An extra day for baking

Ever since I saw the December 2011/January 2012 of Taste of Home magazine, I’ve wanted to make cake pops. [I know, it sounds terrible, but I am really far behind on my magazines. It’s because I am a magazine hoarder, but that’s another subject matter]. These adorable and delicious mini-treats are just so tempting. They’re almost too cute to eat. I just wanted to squeeze ’em, stare at ’em, pinch ’em, touch ’em all around the edges…I know, I know. I’m aware that I am borderline inappropriate here, but I just can’t help myself. My creative self is kicking and screaming to get back into business again.

Combine that with my brother-in-law’s upcoming wedding nuptial, I decided that I had to try it out first. After all, they can’t possibly be that hard, right? I had to “test the waters,” so to speak, before I’m going to make a big batch for a wedding party.

Thank goodness for Memorial Day. One of the good things about working in the financial services industry is the fact that I get major holidays off. That means one extra day to bake. I felt so jittery and happy just thinking about it. My weekend plans consisted of a laundry list of things to do–of all things, laundry. Haha. Of course, I’m not going to bore you with my weekend chores; instead, I’ll tell you all about my failures and successes today making cake pops.

 

Granted, it was my first time making these little guys. So I consulted my magazine and several Youtube videos. For some reason, I decided to follow the instructions from Bakerella’s video, along with several others in the end. What I should’ve done was follow my magazine’s instructions in the first place! [No offense, Bakerella, but your instructions were really vague and didn’t cover all the details necessary to make successful cake pops].

Everything was going fine….up until the point where it was time to dip the lollipop sticks into the cake balls themselves. The instructions in the video (and other videos) told me to shape the balls, then put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, I took them out of the freezer and put it in the fridge while I melted my candy coating (which is another BIG mess–more on that later). 

After the candy coating was melted, it seemed a little bit thick for me. At first, I was perplexed. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting the smooth and liquid consistency that the package promised. Fast forward a few minutes later, I melted more candy coating… still the same thick consistency, certainly not suitable for dipping any cake pops.

That was my first mistake–using only half a bag at a time. Shush. I guess in my cheap frame of mind, I thought that using half a bag of candy melts would suffice since I was only planning on making about 20 pops anyway. This is a no-no. I realized afterwards that having more candy melts than necessary is better than having too little, because having too little will not allow you to have enough coating to dip your cake pops in while at the same time giving your melted coating a thick consistency instead of a smooth one. My advice to you is to buy more bags of candy melts than what you think you need, because you don’t want to be thinking, “Uh oh” in the middle of your decorating. Certainly, it’s not fun to have to rush back to the craft store anyway.

My second disaster involved melting chocolate….but that’s another story. I’ll let you figure out the rest. By this time, I felt like the most uneducated baker on the planet. About 15 minutes later, my brain started working again and I realized where things gone wrong; therefore, I wanted to give you my point of view so hopefully things won’t be as disastrous for you as it was for me. At first, anyway. I finally got these little suckers to come out, and this was my very first successful cake pop, which I call the Failure Pop ( no joke there).

Tips & Tricks

First of all, there are four basic things that you need:

  • A box of cake mix. This can be Pillsbury or any box cake mix–the flavor is up to you. I chose classic yellow cake because I wanted to keep it simple. However, chocolate is always a good option 🙂 Or if you have a lot of time on your hands, you can always make your own cake from scratch; however, most people would recommend using a box cake mix instead.
  • Pre-made frosting. Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, you name it–just get frosting in a can. You really don’t need the whole can unless you’re making a lot of cake pops. I used half of the can of frosting with one box of cake mix, and it was more than plenty.
  • Lollipop sticks. Can be purchased at Joann’s and they should have at least two different lengths. At first, I wanted to use wooden skewers, but they turned out to be too skinny; therefore, these lollipop sticks are a must!
  • Candy melts (also known as candy coating, confectionery coating, etc). This is the most fun part of the whole thing! You can choose any color you want–I purchased them at Joann’s, a brand called Wilton’s, and they have an amazing selection of colors and icings. If I were you, I’d buy the basic white ones and a box of candy coloring, which comes with four different colors, which you can then place a drop or two into your melted candy coating to create any color you want. It allows for more creativity and save a few bucks.
  • Styrofoam block. Any styrofoam block or board would do–as long as you have something to stick your pops in to allow them to cool down after dipping and decorating. If you absolutely cannot find a styrofoam board anywhere, or doesn’t want to pay for one, then you can always use a tall glass–tall enough to hold the majority of the lollipop stick, just like the one below.

 Second of all, have fun!!! Decorations can range from anything to colorful sprinkles to different types of nuts, crushed using a mortar & pestal to coconuts to different candies crushed up, not to mention cookies, gingersnaps–you name it! Don’t be afraid to experiment. I made all of my cake pops different, and named all of them too. [Call me strange, but whatever].

Lastly, timing is everything!! I can’t stress this enough. Since my disaster with the candy melts, I also ruined about 4 cake balls because I dipped them into the coating when it wasn’t hardened enough. I realized the instructions in the various YouTube videos that I watched was a bit misleading, because they all called for freezing the balls for 15 minutes after forming them, when in reality you need to freeze them for at least two hours!!! This will ensure that the balls are thoroughly hardened, but not too frozen, before you can dip them into the candy coating. You should already have the lollipop sticks inserted into the balls and placed into a parchment paper-lined baking sheet before putting them in the freezer. When you’re ready to dip, take the pops out of the freezer, then melt your candy coating, and have all your decorations on a small bowl ready to go.

Melting the candy coating is pretty self explanatory. Just follow the instructions on the package, but remember to use a little extra just in case.

Realize that as you’re decorating, your sprinkles and whatnot will fall out all over the place, but that’s OK. That kind of mess is easy to clean up! (Not like the mess I made with the candy coating and chocolate chips!).

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