Thursday, November 28, 2013

Whoo! Owl Cake Pops and Some Tips

Happy weekend!

A former student of mine is heading back to college this weekend and has been asking for some cake pops. So, I thought I'd make some to give her a sweet start to the new semester.

I first discovered cake pops a year ago, when my brother bought me Bakerella's Cake Pops book for Christmas as a baking challenge for me to tackle. After many failed attempts and chocolate messes, I finally figured out how to get the cake to stay on the stick and make them look cute.

I've been a little obsessed with cute owls lately, so I thought they would be fun to try. Besides, a little wisdom for a new semester can't hurt! Here's what I came up with:

I'm quite pleased with how they came out. They're not as challenging as some of the other cake pops Bakerella has in her book (or on her amazing blog), but they are really cute.

If you've never heard of cake pops, they're basically cake crumbs (I used chocolate) mixed with frosting, rolled into a ball, and then dipped in chocolate.

When I first attempted to make them, I learned the hard way what worked and what didn't. I think I wasted several whole cakes and pounds of chocolate trying to make them stay on a stick. Decorating them was a whole other issue!

Here is how the owls were made:

There are three key things I've learned that make the difference between successful cake pops and "rejects" that my husband gets to eat.

The first is making sure your cake isn't too moist. Most box cake mixes are made to be super moist (with pudding and lots of good stuff added). The combination of a really moist cake and a lot of frosting doesn't make a mixture that is firm enough to withstand the dipping stage. I actually like using cake mix from Trader Joe's or an organic mix because it produces a drier cake.

The second key is to let your cake and frosting mixture (you will crumble the cake and mix it with almost an entire tub of frosting -- Yum!) chill in the refrigerator overnight. Really chilled cake mixture is much easier to work with.

The final key is to make sure the balls are rolled really tightly, so they are smooth. Lumpy cake balls fall apart when dipped in chocolate. And while they still taste great, lumpy cake balls certainly don't look too pretty. Squeeze the mixture in your hands and roll it in your palms.

One final tip that can easily ruin a cake pop making experience - never melt chocolate on a high temperature. If you're using Wilton's molding chocolate, make sure you melt it at 50 percent (or using the defrost setting) in your microwave. Overheated chocolate won't give you a smooth coating on your cake pops. Actually, it won't even drip or glob off the cake ball. Not that I know from experience or anything. :)

Have you made cake pops? Any valuable lessons from experience to share?

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