Saturday, 8 December 2012

Christmas is.... #8 Festive cake pops

Earlier this year I curbed my retail therapy when I went into Lakeland and instead of purchasing a cake pop maker I 'just' bought sprinkles. When I got home I saw a post from The Boy and Me, it was meant to be. I decided to save up the pennies to treat myself to one.

And it's been a fantastic purchase. The sounds a random reason, but the cake pop machine produces little balls of cake. Everyone in this house LOVES cake, and Squeaks and I love baking cakes.
But no-one really likes icing, and it tends to get messy with slices of Victoria sandwich.
So, a little ball, which fits so perfectly in  the hand of a toddler, is more than perfect! A great solution for a dessert or snack, this remains a constant of our life and a perfect solution for testing fussy eating versus feeling poorly (not even cake pops can make a poorly Johnson baby feel better!).

One of the things I've been trying as we bake cakes is to make pink cake (it's a must as far as Squeaks is concerned). . Despite making the mix the brightest red before baking we've always ended up with 'normal' coloured sponge. Last week I found a food colouring gel from Hobbycraft, I had heard good things about gel, and as they were on a 3 for 2 I decided to take the risk (although I can't find the range we purchased online).

So, with lots of Christmas ideas on Squeaks mind we decided to go to whole hog in making cake pops. I had ideas above my capability, like Christmas pudding and Snowman. Squeaks exercised an awareness of my ability, with ideas like snowballs... which then moved onto 'rectangles'- that's right even with a machine designed to make ball shaped cakes she doesn't trust me!

For our cakes pops we use a regular sponge recipe:
Weigh three eggs, and use an equal amount of sugar, flour, and softened butter.
Cream the sugar and the butter.
Beat two of the eggs into the mix.
Sieve half the flour in and fold.
Beat in the remaining egg, and fold in the rest of the flour.

For our festive cake pops we also added two teaspoons of lemon essence and a teaspoon of red food colour.
The rationale for this? Well, I bought lemon, vanilla, and cinnamon essence (another 3 for 2!), the vanilla cake pops were delicious, we made gingerbread men last week, which left lemon.

I have to admit, whilst the cake pops are really tasty, it is a bit random eating red cake which tastes of lemons...
And that's the great news! I bought red colouring, thinking the pink had turned normal, so it gave hope for red... and I now I'm really excited about going back to purchase the pink colouring to make a pink cake for Squeaks!

So, we made our cake pops, by brushing cooking oil in the cake pop maker, adding just over a teaspoon of the sponge mixture into each of the 'compartments' of the machine, and leaving to bake for around five minutes.

I then melted a cooking packet of white chocolate in the microwave.
I put a stick in the cake pop and smothered it in chocolate, taking the stick out to add some chocolate to the top of the stick so it would be secured inside the pop.

Our first two were 'snowballs'- that was it.
But then Squeaks loved the idea of 'decorating' and to her this means covering in sprinkles.
For us, this meant tipping sprinkles from the container onto the cake pop and catching the left overs in a dish for re-adding.
You could probably put the sprinkles in a dish and rolling the cake pop in the dish, but Squeaks was on a roll and I wasn't stopping her!

One of Squeaks' favourite sweets (only recently, she used to detest them!) is marshmallows. And Squeaks came up with the great idea of dipping the marshmallows in the chocolate, adding sprinkles and then 'sticking' to the cake pop... I'm sure this lends itself to more creative ideas... but I'm exhausted from the sprinkles!

What I found was the heavier the sprinkles, the more likely they were to weigh the melted chocolate down and off the cake pop. Our best sprinkles were the tiny ones... notwithstanding the marshmallows, obviously!
 So, we didn't manage a Christmas pudding, or even a snowman, but I have to admit it would be a lot for me to achieve this without a three year old on hand to help, with a three year old- well, we're both so proud of our cake pops!

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