By now, you probably realise I like to think outside the box... so what I am about to show you is to inspire you, not for you to attempt to replicate unless, of course, you're up for a challenge! This is the 'fashion show' of an idea and you can adapt it to make it 'wearable'!
One of my best buddies in the whole world got married last weekend. She and her husband had a woodland wedding which was more magical and amazing than you could ever imagine! All of their family and friends contributed by making various decorations and foods...helping their dream to become a reality.
When she called me a few weeks ago, she said she had seen my 'fruitypops' on this blog (see post: SMASH & GRAB Strawberry and Grape 'fruitypops'), and loved them.
So, initially, I was just going to make jugfuls of them for the wedding, which would have been lovely....but this is me and my eccentric creative friends I'm talking about, so the idea got seriously out of hand!
They kindly gave me 'carte-blanche' to do as I wished, and I think you will agree that the finished result was a great success -albeit a scary reflection of what is going on inside my head! (A little Wonka-esque, I feel).
There were 80 guests invited, so I decided I would make 80 of each component; Strawberry Fruitypops, Grape Fruitypops, Rose and Pistachio Meringue Hearts and Chocolate-coated Chocolate Brownie 'Cake-pops'.
People could then pick and choose what they wanted, thereby avoiding certain elements if they had food intolerances or preferences or were watching their weight!
(For the purposes of this blog only, I calculated that if each guest had one of each item, this would come to 5pp/200kcal- less than a 60g slice of traditional, iced wedding fruit cake, which is 6 propoints or approx 240 kcal).
How I made it....
I decided to make each edible component on bamboo skewers so that people could graze all evening, with no plates or cutting of cake required. In order for this to evolve into a cake form, I needed to devise a way to hold or display my wares....
Over the past few weeks, I've been making all the inedible components of the finished 'cake'. As the wedding party was to be taking part in a natural woodland setting, I wanted the bases which housed all the sticks of goodies, to have a mossy/twig element to them.
I bought 3 natural brown 'hat-box' style boxes in varying sizes from a craft shop and glued polystyrene and oasis shapes from a florists' suppliers, to fit exactly on the top. I wanted them to look like natural 'hillocks', hence the staggered levels.
Then, I glued natural dried moss onto the top, also from a florists' suppliers. I used generous amounts of PVA glue to do this, and pressed it down firmly.
Finally, I glued curved twigs to the edges using strong glue, and draped gold 'angel hair' threads over the top to add a magical feel to the bases.
Then I made a collection of twiggy decorations with elements I had photocopied from the invitation, like the 'woodland party' writing, which I made into little elongated flags. Everything was wound together using copper wire. I found these little spinning metal 'clock-hands' which I added here and there to give a mechanical, whimsical feel to it all.
I also made lots and lots of little individual elongated flags, miniature bunting out of spotty sticky fabric tape I found in a gift shop, and spinning clock hands, all bound onto long and short bamboo skewers with copper wire.
The 'cake' components.
I made all the food the week of the wedding. The brownies and meringues could be made a few days ahead as they store beautifully. I made the Fruitypops as close to the event as I possibly could to keep them fresh.
The Chocolate Brownie 'Cake Pops'
Having experimented with various chocolate brownie recipes, this was my only 'cheat'. I found that my homemade brownies were almost too soft and pliable and didn't behave beautifully on the bamboo skewers when I chocolate-coated them. So, I bought the mini brownies from a supermarket bakery as they were exactly the right firm texture for coating in chocolate. It was also a really cost-effective way of supplying the brownie cakes. I refrigerated the cakes for a day before putting them on skewers and coating each one with melted chocolate. This made them really sturdy and much easier to handle.
I threaded each square of chocolate brownie diagonally onto a bamboo skewer. Rather than dunking the 'cake pops' straight into the chocolate, I found that the best method of coating them was to have the melted chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, then I 'spooned' the chocolate over each square cake. I held the cake over the bowl and 'tap-tap-tapped' the skewer to allow all the excess chocolate to drop back into the bowl. Because the cakes were cold, the chocolate started to set really quickly, so I popped a sugar heart on each one and put them in glasses to dry.
I was careful not to let them touch as they dried as I wanted them to look really professional. I put each batch of brownies in the fridge to set properly before packing them flat into containers for transportation.
I made a combination of white, milk and plain chocolate-coated brownie 'cake pops'.
There was no nutritional information on the packaging of the brownies as they were from an instore bakery, but I looked it up online and each one works out to 1pp/40kcal. Coated in approx 8g chocolate, each finished 'cake pop' is
2 pops = 5pp
3 pops = 7pp
4 pops = 10pp
If you were making these and wanted them to be really low in propoints, I reckon you could do a similar thing with some of the Weightwatchers products, such as Brownies or Mini Rolls cut up....you could probably shave a propoint or two off here and there.
The Rose and Pistachio Meringue Hearts
These were the scariest component to make, as they are so, so delicate. I hoped and prayed I wouldn't have to slam my brakes on when I drove to the wedding, and thankfully, my prayers were answered!
The recipe for these meringues is exactly the same as my RECIPE; Easter 'Eggs' blogpost. The only difference is that I made 45-50 meringues out of the amount quoted in my 'egg' recipe as I wanted them quite dainty. I also added 50g roughly chopped pistachios to the recipe which I sprinkled on the top before baking. I thought the green pistachios were really mossy-coloured and vibrant and seemed to go well with the woodland theme.
I made the meringue hearts with a teaspoon, carefully shaping each one. I tried to pile some mixture up in the middle so that there would be a gooey centre to 'hold' the bamboo skewer. I made quite a few more than I needed as I knew there would be a few casualties...(and there were!)
Each meringue works out to 1pp/40 kcal. Two meringues are 2pp, three are 2pp and four are 3pp.
For instructions of how to make these see the post SMASH & GRAB; Strawberry and Grape 'Fruitypops'. The only thing I would add here is to refrigerate the fruits for a few hours before you make them then the chocolate sets really quickly. Also make them as close to the event as you possibly can, then they stay fresh.
These work out to 2pp/approx.100 kcal for 5 fruitypops. I would charge 1pp/40kcal if I ate one of each grape and strawberry fruitypops.
Assembling the Finished 'Cake'
The components of the cake took up the whole back section of my car!
When I got to the venue (a beautiful yurt), I started to assemble everything. I had envisaged the finished 'cake' sitting in this kind of shape, but as I put it together it just grew and grew....
I started building the finished creation by arranging all my little flags and bunting in the centre of each mossy hillock.
I gradually built up random selections of all the yummies-on-sticks until the hillocks became huge edible sculptures...
I managed to fit all 320 sticks onto the three bases!
The finished 'cake' in situ.
This creation appealed to everyone both young and old...there were kids running around in the woodland with stashes of my mad 'psychedelic acorn' grapepops, and men in their 60's and 70's with big smiles on their faces tucking into giant strawberries covered in chocolate and sugar sprinkles! The rose and pistachio meringues melted in the mouth and the chocolate brownies...well, they speak for themselves! Even the bamboo skewers just got thrown onto the fire, so there was no waste. All I can say is when I dismantled the 'cake' at the end of the wedding, I counted about 10 meringues and 6 brownie cake 'pops'. Everything else had been devoured. (The bride tells me even those last few disappeared as they were packing up!)
This was fun food at its very very best.
This idea could be customised for birthdays, kids parties or any special gathering. The lovely thing about it is that you can adapt the content to any theme or personal preference. I love it because it is fun, exciting and actually pretty low in propoints and calories....depending on how many individual elements you eat of course!
I hope to reinvent and recreate this idea many times over the coming years and hope you have the opportunity to do it too. You will bring smiles to peoples' faces, that I can guarantee.
Here's a birthday 'cake' version I made for my Dad. His favourite treat is Turkish Delight, so I dipped cubes of it in plain chocolate, then sprayed them with edible gold shimmer spray, along with my signature dipped fruits and brownies.
This shimmer spray is really effective and edible-no safety issues!
This is the finished cake with tiny bunting and little elongated flags...
Here's a close up of all the goodies...
Alongside the regular chocolate-covered brownies, I also made some out of Weightwatchers Belgian Chocolate Slices.
I cut each cake in half and coated them in white chocolate. They worked out to 2pp/80kcal each rather than the regular brownies which are 3pp/120kcal. They looked exactly the same.
I 'coded' the Weightwatchers version with 2 pink hearts, so that those of us watching our weight could discreetly pick the lower propoint/calorie option.
I also made the 'cake' personal to my Dad, with customised flags containing little messages for him to keep after the 'cake' had been devoured and we had all gone home.
Now I can't wait for the next excuse to make one!