Edible Garden

So, a great friend of mine (and so many others), Debbie Anderson, is retiring from the company we all work (insert big frowny face).  She loves her garden and is going to love spending her time enjoying it.  We, of course, had to throw a retirement party so I, of course, had to make something crazy.   We have food and drinks catered in but I wanted to make something to go along with the garden theme.   I thought about making cupcakes with flowers but this is going to be a very large group of co-workers coming in and out throughout the 2 hours we are having this.  I know she likes bumble bees so I decided to make some bees cookies.

But I wanted to make something for her to take home to enjoy with her family.  So, what else but an edible garden.  When I have a lot to create I like making a schematic.  It also helps me with remembering what ingredients I need to get.  This will change some once I get started but it’ll be close to this.

Now that I have my plan I need to start baking and creating.  First I baked the base which is two a big chocolate chip cookies.  I like to bake them big enough to have 1 layer to cover the plate and an extra section on one end to add height.  I had to cut some of my cookie to add a little to the side and top to get the full size of the plate.  I’ll “glue” the cookies together with melted chocolate to keep it stable.  Then I added a section of cookie to one end.  The thickness will add strength to the trees when it’s time to put them in.

Once the cookies are cooled I take the 2 cookie sections and use melted green chocolate to glue them together.  I took a knife and cut this to the size I needed to make my garden scene and fit in the plate.  Taking more green melted chocolate I spooned the chocolate onto my wax paper and put my cookie on top.  This completely covered the bottom of the cookie.  The chocolate will help keep the cookie together and from getting stale if it’s not eaten right away.  I tinted some coconut with green food color.  I spread more melted green chocolate into a large “T” shape and sprinkled my green coconut  to look like grass, saving some of the coconut to use later to clean up my edges.

Next thing was to make the garden mounds.  I like making peanut butter fudge because it’s easy and taste great!  It’s also easy to shape and mold.  I got the shape and size I wanted and set to the side.  I made a few “pathway rocks” with some of the peanut butter fudge, as well as rocks to put around the garden and set them aside.

I melted milk chocolate and carefully spooned to cover the 2 mounds.  Then, while the chocolate was still wet, took some crushed chocolate wafers and covered my mounds to use as dirt.  I used mini Oreo’s and scraped out the cream centers.  I was able to use the rest of the mini Oreo’s for more goodies later on.  When the “dirt” was set I dusted off any loose crumbs.

Then taking some more green melting chocolate I glued to 2 mounds to my cookie.  To make the pathway rocks I took some melted milk chocolate and dipped the flatten fudge into the chocolate.  While I had my fudge still over my bowl I took some melted white and yellow chocolate I had ready in Ziplock bags and streaked over my fudge, tapped the side of my bowl to remove excess chocolate and placed on wax paper.  That gave the fudge a little veining like rocks would have.

At this point I have my foundation and ready to start with the decorations.  You can use fondant to make your flowers and veggies (which is a lot easier) but I love making things out of chocolate because it just tastes better.  I took different colored melting chocolates and put in ziplock bags.  To melt; take a bag and microwave for one minute, knead the bag, then microwave for another 20-30 seconds.  Be careful that the bag isn’t too hot.  You may want to knead more and microwave less.  Then snip the tip off the end of one corner and start making your designs.  If you want a ruffle pattern for leaves then snip towards the bag.  Start by snipping a very small hole and test on wax paper.  Chocolate is more runny than icing.

When making multiple layers (red flower with yellow center) do the red first, let set, then add the yellow middle. This keeps the colors from bleeding together and is also a good time to add sprinkles.  To make the yellow flowers I took yellow melted chocolate in a Ziplock bag and made a large dot on wax paper.  Then, taking a toothpick I started in the middle of the dot and pulled outwards making spikes.  I made enough to be able to stack 2 flowers on top of each other using a dot of yellow chocolate to glue the 2 pieces together.  Then I added a small dot of black melted chocolate to the center and sprinkled with black sugar.

Sprinkling regular sugar over your designs while the chocolate is still wet will give a little dimension and texture.  I melted some red chocolate in a Ziplock bag and made dots for my petals.  While my chocolate was still wet I covered them with regular sugar and let that set.  Once my petals were set I dusted off the excess sugar with a small brush then took melted white chocolate, make a dot in the center then sprinkled some pink sugar.  

I also made some pink petals making curly rings and let that set.  Then taking some melted yellow chocolate, filled in the center and sprinkled with yellow sugar crystals.  I used a toothpick to remove the excess yellow sugar that got caught in my curly pink chocolate.

 

To make the “lettuce” take green melting chocolate in a Ziplock bag (cutting the hole towards the middle) and make little round ruffles on wax paper and left dry.  When you are ready to “plant” the lettuce, dust off any loose “dirt”  from the mound to have a clean area, squeeze a dot of green chocolate onto the cleared area and stick the “leaves” around the dot of chocolate.   Add a little more chocolate on top of those and put a few more leaves.  I made a little ruffle dot to add to the center.

For the tomato plants, take green melted chocolate and make zip-zaggy designs on wax paper to look like bushes.  Make plenty and different sizes but not too big that it’s too big to put in your garden space.  While you are making the bushes make some squiggle ones to use later for your carrot tops. To make your tomato plant, put a dot of green chocolate on your mound and one of your “bushes”.  Add another dot of green chocolate on top of that and add another bush.  Keep repeating this till you get the height you want waiting a little in between to let your chocolate set.  When that sets take some red melted chocolate and squeeze on your “tomatoes”.  Red mini M&Ms or Sixlets are great to use as tomatoes, too.  I had some red “pearls” that were the perfect size.  Just put a dot of green chocolate and add your tomatoes.  I took a toothpick and dipped the tip into green chocolate and added a few “vines” on my tomatoes to make it look a little more realistic.

To plant your “carrots” clear out a small hole on your mound.  Take melted orange chocolate and squeeze a dot into the hole to look like the carrot is coming out of the ground.  Then take one of the green chocolates tops you made earlier and stick into the top of the orange dot.  I let my orange chocolate sit for a minute before adding my green top to keep the green chocolate from melting in the warm orange chocolate and helped keep it standing upright.  Repeat this till you get all your carrots planted.

The flowers are pretty easy.  Make the flower petals using different colored melted chocolates on wax paper.  These can be specific to look like a certain kind of flower or just make up your own flowers.  Just make sure you do the “petals” first (and add sugar before these set if you desire) then add the center color and sprinkles.  I take a little brush and dust off any loose sugars and before I start putting them in the garden.  When you are ready to plant your flowers, take some green melted chocolate in a Ziplock bag and cut towards the bag and squeeze out ruffled leaves.  Then take your flowers an lightly drop them on your leaves.  I made a little pair of “garden gloves” out of white and black chocolate and placed in the garden just for the fun of it.

Now the “trees” – take a few pretzel rods and cut to the height you are going to want allowing a little extra height for the leaves after they are added on.  Remember about an inch or so will need to go into the ground, too.  Take some melted milk chocolate and dip in your rods shaking off as much excess chocolate and put on wax paper to set.  I hold my rods in the freezer for a bit till my chocolate is set before I place on wax paper.  It keeps the rod from having a flat side.  You can leave the pretzel rods un-dipped but they can get stale.  The chocolate keeps them fresh and taste great.  Melt green chocolate and add coconut.  Add your coconut a little at a time.  You don’t want too much coconut in your chocolate that it’s too thick.  It needs to be enough to handle but wet enough to stick to your pretzel rods.  Lay your rods on wax paper and scoop some of the chocolate coconut mixture and place on the rod towards the top.  Shape the coconut to look like leaves on a tree.  Repeat for the other rods.  Let them set completely then flip over and add more coconut to the back side.  This will give the tree a round-ish shape and not just flat on one side.  When these are completely set and you are ready to plant your trees take a knife and drill out holes into your cookie as deep as you can go and about as big as the pretzel is thick.  You want a tight fit so you are not holding the tree in place till it sets.  Squeeze some melted milk chocolate into the hole and add a tree.  You’ll probably have to hold it there for a bit to make sure its secure.  Repeat that with the other trees.  I like to add some “roots” and more grass to make everything clean.  Just squeeze some melted chocolate at the base of the tree and add the roots then lightly sprinkle some green tinted coconut at the base of the roots.

 

Now you have your garden all planted.  You can add little touches like garden gloves or bunny feet and tail.  Pipe your designs on wax paper then glue onto your garden with a dot of chocolate.  I sprinkled the grass with some toffee sprinkles to look like little rocks are mixed in with the grass.

All finished with my garden.  I found this cute plate/tray.  It’s not really a garden theme (but who doesn’t love bacon, right?)  It’ll be covered with my goodies so only the white edges will show until Debbie and her gang work their way through.  And it’s the perfect size, 10″ x 14″ with and inch and a half lip up the side.  This will make it even better to keep my garden from siding around.

I found this funny little bee container to go with my other bee stuff and wanted to put something fun in there to go with the edible garden.  I had those mini Oreo’s so, since I’m known for my ladybugs, I thought I would make some red chocolate dipped Oreo ladybugs.

The process is easy.  In a bowl, microwave a bag of red chocolate for 1 minute, stir and microwave another 30 seconds.  Stir till that are no solid pieces.  Using a fork, take one of the mini Oreo’s and dip into the chocolate, tap the bowl to remove excess chocolate and place on wax paper.  Repeat with the rest of your cookies…let chocolate set completely.

Then, put some black chocolate in a ziplock bag and microwave for 1 minute.  Knead the bag a few good times and microwave for another 20  – 30 seconds.  Knead the bag to make sure there are no solid pieces.  Cut a small tip from one of the corners of the bag and make a line down the middle and 3 small dots on each side of the line.  Tap the cookie about 5 times to smooth out the points of the dots.  Taking more black chocolate add the head.  Don’t tap the cookie at this point because you want the height to look like the head of the ladybug.  Put on wax paper to completely set.  You can leave them like they are but I like taking some white chocolate and add little dots to make the eyes. These got placed into the funny Bumble Bee container and tied up with a little raffia.  I saved one ladybug and put it in my garden.  It’s kind of a signature thing for me so I needed to have one in the finished product.

Keeping with my tradition of making my own cards, I found some garden scenes on Google search and used that as a watermark on the outside and inside my the card.  I wanted to get Debbie something crazy for her garden to always remember me when she sees it.  I found this frog sitting on a tall mushroom with a butterfly on a wire.  Might end up giving her nightmares but she’ll always remember me for sure!!

I took a picture of it and removed the background and put it on the inside of the card and on the back where I add my “Made with Love by…” name.  It’s also in watermark so I put it on the inside on the left side of the card.  Sorry, Debbie, you know I had to do it!!

She loves bumble bees so I had stickers of little jeweled bees and place all over the card.  I made a little card to put on the outside of the envelope and added more bees.

And all finished up!!

And I got all my Bumble Bees finished and on a tray to put out during the party!! Happy Retirement, Debbie!!  We’ll all miss you so much!!

One last thing to do is make a banner.  We wanted a banner but there are no really cute retirement banners so I made one.  I wanted to have a letter per page on 8.5 x 11 card stock.  I looked at some of the letters you can get off Clip Art but I didn’t like how they were coming out.  I found some letters made from flowers but I didn’t want to buy the font.  So, I made my own letters.  I found a picture of a daisy and removed the background.  Then I changed the color of a bunch of them.  The yellow center also changed color so I took the center and copied it and put back in the middle of the flowers.  When I had all my flowers I put them in a group I could use to make my letters.  I also took a picture of my bee to add to the letters.

Once I started spelling out my letters and adding my bee I added a background to look like the flowers were growing out of the grass.  This also made it clearer to see each letter.  All that was left was to print on card stock and cut off the white edges.

I took a hole punch and put a hole in the top two corners of each card.  I had a bag of raffia so I took some pieces and tied each letter to spell out “Happy Retirement Debbie”.  You can take a long ribbon and tape each letter to the ribbon but this looks nicer and easier to fold up and carry.

 

Peanut Butter Fudge

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound powdered sugar

Take a microwave safe bowl and add your butter and peanut butter, cover with clear wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Carefully lift the clear wrap (watch for hot steam) and stir the butter/peanut butter mixture.  Replace the clear wrap and microwave another 2 minutes.  Remove from the microwave, take off the clear wrap and stir in the vanilla and powder sugar to combine.  Take a heaping teaspoon, roll into a ball or the shape you desire and place on wax paper.  Let cool completely they dip in melted chocolate.