Just in time to be to late for Easter it's Creeps, the marshmallow treat with a bang!
As many of you probably know these were part of ThinkGeek's 2013 April Fools product line but this means, at least at time of writing, that they are also fake. This is a shame because it's a great pun and would make a great gift for the Minecraft enthusiast in your life. In keeping with the creeper's explosive tendencies I've added a twist to the marshmallow recipe, a jalapeno infusion. This gives these guys a spicy kick that sets them apart from their chick and bunny counterparts.
Note: For those of you who don't know, a creeper is a hostile monster (mob) from the game Minecraft. When a player ventures to near a creeper it explodes like a block of TNT. This nasty habit is the inspiration for making the Creeps spicy.
There are three parts to this project, each of which is sort of it's own mini project, but the best way to get real Creeps is to follow all of them. The parts are: Building a creeper shaped cutter, making the spicy marshmallow, and turning the marshmallow into creepers. First up is the cutter.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
- Sheet Stainless Steel or Aluminum($4-$10, eBay or hardware store) - I used 1" wide, 1/16" thick aluminium because that was the best I could do on short notice. Your best bet is more along the lines of .01-.02" stainless steel.
- Epoxy/Rivet/Spot Welding - I first tried JB quick weld which failed due to poor prep and bad clamping. I ended up using plain Gorilla Glue which worked better but it still isn't the best solution. If you find a better solution I'd love to hear it.
- Wood/Cardboard/Paper - Something to use as a template. If you have access, a 3D printer or laser cutter are even better options.
- Wax Paper - Serves as a template material for decorating.
- Cardboard (Optional) - For creating gift packaging.
- Plastic Cling Wrap (Optional) - For packaging.
- Hot Glue (Optional) - See above.
- Permanent Maker
- Clamps and Vice Grips
- Hard Straight Edge - This can be the same as your ruler but it needs to have sharp edges and be stronger than your chosen metal strip.
- Sandpaper and File
- Tin Snips/Hacksaw
- Knife - Something precise like a small, sharp, hobby knife.
Step 2: Design & Template
After a surprisingly long time digging around the cobwebs of the internet I found this chart:
Creeper: 1 block = 1 cubic pixel
Head: 8x8x8 blocks
Body: 4x8x12 blocks
Foot: 4x4x6 blocks
Total Height: 26 blocks
The important parts of this info is that the total height is 26 units, the width 8 units, and the feet are 6 units tall. I selected a total height of 3" which yields a width and foot of .923 and .692 respectively. Once I started working with the metal these numbers got fudged a bit smaller and more even.
Once you select a scale factor and you have your dimensions draw and cutout your template. I used cardboard because I realized I wasn't going to be able to hold any sort of precision due to my material's thickness.
Step 3: Build the Cutter
If you have access to sheet metal forming equipment then it may not matter where you start but if you're forming by hand then the 180º bend between the legs is where you'll need to start. Fold the material over using the sharp edge of something and then use a hammer to fold the strip completely in half.
Now we'll begin using a make shift break from your hard straight edge to form the rest of the corners. Measure and mark your next bend. Place the edge of your straight edge on the marks and clamp in place with vice grips. Holding as close to the break edge as possible fold the metal to 90º. Repeat a total of 5-6 times. I made my two ends meet at a corner so there were only 5 bends after the center one. This method is easier but if you have a more pliable material having the ends meet on a straight will make for more symmetrical cutouts. To attach the two ends I simply sanded the mating surfaces and applied Gorilla Glue. Not the best solution but it held up for at least one batch.
The finishing touch is using a file/grinder/sand paper to sharpen one of the edges. This of course is to aid in cutting through the marshmallow. If your material is thin enough this step won't be necessary.
Step 4: Recipe
Step 5: Cutting
When the marshmallow is fully set, turn it out of the pan onto a cutting board. Grab your cutter, make sure you've given it a good cleaning after you finish building it, and coat the inside and outside with some of the cornstarch/confectioners sugar mix. You can also use oil, like with the spatula from earlier, if there is still to much sticking with the powder.
Use the cutter just like a cookie cutter, pressing it down through the marshmallow. Pull the excess away from the edges before removing the cutter. A little pressure on the cutter helps prevent run away tears. When the cut out creeper is removed lightly dust the freshly cut edges with the powder to prevent sticking. Repeat until there is no room left to get a full cut in.
Step 6: Decorating
Using a sharp hobby knife cut the creeper's face pattern into the wax paper. I just eyeballed the cutouts and cut a couple of patterns until I was happy with the scale. You can use the excess pieces to test your pattern on.
Lay the cut out on it's back, cleanest surface up. Position the template over the piece placing near the top, equidistant from the top and two edges. With one hand hold the template to the table on either side of the piece, pulling it tight. Apply black decorating gel across the openings of the template. Make sure the thickness is pretty even between the three openings and that there are no points in the gel from pulling the tube up while applying. Remove the template by lifting straight up. You can try and use a toothpick to touch/clean up. Repeat on each cutout.
Before doing this is a good time to stretch the feet apart a little so they are distinctly separate. Place a single strip of black gel across the bottom of each foot. Don't do both feet in one go, make sure you lift in between so it remains obvious the feet are separate.
Step 7: Packaging
If you want to give these as a gift creating a little box that emulates the iconic peep packaging is a fun way to do it.
Measure one of your completed creeps. Using these measurements you can size the internal space for your package based on the number of creeps you want in the package. Then create a fold-able cardboard box with the front face only coming up half the distance of the back.
Instead of the yellow color on the peeps box I took a cue from the ThinkGeek images and pasted a Minecraft grass pattern to the visible surfaces of the box. Don't glue the grass piece for the back on just yet though.
Next we need a Creeps logo. Feel free to use the one I made and attached below (it looks like it has a black background but that's just how Instructables displays .png's with transparency.
Finally load up the creeps and use some plastic wrap to seal up the package. Start at the front and tuck all the edges to the back. Cut the excess so it is just around the corner on the back. Glue the the edges down to the cardboard and then glue the back grass panel over it all for a nice clean look.
Step 8: Thoughts & Lessons
I know many of you probably made a face remarkably similar to the creepers when you saw that this recipe involved jalapenos, thanks for sticking through to the end. To be honest I was fully prepared them to be pretty awful but I really wanted to try to capture the spirit of the creeper so I plowed ahead. The results blew me away, as a number of family members can attest, these are actually quite tasty. If you like spicy things I strongly suggest trying these (they don't have to be creepers). I made a 1/3 batch but still with 2 jalapenos and the heat is is fairly intense at its peak but fades quickly and it doesn't linger like if you were to eat the actual pepper, at all. There is little to no jalapeno taste so they still work as a dessert like treat.
The Not So Good
I was a little disappointed with my cutter. Using a thinner gauge metal would have made a world of difference as well as practicing some breaks beforehand to get a feel for how exactly the radii formed which would have led to better measurements.
I whipped the marshmallow for a little too long which let it cool too much and made it hard to spread. This is why the creepers aren't all the same thickness, the mixture didn't so much pour as it had to be scooped out of the mixing bowl.
I think a lot of the inconsistencies you see in the marshmallow surface could be covered up using the colored sugar you see on real Peeps (called sanding sugar, thanks nanosec12 and Threemoons). Instead of confectioners sugar in the powder mix use, at least some, sanding sugar.
The little box I made was thrown together pretty quickly really for fun more than any practical use and it shows.