Graduation Cake Pops

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Well, we did it! We finally graduated from UCLA this past weekend. Somehow it was four years ago that we met as timid young freshmen, new to the city of Los Angeles. Looking back on all the friends and memories we’ve each made during our time here, graduation feels almost surreal. It’s the end of an era!! Despite the sadness that comes with leaving behind our friends, our apartments, and our beautiful campus, we are beyond excited to begin the newest chapter in our lives.

Starting this week, we will be working on this blog together from different cities (Michelle is headed to San Francisco and Kirby will be staying in Los Angeles), but we look forward to collaborating on ideas from afar and co-writing our content. To celebrate the end of the best four years of our lives, and the last craft we’ll be making together for a while, we made these graduation cake pops. Of course we made ours blue and gold for UCLA, but they are easily customizable to any school colors. They were (almost) too cute to eat!


Materials & Ingredients:

  • Cake (no shame in a box mix!)
  • Frosting
  • Cake pop sticks
  • White candy melts
  • Chocolate fondant
  • Yellow and black/brown royal icing (you can find our recipe here)
  • Ziplock bag or piping bag
  • Sprinkles
  • Baking sheet
  • Styrofoam or cardboard box for holding the finished cake pops
  • A knife
  • Scissors

Bake your cake and allow to cool completely.

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Mix the icing in little by little until the mixture is moist enough to form a ball, but not too sticky that it will fall off of the stick — we used about 1/4 of a container. Form as many golf ball-sized cake balls and place them on the baking sheet.

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Insert your sticks into the balls. Our secret is to melt a little bit of the candy melts and dip the sticks into the melted chocolate before inserting them into the cake balls. This insures that they won’t fall off the sticks when decorating. Then place the tray in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

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While the cake pops chill, you can make the fondant graduation caps. They aren’t hard to make but take a few steps so following these pictures might help! On a powdered sugar surface, roll out your fondant to about an 8th of an inch. Cut half of the fondant into little squares and cut the other half into thin strips. Cut your strips into 1.5 inch segments. Make your royal icing. You can get away with just half or even a quarter of the recipe. Dye half of it yellow and the other half black or brown, and place each color in a piping bag or ziplock. Cut a tiny hole in the edge. Use the black/brown icing to pipe on the end of your 1.5 inch long fondant segment. Then roll it into a circle, and repeat for each segment. Then pipe the black icing onto the top of the circle and place the square fondant piece on top. Finish them up with a little yellow icing tassel on top!

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Once you have finished the grad caps, set up your decorating station. Lay out your sprinkles, set aside your grad caps, and prepare your cardboard box or styrofoam to hold the finished cake pops. If you use a cardboard box, poke holes in the bottom and flip it upside down to hold the individual sticks. Melt your candy melts in a deep, narrow bowl or cup.

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Dip the chilled cake pop into the melted chocolate in one fluid motion. Avoid twisting or bending the cake pop, just pull it out.

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Immediately dust the cake pop with sprinkles.

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And finally, finish it off with a graduation cap. Place the finished cake pop in the styrofoam block or cardboard box to cool and harden, and repeat the process until you have finished all of the pops.

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Go Bruins and Happy Graduation!

-Michelle and Kirby

 

Wooden UCLA Sign

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This is a really exciting time of year to be a UCLA Bruin with the Men’s Basketball team ranked *3rd* in the NCAA. Woohoo!!! Although, to be honest, is there ever a time we’re not trying to show off our Bruin pride? No. As we’re both graduating early and in our final quarter of school (aaah!!!), we’re trying to make the most of our time here – taking advantage of our Den passes to watch the Men’s Basketball team dominate in Pauley Pavilion, enjoying the 70˚F “winters” on campus by Janss Steps, and spending every night with friends who will soon be going their separate ways.

We decided to step up our school spirit a bit with these wooden, distressed UCLA signs. It’s a perfect way to decorate a college apartment and sturdy enough to last forever once you become an alumni. While we’re obviously partial to UCLA, this craft can be tweaked to represent any school/team you desire…even that school across town. 😉


Materials:

  • One 4 x 2 (we used Pine wood)
  • Sand paper
  • Wood stain and rag
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Acrylic paint: white, blue, and gold (yellow)
  • Water
  • UCLA cutout
  • Pencil
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sawtooth picture hangers or command strips to hang

Locate a piece of wood that allows you enough space to decorate to your liking. We opted to cut a 4×2 into four equal-length pieces which we glued together because it adds a little extra texture and character to the final product. Sand down so that the edges are smooth before staining.

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Once you’re happy with the surfaces of the wood, wipe it down with a wet rag to remove leftover wood shavings. Now you are ready to stain it! To get the color the correct richness, it usually takes three layers. Rub it on the wood with a rag and let it dry for 15 minutes. Then, rub off the excess stain with a damp rag and let the leftover stain dry for three hours. Repeat three times for best results.

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After the wood has been stained and dried, sand down the pieces. This wears down the wood and stain a little bit to create a more distressed, vintage look.

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Next, mix the white acrylic paint with water. Our mixture was one-part water, one-part paint – feel free to play around with your own mixture depending on how distressed you want your final product to be (the larger the ratio of water to paint, the more diluted the mixture will be). Once the mixture is to your liking, rub onto the wood with a rag. Let dry.

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With wood glue, glue each of the pieces together on the long end. Hold pieces together with a clamp while drying so that they are secured and will not come apart with time.

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Once all the wood pieces are secured to each other, carefully trace your UCLA cutout onto the wood with a pencil. We taped the cutout to the wood in some places to make the tracing process easier.

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Paint inside the lines of your UCLA tracing with yellow paint. For better results, we painted three layers of yellow onto the wood. The more opaque the yellow paint is, 1) the better it looks against the wood and 2) the fewer number of layers you will need of blue paint on top! Let dry.

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Next, trace the inner part of the UCLA logo on the wood. You can print a shrunken-version of the original cutout to trace or estimate depending on what you are most comfortable with. Paint within these new lines with blue paint. We painted three layers to really ensure there were no spots of yellow shining through.

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From here, you have a few options to hang the sign on the wall. You can install sawtooth picture hangers (like these here) onto the board and secure on the wall with nails. This is the sturdiest option. Because of our college living arrangements we were unable to nail into the walls. Instead, we used command strips.

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Now you’re ready to hang your work and show off your school spirit!

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We chose to hang ours above another craft that showcases some of our favorite UCLA memories. It’s a simple craft that involves many of the same steps as the UCLA sign. Once the wood pieces are secured with wood glue, attach wire to it with small screw eye bolts (like these). Then, hang pictures from the wire with small clothespins.

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Go Bruins!

– Kirby and Michelle