Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DIY: Birthday Cake Pops

The norm in my family is that my wonderful mom makes our birthday cakes.
Reason 1: She loves us and thinks moms should make cakes for their kids.
Reason 2: Her cakes are simply UNBEATABLE. There's no dessert that comes close. It's just not a birthday without one of my mom's cakes. 

This year, I decided since there was a family tragedy happening, that I would attempt my own birthday dessert. Mom was making me one cake for the family celebration, but instead of her making two I choose to make cake pops for my "friend" celebration. I love the look of them, but I always felt a little intimidated by how perfect they always seemed. I am pleased to report that it was a delicious success!! They got rave reviews from the party go-ers and some even took a few for the road. 

I feel I must give two disclaimers for this DIY dessert. First, I needed HELP!! There is no way I could have managed this without a few extra helping hands. There was just too many things that needed to happen. Second, I needed TIME. This is a very easy dessert to make, but boy it takes some serious time. Between the baking and the cooling and the dipping, there is no rushing the process. Make sure you don't wait until the last minute to start this one (like me) because it really does take the joy out of making such a fun treat!

My Inspiration: the QUEEN of Cake Pops ... Bakerella. Check her out - she is amazing!! She also has a super cute how-to book out.

Here are the basic steps:
1: BAKE - I used Vanilla Duncan Hines boxed cake and it worked splendidly. Just pick out the flavor of cake you would like and cook as directed. Two boxes made two 9" x 13" cakes and that translated into about 48 cake pops. I even made them a little larger than normal so it would likely squeeze a few more out if you downsize a bit. 

2: COOL, CUT & CRUMBLE - Make sure the cakes are completely cooled. Cut the sheet cake into quarters. Break each quarter in half and rub the cake pieces together over a mixing bowl and let the cake crumbles fall in. (NOTE: I did one cake at a time and it seemed a bit more manageable.)

3: ICING - I bought a pound of buttercream icing from my local grocery. It was perfect and cut the prep time and cost for this dessert. Take approx. a handful of icing and plop it onto the cake crumbles. Knead the icing into the crumbles until you get an extremely moist constancy on all the crumbles. You should be able to pinch the cake with a fe fingers and it stick together. If its to dry, add more icing sparingly. A little goes a long way here. 

4: ROLL - Roll the icing and cake mixture into small balls. I have seen them done in bite size portions, but mine were more like 2 or 3 bite sized. I was shooting for meatballs size. Place the cake balls on a baking sheet or pan with a layer of wax paper. Place into the freezer for 15-30 minutes to chill. You don't want them to be fully frozen!

5: MELTING ROUND 1 - Now it's time to melt the chocolate - using bakers chips or bark in any color or flavor of your choosing. Hobby Lobby had a great selection of colors if you were trying to match a theme. I just went for your basic vanilla and milk chocolate. Melt chocolate in a double boiler if you have one. I don't so I used a glass pyrex bowl in a sauce pan filled with approx. 3 inches of water. You can also heat in the microwave but BEWARE that it is very easy to scorch the chocolate this way. 

For this step you only need a little chocolate melted. You are just going to be using a small amount on the tip of your lollipop stick. You are not coating the whole ball yet. 

6: DIP STICKS - Take out your lollipop sticks (also purchased at Hobby Lobby in packs of 50). Remove your cake balls from the freezer. Cake balls can remain on the same pan because they are going back into the freezer. Dip the sticks into the chocolate, only about a 1/2 inch of the stick, and then place in the dipped end into the center of the cake ball. Try to push the stick about half-way through the ball, not all the way through. Once all the sticks are in, put the pan back into the freezer for about 10 minutes to let the chocolate dry. This process will help keep your cake pops from sliding off the stick. 

7: MELTING ROUND 2 - Use the same process as Step 5 to melt the remainder of your chocolate. The bowl you choose to melt the chocolate in needs to be deep enough for you to submerge the entire cake ball into the chocolate. This gives you a more uniform coating. 

8: DIP BALLS - Remove the cake ball from the freezer and chocolate from the stove top. I kept my chocolate in the warm water so it wouldn't harden during the process. I just set the sauce pan on a trivet and it worked like a charm.  One at a time dip the cake balls into the chocolate. There will be excess that need to gently be removed. Very gently tap the stick on the edge of the pan while slowly turning the stick to let the excess drip off evenly. Whatever works for you here ... just be gentle. I flicked a cake ball right into my chocolate and had to fish it out. Ooopps. Don't worry, I ate him so he didn't go to waste. 
** sorry that i don't have pictures of this step, my hands were really busy!!**

9: DECORATING - The possibilities here are endless. I just used what I had on hand - milk chocolate chips, heath bar crumbles and sprinkles. I found it helps to have an extra set of hands during this process.  If you want your topping to stick firmly it needs to be sprinkled as quickly as you can after the dipping process. You can also do a drizzle of a contrasting color of chocolate (super cute!) or not decoration at all. I also got kind of crazy and rolled some of the chocolate chips and heath into the cake balls (step 4) prior to dipping. It was like an extra little surprise inside!

10: SERVE - I opted for tray service for my first attempt. It was easy to organize and easy for guest to pick which pop they wanted. I think they were adorable and tasty. Since it was my birthday treat ... I guess that's all that matters!

Here is the BEAUTIFUL 30th Birthday Cake that my mom made. It was a scrumptious, 8-layer chocolate cake with her famous buttercream icing. She choose the sweet cherry blossom decoration. I loved it. Thanks mom. 

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