Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kitchen win: Cake Pops!

Yesterdays experiment with posole was a fail. Today I tried my hand at cake pops and it was a total win. I even documented the process.

I gathered together all of my ingredients. I wasn't going to go to the effort of making a cake from scratch since I was just going to crumble it up. Plus I wasn't sure if these were going to work so I wanted save some effort. Besides all of the sights I looked at with tips said to use the box stuff. It didn't hurt that the grocery store was having a ridiculous sale on box cake mix either. I found most everything else at Hobby Lobby; sticks, colored chocolate, and some other random cake decorating things that I was rather surprised to find in a hobby shop. I was set and ready to go.

The next step was to bake the cake. No I did not take a picture of the baked cake. It looked like a typical sheet cake. Nothing terribly exciting. I must say I did get some strange satisfaction crumbling the cake up though. Don't ask. This was my first taste though of how much waiting is involved in cake pops. I had to wait until the cake was completely cooled, which took a little longer than I really would have liked.

Product placement shot.

As displayed above, next came mixing in the frosting. I have to say I have always wanted to just stick my hand into a jar of frosting. No I am not sure why, I just have. Again, strangely satisfying. I didn't use all of the frosting, as I was told repeatedly I would not have to. In fact I had about a quarter of the jar left afterwards. I was good and resisted the urge to eat it with a spoon. No that is a lie, I didn't have the urge to eat it. I am not a frosting sort of girl. Now if it had been cool whip that would have been an entirely different story.

Here is where I think I made my biggest mistake in making the cake pops. I decided I was going to make Christmas tree cake pops as my first attempt. Most people would choose something simple, like a generic ball with sprinkles maybe. Nooooo. Not me. No I had to do something complicated. Let me tell you what making forty little cones took an hour. Balls would have been so much simpler and quicker. Not nearly as impressive, but still.

After I got the cones formed I then had to stick them in the fridge to cool and harden. I read lots of suggestions to put them in the freezer which would be a great idea if I had that sort of freezer. I unfortunately have a side by side fridge/freezer, which means my freezer is very narrow. Besides it is also very full. So I was stuck waiting a few hours while everything set up. 

Once they were nice and solid I got to put the sticks in. I melted a little of the chocolate and dipped each stick into it before inserting it most of the way into my cake cones. This was pretty much the easiest step of the entire process. Well actually crumbling the cake was the easiest part, but this was a close second. Pretty soon all of the sticks had been put in place. Then it was back into the fridge with the pops so that the chocolate could cool off. 

At this point I went and played some Final Fantasy X. Who am I kidding, I had been playing since I stuck the cones in the fridge the first go around. I needed something to take up all that time. Once the sticks had set it was time to dip the pops into the chocolate. This turned out to be the most difficult part. The chocolate is supposed to be microwaveable. The first bit I had melted for the stick application had gone through the microwave brilliantly. The same can't be said for the rest. I tried to melt more in the microwave and it seized almost immediately.

I got to spend the next ten minutes trying to locate both pieces of my double boiler and melting the chocolate on the stove. This also proved to be an issue when I wanted to dip the cones in the chocolate. You are supposed to just dunk the entire thing straight into the melted chocolate. Sadly my double boiler is so wide that the melted chocolate was not deep enough to dunk more than half of the cake in at once. In the end I had to tilt the pot to the side and sort of roll the cake in it. 

I do not, I repeat, do not suggest rolling your cake pops when coating them in chocolate. I dislodged at least two of my sticks doing this. I had to sort of sideways dunk them to get them covered. This didn't even always work. I have to find a better method of applying the chocolate in the future.

After I managed to get the chocolate on I had to shake off the excess. Everyone suggested holding the cake pop over the hot chocolate and gently tapping the hand that is holding the stick. It shakes off the excess without dislodging the stick from the pop. This method worked beautifully if not incredibly slowly. 

I want to point out that at this point I had been working on the pops for quite a while. I was really frustrated with the chocolate, so I might not have shaken off as much of it as I should have. Still I was getting a nice even coating, and really that was all that mattered. I shoved the sticks into a chunk of styrofoam so that the chocolate could dry. I did end up running out of chocolate with 11 cake pops to go. I will have to get more chocolate tomorrow. 

I was very pleased that they actually looked like little trees. Of course without decorations they could have been anything really. I was certain though that with a little decoration they would be perfect. I had to fight my urge to just stop at this point or to rush through things. This project was certainly a test of my patience.

The stars were a great addition, though a real pain in the rear. I had to take a drop of melted chocolate and then quickly shove the star into it because such a small drop of chocolate dries quickly. The stars were teenie tiny and I have big hands for a girl. Needless to say the process was very trying, but very rewarding. How cute are those?

Now the sight I got the idea from had suggested making the decorations out of little round sprinkles. The process of attaching said sprinkles was the same as the stars. Lets go back to how much of a pain the stars were for me. Imagine dozens of tiny dots on each one of the pops. Yea, not happening. So instead I took some cake decorating gel and just made dots. This still took forever but it was so much simpler. I think the finished look is wonderful really.

The kid threatening to eat it before the shot.

The kid being a good model.

"No you may not eat it until after I take the picture."

The husbeast behaved just long enough to get the shot.

The poor cake pop never stood a chance.

So that was my adventure in baking. Over all it was a simple project, just incredibly time consuming. I do not regret choosing such a difficult design as my first attempt at cake pops. I also can not say I won't choose an equally challenging design next time. I have my mind set on snowmen for my next batch, using chocolate cake and mint flavored chocolate.

We will see what comes of it. I rate this project high on the success scale. Ridiculously cute, incredibly tasty, and not terribly difficult. A win on all fronts.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE cake pops! What a lucky family you have. I also really loved your list of three things you are grateful for that you left on my blog today!!