Has anyone ever tried their hand at Bakerella's cake pops? I have always wanted to, ever since learning about them, and I finally gave it a try last night.
As Tina Turner sings at the beginning of Proud Mary, I never, ever do anything nice and easy. I always do it nice, and ROUGH. In other words, I always see a project I'd like to do and think 'hey, that looks awesome! I bet I could do it AND make these improvements / modifications!' And then I set out to do just that, without ever bothering to try it the easy way first and LEARN what I'm doing.
So not only did I attempt to make cake pops for the first time, I attempted to make them in the shape of Scooby-Doo heads, AND I did this while planning on serving them as the treats for my daughter's preschool class today. No practice runs for me!
I definitely ran into some snags along the way. For one thing, I think I used too much frosting; my cake balls were pretty gooey, even after being in the fridge / freezer. Very hard to work with. For another, I'm wondering if my choice of buttercream frosting contributed to some loss of integrity; Bakerella SEEMS to primarily use cream cheese frosting. My cake pops were very sweaty. I don't know if it's because they were too moist, or if it was the frosting, or what. I also had trouble with the candy melts. They melted but they were VERY thick. I had to add a TON of vegetable shortening, MUCH more than the package recommended, to make it liquidy / pourable / drippable. (Oh yeah, I'd never ever used candy melts before in my life either.) I bought edible decorating pens to draw details on Mr. Doo, but the pops were so sweaty that wasn't really working out, and so I used gel frosting and then I was afraid to wrap them in the little plastic bags I'd bought for them because I didn't want it to smear.
All in all, sort of a disaster. But they looked OK when they were done. I certainly learned a lot along the way. They were recognizable, the kids loved them, and adults that have seen them have seemed impressed (or they're just trying to make me feel better!). And most importantly, they TASTE DELICIOUS. Which is really what's important when it comes to treats.
"Scooby Doo and the Mystery of the Messy Cake Pops"
You start by baking a cake, and then letting it cool completely.
Make up a batch of frosting, or buy a can of premade frosting (also something Bakerella does a lot, and maybe that frosting has a better consistency too; I shall have to experiment. Oh, darn.) I used Wilton's buttercream icing recipe. It may have been too moist. Or too wet. I don't know. I might have just used too much. So many variables!
Crumble up your completely cooled cake, then add some frosting and mix it together. You need just enough frosting to make it sticky, I think; this was WAY too moist. I did not follow the cardinal rule of "you can always add more but you can't take away".
Make some balls out of that stuff. I rolled mine by hand. They were REALLY sticky at first (another sign that I'd made them too moist), so I did my best, froze them for 15 minutes, re-rolled them, and stuck them back in the freezer for ten minutes, then put them in the fridge.
I forgot to buy candies that would make good ears and noses (because I also have a tendency to go off half-cocked and not make a complete plan when I start experimenting), so I had to make do with what I had in the house. Candy corn. I chopped the yellow bottoms off for noses, and split the remaining triangle for ears.
Then I started making Scooby-like shapes. This was REALLY hard. At first it was hard because I wasn't sure WHAT a Scooby-like shape would be, even though I had printed a picture of his head as a guide. Eventually I got into a rhythm and got that part down (mostly). THEN it was hard because the balls were so damn sticky, I had to keep them in the freezer. I had two pans of them rotating in and out of the freezer; I'd do a couple of shapes from one pan, stick it back in the freezer, do a couple shapes from the other pan, and keep going back and forth. I'm pretty sure Bakerella has never had to do that.
Another thing I would do differently is I would use some of the candy melts as 'glue' for the candy pieces. Most of them stayed in place OK, but several of them slipped during the dipping process. Also, the noses were virtually unnecessary at the end. What I would have LIKED to do is use a chocolate chip on the outside of the nose, but as I mentioned, I forgot to buy candy supplies, and I happened to be out of chocolate chips. Woe.
On the plus side, placing the candies when I did helped me get a better idea of what he was going to look like and how to shape the heads properly.
Dipping. What can I say about dipping? It was fun. It was tasty. It was a pain in the ass. The melts were VERY thick, I really had to thin out the chocolate with a lot of Crisco to make it work. It was a little hard to get the hang of the dipping, tapping off the excess, and making it smooth at first. The ears didn't always stay in place. Sometimes I moved the cake pops too much in the melts and they fell off their sticks. I tested a few plain old cake balls and they were MUCH easier. Irregular shapes = harder to dip. Also, the smoother the shapes stayed, the better the finished products looked, which meant more transferring to and from the freezer so they didn't get too mushy.
Collars. I didn't thin the melts for the collars because I decided to just sort of paint them on. My original plan was to take the pops off the sticks, dip the bottoms for the collars, and then put them back on the sticks (as Bakerella did for her Winnie The Pooh pops), but after going through this whole process, I'm pretty sure my mushy cake balls would NEVER have stayed on the sticks if I'd done that, so I went with the "paint on the collars" process. It looked ok.
As I mentioned earlier, my pops were sweating quite a bit, and so the edible ink pens I bought for drawing on his details just weren't really working. So I turned to gel icing.
soulless creepy Scooby faces!
aaaaand, that's about as good as it gets.
So, I learned a lot from my first cake pop adventure, and I look forward to my next trial run! If anyone out there had made their own cake pops, I'd like to hear how your attempts turned out. What worked and what didn't? Any tips you can share to help me alleviate some of the problems I had this time around?
- baked with love by K-Pidge