Monday, December 22, 2014

Have Yourself a Merry Little Cake Pop

A trillion years ago when I was a child (or so it seems), Pier One came out with some of my favorite Christmas ornaments...they were just simple spherical-shaped ornaments in bright, shiny colors like blues or purples or silvers, but they were all lined in pretty glitter lines or swirls. Much like the caramel bars and various treats were a part of Christmas tradition, each year we all also bought a new ornament to put on the tree, too. I noticed once I received all my ornaments from my mother a few years ago that I was absolutely obsessed with those Pier One ornaments, as they comprised about 90 percent of the ornaments I had acquired since my youth, and since that was a trillion years ago, that's a lot of freakin' glittery ornaments. So much so that unpacking Christmas here leaves trace amounts of glitter on things until sometime in March. Apparently I share many commonalities with crows and other creatures that are as equally attracted to shiny objects as I am. Since we were having early Christmas with my mom, stepdad, sister, brother-in-law, and niece last weekend, I decided to make cake pops that were all glittery and fantastic (glitztastic, anyone?) to mirror those ornaments and reach an almost catastrophic level of glitter spill in my kitchen.
That's about seventy-five gallons of sanding sugar you're looking at right now.
I wish I could lie to you and tell you these didn't take me two days, but then I'd be lying to you and telling you these didn't take me two days...maybe I just wanted to lie to myself because I'm still picking sanding sugar out of various crevices on my kitchen counters and kitchen floors and wondering what the factories at Pier One looked like when they made all those glitter ornaments. Did they have to swim in and out of glitter each day to get to their workstations? Were snorkels involved? How can something so seemingly innocent and sparkly become so evil and unstoppable? I may never know. But I can tell you how to make these glitter swirl cake balls-- and if you heed my warnings-- you may have more success at being less of a mess. Honestly, these do require a level of patience that exceeded my grasp (there was some yelling), but if you work well under pressure, you'll show that sanding sugar who's boss.
Start by making a cake of your desired flavor, let it cool completely, and then crumble it up into tiny little pieces. I broke my French Vanilla cake up into chunks and rubbed a couple chunks together at a time, think like grating cheese, but even more delicious and without the cheese grater. So nothing at all like grating cheese, really.
In keeping with my vanilla theme, I plopped a tub of Pillsbury vanilla icing into my cake crumbles. I figured what with all the chocolate-based desserts we'd be eating over the weekend, these cake pops would pair nicely with my stepdad's lemon bars. My assumptions were correct. They also tasted really great with Pinot Grigio, FYI.
You will eventually have to use your hands to mix everything together, so wash up and keep from really ruining your family's Christmas with a round of food poisoning. Wait to ruin it in some other way that doesn't leave your family with a bathroom shortage situation, like drinking the last of the wine and not telling anyone about it.
Once your mix is...mixed...use a cookie scoop to...scoop...and then roll your cake into little balls. I will refrain from making tiny testes jokes after last week's blog. I promise. One cake should make around 33 cake balls.
Place these all on Parchment-lined cookie sheets. Freeze for a half hour or so. I ended up breaking this up into two days, so once my pops were done, I actually decided just to put them in the fridge overnight, but didn't take a picture of that. So here's what my garage freezer looks like. Much like it's attached fridge, it is also full of booze and poor life choices.
If you have the time to do these all in one day, I highly recommend it. Either leave in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour or in the fridge for 2 hours. I didn't have the time to start on these until about 5 p.m., so I threw in the towel to make dinner; otherwise I was going to feast on uncoated cake pops, and this would have been a very sad, very eye-opening blog. On to day two...
Hobby Lobby, for all your clean-house-ruining dreams.
Depending on what color you want your faux-glitztastic ornaments, buy a bag of melts for each. You should get enough melts out of one bag to decorate 10-12 pops, so I recommend selecting three bags of melts. I knew I didn't want these to stay actual cake pops since pops are much harder to travel with, so I bought mini cupcake papers to place them into...I know, I'm a genius. I bought sanding sugar in colors to match, and Styrofoam blocks to places the pops in to dry.
We meet again...
I inadvertently did myself a huge favor by leaving these in the fridge all night because I gave myself a chance to re-roll each ball into a smoother, less lopsided...blob. The nine on the left are re-rolled, so you can see how much nicer and actually spherical they are. I recommend a re-roll after you have cooled your pops regardless. But you will need to stick these back in the fridge for just a few (10-20 minutes) after re-rolling so they can maintain their shape.
Use about 2/3 of a bag of melts, and melt away, baby! Then place your stick into the chocolate...
And stab each pop through the heart.
Then display your trophies as a warning to other cake balls in a Styrofoam block.
This was only my second time making cake pops, and I learned a few things I want to pass on to you to make this process easier. When I made the purple pops, I left them out while the melts hardened around the stick. This meant that my pops sat out at room temperature for too long, so when I wanted to actually coat the whole pop into the melted chocolate, things got very slippery, very fast. The pops were too warm and wanted to just break apart or slide right off the stick. They were crumbling faster than me watching an emotional episode of Supernatural...I just want Dean to be happy, okay? So I learned my lesson, and HEED MY WARNING! Place your pops BACK into the fridge after you spear them to death. Let them cool back off for about 10 minutes, preferably 20. 

So remember:
Stab, THEN cool. Since you're working in color groups, you can do one color, let cool, and while they're cooling, start the process on another color...stab, then cool, stab, then cool. Repeat until you've run out of objects to skewer.
Once the pops are cooled back down and the sticks firmly cemented in place, dip each pop into the color of your choice. Pull out of the melts, and get to tapping.
You want to tap it a few times up against your dish, then turn, tap a few times, then turn...keep doing this until you have evenly distributed the melts and things look nice and smooth.
I was so proud of how smooth the blue pops turned out, my faith had been restored. My purple pops turned out horrid since I was too impatient and hadn't yet learned my lesson, so it should come as no surprise that I have no pictures of those.
Time is really a factor here. The melts cool fast, so you'll want to spend about a minute dipping and tapping each pop into a perfect sphere. You will lose your mind if you try to do all 33 of these at once, so give yourself a break. After the purple pop fiasco, I took a breather while considering if art is punishment or vice versa before getting back at it. I also wondered how many pops I could fit into my mouth at once, but decided against going for it since I'm not sure whether my dog knows the Heimlich maneuver.
Now, get ready to make a mess and possible disaster area.
You'll also want to raid your spice cabinet for a lid to fit the top of your sanding sugar to maintain some semblance of control.
Once you've dipped all your pops and they have sat out to harden for about 15-30 minutes, you're ready to get down to decorating. You will want to take the remaining 1/3 of your bag of melts, and melt according to package instructions. Let that cool off for a bit while you fit three piping bags with small round tips...Wilton 2, 3, or 4 tips will work for these designs. The thing about decorating with chocolate melts...its messy. There is this perfect 5-minute window where the chocolate is not so hot that it is spewing everywhere like a bleeding limb (think the Black Night from Monty Python), or not so cold that has hardened into what more resembles cement than an edible material. This is where patience comes in handy. Even if you aren't the most patient person, realize that just about any ugly incidents can be covered up with a proper amount of glitter. Sparkles fix EVERYTHING. So, using my ugly purple pops (why didn't I think to do this with my beautiful blues...), let me show you some mock techniques on decorating...
                                     video

video
Since I don't have a third arm, I couldn't really show the technique while actually piping, but you get the gist. Have fun with it, really. Make messy lines instead of swirls, or make tons of little swirls, or write your name on a few to claim them as your own, whatever you like. Just remember to do ONE POP at a time. Once you have decorated ONE POP the way you want, hold it over a bowl, and top it with your sanding sugar. Those melts dry fast, so you need to get the sanding sugar on while they are still wet.
Not pictured, the sanding sugar inside of my shirt.
You can come back over your pops with more piped lines and even do sanding sugar in another color. I started to really mix up my glitter colors and designs with the white pops, so of course I forgot to take pictures of that.
If you buy melts and sanding sugars that all look nice together, you can really come up with a ton of color combinations when you add sanding sugar to the pops. I do wish I had been more adventurous with my pops, but live and learn. They still tasted delicious either way. But dear God...I took too long decorating a few of my purple pops, and the chocolate hardened up in the decorating tip. This led to me pushing really hard on the decorator bag and the decorating tip flew off the bag, and chocolate spewed EVERYWHERE. Its like candle wax, and it hardened completely as soon as it was out of the bag and exposed to air. Lesson learned- find the magical Goldilocks window where its not too hot and not too cold. This happens approximately 8 minutes after heating the remaining melts to decorate with. 

It's beginning to look a lot like cake pops! God, I have tons of these...
As for the sanding sugar mess, be sure to keep a LARGE bowl under your pop as you dust it with glitter, and keep wet paper towels to mop up whatever spills outside of the bowl. I used a small bowl, and by the end of it, I had purple, blue, and white sanding sugar covering my kitchen floor with such intense volume that I felt like I was standing on a real beach. Not exactly what I had in mind as far as tropical vacations go. Once my pops were totally dry (another 10 minutes), I simply wiggled the sticks out of the bottom and placed each pop into a cupcake paper, as seen above.
You look good enough to stare at for a minute, then eat.
I gently placed all my pops, now just balls (no joking here), into a large Tupperware to make them travel safe. I put them into a hot/cold bag on top of a bag of ice so they would stay cool for my travels. I'm glad I did, too, because I was slowed down a bit...
...by this Silent Hill fog that had rolled into Texas. Literally the moment I crossed state lines, I was met with low visibility and a sneaking suspicion that Pyramid Head was waiting just out of sight to ruin my Christmas. This was the second year in a row I've had to drive through pea-soup fog to get to Denton...but I'll take that over the year I was stranded on I-20 for 18 hours in a snowstorm in a line of 20 miles worth of other traffic. Fa la la la la la la la, dammit. Maybe I should just stay home next Christmas.
But my sister has way better serving dishes for photography purposes.
Early Christmas was a success, and Derek was finally able to join us all for a major holiday and is now home. For the time being. Don't want to jinx it. Knock on lots of wood. So if you want to bring in the wow factor this Christmas, start on these pops tomorrow and by Christmas day, you and your family can be eating decadent little cake balls that look like ornaments that tested every last bit of the sanity you had left for 2014. Thank God you get to go on a cruise soon. Wait, that's not you...that's me. So I'll be back, Terminator style, in 2015 with hopeful tales of wonder and excitement from the Caribbean. Have yourself a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year- all filled with treats! And tell me how delicious they are, because I couldn't have picked a worse time of year to have to wear a bikini. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

2 comments:

  1. Oh man! I know this is going to sound extra creepy, but, it was so nice to hear your voice again!! haha I miss y'all all the time! These looks fantastic, too. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. awww, no I think it is sweet!! I think Derek probably always gets tired of me whining about how I wish you were still here!!

    ReplyDelete

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