Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pop a Cake

I don’t like breaking traditions or straying from commitments, whether self-imposed or directed by others. So, this month-long hiatus from Visual Feast has been a difficult (albeit necessary) one. Three weeks ago we moved our family from Massachusetts back to Connecticut, and life pre-move and post-move have been rather whirlwind-ish. Between packing, unpacking, organizing, cleaning, living with family for much of this settling-in period, and then a 1st birthday party to boot, cooking has been one of the last things on my mind. Our meals have consisted of take-out, generous meals provided by family, and birthday party leftovers. Not a bad menu by any means, but one that required very little of my own culinary efforts. I am finally, however, ready to dive back into the kitchen…my brand new, purple-bedecked kitchen at that.

My little one’s recent birthday party provided the perfect opportunity for a baking adventure, one that Mandi and I embarked on together. I decided that an atypical cake was more my style for this shindig, so I set my sites on “cake pops,” the recent dessert craze that consists of smushed-together cake and frosting which is then rolled into balls, dipped in chocolate, and decorated. Now, let it be stated for the record that I am not a cake-person. I’d take a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pie or a giant fudgy brownie over a piece of cake any day. So, I had my doubts about this cakey treats. I was pretty sure that if everything went according to plan, they would be adorable sights to behold, but I wondered if my taste buds would be as convinced of their goodness. As Mandi and I set into our cake-pop production, it became clear that cake-pop-making is neither an easy nor a quick task. It’s a good thing that the birthday boy was out gallivanting with his daddy and that we had set aside a decent amount of time for this kitchen caper.

It’s the assembly that makes this recipe interesting. The ingredients themselves are simple and uncomplicated…a boxed cake mix, a can of frosting, chocolate, sprinkles. But putting those simple ingredients together in a way that results in successful cake pops requires a bit of finesse. It also requires some basic, baking-friendly conditions. As far as this goes, my first and biggest suggestion is to never, ever, ever attempt cake pops on a humid day when you decide that air-conditioning is not necessary. I somehow didn’t bother to think that this was a lethal combination for baking. I should have known better. But, I didn’t realized the true error of my ways until I walked into the kitchen (post-cake-pop-adventure) and found that several of our cake balls had slid down the sticks, making them utterly useless for the party (but perfect, nonetheless, for snacking). My second biggest suggestion is to thin your melted chocolate with little additions of vegetable oil. This made dipping the cake pops a lot more fun. Dipping a dense ball of cake into melted chocolate is tricky enough, but when that chocolate starts thickening, it makes your job near-impossible. In such cases, vegetable oil is your friend.

Despite the humidity, the sliding cake pops, and a bit of cracking on the chocolate-coating, our cake pops were a success! They looked beyond adorable, were the perfect little bits of sweetness after our 1st birthday cookout, and they tasted great (even to this non-cake-lover). I’d have to say that this is the best use of a boxed cake mix that I’ve yet to find. And while the whole process was an adventure for sure, it was one worthy of a 1-year-old boy who is even cuter and sweeter than the most amazing of cake pops.


  1. These look very cool!! I may have to try these on one our upcoming summer birthdays. Of course, Owen being born on the 4th makes for extra-cool patriotic cake balls :0)

  2. They were a big hit!! Yummy, too:-)


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