Sunday, June 28, 2009

Graduation Cake Pops

I first saw these on Bakerella's blog and thought "how cute are these!?!" By the time we were done making and bagging them I was thinking "what a giant PITA!!!" I'm sure I was thinking that only because of all the things that went wrong this being the first time making them and the fact that we ended up with 76 finished pops! What went wrong? We didn't have enough white chocolate coating, I didn't like the cake, it was a humid night and it took about seven hours to make these from start to finish. The process is relatively simple and Bakerella does a great job explaining the steps on her blog. Bake cake, crumble cake, mix with frosting, form, stick, chill, dip/pour and decorate. And while the process itself may be relatively simple getting these to look and taste the way you want them to is not and they are super time consuming if you are going to make more than a dozen.

Here is the exact list of what we used to make the pop and display:

1 9x13 cake -flavor of your choice
1 can of cake frosting in a complimentary flavor
your largest mixing bowl
medium peanut butter cup mold
square thin mint style candy mold
3.25 lbs of white melting chocolate

measuring spoons in 1/2 and 1 teaspoon
lollipop sticks
wax paper
2 standard cookie sheets
2 blocks of Styrofoam
2 cup liquid measuring cup -microwave safe
2 Wilton squeeze bottles
Wilton purple sugar sprinkles

Wilton Heart Drops
grape licorice rope
Airheads bars in White Mystery
pair of scissors
curling ribbon
cello bags
xacto knife
large, painted terracotta pot
shiny, opalized basket filler

Don't bother using anything other than "candy melts", "melting chocolate" or "candy coating" (these are the different names I have seen it go by) for these unless you are schooled in the ways of tempering chocolate. We ran out of "candy melts" and given the hour the only thing we could get our hands on was Lindt white chocolate. I made the mistake of not re-tempering it and not only did it lose its snap and shine but it just did not hold up as well as the "candy melts" the day of the event. Truth be told, I actually preferred the taste of the Merkens than the Lindt for this project but then again I have never been a huge Lindt fan. Also, do yourself a favor and clear out enough space in your freezer to hold the cookie sheet(s) and candy molds. Using the freezer speeds up the set up time and when you're doing this in warmer weather makes it a lot less frustrating.

Let's talk about cake because without the cake, these are just regular old white chocolate lollies. Due to budgetary and time concerns we used a Pillsbury Strawberry cake mix. BIG MISTAKE! First of all, while it may have smelled (to some people, people with stuffy noses) like strawberry it in no way tasted like it. Also, the color was not the bright pink I would associate with strawberry cake. While I did my thing to dress it up (butter instead of oil, hot pink food tint) I just didn't like it. Plus and this is a big plus, the texture was all wrong for this project. You don't want a light, fluffy cake for this you want a dense, moist, heavy cake. I would suggest baking the cake in a loaf pan (or two) ( even if you need as much cake as we did) and baking it at least a day ahead. I think traditional Pound Cake would work awesome for these.

The freezer was so our friend the night we made these! I made the call to deviate from Bakerella's directions and stick these BEFORE we placed them in the peanut butter cup mold and I'm glad we did. Having these little cuties all sticked up made it easier for the person pouring the molds to just plop them right in and move on to the next instead of having to fiddle with getting them just right. Each one used about 1/2 teaspoon of the cake/frosting mixture and even then some of them pushed through the top of the mold (which was okay since it was covered with a square of chocolate.) Here they are all lined up and ready for the freezer where they sat for about two hours in our process (since we ran out of chocolate.) For the plain round ones I would suggest using no more than 2 teaspoons of cake/frosting. The larger ones we made, about a tablespoon of cake, were just too big/heavy to hold up especially once they got warm!

I am really grateful I wasn't making these alone! Those freaking tassels (made from licorice rope and air heads cut and twisted together) would have been the death of me! The Styrofoam blocks were well used both while making the pops and then again when it came time to create the displays. We were able to stage the pops (I think) eight at a time and having a place to stick them upright was helpful for packaging them too! As long as you shoved the stick in deep enough it was stable enough to move them around in case they needed to get popped back in the fridge, which they did. In the end I think these are TOTALLY worth all the hard work that went into them and they seemed to big hit at the BBQ!


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