right now

right now

Dec 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Much love to all of you this Christmas Eve!

Dec 21, 2011

This mess brought to you by... Christmas!

Cake Pops!

I had a few people ask me how these are done, so here you go!  This is only my 2nd time doing them the "real" way, so this is very basic.  I know you can go wild with fillings, making shapes and animals and all that, but I definitely can't do that yet.

Before you begin, I'll be kind enough to give you my "lessons learned" from a prior headache and tear fest brought to you by my first attempt:  DO NOT buy one of those stupid cake pop "pans" or the cake pop "machine"!  They only make a dozen at a time then you have to clean up and start all over again 2 to 4 times to use up all your batter (a batch is approx 40 cake pops), they have you add "extra" ingredients to the batter, and then... they don't work!  They fall off the stick, just a headache in general.  The second tip is to save your sanity and just grab one of your 50% off coupons for one of the craft or fabric stores and buy the darn candy melting/warmer pot already!  The warmer works perfectly, every time, and is easily washed.  I can't stress this enough.  The first time I did the microwave AND a double boiler and both were epic failures.  You need to have the stuff melted to just the right consistency and kept there for a LONG time, and those methods will send you straight to the looney bin.  The last tip I have is to NOT use those perfectly round pareil sprinkles, they bounce all over the house and will have your dogs scrambling underfoot to get them all, you will trip on the dog and if you're a neat freak like me, once again, looney bin.

If you are really awesome, you will bake your cake from scratch, make your own frosting and all that jazz, but let's face it, I'm really not that awesome.

Here's a basic list of what you will need, adjust the decorations of course to what you want.

Ingredients: cake mix, creamy frosting, sprinkles or other decor, lollipop sticks, bags and twist ties if gifting, melting candy for coating the cake pop

1.  First you have to get "in the mood".  Put on your Yule Log DVD, light a tree scented candle, and get some holiday music going.  I prefer Tony Bennett, but if you are feeling especially brave you could opt for The Chipmunks.

2.  Bake cake mix according to directions, let cool, then crumble into fine bits into a large bowl.

3.  Add frosting (I use about 1/2 cup) and mix until you can feel the mixture "sticking together".  Think meatballs here.

4.  That's exactly what you are going to do now, roll into uniform balls exactly like you are making meatballs!

5.  Put your cake balls into the freezer for about 10 minutes or into the fridge for 1/2 hour so the mixture will set and not be as pliable.

6.  While your cake balls are chillin', get your stuff ready to put the lollipop sticks in.  You need to start your candy coating to melt and get a cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil, not important at this point what you use.  This is where you will rest your uncoated cake pops while the sticks set up.  This pan needs to fit in your fridge, so choose carefully :)

7.  Take your cake balls out of the fridge, and you are going to dip a stick and get some chocolate on the tip, about 1/2 inch or so, and insert the stick into the cake ball and place on cookie sheet to harden.  This is what really keeps the cake pop from falling apart and "glues" it on there.

8.  Once you have all your cake balls with sticks in them, place again in the fridge for about 1/2 hour or so.

9.  While that happens, lay out your stuff for decorating and get ready to make a real mess.  Your chocolate should be melted and turned to the warm setting, sprinkles out and foam block close by.

10.  Next part is usually the frustrating part.  You need to dip your cake ball in the melted coating, it helps to use a tiny spatula to cover the whole thing, since if you just start swirling away your cake ball is guaranteed to fall of the stick.  This whole process needs to be worked pretty quickly.  Pulling your cake pop out of the chocolate, use the spatula to lightly swirl around it to take care of any potential drips.  This is the part that most people get frustrated with.  I slowly rotate it for about 10-15 seconds until there are no drips, but it's still wet, and then sprinkle away!  I sprinkle over a bowl instead of a plate but it's still a huge mess :)

Note:  I'm a cook, not a baker - so I draw the line at frosting bags, tips and strange things like airbrushes and fondant - that stuff scares me!  I'm a "sprinkle" kind of girl.  If you are comfortable with all that other stuff, Google cake pops and the creations you will find are amazing.  Anyway, back to the sprinkles...

11. As you finish each one, rotate slowly again to make sure no heavy drips are going to mess it up, then stick it into the foam block to set up.  It sets up quickly and no refrigeration is needed after this point.

12.  Let them all set on the counter for at least an hour up to overnight.  These will stay fresh for several days now since they are sealed up in that hard candy coating.  You can leave them as they are or you can choose to put them into bags with twist ties if they are traveling or being gifted.  Mine are going to Loch's class party tomorrow so I will bag them.  Someday I will have hubby cut a nice piece of wood with holes drilled to serve these on, but they lay on a platter just fine since they aren't made into any cutesy animals or anything that would require special care. 

13.  You are done!  Well, except for cleaning up the bomb that went off in the kitchen...

*Here's another tip:  leftover chocolate candy can be poured into a lined container and in a couple hours you can just pop it out and place in a sealed baggie for next time.

 The cleanup crew!  It's handy to have a herding dog to round up all the rogue sprinkles...ahhhh, so this is what city herding dogs do!


You made it to the end of this post?  Congrats!  I agree, it's less messy to just read about it :)  By the way, if you actually make these and do not end up in the Looney Bin, you are absolutely entitled to eat a dozen or so in one sitting.