White and Gold Pretzel Rods

With a salty crunch and a smooth sweet coating, dipped pretzel rods offer the best of both worlds for serious snackers. These can be made in a rainbow of colors and decorated with sugar or any kind of candy sprinkles. Candy-coated pretzel rods are a popular treat with both kids and adults.

Items needed:
1 package bright white candy melts
1 package large pretzel rods
Gold sanding sugar
Wax paper

Melt the candy in a microwave safe bowl according to package directions. If needed, candy can be thinned with a small amount of paramount crystals or vegetable shortening. Working with one pretzel rod at a time, dip pretzels in the candy. Gently shake off excess. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and place on wax paper to dry. Store in a sealed container.



Sugar Cookies Painted with Shimmer Dust

Sugar cookies are not only an all-occasion treat, they can be cut into any shape and decorated in hundreds, if not thousands, of ways. The vanilla almond sugar cookie recipe is well loved at my house, and I decorate cut out shapes with thinned royal icing. One thing I like about baking and decorating sugar cookies is that I can personalize them in any way I choose. A tray of cookies is good for most any occasion. Whether it's a birthday or graduation party, a bridal or baby shower, or another celebration, don't forget the sugar cookies.

These cookies were baked for an anniversary party. They were first outlined and filled in with royal icing, then painted with gold shimmer dust. To use shimmer dust for painting, pour a small amount into a bowl, then add a few drops of lemon extract or vodka to make a paintable consistency.

Shimmer dust is available in various colors and can be used by brushing on dry to add a sparkle to the icing or by painting wet to add color or design, as I did for these cookies.



Cake Pop Roses

The first time I made cake pops, the result was disappointing. But, I don't like defeat. After my initial fiasco, I have learned a few tricks. Use a food processor to make fine cake crumbs to start. This will ensure that you can make a perfectly round cake pop. If you want your cake pops to be a uniform size, weigh the little balls as you make them. Refrigerate the balls before you insert the stick, but leave at room temperature before dipping. I discovered this prevents cracking. Cake pops can be made in any flavor and are a fun treat at a party.

A variation on cake pops is to make them into roses by adding modeling chocolate. These were made as an edible centerpiece for a recent party. I learned to make them from my sister, and she and I made these. There are many instructional videos on sites such as YouTube and Craftsy that give detailed steps on making these.

They are made the same as regular cake pops, except the cake is rolled into an egg shape instead of a round ball. The roses are formed by cutting petals out of modeling chocolate and arranging around the cake pop after it has been dipped in candy melts and has dried. The roses can be make as unopened buds, like mine, or more petals can be added to make an open rose. The stem has been wrapped with floral tape. The finishing touch is ribbon tied into a bow.

The modeling chocolate can be tinted any color, so the possibilities are endless. I used a cake pop stand to display these, but they are also pretty in vases. Your guests may be hesitant to eat them because they look real, but once the first bite is taken, they'll soon disappear.



Dipped Oreo Cookies

Kids of all ages love Oreo cookies, but are they welcome at a grown-up party? Sure, if the Oreos are dressed to the nines. Oreos can be made classy by dipping in candy melts and by adding some sugar and pearls. These are easy to make and are an irresistible addition to the dessert table.

1 package Oreo cookies
Bright white candy melts
Gold sanding sugar
Sugar pearls

Melt candy wafers in microwave according to package directions. Dip each cookie half way in the melted candy coating. Shake off excess and lay cookie on parchment or wax paper to dry. When cookies are dry, pipe a line of royal icing (using either a pastry bag or a squeeze bottle) across the upper edge of the candy coating. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, then place sugar pearls along the same line. Allow to dry before serving.