Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Should You Pop Your Holidays?

Have you seen the commercials for PopChef from idea village, Sisters and Brothers?  I've only seen one or two but I was happy to test their product when contacted through the FuelMyBlog program that you can see our link to along the right hand bar on this site.  Today your Chocolate Priestess has an event that is focused on both music and kids as part of an arts guild I'm a member of so I used the PopChef to make treats with.  The event is tonight so I'll have to update this essay once I see how the guests liked the treats but as always I want to share with you all how easy or complicated using this tool was and how I combined it with chocolate goodies.

The kit has easy to use directions though there are some facts I want to highlight that may surprise you.

The cutters are small especially the round one that made only items of 1 inch diameter.  Think about the size before you go making plans.  Little round sandwiches will be tiny but flower shaped one more of a two-bite snack. Three of the six cutters (round, star, heart) are on long attachments but the other three (sun, flower, butterfly) are short attachments.  Why?  The part that cuts through the food itself is all the same size really so I'm not sure why there is this difference.

Do not be gentle with the bulb, hit that thing to get the food you have cut to consistently come out.  I didn't have a problem with stick food but if you do not apply enough pressure then the air puff won't be strong enough to push it out. The air pressure actually could and should be improved to make it easier to use. Note that the kit comes not just with the bulb and the cutters but also some wooden skewers to put your creations on like a kebab, another stick to help dislodge any foods that might get stuck in the cutters, and a little booklet with some recipes and creation ideas in it.

Have a plan for the left over food -- obviously since none of the food you are extra pieces of food you cannot cut into the shape.  I made generic looking treats, fed the extras to my family, or tossed them out for the birds and squirrels in our neighborhood to enjoy depending on what it was that I was cutting.

I made a few items with the PopChef to try it out with different types of food.

First I made the mini cocoa chocolate chip biscuits using the round shape.  It was easy to cut the rolled out dough but getting it to "pop" the dough out was challenging.  The amount of air you can force out of the pump isn't very much and you really need to hit it. Even then sometimes the pieces came out, sometimes it several attempts.  I never had to pull or push the pieces out.

Then I made sandwiches with three different shapes -- flower, sun, and heart -- using hearty oat crunch bread, slices of cheese, and slices of black pepper roast beef.  The bread was relatively easy to cut though again the pump didn't consistently "pop" out.

The cheese was the easiest to cut and the easiest to pop out while the beef was the most difficult simply because these cutters aren't very sharp, this is for kids primarily you can't expect it to be too sharp, and I always had to push the meat out or pull the excess off when the cutter refused to pick them up.

The best shapes for the foods I tried were the tiny round and the heart which is also fairly small. Given that I used more hearty bread and meat I think a very simple white bread and a very smooth meat like a baloney would cut easily.  I couldn't find a fruit or veggie to really try -- every slice I found pre-prepared in the local shops was too thick and that is a limitation for this tool that you need to be aware of.  Ultimately this took a lot of work but compared to paying a professional to do it it may well be worth your time, money, and effort.  Just be prepared to have left over food pieces and to make mistakes.  Don't put this off until the last minute, try out  your ideas a good few days before so you know if it will work for what you want.

Do you think that PopChef might be fun for you or your kids?  Do you think it could help you make certain types of food or treats a bit more fun or attractive? If you or your kids have used this please do leave us a comment and tell us what you thought of the device.

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