra large. There were about 31 of these in the bag. I thought it would go well with the longer sticks. The only thing was that they were so large they did not fit in the treat bags I bought. Oops. If you are using these, make sure you find a treat bag that will work. More on that later.

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The first thing we did was cut a slit in the marshmallow with a sharp knife before inserting the paper straw. This is a sticky business, but otherwise, you'll get smooshed marshmallows.  (Note: If you use the regular sized large marshmallows, you can substitute half a stick, a lollipop stick, or a wooden popsicle stick. The proportions just look better.) Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes. We ended up going a little longer, but it doesn't matter.

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While they are freezing, melt your candy wafers. This is what I found at our craft store. I wouldn't recommend using the white chocolate chips (the kind in the grocery store) because when they melt, you may not have the right consistency. These melt very beautifully. We followed the directions on the package, which advised us to microwave at half power, 30 seconds at a time. Stir in between each until they are melted.

We did half a bag at a time, which covered about 15-16 of these extra large marshmallows halfway. We found that if we made too much, it would harden before we even got to the end the batch. If desired, you can also tint the melted candy pink by adding a few drops of red food coloring (I think we used three drops.)

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Isn't that a pretty color?

Also pour out your sprinkles in little shallow bowls for easier dipping.

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After the candy and sprinkles are ready, make sure you have a juice glass ready to hold the dipped pops upright for drying. We used a plastic cup, but these are tipsy as you add the pops. They still work though, if you have a second set of hands to help you hold them steady. If you don't want to scrape the hardened candy off your counter (don't ask me how I know this), you may wish to place a sheet of waxed paper underneath the cup to catch the inevitable drips. If the candy ends up hardening on your counter though, no problem. Use a spatula (mine was plastic) to scrape it off your countertop.

Once that's all set, get the pops out of the freezer. And then let the fun begin!

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My daughter tried dipping the whole marshmallow into the chocolate at first, but we found that it quickly used up the chocolate. (Not to mention that it would make these soooo sweet!) Anyways, we found that dipping them only halfway was probably plenty. Quickly dip the coated pop into the sprinkles. Set the finished pop into a cup. We found that four to a cup was good:

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Let the candy coating dry. This took about 10 minutes.

When the candy has hardened, wrap them up in plastic wrap. Not our original intent, but the little plastic treat bags I had bought would not fit over the extra large marshmallow, which was not an issue if I had regular large marshmallows.

To add a greeting, Janna designed her own tag on Photoshop Elements using her digital tablet. After printing them out and trimming the edges, and then cutting lengths of ribbon, we sat and wrapped them in clear plastic wrap and tied them until we were able to have a finished product like this:

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And they were a hit!

To make a whole bag of marshmallows took us about an hour, with the two of us working together. The original blog post said it took her 20 minutes from start to finish, but it took us a bit longer.

This is a fun project to do with younger kids. The younger they are, the more prep you'll need to do beforehand. It does get a bit sticky and messy, and you'll probably end up with sprinkles all over your counter for a few days, but hey, that's part of the fun, right?

This is also easily adjusted for different holidays. I'm sure you could use plain chocolate candy chips if you prefer. Or how about using these for a baby shower? We discovered a beautiful combination: pink-tinted candy dipped in white sparkling sugar sprinkles (Wilton makes this chunky sugar--I saw it in our Target's baking section, or you can find it in the cake decorating section in your local craft store). Put them in a vase for a centerpiece and let the guests take one home for a favor!

I've got one more to share! If you've got a little boy who loves Star Wars, come back on Monday, armed with Pixie Stix (I found ours at our local Dollar Tree)!