Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Treats - on a Stick - Minnesota State Fair Parade

A tradition for my daughters high school dance team is to dance one day in the parade at the Minnesota State Fair. It is a 14 block parade route that happens every single day of the fair. If you are not from Minnesota you need to know that our State Fair is a really big deal. After Texas, we are the biggest State Fair hosting more than 1,788,500 people in attendance for the 12 day fair in 2012. You are raised from birth knowing that you wait all summer long for the State Fair. People watching, rides, animal barns, carnival games, exhibits and the most popular attraction - FOOD! We are known for our crazy and bizarre foods all served on a stick.

So what does all this have to do with a dance team performing at a parade? The gift for this event (in my mind) had to be something on a stick then. And I have to be honest here, using anything with dancing and stick in the same sentence bordered on pole dancing in my mind, so I had to use food.

After much thought, I ended up with giant marshmallows-on-a-stick. You know those giant marshmallows that are sold around bon-fire seasons, the ones that are way too huge to make smores with. That was the size I had in my vision of a treat for the girls. I have chocolate dipped regular sized marshmallows in the past when using up the rest of melted chocolate. They ended up tasting like the Pinwheel cookies that my husband loves so much. So I figured this might be a fun different treat for the girls.

Shopping for Ingredients: So off to Michael's first. I purchased two bags of 50 clear plastic food bags that had their twist ties included, and one bag of 100 lollypop sticks. Then in the Wilton isle you can grab the bags of melting chocolates. I ended up using 3 1/2 bags of light cocoa that tastes more like milk chocolate. You can use your school's colors, as they offer many colors, but I didn't like the thought of blue chocolate covered marshmallows, so I stuck with brown. After there, I headed over to the new Wal-Mart that had just opened less than a week ago in my neighborhood. I am not a Wal-Mart fan, but I knew they carried these giant marshmallows, and I wanted to finish up my shopping and go home.

Now on to the prep work: I already have a Wilton Chocolate melting pot, and I love it! You turn it onto "Melt" and dump in a whole bag of melting chips. If you don't have a melting pot, you can melt the chips in the microwave or the stove top with a double boiler. There are great directions on the bag that you can follow. While they were heating up, I placed two sheets of wax paper on the countertop, opened the lollypop sticks, gathered the marshmallows (3 bags by the way), and started stirring the chocolate with a small rubber spatula.

To make them have a little school spirit in them, I then hand mixed colored sugar. With a small Rubbermaid container, I poured in about a cup of plain white sugar. To that I added 12 drops of blue food coloring, I had the neon set available, so that is what I used. Once you add the drops, cover and shake until you can't shake it anymore. It may need to be mixed up with a fork if there are any clumps of food coloring that don't want to mix up. Break them up with a fork, cover and shake you little heart out again. You can obviously use any color you have in food coloring. You can use this for any event or party, think Holidays, birthdays, baby showers, anything that requires desserts.

Assembly time: OK, so now that you have everything ready to go and your chocolate is melted, you are ready to start assembly.  Grab one lollypop stick and one large marshmallow, gently insert the stick into the center of a flat end of the marshmallow. Slightly spin the stick when inserting to get the sticky goodness inside to stick to the stick to hold it in place. Do not go all the way through the marshmallow, stop when you start to feel the stick on the bottom with your fingers. Take the marshmallow and gently dip it into the chocolate. I don't pull it back out with the stick, but rather the marshmallow itself so the stick will stay put. Wiggle off any excess chocolate back into the pot. If you are using colored sugars or sprinkles, put the marshmallow over the bowl and either dip it into the bowl, or use a spoon to sprinkle them over the hot chocolate. Place the finished marshmallow on the wax paper to cool and dry completely. Depending on how thick your chocolate is, it could take up to half an hour for it to cool completely. Now repeat with the next marshmallow.

Extras: You can use different colors of melting chocolate, different colors of sugars, different sprinkles, fancy lollypop sticks to change things up a bit. You can also add chocolate stripes across the top of the marshmallows to add extra colors. I only dipped the bottom halves, you can submerge the entire treat in chocolate, but be sure to buy about twice as much chocolate then. Don't like marshmallows, use pretzels, peanuts, thick cut potato chips, store bought cookies such as Oreos, Nilla Waffers. Really anything that is sweet or salty will work. I have even dipped thick cut (already cooked) bacon! Mmmm bacon...

Finishing Touches: Drop one marshmallow into each clear bag once they are completely cooled, twist tie the top to keep them fresh. I had added the large tags to this gift just reading the event name on them with the date and some hash tags for the girls. The girls save these tags and use them in their senior shadow box, so this one, rather than having a snappy saying on it, just uses the event name, as the Minnesota State Fair stands on it's own merits.You can always add curling ribbons, bows, or anything else fancy to the bags to decorate them. I know the girls will eat them right away, so I just stuck with the tag and no further decorations.

Costs:   Sticks $4.99/100
               Bags & Ties $7.98/100
               Marshmallows $5.96/100
               Melting Chocolate $7.50/3 bags
               Tags $6.49/100

               Total - $32.92 or just $.42 per girl for 78 girls

The girls ended up loving them, thought they were unique, and yummy. That was what I was going for. Yummy-on-a-stick while getting ready for the State Fair Parade.

UPDATE: They have now finished their parade dance, and it was CRAZY hot. Here in Minnesota, we have had a cooler then normal summer. Once State Fair time came around, we have been setting record high heats...of course! The girls had the parade at 2:00 in the afternoon, and at that time the temperature was 97 degrees with a heat index of 105, and super humid! Our whole family went to the Fair to watch her and enjoy all the yummy foods, well I don't think I have ever been that hot in my entire life. No lie, I was so hot I barely ate. We all brought water bottles with and filled them at every hydration station we could find. It was nice to see her dance, but every parent was horrified of one of them collapsing. They all made it through just fine, but Holy Hannah, I hope next year it will be a little cooler.

Be sure to check out all the different gifts for Dance Teams Here!

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  1. Yeah MN State Fair! I went last week and I completely melted... I'm hosting a candle giveaway that you should enter!

  2. I just love state fairs - such a slice of Americana. These are a wonderful idea that I'm going to pin right now. ! Thanks for sharing at Inspire Us Thursday on Organized 31.

  3. It was 98 degrees on Tuesday, believe it or not, here in Connecticut! August was like September... cool nights and dry, clear air. Weird. Love state fairs. So much fun ... and walking. ha ha