Monday, June 11, 2012

Apples and... Strawberries?

I love to get creative with food. It's not always beneficial to do so when you're cooking but baking is a different story. =D Since I work for a school district, my office planned their annual "end-of-year" party this last week. It was potluck style and I had no idea what to bring. The list was short on desserts so I signed up for "something sweet". I have played around making cake pops before and had quite a bit of fun. So I thought I would try it out again for my coworkers. Before I explain what I did here's my disclaimer: I see the irony and borderline hypocrisy of my actions.
I work for a program that promotes healthy eating and targets mostly low income areas. We promote fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrition education. I though that it would be cute, although misleading, to make cake pops in the shapes of fruit. (no this doesn't make them healthy :) ) I looked around online to see if it had been done before and of course I found some amazing ideas.
I did scrounged through the pantry and was delighted to realize that I would only need to buy chocolate and some icing (yay!) Here's what I used
  • 1 box cake mix
  • 9 x 13 in pan
  • 1 can/jar of icing (I used cream cheese just because it's so yummy)
  • Spearmint gum and mint for leaves
  • Pretzel sticks cut into thirds
  • lollipop sticks
  • Melted chocolate (red, green, white, & regular dark)
  • Wax paper
  • Styrofoam blocks (I pre-made the holes in mine with an ice pick)
I first baked the cake and made them into the balls. These little things keep pretty well even when they aren't covered in chocolate so I made mine the night before I was decorating and chilled them in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I pulled on my apron and got my assembly line started. If you try cake balls for yourself just be warned that the first 3 (at least) are always trial and error. Make sure you don't overheat your chocolate like I did because the result is often very evident. Other than that, get dipping and have fun!
Because I'm new to blogging I don't think about taking pictures until it is nearly too late to do so. I hope you enjoy the pictures I do have. :)
Other strawberry cake pops I saw in books and online used anything from spearmint gum (which I tried)  to chocolate molds. I have some mint growing around the backyard and thought they would look great. They do, but they aren't as edible (esp for kids) as something like a green fruit roll-up. All in all, the mint was successful though. Also, instead of an edible pen or candy pearls for the seeds I went the easy route and used a plastic baggie as a makeshift pastry bag and filled it with melted white chocolate. I was pleased with the result which was all that counted at that point. :)
You can tell from the lumpy texture that I overheated the chocolate on accident. Oh well, live and learn!
Most of the apples I found in my so-called research were red which made sense to create the green leaf and red apple contrast but... I had to try granny smith too.

I was super excited when I saw the green. I thought they turned out adorable. They really looked like miniature Granny Smith apples on a stick.

Like I said... I get these crazy ideas and I just had to try this one out. It worked out better than I expected. I ran an extremely sharp knife under hot water so that I didn't have to saw through the chocolate. Instead it just sort of melted it's way through so that I could cut a wedge out of the existing cake pop. Then I used the fake pastry bag of white chocolate to fill in the wedge and a small baggie of melted dark chocolate to put in some seeds. Isn't this fun?
The finished product is closest to those created by Bakerellabut my methods definitely need perfecting.  I deviated in small ways but I was pleased with the result.  One tip that I learned from Bakerella that I found priceless was to tap your wrist after dipping rather than tapping the stick against the bowl. Your wrist absorbs the shock so that you don't knock the cake off the stick. I apologize that there are not pictures of the process.
I had a really fun time making these and they were a big hit at the party. Surprisingly they aren't just neat to make and cute to look at, they also taste pretty darn good as well. =D I wish the best of luck and loads of fun to anyone who takes on their own cake pop adventure.

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