Archive | September, 2010

Cake Pops!

25 Sep

I’ve mentioned before that bakerella.com is one of my favorite blogs. Here’s one more reason why: cake pops. Have you heard of them? If not, you probably will soon. “Bakerella” came up with the idea while playing around and being creative in her kitchen, and had no idea just how far the idea would take her. She has now published a book about them! I don’t have a copy of it yet, but Christmas will be  here before we know it. Santa already told me that he has a Cake Pops book just for me. 🙂 If you’ve never heard of them, they are basically little pieces of cake dipped in chocolate and attached to a lollipop stick. What could be wrong with that? 🙂

They can be very easy to make or very time-consuming, depending on how elaborately you’d like to decorate them. I’ve made a few that were decorated as cupcakes (she calls them “cupcake pops”) and they took quite a bit of time to finish. When I don’t have a couple of hours to spend in the kitchen, I go for the quick and easy version. For full details, visit bakerella.com.

Last week I decided to make a batch of cake pops for some of my students- the ones who had earned a treat for good behavior. They loved them! The students who didn’t get a cake pop because their behavior charts did not have smiley faces were SO jealous. One little girl almost cried! Poor thing. I’ll probably make them again and take some to the other teachers. The really great thing about them is that they are pretty much bite sized, so you don’t necessarily need a special occasion to make them. And there’s no fuss with slicing/plates/napkins/forks like there is with an actual cake.

Of course, the first thing you  need is cake. Each time I bake a cake and I trim it to level off the top, I save the scraps and freeze them. I’d collected a full bag of scraps, so I had plenty of cake to work with. I let it sit in the fridge overnight to thaw out.

In order to shape them, you must crumble the cake into fine pieces.

Add some icing of your choice, but only a little. The icing helps the cake to stick together, so that you can roll it into balls. But if you add to much icing it can get too sweet (considering that the entire thing will be dipped in chocolate). Roll them into balls and place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.

Cover these with aluminum foil and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes so that they will firm up. I forgot to take a picture of the next step, but it’s pretty simple. Melt a small amount of chocolate bark and take the cake balls out of the freezer. Using lollipop sticks, dip just the very end of the stick into the chocolate and then into the cake ball. Return to the freezer for another 15 minutes or so. This allows the cake ball to become completely adhered to the lollipop stick, so that it doesn’t fall off later when it’s time to dip. 🙂

Melt the rest of your chocolate bark and get ready for the fun to begin. 🙂 The cake pops need to be firm when dipped into the chocolate, so I don’t suggest taking out the entire tray at once. Take out a few cake pops at a time and dip the entire cake portion into the melted chocolate bark. This way, the pops that are dipped last won’t have time to get soft again (like they would if you took out the entire pan and they sat on the counter).

Depending on how fancy you decide to go, you could actually let them dry just like this with a plain coating of chocolate. Since I was making this batch for first graders, they clearly needed sprinkles. 🙂 I’ve also made them with walnuts and they were delicious. I liked the crunchy texture it added. If you decided to add any extras after the chocolate coating (sprinkles, walnuts, etc) you will need to do it fairly quickly. The chocolate bark doesn’t take long to dry, and you want your “extras” to be added before it dries so that it sticks well.

Before you start the whole process, you’ll need to have something to stick the pops in while they dry. Following bakerella’s suggestion, I bought a styrofoam circle from a craft store and poked holes in it using one of the lollipop sticks. This way, you can stick the cake pop right into the styrofoam for it to dry.

It will only take a couple of minutes for the pops to dry completely, and then you can package them. Of course, if you’re making them just for a snack you can place them in an airtight container. I like to seal mine using treat bags (which can be found at craft/baking stores) and ribbon.

It’s a very quick and easy way to make them look extra special. Just cut lengths of ribbon, slip a treat bag over the top of the cake pop, and tie the ribbon around the bag with a pretty bow.

And there you have it! 🙂 I’m already thinking about the pretty ways I could make these for Christmas gifts. I could use red and green sprinkles and Christmas ribbon to tie the bags. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. 🙂 Who wouldn’t like to receive a small basket filled with these little cuties?

Next to Come: Banana Pudding Flavored Cake

Random Thought of the Day: My husband and I bought Scattegories last weekend. I hadn’t played it in several years, and he never had. It was a lot of fun. If you haven’t ever played it, or haven’t in quite a while, I recommend it. 🙂

The End.

That little dough boy knows what he’s doing!

17 Sep

As promised from last week, I made a dessert for my small group this Wednesday. I went back and forth about what to make, but decided to go with a recipe from pillsbury.com: Ooey-Gooey Turtle Bars. It was a good choice. 🙂 I almost decided against it, only because I’d never made the recipe before. So I thought maybe I should wait until I’d tested it before I took it to a house full of hungry people. But….I decided to throw caution to the wind and just try it out. Here’s the link to the full recipe if you’re interested. http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/ooey-gooey-turtle-bars/7fdfd624-ea2b-469d-ada4-91de004b81fc/

This recipe is pretty easy, but you need to plan in advance because it needs to cool several hours before being cut into squares. All of the gooey chocolate chips and caramel sauce need a little time to firm up. It’s well worth the wait. 🙂

You start with a roll of sugar cookie dough and press it into the bottom of a pan.

Then sprinkle on chocolate chips and pecan pieces. Try not to eat too many of either as they pass from your hand into the pan. But of course, what’ s a few chocolate chips out of the entire recipe? Not much. Trust me. It’ll turn out fine.

Next you need to heat some butter, brown sugar, caramel ice cream topping, and graham cracker crumbs until the mixture starts to boil.

Once it boils, pour it into the pan. Then sprinkle on the rest of the chocolate chips and pecan pieces. (I devised a plan to be very scientific about this: If you ate a few chocolate chips last time you sprinkled, eat a few pecans this time. That way, the ratio is still all balanced out and what not. This tip is free of charge just for being a loyal reader.)

Looks so pretty! The recipe says to bake it for 25-32 minutes. Based on how mine turned out, I would suggest baking it close to the whole time, probably not less than 30 minutes.

And voila! The crust has turned into a beautiful dark brown, and the pecans are toasted. YUM. Unfortunately, it must cool for several  hours before you cut into it. But once it’s cooled down, I think you’ll really enjoy these turtle bars. They are very rich, so you might want to cut them into fairly small pieces. Enjoy!

Next to come: I have no idea. Any thoughts? I’m considering a poundcake, or possibly a home made red velvet. Or anything else that comes to mind within the next week. 🙂

Random Thought of the Day: I can’t believe I’ve been teaching over a month now! This weekend I’ll be getting Progress Reports ready so that I can send them home on Monday. I can’t believe it’s time for Progress Reports so soon!

Change of Plans, Matey!

9 Sep

Some of you may remember this line from last week’s post:

“Next to come: practice tier for a wedding cake that I’ll be making in October.”

I had every intention of making the practice tier. I promise. On Saturday morning I woke up early to start baking before it was time for the football festivities to start. I baked two 12″ layers that were marbled with white and chocolate flavors. I had a little bit of chocolate batter left over, so I threw it in 6″ pans and baked that as well.

The cakes cooled while I watched FSU beat Samford. Yes, it was just Samford. But at least we won by a wide margin. And my favorite player, Greg Reid, made a fantabulous play. 🙂 Cake decorating was to resume after the game…

I remembered there was one last minute detail that I still needed to discuss with the bride, so I sent her a quick email. Then I headed off to Hobby Lobby, my favorite place to shop. 🙂 I needed to pick up some fondant so I could make this 12″ cake, which was practice for the bottom tier of the wedding cake I had scheduled for October 10th. As soon as I got home I got an email from the bride saying that the wedding had been post-poned until February. What??? (That was my first thought). Why in the world did no one bother to tell me before I baked so much cake to practice with? (That was my second thought, and quite an irritating one). She apologized that I hadn’t been given this very important information, but was told that someone else contacted me to let me know. She was sorry for the misunderstanding, blah, blah, blah.

So……what am I going to do with all of the cake??? I didn’t want to go to all of the trouble of covering a large cake in fondant, making gumpaste roses, and mixing together royal icing for a cake that I didn’t need to practice anymore. I decided to put together a quick decoration for the smaller 6″ cake instead. I’d saved a picture of a pirate cake a while back, and figured this was as good of a time as any to try it out. Here’s how it went…

First, I iced the cake in a flesh colored buttercream. For some reasons it looks very light in the picture. (Just imagine it in a fleshtone, instead of a weird off white color).

I colored small amounts of fondant red and black. These are, of course, the most necessary colors for any pirate cake. Mixing black fondant is kind of a pain. It takes a LOT of food coloring to get the fondant black enough. Good thing I only needed a little.

The first thing I made was an eye for my little pirate buddy. Only one, of course. The other would be covered with an eye patch. 😉 I used the bottom of one of my decorating tips to get a perfectly round circle.

I used a slightly smaller icing tip to cut out a black circle, then added one tiny dot of white fondant and the eye was complete! Arrrrr.

Yes, that “Arrrrr” was completely random. I just thought it was necessary since I was making a pirate. I made a black eyepatch out of fondant and a red bandana. I forgot to take pictures of these steps. Oops! I used the same icing tip to cut out white polka dots for the pirate’s bandana. Everyone knows that pirates wear red bandanas with white stripes or polka dots. I thought polka dots would look cuter. 🙂

Time to add a simple nose and mouth, and he is complete!

Too bad I didn’t think to add a gold earring. 😦 Oh well. Maybe next time.

Next to come: some type of dessert for the new small group I signed up for. Maybe Turtle Cookie Bars? Maybe Banana Pudding flavored cake? Which do you vote for?

Random Thought of the Day: Tomorrow we are having a special guest at the elementary school where I teach. She is a children’s book author, and she writes books about farm life. In honor of this, I think I’ll wear my boots to work. 🙂

Happy Birthday to Me. And Her. :)

2 Sep

This week I have good news and bad news. The good news is that my family came to town this past weekend. My twin sister and I had a birthday, so they all came to celebrate. Quite naturally, I made a cake for my sister. I figured it was the only reasonable thing to do in such a situation. 🙂

The bad news is that something is wrong with my camera. It won’t turn on, so I thought at first it was just dead. But the batteries won’t charge either.

😦 One day it worked, and the next it didn’t. I’d already taken pictures of the cake, but I hadn’t gotten around to uploading them yet. So I unfortunately don’t have many pictures from my latest cake endeavor. I do have just one “in progress” shot and one “final product” picture that I took with my cellphone. If I’d known that the camera was going to give up on me I would have taken more with my cellphone. I’ll have to keep that in mind next week while I’m baking. Here is the story minus the beautiful pictures to document it all. Maybe one day soon I’ll be able to figure out the camera and share them with you…

The cake flavors were her choice: white cake, cookies and cream filling, and swiss meringue buttercream icing. Very good flavor combination. The swiss meringue buttercream is an off white color, and I knew that I would have to add something pink on the cake. My sister LOVES pink. I decided that since she’s a girly girl, a pink flower would be just the thing. I rolled out some pink gumpaste and used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out what would be the petals. After letting the petals dry for a little while in a “flower former”, I arranged them in a flower shape in an egg carton to let them dry.

Fast forward through baking the cake, making the filling, and mixing the icing. I *carefully* placed the pink flower on top of the cake, trying to make sure that it didn’t fall off the edge. I added a yellow circle for a center and some green scrolly-thingys to be the flower stem. The last step was to add a pink border to the bottom, and stand back to admire. 🙂

So that was her birthday cake! Sorry there aren’t any more pictures…..but she really liked it, so that’s what matters. 

Next to come: practice tier for a wedding cake that I’ll be making in October.

Random Thought of the Day: College football starts tonight!!!!! Ok, I’m going to be completely honest here. I’m not nearly excited about this as my husband is. He’s going bananas. But I am a little excited. 🙂 I don’t really care anything about the games that will be on tonight, but I am ready to see the Florida State game on Saturday. 🙂