Gung Hay Fat Choy!

After a ton of sewing and much rehearsal, our lion dancing troupe performed for the Lunar New Year at a local elementary school. Here's a clip from the dance below (I'm the head!)

They're hard to see, but the leg pieces and foot covers were all sewn by yours truly. I'll post a little how-to, with more detailed photos in a bit.



Special thanks to Sara for the lovely photos!

Well, I have finally made some truffles. Quite a while ago, actually, but I haven't found time to post anything about them yet.

This was quite an ordeal. I worked from a trio of recipes off of the Sunset Magazine website, although I can no longer locate the recipes. The basic recipes I followed can be found below.

The most important thing to remember when making truffles is proportions! If you use too much cream or other liquids (such as liquor for flavor), the truffles will turn into runny fudge or frosting, at best. Fantastic, tasty frosting, but that's probably not what you want. More about that in the "trouble-shooting" section.

Basic Recipe for Truffles, adapted from Sunset Magazine:
Makes about 2 dozen 1-inch truffles of each variety
Ingredients for espresso truffles:
* 3/4 cup whipping cream
* 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
* 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon Kahlua
* About 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Ingredients for raspberry truffles
* 1/2 cup whipping cream
* 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon framboise or other raspberry liqueur
* 1/4 cup raspberry jam, melted and strained
* About 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Ingredients for ginger truffles
* 3/4 cup whipping cream
* 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon rum
* 1/4 cup minced candied ginger
* About 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa


1. In a 1- to 2-quart pan over high heat (for espresso truffles, add espresso powder and stir until dissolved in cream), bring cream to a boil. Meanwhile, place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Pour cream over chocolate and stir gently with a flexible spatula until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. (If chocolate does not melt completely, place bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until melted and smooth.) Stir in other ingredients. Chill mixture until firm, at least 3 hours; if desired, cover and chill up to 1 week.

2. Line a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet with a piece of waxed paper. With a spoon, scoop out 1-tablespoon portions of chocolate mixture; place on waxed paper. If mixture is too firm to scoop, let stand at room temperature about 10 minutes.

3. Place 1/4 cup cocoa on a rimmed plate. Dust hands lightly with cocoa. With your hands, roll each scoop of chocolate mixture into a ball, then roll in cocoa to coat. Place each truffle in a small paper candy cup (see notes). To store, place truffles between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container and chill.

These truffles will last quite a while, but they are best when you eat them within a week or so.

Need more flavor?
I found that these recipes weren't nearly as flavorful as I was hoping for. If you find this to be true of your truffles, you can always add more flavoring. However, unless your flavoring is super-concentrated, more of or additional ingredients other than that mentioned in the recipe will really mess with your truffles. Too much liquid will make them like fudge, and not enough will make them too hard.

What if my truffles are too soft or too hard?
Truffles are more or less solid because of the liquid (cream, flavoring) to solid (melted and then resolidified cocoa). If you want to augment a truffle recipe - add more flavoring, for example - it helps to have a little extra chocolate on hand. When the chocolate is still hot (not too hot to the touch, but warmer than room temperature), it should have the consistency of thick frosting.

Remelt the mixture
ALWAYS USE A DOUBLE BOILER WHEN MELTING CHOCOLATE!!! You can make a simple double-boiler by placing your mixture (still in its bowl - glass or ceramic are best)
If your truffle mixture is too hard, let it sit out for a little while before rolling it into balls. If that doesn't work, you can always remelt your mixture just enough to add a small amount of cream or other liquid. Quickly stir it in, and you'll probably be able to tell if you need to add more or not.

If your truffle mixture turns out too soft, you can remelt it and add a little more melted chocolate.


Modified Stuffed Bunny

Now, before you all think I'm totally insane, I want you to know that a friend commissioned me to make this little guy. I like the results, but I in no way endorse hurting actual fuzzy bunnies. Or unfuzzy ones. Or any critters (or people) for that matter.

So, I started with a cute little beanie bunny my friend gave me.
He asked me to make it look like the bunny's head had been taken off, and it was all gory inside. I wanted to make it look somewhat anatomically correct, so there is a spinal column, esophagus, and trachea, along with muscles.
hThe toughest part was finding the stitching along the neck, since the material was so thick and fuzzy. I removed all the stitching, aside from that on the back part of the toy, so it had a sort of "flip-top" head.

I made a tight tube with burgundy upholstery fabric, and wrapped in off-white felt to make a spinal cord with marrow. Then, I made a brown felt trachea and a pink felt esophagus. I finished the latter two tubes with a whip stitch in red thread.

For the muscles, I stitched the three tubes together, and then I stitched red felt to the tubes. I gathered and folded the red felt into a circle around the tubes, to fit in the neck holes. I stitched the folds in place with red thread.
After making two of these muscles-and-tube pieces, I inserted them into the bunny, stitching them in place with white thread.

Sorry I don't have any procedural photos, but let me know if you have any questions.

I am thinking about selling some custom ones, but they are a little creepy to make, so maybe not.

Thanks for checking out my post.