Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cake Pop Tutorial

Since I made cake pops for Gemma's birthday last summer, I have become somewhat of a basic cake pop extraordinaire.   I can make them quickly, I have the equipment, and know the steps.  I only lose one or two pops due to breakage these days (a lot less than when I first started), and I can sprinkle with the best of 'em.  MAYBE for Gemma's 2nd birthday this summer I'll attempt making them look like something - right now I'm thinking Elmo cake pops as she LOOOOVES 'Melmo.'  

How cute are these?  Courtesy of Bakerella, of course.

For now, however, I thought I'd take ya'll through the steps of making basic cake pops if you're so inclined.  It took me a few tries the first time to get everything right, and if I had someone giving me these tips it wouldn't have taken so long!  

First of all, I follow Bakerella's book appropriately called Cake Pops.  It was a great buy, let me tell you. The page on 'basic cake pops' is well-worn!

First step is to bake a cake - store bought, my friend.  Bake the cake the day before you actually plan to make the cake pops.  The book says to let it cool - letting it cool an entire day is the way to go......letting it cool and then trying to crumble the cake after only a couple hours will result in messy pops.

Next step (the next day) is to crumble the cake in a large mixing bowl.  Just use your hands, people.  Get messy.  Then, when its totally crumbled, add the frosting.  Mix it up, and mix it well.  

Now, roll out your cake balls.  Sounds lovely, yes?  They should be about 1 inch in all the way around, maybe a teency bit larger.  Try to make sure there are no cracks, because once you put the stick in those will only exaggerate.  Put them on a plate covered with wax paper.  

Then, get out your candy coating.  I use Wilton's (found at Joann fabric stores).  Make sure to use two bags of the Wilton's candy coating, one is not enough to dip the pops.  To melt, microwave according to directions on the package.  There are no tricks there, just don't overdo it or it will harden.  

Now that you have your candy coating ready, grab a pop stick (also found at Joann, near the Wilton candy coating), dip it into the candy coating about 1/2", and then stick it halfway into a cake ball.  Do this for all of the cake balls, and your plate should look something like this when you're finished.  When you ARE finished, put your plate in the freezer.  Yep the freezer.  But only for 15 minutes, tops.  Set a timer so you don't leave them in there any longer.  This is just to chill the pops and freeze that candy coating and stick in place before dipping.

While your cake pops are in the freezer, get out your Styrofoam board.  I get mine in the gardening section at Joann (notice a trend here?), they come in white or green.  Make sure you buy one about 2" in width, and in the rectangular shape so you have enough room for all of your pops.  Now, using a cake pop stick, poke holes in the board about 2" apart, all over.  This is to house your finished them a great spot to dry up, and the Styrofoam holds them perfectly in place.

Finally, the fun part - dipping your pops in the candy coating.  Unfortunately I am not talented enough to take pictures while dipping my own pops, so you get the finished products from here on out.  

However, let me say this - when dipping, the best tip I can give you is to let excess candy coating drip off once the pop is completely coated.  Too much coating will drip off and look sloppy.  Also make SURE the pop is completely coated, especially down where the pop meets the stick.  Any holes holes left will invite cracking in the coating later on.  

As you can see, the cake pop above has sprinkles on it - Griffin requested all kinds of sprinkles for his birthday cake pops this year.  Sprinkling is easy - but of course the sprinkles get everywhere.  I like to pour the different sprinkles into small cups, and do the sprinkling over a plate to catch the excess.  And whatever the plate doesn't catch, call your dog over for clean up duties.

1st cake pop of the night

Rocking and Rolling with the gold and silver sprinkles

Almost done for the evening

Lastly, one of the hardest things is displaying your cake pops at the party.   When I first made them last summer, I happened to have a ton of M&M's on hand, so I threw them into one of my square vases and lodged the pops there.  It worked like a charm.  Now it's my go-to.  Sugar, sugar, and more sugar!  A kids birthday dream!  

Finished product at the party this weekend

Stay tuned for party pics from my big 4 year-old's Star Wars themed party.  We had so much fun this weekend, we almost had 'Too Much Birthday.'  (remember that book from the Berenstein Bears?)  It's a great book to remind kids that it's not all about cake and presents!