Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cake Pops v2.0

Cake Pops, again? I know, seems repetitive, but wait. These are just a bit different. In talking, blogging, researching and reading about cake pops, there seems to be two different methods for making them. I tried the first method (crumbled baked cake mixed with frosting and rolled into balls) in my Blue Velvet Cake Pops post. So this time around I'm going to try the second method: dense cake batter baked into a ball shape. Visually, they look much the same but there are distinct differences in the taste and texture of the finished product. The first method doesn't need any fancy equipment. For the second method you need some way to bake the cake into a ball shape. So, off to the store I went. . .

Here's what I picked up at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was $19.99 less the 20% coupon I had, so not really a big investment. It bakes 18 balls at a time. There is also a "Baby Cakes Cake Pop Maker" which looks super cute and bakes and forms the pops (just 12 at a time) which is the same price. BUT. . . seriously, I really don't need another appliance. The pan will do for now.

Here is what was in the box: a bottom pan, top pan and two clips.
To start, spray the pans with cooking spray. The instructions said to use one that contains flour but I didn't have that, so I just used plain old Pam. Worked fine.

I followed the instructions that came with the pan. It said to use your favorite cake mix (so of course I grabbed a box of Duncan Hines). It then said to replace the water with milk, using 1/2 the amount called for, add a pudding mix, and increase the number of eggs by 1 (that meant 4 eggs total for me).

I dumped it all into a big mixing bowl and using a hand mixer, beat on medium speed for 2+ minutes.

The resulting batter was really, really thick. Almost like brownie batter.

Next the instructions said to pour the batter into the pan, but my batter was so thick that didn't work. Instead I used a 1 tablespoon sized cookie scoop. I went with "rounded" but I should have went with "level", you'll see why later.

Then just clip the top and bottom pan sections together and bake in a 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes. Mine only took 25 minutes. You can poke a toothpick into one of the center holes to check for doneness. The toothpick should come out clean.

OK, so again, I should have went with a "level" tablespoon. Quite a bit of batter came up through the top hole. Surprisingly though, the over flow popped right off. Let the pops cool to room temp, then unclip and take off the top pan.

TA DA, balls of cake . . . er . . . well  . . .

. . . eggs of cake? Mine came out kind of egg or acorn shaped. The bottom (the part that was in the bottom of the pan) turned out perfectly round, but the tops, not so round. Maybe too much batter squished out the top and there wasn't enough left to fill the pan as it rose. Who knows? I'll have to try again; but not today. They also had a little ridge around the middle from where the top and bottom pan met. I used a paring knife to gently scrap that off. Now on to dipping . . .

Look familiar? This is the same set up and method as Blue Velvet Cake Pops. Only this time I used the dark chocolate A'peels (see the Oreo Cookie Pops post for more on A'peels).

Use the same dipping method as the Blue Velvet Cake Pops
BUT . . . this is where I goofed . . . make sure that after you dip the stick in the melted chocolate and stick it in the cake ball, that:
 1) You push the stick in until its about 3/4 of the way through to the other side
2) You refrigerate the pops until the chocolate is firm and the stick can't twist around. 
I didn't do that, I tried to dip them right away and the cake balls kept twirling around on the end of the stick, making dipping pretty difficult. 
I didn't follow directions, don't be like me.

I eventually figured out my mistake and got all the pops dipped and sprinkled. I used a foam block for some and others I let set up on the Silpat mat. The ones on the mat had a flat spot at the top but if that doesn't bug you then it's easier that way. And the flat spot lets you stand them up without falling over. Since this was just an experiment, and I didn't want to use up all my sticks, I did some that were "stick-less". "Cake Balls" or "Cake Bites" if you will.

All and all I was pretty happy with this experiment. I think the "Cake Balls/Cake Bites" look cute served in a paper cup and any treat served on a stick is just fun. I was happy with the way the Bake Pops pan worked and once dipped, it was really hard to tell that they weren't perfectly round. The cake was just a tad on the dry side. Not bad but next time I think I'll reduce the liquid to 2/3 rather than 1/2 and see if that doesn't moisten it up a bit.

So which method is better? I honestly don't know. I've tried both. They are equally easy to make and I like the taste and texture of both. It all depends on what you like. The crumbled cake and icing method results in a super moist, truffle like center, but the pops aren't perfectly round and aren't exactly the same size; the baked cake balls method produces pops that are uniform in shape and size but is simply a piece of cake on a stick. Try both a decide for your self.

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