Thursday, March 28, 2013

Monster Cake Pops

I finally got to it...making the cake pops I mean. It was easier than I thought. Here are the key steps I followed  for easy, yummy and good looking cake pops.

- I used a Cake mix...Better Crocker Vanilla Super Moist cake. This kind has some pudding mixed in the box already.
- I added another 1/2 of the small box pudding in it for some good measure (and it paid off). I just used the Vanilla pudding to along with the cake mix flavor. Add the dry pudding powder into the cake mix before adding the wet ingredients. This makes for an amazing moist and delicious cake
- Substitute more than half the recommended oil for the mix with unsweetened Apple Sauce. Healthy, delicious and great for pops.

- Bake the cake and let cool completely. And when I say completely, I really mean it.
- Crumble to almost sand like consistency. I used my dear old fingers. Allowed me to nibble on some larger pieces. But food processor could do this job as well.
- Add no more than a tablespoon of the binder. Binder equals anything from frosting, cream cheese to nutella. Note that I said no more than a tablespoon.
- Let the mix sit for, say 10 minutes just so everyone gets to mingle.
- Start forming balls. I started with my tablespoon scoop and soon got tired of it. I just eyeballed. But make sure that the balls are less than 1" in diameter. The coating is much thicker than you think and heavier too.

- No need to chill. In fact I recommend not to. Just let them hang out on your counter top. That will prevent cracking of the candy coating due to temperature difference. Now, if you are talking 90 degree days, then yes, please put them in the fridge till you get the candy melts ready.
- Melt the candy melts in the microwave per package directions. I did mine in a coffee mug deep enough to dip the cake balls. Start with 30 seconds. Pull them out stir a little. At this point they haven't started melting so much. Put them in for another 30 minutes. You might think it needs more time, but it doesn't really (of course things change with the power of your microwave). Stir with slow and steady movements. Do not go crazy with this. Be patient. Slowly but surely, the candy melts will start to get gorgeous and silky. I added a tablespoon of veggie oil.

- get your pop sticks out. Dip about 3/4" into the candy melts now melted. And shove them up the cake ball. Try not to go more than half way up. Do all of them so by the time the last one is done, the first one is ready to be dunked.
- Dunk the ball straight, head down and immediately lift it so that the ball is facing up. Rotate the stick and lightly tap the stick on the mug. not go crazy. The pop will literally pop out of the stick.
- Make sure all excess chocolate is gone
- Add decorations before that chocolate dries up and boy! does it dry up fast. (The candy eyes are available at Michaels, Target, PartyCity)
- Stick them vertically in a Styrofoam. I wrapped mine in my monster wrapping paper.
- And Done.

I did mine the day before and never refrigerated them. They are delicious. Didn't fall out, or crack or ooze any oil. I got myself delicious smooth balding little monsters. I added a few hair here and there for variety.
Everyone loved them...especially the kids!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Holi!

Holi - in simple words: Festival of Colors. Lots of colors. Of course there is more to it than colors...a bit more information can be found here. This year we celebrated full desi style in Los Angeles. It was a fantastic experience for my 2 year old. She loved it and colored herself crazy. We all had a blast! Some pictures of our celebration...courtesy my talented husband!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Comeback with a Monster

Let me start with a much needed apology...sorry for being MIA for so long! As much as I enjoyed the past year with my little new born (now 2), I had to dig really deep to find time even to cook, let alone blog about it. But what I did this past weekend (well, 2 weekends ago now) is beyond all of these lame excuses. I feel so proud that I had to share it with everyone. I attempted to make cakes...yes, I said cakeS with an S. It was my daughter's 2nd Birthday and thought, why spend $70 on a cake (that's what cakes of good quality go for these days apparently) when I can make one for third of the cost. Of course, I did not include the day off I had to take from work just to finish it. But it was still well worth it.

Let me just say, these were not just any of them was an adorable 3 tier hairy Monster Cake and then, to make my vacation day well worth it, I also made Monster Cake Pops. The pops actually came from the 4th cake I didn't need for the Monster cake and couldn't finish eating. So I got only about 25 pops...but cute ones. If you haven't guessed already, it was a monster theme party...not because my daughter like Cute Monsters, but because I love them!!!

Ok, I know I am a designer and all, but when I saw this cake I realized there was no time or need to get 'inspired', criticize the hell out of it and then 'redesign' essentially the same thing. It was amazing as it was. Plus I had not baked cakes for, well, may be 12 years. I rather invest my creativity in making the cake pops look as cute as the cake.

I will post the journey of my cake pops in the following posts. This post is dedicated to my Monstaah Cake.
As you know I have no fancy schmancy mixer in my tiny little kitchen, so hand mixer had to do. (I can almost hear a few gasps! here) So please don't judge me when I say I used a box mix. Vanilla Super Moist kind by Betty Crocker . Feel more than free to bake your own from-scratch cake of any flavor you like. But $1.19 per box was a good enough reason for me. To cover up my guilt, I made my own Vanilla Buttercream and did some minor 'redesign' to the box mix.

So there is no recipe here really...just process!!

Here is what I did...
- I added 1/2 of small vanilla pudding mix into my cake mix before adding the wet ingredients
- I replaced 75% of the required oil with unsweetened Apple Sauce.
- Do not over bake the cake.
- Wrap the baked and cooled cakes in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge overnight (not necessary, but I did it)
- Level the cakes carefully
- Sprayed each tier with sugar syrup during assembly (boil 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water. You can add any additional flavoring to this as well, like lemon rinds or almond flavoring etc)
- Crumb coat before icing.

For the delicious buttercream I used recipe similar to this and added Wilton's orange gel coloring. My buttercream came out a little on the softer side, but it kind of worked out in my favor. The hair would droop down which kind of looked, well, hairy. Here is a wonderful tutorial on how to do a  monster cake and another one showing you how to pipe hair.

Some fun monster activities for the kids (and grown-ups)! and here is the table below with home-made cake, cake pops and sandwiches!!! (more on the pops coming soon)

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