Valentine Cake Pop Flower Bouquet
I had never made cake pops before this Valentine’s Day idea spread for Everything Kitchens. Yes, I had made tons of cake, cupcakes, and petit fours over the years I professionally catered events and did wedding cakes. So, I decided to try a baked version rather than the assembled ones I had tried before made of crumbled cake and frosting. Nordicware has an excellent pan for this kind of cake pop. What ensued was what I dubbed “cake pop trials 2014.” There was a bit of trial and error as I went about preparing this particular Valentine’s gift idea. I share my lessons, so you are ready to bake them without the learning curve. Decorate heavy or light, let your imagination flow. Use piped icings, edible glitters and dusting powders, or colorful sugars as the mood and creativity catches you. Valentine’s Day will always mean flowers, but in this case they are edible and so delicious.
1. Fat Daddio's Cake Decorating Set
2. Nordicware Cake Pop Pan
3. BabyCakes Cake Pop Sticks
Not pictured: KitchenAid Professional 6 Quart Stand Mixer
The recipe is well sort of, missing. Why? I used the recipe on the back of the Nordicware pan. A note should be made here. Kitchen equipment manufacturers have taken time, money, and deep resources to develop recipes for use especially with their pieces. I have been cooking all my life, professionally, in volunteer positions, and of course in my own home. Some of the best tasting, easiest to prepare, and consistently reliable recipes have come directly from manufacturers of equipment and of food products. In this case, I was astounded to find the makers of this Nordicware cake pop used no leaveners in their recipe. This did concern me because I thought this batter would not properly fill the round baking tins. I added a rounded quarter teaspoon of baking powder as I did not want to change the consistency of the batter, or have a mess in my oven from too much rising going on. This small addition of baking powder achieved exactly what I hoped it would. The pops baked up round and filled the pans. I also added 3 tablespoons of Irish crème whiskey. I like to cook with liquors, especially when baking, because these change flavor profiles by increasing complexity, depth, intensity, and richness. It is not necessary to use the addition of liquors when you make the Nordicware recipe. You will be rewarded with a fudgy end product very similar to brownies without the chew, or a very dense homemade devil’s food cake. My changes to the original recipe kept the texture very close to the original and the flavor was heavenly.
- I used vegetable oil spray to coat the pan and lightly dusted it with flour. Next time I make these, I will go ahead and purchase a can that has flour already mixed into the vegetable spray coating. The pop pan is a bit difficult to dust with flour adequately to prevent sticking because of the angle needed to do so. Lessons always are learned in a new process.
- Mound the thick batter in the baking tin as recommended by the manufacturer. You do not want cake pops with flattened sides. Not a pretty pop will this make. I used the stainless steel scoop so this would be an easy, quick process. Honestly, stainless steel scoops of varying sizes are one of my “go-to” gadgets when baking. They are worth the money spent to have a few scoops that you use often for making cake pops, muffins, drop cookies, and even meatballs. Furthermore, touching batters too much with the hands makes it heavy and greasy. This is not at all what a baker wishes for their final results.
- To get the cake pops to come out of the pan after baking, I found a twisting motion like opening up a jar or bottle worked. Use a very light touch while doing so. This is absolutely not opening a jar, but it is that kind of motion. Too much pressure and the cake pop will collapse and crumble. The non-stick surface on the Nordicware cake pop can is excellent quality and slick. You will not need to work hard, just lightly.
- I did have to trim some of the cake pops prior dipping. Let these cool completely and use a small, very sharp paring knife. I went rather slow doing this to keep error to a minimum. I wanted nice round cake pops. I did not want cake pop brutality showing up in crushed and maimed little, shredded cake balls scattered upon the tiled countertop.
- Thin dipping chocolate works best. If needed, dip the pops several times to achieve the look and thickness you wish. If the chocolate is too thick it will roll down in ribbons and set at the base of the cake pop. I also found that too thick chocolate caused the pop sticks to pull out. Finally, I also coated the sticks with a small dip of chocolate to “glue” them in place.
- A quick note on melting chocolate I think is appropriate. I am kind of old-school when it comes to many types of equipment. I like quality items, and while these do cost a bit more, are worth their weight of cost being made with superior materials. That being said, back to melting chocolate and being old-school. You can microwave your chocolate, and some folks find this process perfect for their needs. There are new products out there that facilitate this kind of work, those made of high tech materials and such. I do like to try these items, especially when the old-school needs help. I have burned many dollars in expensive chocolate in microwave seconds all because I was doing something other than watching my chocolate. I also find when microwaving chocolate gets it far too hot, and can seize and ruin the “mouth-feel” prized in silky chocolates. So when melting chocolate, I go to the stand-by I have used from the beginning. I like a double-boiler for melting chocolate over all equipment out there. I tend to multi-task so much when I bake. I can put the chocolate over a very slow simmer, and just check it from time to time. I have a small French made copper double-boiler with a heavy china interior pot. It was a much wanted gift given to me from one of my sisters long ago. Everything Kitchens has a few double-boilers to choose from. Perhaps I should review these in an article at a time in the future. And I wish to stress again, for the serious cook, equipment purchases hurt your wallet once. And then after that time you have years of faithful service from that quality piece of equipment, and perhaps may decide to give that cherished piece of equipment to your child, your niece or nephew, or a grandchild to use for their lifetime. Double-boilers melt chocolate; make smooth fail-proof sauces, puddings, and smooth pate-a-choux doughs. I would not do many pastries or chocolates if it were not for my fine double-boiler.
- The setting and drying time needed for cake pops, well I did not think ahead on problems it might pose. I could have gotten our Nordicware cake pop display and storage box or another such piece of equipment that would have made this much easier. Cake pops are incredibly top heavy. The chocolate covered pops want to tip over, trashing your beautiful work. I ended up using a piece of thick foam designed for mounting floral displays to place the cake pops sticks into to dry. It did work well, but I had to toss that expensive piece of mounting foam out. Some lessons involve cost.
- To decorate let your mind wander and create. If you have much experience or talent, you can come up with some unique looks with different cake decorating tips. I was pressed a bit for time, so I used standard #16 and #18 size open star tips with slight modifications on regular decorating techniques. It was more about the look I wanted to achieve, and almost not at all about traditional piping method. You do not have to be a professional, just have fun and use even pressure. Make sure you fill the bag well at the onset and purge the decorating bag of air bubbles before you start. Otherwise, your frosting will explode out of the bag and make a mess.
- Finally the addition of sugars, nonpareils, and dusting powders gave me the look I wanted of individual flowers, perhaps constructed of pearls, ribbons, and such pretties. All these items are easy to find in craft and food stores and have a very long shelf life. There are tons of choices of these kinds of decorating items out in the marketplace. I was wanting a feel of jewelry and flowers at the same time. I used pink glimmer dusting powder, red crush fine decorating sugar, pink pearl and multi-colored ball nonpareils for these cake pops.
- To display, I again used floral foam to secure my pops in the small glass pitcher. I like to keep lots of small supplies for such purposes. Food and crafting tends to go hand in hand. I used paper straws to help keep these upright and in position, but also for the final look of my piece. In a second display, I used gift tape as a floral frog inside the diameter of my pan and lots of rolled colored tissue to fill in the spaces as needed. I wrapped individual pops like single roses you might purchase from the florist tied with a bit of curling ribbon. Sweet single gifts or a small collection bouquet for Valentine’s Day. This might be your creative idea this year. Written by: Alecia Kay