Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Cake Pops

Wednesday, I made some Easter/Spring Cake Pops with the kids. It was an all day process and patience was tested, for the kids and myself, but it was equally fun.

Ever since I ran across the website Bakerella, saw this video of her on the Martha Stewart Show, and attempted to recreate her adorable cupcake pops for Sophies first birthday--I was hooked. Cake pops and any bite-sized dessert are my absolute favorite treat right now. I am in this mode of anything mini and these are the perfect size for a sweet indulgence, especially for little hands. However, when I first made them for Sophie's first birthday, they didn't look anything like Bakerella's. But it didn't matter, because they were delicious and I got nothing but compliments. So when our annual 4th of July party came along I wanted to make them again, and it was requested that I do so. Mason helped me decorate my patriotic pops and once again they were a hit.

Since then, Cake Pops have been popping up everywhere; school sponsored bake sales, taking the place of sheet cakes at birthdays, and finding their way into national coffee shops like Starbucks. They are even selling baking pans to help simplify the process. Because, let's be honest, they are extremely time consuming to make. So much that Fred limits me to how often I can make these little cuties. But can you blame me for wanting to make them all the time? It is the combination of icing mixed directly into the cake, covered with chocolate that make these little balls of goodness so damn addicting.

This week it is Spring Break. Knowing I'd have both kids home, all day for 10 consecutive days, I felt we needed some Easter type crafts to occupy our time. In cleaning out our pantry I realized that I have boxes upon boxes of cake mix and cans of icing, intended for making Cake Pops. Since a few were getting ready to expire, I decided this would be the perfect excuse to use them up by making some Easter Cake Pops and letting the kids get involved. They absolutely love to help me cook, or bake just about anything. Especially if there is a delicious treat for them to enjoy in the end.

Below is a pictorial of our step by step process, with a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way. Hope you enjoy our journey. (I apologize ahead of time for the horrible lighting in these photos. Ever since we put up our deck I lost my natural light in the kitchen, making it virtually impossible to get a perfectly lit photo.)

First you need to gather all your supplies. Here is what you need:

1 box cake mix (chocolate, red velvet, etc.)

1 can of cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)

1 package of candy melts (whatever flavor/color you want. I got mine at AC Moore)

Crisco (or paramount crystals)

Wax paper

Cookie Scoop (or any small scoop)

Lollipop sticks (whatever size you prefer. Again, I got mine at AC Moore)

Sprinkles and any other candied decorations (optional)

1. Bake your cake according to the directions on the package and let it cool completely. We used a Cherry Chip cake mix. (Tip: you can bake the cake the night before and let it cool overnight. This way you can spread the work out over two days.) 2. Crumble the cake into a large bowl. 3. Add two cups (one can) of cream cheese icing to the crumbled cake. (Tip: you may not need the entire two cups. I didn't use the full can on this recipe.) 4. Mix the frosting thoroughly with the crumbled cake, using your hands. I warn you it will get messy. The consistency should be moist, not sticky. (Tip: adding the frosting in a bit at a time assures that you get the right consistency.)

These are all steps that your kids can help with. After I measured, I had them add each ingredient into the bowl, taking turns. I then let them help me pour the batter into the baking pan.
Of course you can't make cake, cookies, or any baked good without licking the spatula when you are all done. This is totally a childhood right of passage. And if you are like me, go ahead and lick the bowl with them. It's ok to indulge your inner child. Besides, we had to test it out first. You know, to make sure it was good.
Once the cake has cooled, I showed them how to crumble it into the bowl and let them go to town. Seeing the smiles on their faces during this process was absolutely worth handing over the reigns. It got messy, but who cares. It doesn't have to be perfect, so let them have fun!
5. Tip: Once you have the batter to the right consistency, use a small cooke scoop to scoop out the mixture. This way they will be uniform in size. 6. Roll the mixture into quarter size balls and lay on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. You should be able to make around 45-50 (maybe more) depending on the size of your cake balls. Chill them in the fridge for 1-2 hours or the freezer for around 30min. (Tip: you may get better results by placing the entire mixture, covered, into the fridge for a few hours before shaping into balls.) 7. While the cake balls are chilling, melt the candy in a bowl in the microwave, using 30 second intervals, at 50% power. (Tip: I found if you add a tablespoon of Crisco shortening (or vegetable oil) to the candy melts, it will thin out and give you a smoother consistency.) 8. Dip your lollipop sticks into the melted chocolate and push half way into the balls. Place them back into the fridge for about 10 min. to harden the candy. This helps adhere the cake balls to the sticks. 9. Dip and roll each ball into the melted chocolate. Make sure the entire ball is covered. Let the excess coating drip off. 10. Tap the stick very gently to aide with this and then place either in a styrofoam block or place back onto wax covered cookie sheet to dry.
We dipped ours in yellow candy for Spring and placed them on the cookie sheet to dry. I originally thought I would turn these into bunnies or chicks but then decided to let the kids decorate them however they wanted.
They anxiously awaited the coating to dry so they could make their masterpieces. Mason did a great job, insisting he do it all on his own. When Sophie awoke from her nap, I helped her decorate as it was hard for her to squeeze the bottle. We chose to decorate them with different colored candy melts drizzled over top. I melted more candy in various colors, sticking with the Easter theme. Mason chose blue and green and Sophie, purple and pink. I then placed the melted chocolate in a decorating bottle and let them be creative.
Voila! The finished project. Sophie's batch. Not bad. These kids got some skills.
I have to say the best part of the day was when Mason took over scooping out the cake batter. He'd scoop and I'd roll. We made a great team. Then halfway through he says, "Mom, this is so much fun." And instantly any fears, and doubts I had about this being the best idea, because it was taking so long and was so much work, completely disappeared.
The final step, of course, is to enjoy! It was so hard for the kids to wait till after dinner.
Enjoy them we did. Some wanting seconds, and thirds. And despite Mason complaining that his looked bad, he is so critical of himself, it totally didn't matter if they were perfect or not. Especially after the first bite. De-lic-ious.
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