Sunday, October 9, 2011

Perry the Platypus Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for a very special little birthday boy. The cupcake on the left is chocolate, the one on the right is vanilla. Both cupcakes themselves are vegan and both have vegan buttercream frosting (recipes were from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World).

The eyes are made from white candy melts with melted semi-sweet chocolate for the pupils. The duckbills and tails are made from circus peanuts (rolled out with a rolling pin and then I used a knife to cut the marks into the tail), both versions of Perry have the same tail but it is hard to see it on the version on the left. The body of Perry on the left is made using a blue AirHead candy piece and the body on the left is just buttercream frosting with teal food coloring added to get the color.

All the kids faces lit up when they saw the cupcakes. 

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dragonfly Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes as an end of year gift for my sons teachers. They are very easy to decorate. Each cupcakes gets 4 Swedish Fish (red or orange) a 2" piece of blue Sour Punch Stick and 1 brown M&M.

The cupcakes itself is vanilla and the frosting is vanilla buttercream.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Birthday Bakery

Today is my son's 4th birthday party and we have lots of his friends and classmates coming over to help us celebrate so I baked up my usual storm for his birthday. This years theme is centered around a moon cake, my son's request, complete with a space shuttle and astronauts an American flag and even star shaped candles. 

  The moon cake. Pin It The cake itself is red velvet with a buttercream frosting. The cake was made using the Wilton baking pan for making a soccer ball (or baseball, basketball, etc) cake pan. 

I also made dozens of these moon cupcakes as we have too many people coming to the party to only serve the moon cake. I thought the flags were a nice, simple touch.
Pin It I also made my first ever sugar-free cupcakes and frosting. A nice golden cake with a chocolate fudge frosting. I did taste the frosting and it is so yummy I could have eaten it till I was sick and my neighbor was my first taste tester of the cupcakes and couldn't believe these were sugar free. They absolutely were as I cleaned the mixer, stand and all, in between making the other cakes and these just to be sure there was no sugar added to these. 

I will say there are so many good Vegan recipes out there that I really don't miss the milk products much and these cupcakes (well the frosting at least) has convinced me that I could give up sugar if I needed too as well. Part of the trick to not missing out on all the stuff you think you will miss is really just learning to cook and bake, that way you have more control over what you eat and know that you aren't getting added things. 

The red velvet and buttercream recipes are from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes. The sugar-free cupcakes and frosting are from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, there are also gluten-free recipes in there.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moon Birthday Cake - Trial Run

As a pair of geeks I think my husband and I are pretty lucky to have a child going on 4 years old who is so completely obsessed with all things space and NASA so of course I wasn't surprised that he really wants an astronaut birthday party and wanted a moon cake complete with a space shuttle and astronauts on the surface of his moon cake. For the trial run I did not decorate it with the space shuttle and astronauts as I knew I would never be able to retrieve the toys from him once he saw them.

The trick to making the craters in the frosting was to let the cake sit for a while so the frosting would harden a bit and then I took a flat bottomed measuring spoon and dug it into the frosting until when I pulled it out of the frosting I got a nice crater, I used a tablespoon for all of the craters and wasn't too particular about how the craters came out as I know they don't need to look perfect to really look perfect as things that happen in nature never appear as perfect as we assume they would appear.

I used the Wilton cake pan for making soccer balls, baseballs, basketballs, etc and made a double batch of vegan red velvet cupcake mix and a single batch of the vegan buttercream frosting recipe from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes. We did dig into the cake after dinner tonight and I will say that this pan leaves a bit of a tough area around the rim of the cake, but nothing I see a bunch of 4 year olds complaining about as my own almost 4 year old said he liked the cake and later asked for more of the cake.

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Lemon Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce (vegan)

This morning I made one of my favorite breakfasts, lemon pancakes with raspberry sauce. This vegan version of a dish I had at a restaurant once is so nice and light and refreshing and yet satisfying. I first found this particular recipe when our lemon tree had so much fruit on it that I had to go theme for a week or two and make everything I could to use up all of those nice lemons. I made lemonade, learned to make lemon Italian soda and found a bunch of other fun recipes like the lemon drop cookies that I posted earlier.

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Lemon Drop Cookies (vegan) and Mexican Mocha Brownies (gluten-free)

Pin It The other week we hosted a little Mexican food party at our house so I made these lovely vegan Lemon Drop Cookies (found in The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes), my husband's favorite cookies these days. They are like a little tea cookie coated in powdered sugar, the powdered sugar makes a nice contrast with the tartness of the lemon cookie. The cookies are quite tart without being coated in the powdered sugar, at least my lemon drop cookies are quite tart without the powdered sugar but that may just be because I have quite tart lemons on my lemon tree.

Pin It I also made these gluten-free Mexican Mocha Brownies for the party as a friend of ours is gluten-free so the cookies my husband wanted me to make would not be appropriate for her to eat, as someone with a food allergy myself I try to accommodate others with food allergies and dietary concerns as I want to enjoy the food and want everyone else to be able to enjoy the food as well. These brownies were quite nice although the coffee in the brownies meant they were not really for kids or those who are pregnant. This was only my second gluten-free dairy-free recipe and I thoroughly  enjoyed these brownies, but look forward to trying them again when I can make the raspberry sauce to go along with them (maybe I will try the main recipe as opposed to the Mexican Mocha variation) and maybe I will open that bottle of chocolate raspberry mead to go with the brownies, it was something my husband picked up on a business trip.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Star Wars cookies

On a recent trip to Williams Sonoma my son just had to have the Star Wars cookie cutters, so of course my husband and I obliged and bought them for him. Well, I finally got around to making him those Star Wars cookies and even frosting and decorating them, well all except the Boba Fett cookies as my 3 year old doesn't yet recognize him. He does recognize the Stormtroopers, Darth Vader and Yoda so I took my time and practiced a little patience doing my best to make these cookies for my little man.

Here are the cookies before and after being baked, for those of you who want to know how well you can distinguish the details from these cookie cutters. I will say I did really put a little effort into getting the details to come out on the cookies. I really put some amount of force into pushing the little knob at the top of the cookie cutter and even rolled it from side to side and up and down while putting pressure on the knob to ensure all the details would be visible. 

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

School Bake Sale

Thursday my son's school is having a bake sale and I have to drop my goodies off at the office tomorrow so I decided to make some red velvet cupcakes and wrap each cupcake individually. I put each cupcake in a 9 ounce party cup and then put each cup in a cellophane bag and then tied each bag with some ribbon. Hopefully these little gems do well at the bake sale.

Of course I had more than the 20 cupcakes that I packed up individually so we have some treats for ourselves and our neighbors as well. I even tried making some mini cupcakes. I only had silicon cupcake sleeves for the minis though and the one I helped my son with kind of got stuck to the liner. I'm sure I will figure out how to make these liners work better for me in the future.

Here are the mini cupcakes that I topped with a little dollop of buttercream frosting. It got late though so I didn't indulge in one of these cute little cupcakes yet. I can hardly wait to try one of these minis. By the way this is the first time I have tried making mini cupcakes other than in the toaster oven which my son and I use as an easy bake oven when we feel like baking a little treat. 

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Star Wars Craft Day

This week I didn't do any baking, but I did decide to try my hand at a craft project. My son has been dying to get a lightsaber but he doesn't pay a lot of attention to where he is swinging it so I was thrilled when I came across this little project for toddler friendly lightsabers made from pool noodles. I headed out to my local discount stores and dollar stores looking for pool noodles and found a store with green and blue pool noodles. Then I went to the hardware store for black and silver (shiny silver) duck tape for the hilts. I already had scissors and a blade to cut through the pool noodles with so with only the purchase of pool noodles and 2 rolls of duck tape I was ready to go.

I also found a cool set of Star Wars ReColoritz BLACK with 5 wipe-off crayons, eraser sponge, built in pop-out frame and 10 reusable Star Wars: The Clone Wars Scenes at one of the stores I visited today so I am very hopeful that my little geeklet loves his surprise when he gets home from school today. 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vegan Sexy Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes

Sadly I had food poisoning for my birthday the other day so I just got around to fixing up a little dessert to celebrate my birthday, and honey don't worry I put some cupcakes aside undecorated so I can make some more when you get home. Originally I was going to make strawberry shortcake style cupcakes for my birthday, but another day I will make those as the raspberries (and blueberries and blackberries) have caught the tummy of my little man lately.

I must admit I ate all the berries I didn't put on top of these little beauties and they were yummy. Now I can hardly wait for the little man to get home so we can have some cupcakes.

This recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.

*update: These cupcakes taste like angel food cake but have the consistency of a pound cake.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vegan Green Velvet Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting

The other month I made red velvet cupcakes and my neighbor fell in love with those cupcakes. When we were out of town and he was watching the house he started to wonder if I had any cupcakes in the freezer, he was really craving those red velvet cupcakes. I decided that for St. Patrick's Day I would be really nice and make green velvet cupcakes (same recipe as I used for the red velvet) so he could get his fix.

The colors don't show up too well in the picture, but the cupcakes turned out a very dark moss green (oops, too much food coloring and I should have used the brighter green but life goes on) and the frosting is a light green (I used the same moss green food coloring so the frosting wouldn't clash with the cupcake). I haven't yet bit into one of these little gems but I am looking forward to dessert after our Shepard's Pie dinner tonight. I found a vegan slow cooker recipe book and couldn't resist trying the recipe out for St. Patrick's Day.

The cupcake and frosting recipes are both from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek.
The Shepard's Pie I am making is from The Simple Little Vegan Slow Cooker by Michelle Rivera.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

This week I was tasked with making cookies for an open house at my husband's work. Originally I thought about making chocolate chip cookies, but then I decided that chocolate chip cookies were so common place that I would rather do something a little different. I decided on peanut butter cookies, they are a fairly common cookie yet not as expected and common place as the chocolate chip cookie.

I was excited by making peanut butter cookies because I don't make them very often. In fact I think it has been a few years since I made peanut butter cookies and it gave me a reason to try out one of the vegan versions of this cookie recipe that I have. I opted to use the recipe in my tried and true cookbook, my new favorite baking cookbook, The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes. I have made a number of things out of this cookbook and have had great luck with the recipes in the book. These cookies are crispy, but have a softness to them. They are delicious and the whole family has been enjoying the ones I put aside for us to enjoy. 

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Last weekend we went to a party, they had Girl Scout Cookies... Thin Mints to be precise. I have not been able to get those cookies out of my mind, of course I couldn't eat the cookies so that doesn't help keep them out of my mind. I decided that I would treat myself to some chocolate mint cupcakes to help me get those thin mints out of my head. Thanks Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, one of my newest cookbooks. These little beauties caught my eye the first time I flipped through the cookbook and let me say they do not disappoint. They don't taste like thin mint cookies but they do have a very satisfyingly fresh mint frosting topped with chocolate ganache on the most amazing smelling chocolate cupcakes I have ever had. These were a wonderful treat and don't taste Vegan at all. I can hardly wait to hand some out to a few of my sugar fiend neighbors to see if they love them as much as me.

On a side note the one neighbor I shared a red velvet cupcake with the other week loved it so much he seriously considered coming over and nocking on my door for more cupcakes, he said he knew I had more. I love that others, non-Vegan friends, love my baked treats as much as I do. 

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Newest Kitchen Gadget

During a recent trip to the mall we stopped in Williams-Sonoma to take a peak. I had been wanting to get a vegetable slicer since last summer, I did actually get one last summer but it didn't make a nice clean cut so it went back. This de Buyer Kobra adjustable slicer is amazing though, it is easy to use and gives a nice clean cut. You can adjust the thickness it cuts by a simple twist of the top of the handle. This thing makes cutting up my veggies much quicker work and the results are beautiful. Cleaning it is also easy, this comes from someone who doesn't own a dishwasher. For me this was $50 well spent.

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Vegan Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon Apples

What do you do with a few bruised apples and a little bit of applesauce left in the jar? Make breakfast.

You will notice the cinnamon apples were served on the side when I made this dish, this is only due to the fact I had never made either of these dishes before and didn't want to ruin both halves of the meal if one half wasn't up to par. This was an excellent meal and in the future I would serve the pancakes with the cinnamon apples on top of the pancakes. I would say you could even use cinnamon apple sauce if you wanted to in the pancake recipe, I just used what I had on hand which was unsweetened.

Vegan Apple Pancakes

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
oil for the pan

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and sugars in a medium bowl. Add the soy milk, vanilla, and applesauce. Stir together until combined, some lumps are fine.

Oil a pan or griddle and warm over medium heat. Pour the batter onto the pan or griddle and cook until bubbles form on top. Then flip and cook until golden brown.

Vegan Cinnamon Apples  (adapted from Easy Skillet Apples recipe)

3 or 4 apples, sliced
1/8 cup margarine, like Earth Balance
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt the margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Saute over medium heat for about 10 - 15 minutes. 

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vegan, Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes

One of our friends is having a party at her house again tomorrow and last time we went I didn't know she couldn't eat gluten and I made cupcakes, I felt terrible when I realized she couldn't eat any of the cupcakes I made (little pigs) so I vowed to my husband and myself that next time we went to her house for a party I would make a gluten-free dessert to bring along. Enter these vegan (so I can eat them) gluten-free (so she can eat them) vanilla cupcakes. Tonight I will frost and decorate them with the help of my spirited 3 year old, he is a great kitchen helper.

This recipe is from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World cookbook.

After the "little man" and I finished up our dinner we got to work making the most amazing buttercream frosting I think I have ever tasted and it's Vegan too, go figure the best buttercream I've had would be Vegan. We shoved our frosting into our decorating sleeve and piped it out on our cupcakes and then added a few sprinkles to each. Don't judge my decorating skills too harshly as this is only my second attempt. I think I am making good progress and besides my frosting tastes amazing whether or not it looks perfect.

The buttercream frosting recipe was also from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World cookbook. I am quickly beginning to love this cookbook just as much as my 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes cookbook.

I should note that I used the corn flour in the cupcake recipe where the choice was given between corn flour and almond flour. I am not overly thrilled with the slight corn taste of the cupcake so I would try the almond flour instead when I make this recipe again as I think a slight almond taste would be more pleasant in a vanilla cupcake. That being said they are for a chili party so I will suppose these will work out just fine and besides the fact I went to the trouble to make a gluten-free cupcake for the party due to the hostesses food allergy should be good enough on its own even though these aren't up to my usual standards. 

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Vegan Cornbread Muffins

Tomorrow night we are going to a chili party so I made these Vegan cornbread muffins so I know I have some bread that I can enjoy and after all what goes better with chili than cornbread? I can hardly wait for the chili party so I can bite into one of these cornbread muffins. I hope these muffins taste as incredible as they smell.

I found this recipe in The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes. I was super excited to try this one out because it included some actual corn as well as corn meal. 

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

For valentine's day I thought I would be nice and make some cupcakes for my husband's coworkers. Yesterday I baked 3 dozen red velvet cupcakes from scratch. Today I frosted them and added some heart shaped sprinkles to them. I used a buttercream frosting and tinted it a light pink.

I was so excited that I finally got around to trying out my new decorating tips when I frosted these yummy red velvet cupcakes. I started to get the hang of the decorating bag and tip after a few cupcakes. I discovered that a slightly stiffer consistency is desirable when you are piping the frosting onto the cupcakes with a bag and tip.

Both the cupcake and frosting recipe are from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dairy-free Challah bread

Sadly this is supposed to be a light, fluffy type of bread not a really dense bread. I guess we can say my first attempt at making bread didn't go so well. Maybe I'll work up the courage to try making bread again, but I don't know. This was very time consuming and the results aren't good.

Update: the bread is actually edible. Far too dense to be challah but edible none the less. I'm not sure what this bread is good for but it is edible. Maybe that is a good start for my first attempt at making bread from scratch. 

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Vegan Snickerdoodles

I decided to try my hand at Snickerdoodle cookies today. I am thinking my cookies were maybe a bit drier than I would have liked. I would probably add a bit more applesauce next time and be careful when measuring the flour so I don't risk ending up with a little extra flour on accident. The cookies are still tasty though. I do have another cookbook with a different version of the Sickerdoodle cookie in it and I may even try that one next time as I wasn't thrilled with the outcome of these particular cookies.

Snickerdoodles (from The 100 Best VEGAN BAKING Recipes)

2 1/2 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 3/4 cups Sugar, divided
1/2 cup Margarine, softened
1/4 cup Applesauce
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together margarine and 1 1/2 cups sugar.
Add applesauce and vanilla and mix until well blended.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in batches and mix until well-combined.
On a plate, combine cinnamon and remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
Scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll them in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies for about 8 to 10 minutes, until they have cracked and spread and the edges are set.
If you are baking more than one sheet at a time, rotate their sheets halfway through the baking time.
Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

A heart-shaped cake

I found this great set of instructions for making a heart-shaped cake without actually using a heart-shaped pan. I love it thanks to it's simplicity.

You need a square and a circle cake pan, the same diameter.
You bake your two cakes.
You cut the circle in half down the center.
You put each half of the circle on a side of the square cake, putting the two half-circles next to each other.
Now you have a heart-shaped cake that is ready to frost and eat. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Banana French Toast

This morning a very good friend of mine came over and we made this yummy French toast together. The recipe is from Disney's The Princess and the Frog Tiana's Cookbook Recipes for Kids.

Banana French Toast

1 pound loaf French or Italian bread, cut into thick slices
1 to 2 bananas
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk due to lactose issues)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

First, cut a wide, deep slit down through the top crust of each bread slice. (I actually just cut the slits as I was cutting my loaf up. I would alternate cutting a slit and then cut the piece all the way through.)
Stuff each pocket with 3 to 4 banana slices. (I like to get as much as reasonably fits in the pocket of the bread)
In a shallow dish or pie plate, whisk together the eggs and milk. 
Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
Dip each bread slice in the egg mixture, turning it to coat both sides, and place it in the skillet.
Cook the French toast for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side until golden brown. 
Then use a spatula to flip the slices, and cook them for another 2 to 3 minutes. 
Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Froggy-in-the-Water Cupcakes

These cupcakes were something I found in The Princess and the Frog: Tiana's Cookbook: Recipes for Kids and they are called Froggy-in-the-Water Cupcakes. You can find the directions at Disney Dreaming for how to make these cupcakes.

I made these this evening for my 3 year old. We have yet to eat any of them as we had a big dinner tonight, but I'm sure we will dig into them tomorrow. I used a vanilla cake and then made a buttercream frosting, this buttercream frosting was a lot stiffer than the ones I've made in the past so it was a little hard to work with. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

French Toast Muffins

I made these this afternoon for my hubby to bring in for a morning meeting. I figured some yummy homemade muffins might make a morning meeting more palatable for those who aren't really morning people.

I made these once before for my son's teachers when we had a parent teacher meeting last academic year. I really love the idea of French Toast muffins for a group of people that I don't know a whole lot about, after all French Toast is a pretty common and beloved breakfast food and muffins are easy to bring with you. These muffins are sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. 

Monster Cookies

A friend of mine recommended this cookie recipe to me recently and I thought it would be perfect to bring along as a snack for our outing to Disney tomorrow. These cookies have it all. They have peanut butter, they have raisins, they have chocolate chips, they have M&Ms, they have oatmeal and I don't remember what else there is in them. Anyhow, these cookies are far from what I normally bake but let me tell you these cookies are really good. My husband and I have each had 4 of them already and the little man had 2. I have a box of these ready to go for tomorrow and a wonderful friend of mine will also be seeing some of these very soon. The recipe is from Paula Deen's website. 

Charlotte's Coffee Cake

This is a recipe from a cookbook I bought to use with my son, The Princess and the Frog Tiana's Cookbook Recipes for Kids. I love to bake and cook with my son and make a bit of a math lesson for him out of it, he helps me count all the scoops of the different ingredients. This coffee cake has a cinnamon streusel swirled through the middle of the cake. This made a really nice special breakfast for a weekday morning. I made the cake last night so it had plenty of time to cool before I served it. We also had some wonderful coffee and orange juice with our coffee cake and then my husband brought the leftovers in to work with him so all of his co workers could enjoy some fresh coffee cake this morning too. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chocolate covered Mickey Rice Krispie Treats

This was just my first attempt at making Mickey Rice Krispie Treats. Why? I learned a a few things in this first attempt. The treats are not thick enough to be very sturdy so Mickey is prone to losing his ears easily. I think next time rather than spreading the Rice Krispie Treats out into a jelly roll pan and cutting them with my cookie cutter (I got this cutter at Disneyland, just in case you want to know) I will try just shoving the Rice Krispie Treats into the cookie cutter so I get a thicker Mickey cut out. My hope is that if the Mickey treats are thicker then the ears will not be as weak a point as they were in this batch. Also if the ears are not as weak a point then I can attempt dipping them in the chocolate rather than having to spread it on with a spatula (a last minute idea when I tried to pick these up to dip and realized they wouldn't survive being dipped in the chocolate).