I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer almost all my life it seems, doing things much later than I should perhaps have done them. Not that I’m complaining because I know that it might have “late” by general standards but it was usually “right” for me. Take for instance my food blog. I started writing my food blog only to discover that the average age of many of my fellow bloggers was probably the mid to late 20s which I had last seen a long time ago! I bought a camera and started serious photography when it seemed most dSLR owners I knew were in their 20s. This was fine with me as we couldn’t have afforded a dSLR back then, and I wouldn’t have had the spare time for photography either.
It’s been the same with certain food trends, and it isn’t because I don’t read. They just seemed to escape my personal radar. When cupcakes were taking over the food scene, I wasn’t aware of it. By the time I caught on cupcakes weren’t fashionable anymore.
Then came the craze for the French macaron. While the food world was going “Ooh la la” over them, I was under my own little rock. I managed to get in on the macaron making before all the excitement died down but was sadly disappointed in them. Sure there’s a thrill in waiting with one’s heart in one’s mouth, hoping desperately to see the little mounds of batter rise in the oven and develop “feet” but after that there’s not much to it than mouthful of cloyingly sweet egg whites+ sugar+ almonds that you cannot even taste!
And then came Angie Dudley’s (Bakerella) cake pops! This time I was right there when it was happening but they didn’t excite me much. Perhaps it was because I’m not much of a cake fan and also that I couldn’t find some of the basic stuff required like lollipop sticks and decorating material. It seemed a little too much work to bake a cake only to take it apart and then put it together again.
No connection here really, but I was just thinking that life would have been so much easier for Humpty Dumpty (yep, the guy who fell off a wall and came apart) if he had been a cake pop. We could have patched him up and had him almost as good as new for a more (or less) adventurous life!
Getting back to cake pops, I was finally persuaded to give them a chance. I have been seeing some very pretty looking cake pop all over food blogdom and then my good friend,Finla, bought Angie Dudley’s Cake Pop book and went cake popping with very lovely results. Finla and I were having one of our chats when we decided we would get together and make some cake pops for Diwali. We’re not celebrating anything here this year, but it seemed a nice idea to make something sweet to post on this blog for the festive season.
On a recent trip to Bangalore I picked up some lollipop sticks (and loads of other baking stuff), so that meant I had one more excuse to travel the cake pop road. Now cake pops are nothing but cakey truffles. Cake crumbs are mixed with buttercream which are shaped in to balls (or other shapes of choice), refrigerated, stuck onto lollipop sticks and then dipped in melted chocolate or candy melts. They can be further decorated depending on the end result desired.
Pretty easy stuff, huh? That’s what I thought, but I hadn’t taken my warm, humid tropical environment into consideration. I had started out wanting to make Diwali lamp/ diya shaped pops which would have been just right for the Diwali season. My lamp pop plans had to be shelved for the time being as I had to work with soft cake pop centres and chocolate coating that started showing signs of melting once agin, on their own! To cut a long and boring story short, let’s just say that I ended up making regular round cake pops!
Most people seem to use box mixes to make the cake for cake pops. I don’t blame them as dipping the pops is work enough. We do get boxed cake mixes here these days, but they’re mostly imported and quite expensive. And I’m for some reason biased against boxed mixes so I decided to make my cake from scratch.
I’m one of those people who is not overly fond of buttercream so I thought if I could find a reasonably moist cake then I would need to use much buttercream and make a sweet cake even sweeter. My daughter suggested trying a “white” cake so I settled on a White Chocolate Mud Cake which is a reasonably moist cake. It’s a great cake if you like white chocolate, and tastes even better if you add lemon zest to it. You can bake this cake and cover it with white chocolate ganache (I think dark/ milk chocolate ganache would be good too) or even whipped cream.
I added cardamom to the cake as I felt it did something for the “blandness” of white chocolate and if you’ve not tried it before, white chocolate and cardamom really go well together. I adapted the original recipe a bit and halved it for making pops. If you want to make a cake then double the quantity of the ingredients and use a 9” round cake tin. Also increase the baking time to between an hour and an hour and a half depending on when the cake is done.
Most people who make cake pops seem to use buttercream to bind the cake crumbs and I’ve seen a couple of people using ganache with chocolate cake. For reasons already mentioned, buttercream wasn’t the binder of my choice. It also helped that I ran out of butter, and so had the shop nearest to me. What I did have was cream (25% fat), so I used that. This worked well as it meant my cake pops weren’t going to be tooth tingling sweet.
I had some great plans of shaping as well as using some other coating but that met with failure. As I don’t get candy melts here, melted chocolate was my choice of coating. Oh and if you should want to make cake pops, but cannot find lollipop sticks just place the coated cake balls in paper cases. Same taste, different look.
And if you want to make those colourful and different shaped cake pops and you live in India, beg or threaten your family or friends who live abroad to bring you candy melts and edible food pens and stuff when they visit you next, because that’s what I’m going to do. They might just end up deciding not to visit you at all, but that’s a risk one has to live with!