Monday, March 30, 2015

Putting All My Eggs in One Basket

Easter is upon us- that magical time of the year when you scar your young children for life by taking them to your local mall to pose with a stranger dressed in a terrifying rabbit costume. I suppose there is also the Biblical significance of the holiday as well, and who knows, without Jesus and his resurrection, Marshmallow Peeps may not exist. Our heart valves would hate us a little less, but our souls would not rejoice in fluffy, sugary goodness. I'm still not entirely sure how a bunny became the official mascot of Easter...but I also don't really question why I can't eat meat on Fridays during Lent either; I'm not a rule breaker. I'm just looking forward to a time when tuna is not on my regular luncheon rotation again. Since I gave up caffeine for Lent and both of my dogs are sleep terrorists, I'm also looking forward to a time when I can slam a can of Red Bull like a 21 year old pounding a shot of apple pie vodka (kids these my time, vodka tasted like shame and raw potatoes). Anyway, I was trying to come up with some clever ideas for Easter treats because next week is also my one year anniversary of becoming the dessert maven you all know and love or hate. I'm indifferent to how you feel about me as long as you like my desserts. I realized that Easter eggs are probably one of the most prominent Easter figures alongside the bunny (I will never understand), so I made some spectacularly sparkly Easter egg cake balls alongside some extremely cute Easter chick cake balls (somehow the whole chick thing does make total sense to me...just not that damned rabbit).
I'll take four baskets of these, to go.
So my chicks look a little bit like the ghosts from Pac-Man, I know...but these little guys came about as a last minute alternative to an idea I had that failed miserably; more on that later. Really my whole plan of attack was botched and I had to come at these with a Plan B. I wanted to luster dust the eggs to make them insanely sparkly and wonderful with a smooth texture unlike sanding sugar, but my Hobby Lobby did not have luster dust even though their website indicated they did. I don't know why things like this continue to surprise me in Clovis; it's like the movie Groundhogs Day here. I seek and search and always end up back at (if I die here, that should be on my tombstone). I did not have time to order the luster dust Friday to arrive Saturday for baking, so I improvised and used sanding sugar. Here's a quick rundown on the pops if you missed my tutorial on cake balls or cake pops.
Select any box cake you like and a tub of frosting to go with it. I am committing some sort of cardinal sin here by mixing Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, but there are so many other things I could end up be smited (smote?) for. Bake the cake, but remember to sub milk for the water, butter for the oil and double the amount, and add an extra egg. This way you're getting a much richer quality and flavor out of the box. Let your cake bake according to instructions and cool on a cooling rack until room temperature. I cut off my edges since they are a bit crisper and don't crumble as well.
Take your cooled cake and crumble it up into tiny cake grains in a large bowl. I take a chunk at a time and rub it together between my palms to do this, and I go back in at the end to break up any large chunks. After this, slop (seriously) your frosting into the bowl with the cake. I use about 3/4 of a can of frosting for my taste preferences. Then get your hands dirty (after you've washed them, of course) and mix everything together until the dry cake has been coated completely in frosting. Wash or lick your hands clean after you've done this. Not gonna lie, I'm a lick first, wash later kinda gal. Take a cookie scoop or tablespoon and fill it up with your mix.
Drop the ball you've scooped up and roll it into an oblong shape. I rolled my ball of cake around like a ball of Play-Doh in between both palms, and I finished up by using the heel of my hand to press the dough into an oval. I did the same thing when making my football cake balls, but when I finished up this time, I made sure the top came to a slight point and lightly flattened the other end.
Like so. Place each egg on a Parchment-lined tray. I had to reshape a few of these a couple times to get them looking a bit more eggy. I interrupted my husband's video gaming several times to ask him what he thought these were supposed to be. Five times out of six, egg was the clear answer. The one in the middle row at the very back here looked more like a big toe. It was later reshaped. Put all your eggs into the freezer for an hour to solidify.
This photo makes my OCD really happy.
Now, since I couldn't find luster dust, I opted for sanding sugar instead. I found three bags of candy melts in a variety of light pastels for Easter and sanding sugars to match. Can someone also tell me why the hell we dye eggs the colors of a nursery? The more I think about Easter traditions, the more my head hurts. I need an adult. Preferably one with a working knowledge of the history of the Easter bunny so I can put this all to rest. I digress. If you want to make actual cake pops, gather a Styrofoam block or two and some lollipop sticks. I got these because I was planning on decorating some of the pops with lines and such, and I needed to be able to spin them around. If you don't want pops, get some mini-cupcake papers to place your finished eggs into.
And say goodbye to your clean kitchen.
Pull out however many pops you want in one color. I made 30 pops, and I did ten in each color. Melt your first bag of candy according to package directions in a bowl or Tupperware. While doing this, gather a large fork, spoon, paper towels, toothpicks, another bowl, and sanding sugar. You have to work really fast with these since the chocolate candy melts harden quickly.
Once your melts once egg on your fork and dip into the bowl. Use the spoon to...spoon...the melts over the top of your egg.
Pull your egg out once it is completely coated and use two fingers from your opposite, fork-free hand to tap your fork-holding hand gently. This will get excess melt off your egg and cause it coat more evenly. Tapping the fork itself on the bowl could cause the egg to fall off or to coat...weirdly. Once you've tapped a few times, drag the fork against the edge of the bowl to get the excess drip-age off, and then tap your wrists a few times more and swipe again for good measure.

Now stand on your head and view this photo.
I decided I wanted five eggs of each color completely coated with sanding sugar. To do this, IMMEDIATELY after you've swiped your fork the last time, hold your egg over the empty bowl and pour sanding sugar all over it evenly. Then place your fork (tilted slightly down) on the tray and use the toothpick to slide it off of the fork. I did this for my yellow and pink sparkly eggs, too, using the various matching sanding sugar colors with my melts.
Like little Robin's eggs. Aww....I'm gonna eat you later.
 I left the other five eggs of each color plain with no sanding sugar because I had great, failtastic plans ahead of me coinciding with a minor meltdown. Just another normal Saturday!
But look, so sparkly! Also pictured, a husband happy his wife stopped bugging him when playing the new Battlefield game. Clearly they're eggs. Clearly.

'Bout to get real desperate up in here.
Now, about my shortcomings. Adding a design to cake pops with melted chocolate is ridiculously hard. There's this golden moment of opportunity that lasts for about 4 minutes where the chocolate is the precise temperature to pipe without it going everywhere or hardening up and exploding out of your piping tip when you push too hard. I wanted to attempt to avoid this frustration, so I got out some light Karo syrup, a couple paintbrushes, and my sanding sugar. My plan: to paint lines and zigzags on the eggs with the syrup and coat the syrup with sanding sugar to make a decorated Easter egg. The end result: too ugly to post pictures. I needed better, smaller brushes and more patience for this to work. I will revisit it again one day, but in the meantime, I was ready to go throw these remaining eggs at my own car for my awful execution of them. However, I took a deep breath and came up with a new idea because I couldn't bear to waste any cake. It hurts my soul when cake is wasted.
Thank God for sprinkles. They've saved me time and time again.
This will come together, I promise.
Fortunately I had a moment of pure brilliance and scoured my pantry for star sprinkles (like you're surprised I have these just laying around). I pulled out enough orange sprinkles as I had plain eggs and found my food-safe pen. Once the plain eggs had completely dried, I took my paintbrush, dipped it into my small bowl of syrup, placed a small dab of syrup in the middle of the egg, and then pushed an orange star onto the syrup with a small bit of pressure to get it to stick. Walla- a beak!

He only looks sad because he knows I'm going to eat him.
Then I took my pen and drew on tiny little eyeballs. I suppose if you had planned to make chicks originally, you could've added small wings to the sides by shaping a few little pieces of your cake mix into triangles and adding them to the sides of the eggs after you shaped them. Or you could find other sprinkles in an angled shape. I was winging it sans wings in this case. The irony is not lost on me.
But my Pac-Man ghost chicks are super adorbs.
You can tell what I was going for here, and that's really all that matters. That and the fact that they taste like little strawberry pieces of Heaven. The chocolate melts act like a straightjacket of sorts, keeping the crazy flavor from bursting out. They also keep these bad boys fresh for like, ever. I was going to make a joke about resurrecting cake flavor here, but I drew the line as clouds did appear to actually be gathering outside, and I didn't want to be smited (smote? smoted? Jesu...geesh). Once finished, place your eggs into an airtight container and keep them in the fridge.
Happy Easter from Kate Bakes Pac-Man Ghost Pops.
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend next weekend, and if you want to experiment with dying eggs you can actually eat later instead of accidentally break just by looking at them too hard, go with the egg cake pops. While the cake pops do take a little bit of skill and patience, they're not nearly as obnoxious as dying actual eggs or buying those crappy plastic ones and filling them with jelly beans that will inevitably be spilled out and strewn across lawns and living rooms everywhere. I'm not bitter; I just don't want to have to share my jelly beans with anyone. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

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