edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Cake Pop Culture February 16, 2014

Filed under: Eats — edamomie @ 3:20 pm
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Up Close with CakePops

Up Close with CakePops

Cake pops have been on my radar for over a year. They just got some recent hype on February 1st during National Cake Pop Day, which proves they’re part of pop culture and here to stay. So what better sweet treat occasion than Valentine’s Day to test them out? In hindsight, I researched too much, got lost in Pinterest boards and overcomplicated it. The simple cake pop is a beautiful thing.

 

It’s really the perfect bite – actually three bites in one cake pop to be exact. In my opinion, it’s a better (less caloric) option than a sliver of cake or a cupcake with frosting whipped up into an insane tower that makes a dainty bite messy and nearly impossible. However, the cake pop is three times more labor intensive than your standard box cake mix spread with store-bought frosting.

 

Is it worth it? When I was up til 1:00a.m. making four dozen cake rounds in my NordicWare Cake Pop Baking Pan, I did not believe so. Each box cake mix for one 9×12 pan makes 48 cake pops. If I cake pop again, I might get another pan so turnover time is quicker. I had to wait 10 minutes in between 20 minute baking cycles to let them cool properly. The pan needed to be cleaned each time too.

 

Pops with Mustaches

Pops with Mustaches

You can also make the variety that doesn’t require the pan mold. You do this by making a standard 9×12 cake then mixing the finished cake with frosting and forming that into balls, much like a cookie, then dunking in frosting. I did make a yellow cake to test this version out, but the family ate it before I could come back to it two days later.

 

The cake pops we made were from a strawberry cake mix, for Valentine’s Day of course! Out of the 48 I made, only 25 actually made it to mustached cake pop art (when the yellow cake was gone, they started popping the unfrosted cake rounds). And because I waited four days, I also missed Valentine’s Day treat bags. It’s just how it goes sometimes. No mother guilt here.

 

I think I was hesitant to tackle the frosting because of burnout due to futzing with cake pop round baking. I also had to make another run to the store because the kids ate the white chocolate melting drops I bought last week (not helpful!!). So with a second round of Guittard Melt’n Mold White Chocolates melting in the pan, I called the kids to the kitchen for detailing duty. My son stuck the cake rounds in the center with the cake pop sticks, I dipped (and double dipped) them in white chocolate, drizzling the top and edges as needed, and my daughter sprinkled (Target brand white, purple pink and red four pack of Valentine’s Day Sugars), mustached (Wilton brand decorations) and resprinkled them.

 

Cake Pop Stand

Cake Pop Stand

The decorating was quite easy and much more fun than the baking portion. Although some of the cake crumbled off into the frosting by the last five pops, the others looked smoothly frosted. One tip I read somewhere was to make sure frosting covered the base where the stick and round connect – very helpful as it kept them from falling off. By assessing the rounds pre frosting, I thought they’d turn out smaller than your average Starbucks cake pop, however, they were comparable if not a little larger.

 

For a first attempt, we were satisfied. Note: I am not a baker or decorator (although I did work at a bakery for three summers while in college) so this is meant to be inspiration for the average non-baker to take on the cake pop. In the decor category, we could’ve added some eyes to the cake pop face, I guess. Ava, my 10 year-old, styled the shoot for the final cake pop photography and opted to stick them in an apple so they’d stand up in display mode. And our random pencil jar covered in mustache duct tape came in handy too. Clever!

 

For future, I’m taking decorating cues from Pinterest boards (see fishbowls, Valentines, rainbows, Frozen) and pinning them to my own Sweet Eats Pinterest Board, my sister-in-law’s cake pop book and a newly discovered cake pop and cupcake artist – Heather of Playful Cupcakeations. Ava and I liked the flavor combo, Calvin, my 8 year-old, commented that it wasn’t his favorite combo. I’m thinking chocolate cake pop with salted caramel frosting next time round.  Other yummy suggestions?

 

Winter S’more Variation January 27, 2013

Filed under: Eats — edamomie @ 5:11 pm
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12 Ingredient Recipe

12 Ingredient Recipe

On a Minnesota January Sunday Snowday, I don’t mind resigning myself to the kitchen for the day. Such is the case today. To lure the kids away from the constant call of electronics, we pulled out our Williams Sonoma The Cookbook for Kids recipe book on Saturday, put our list together and shopped. One recipe in particular looked so alluring sweets-wise, we all agreed we would make the S’more Cupcakes.

 

Typically thought of as a campfire treat in the summer, I love the idea of making this winter s’more variation. I have always had issues with summer s’mores anyway. My kids think I’m fussy, but the three rectangles of Hersey’s chocolate, two large square graham crackers and one cylinder marshmallow proportions always seem messy and not quite right to me. I do have my own solution for this, but it’s complicated….

 

Blending at Higher than Medium Speed

Blending at Higher than Medium Speed

Mid-afternoon we dive into this recipe. My 7-year-old, Calvin, wanders into the kitchen lazily to help. He perks up at the spread of ingredients and all the mixing, egg-cracking and batter-licking it will require. My 9-year-old, Ava, is curious, but not enough to leave her favorite t.v. personalities… yet. Calvin and I get started by lining the cupcake papers in the muffin tin and completing Step 1 (see below). We’re already two messy bowls into the recipe. Moving onto Step 2 – the blending – I do the pouring in of ingredients and he lightly guides the mixing bowl as it whirls around. The most fun being the flour mixture as it produces poofy whiteness contrasted by the liquid cocoa/vanilla/buttery mix.

 

We spoon the mixture into the 12 cupcake holders and have quite a bit left over which goes into a separate dish. Calvin then sprinkles the Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips on top (the recipe calls for one-fourth cup/ 1.5 oz – we use about one-half of a 11.5 oz bag). In the oven they go. We wait impatiently – turning the oven light on and off. About 5 minutes out, we make the frosting which is seriously yummy. I’m not even a marshmallow fan and I like it. A lot. Probably because it’s more dense and creamy (versus fluffy) what with three-fourths cup of butter and a half cup of powdered sugar. We don’t even have to crush the graham crackers as the recipe directs (this would actually be fun for kids) because I just bought the graham cracker crumbs instead. The recipe calls for a slight amount and we triple that, but I do only go with half the frosting. The point is, we can be a little creative here, kids!

 

Cupcakes - Completed and Ready to Eat

Cupcakes – Completed and Ready to Eat

Prematurely, I frost them before they’re cool enough (again, impatience!) and it makes for a mess typical of a summer s’more. If you make them – be sure to wait it out. As we taste and review, we all agree that we enjoy this variation on a s’more by our indoor fireplace very much. Delish!

 

For the record, the first recorded version of the classic s’more was printed in the Girl Scout handbook in 1927.  Here’s the Williams Sonoma version (pg 102 of The Cookbook for Kids):

 

Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder with 3/4 c very hot water. Stir until blended, then add the 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

 

Step 2: Blend the Ingredients
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 3/4 c butter on medium until shiny (about 20 sec). Add 1 c granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 min). Add the two large eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition.  Beat the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture in three batches, alternating with the cocoa mixture in two batches.

 

Step 3: Bake the Cupcakes
Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle the chocolate chips (1/4 to 1 c) evenly over the cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (17-20 min). Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely (We didn’t listen to this step!)

 

Step 4: Frost the Cupcakes
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on med speed, beat 1/2 c butter (room temp) until shiny and smooth (about 2 min). Add 1/2 c powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the marshmallow creme (one full 7oz jar, just as you buy in the store) until just blended. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top (if you’re using whole crackers, place them in a ziploc bag and crush two whole crackers with a rolling pin).

 

A Prime Climate for the Cookie December 14, 2010

Filed under: Eats — edamomie @ 10:08 pm
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Probably the coolest thing I can think of to do in the winter is quit talking about it. Remain unflappable and resilient to the temptation to begin each conversation with “OMG it is so cold out.” If someone attempts to draw you in to their weather small talk, be prepared with an, “oh it’s negative ten? I hadn’t noticed,” comeback or just be super stubborn and let your wardrobe speak for itself (open-toed shoes, a light-weight stylish jacket, mittenless). Or you could embrace the climate and all of the activities it affords so you’re primed with some great conversation starters.

 

Sure there are countless things one could do outside to enjoy winter at the 45th parallel, but I’m going to stick with what I know – indoor activities. It’s no surprise Minneapolis and St. Paul have a ton of  bakeries to choose from as our climate is conducive to baking and consuming these treats, particularly in the winter. Enter the cookie. Specifically the Christmas Sugar Cookie.

 

Cookie Mixologists

Cookie Mixologists

I have been making sugar cookies every Christmas since I was about 8 years old – it’s a tradition. My mom is quite the baker, but for this tough cookie, my aunt took me under her wing and schooled me on its art. Let’s just say after 3 decades or so of experience and with the help of new technology, I’ve got this down pat.

 

I’ve enlisted both kids’ help for this for several years now. My oldest at 7, Ava, is getting pretty adept at it.  The recipe I use is pretty simple, but I’ve never questioned it. It makes about 8 dozen cookies, which used to take me days to complete – there were a lot of do-overs.  Now I purposely break it into 3 parts: making the dough (20 min); rolling out, cutting and baking the cookies (1.5hrs); and decorating (1.5hrs). Perfect for a Fri – Sun activity on a winter weekend. With snow.

 

Day 1: We all chip in to make the dough – remembering to mix liquids and dry ingredients separately before combining them. Super important for baking. I remind the kids of the figure 8 fold-in motion, not straight-up stirring, so flour flying everywhere is reduced to a minimum. They sample way too much dough as usual – always trying to one-up the other. Calvin, my 5-year-old, notes it tastes a bit salty to him. It chills.

 

Cookie Line-Up for Sprinkles

Cookie Line-Up for Sprinkles

Day 2: I bring out the pastry mat (this is the technology I referred to earlier). This is year 3 using it. Makes all the difference in the world. The kids are pretty good with roll out duty, although it’s difficult for them to get a consistent thickness to it.  I make some final adjustments and we’re ready to cut. The best cookie cutters are those not too fussy and those not too small or too big. We use stars, christmas trees, candy canes, holly, snowflakes, stockings and two exceptions to the prior rule: 2 detailed, large Santa cookies and a few mini-candy canes. We’re on a 400 degree oven with 6 minutes per cookie sheet, so we’re moving quickly. When it’s all done and cookies are cooled, we move them into two 10 x 10″ tupperware containers with wax sheets in between.

 

Day 3: I’ve tried making my own frosting and none is really worth the work compared to store-bought cream cheese frosting. I buy two containers and use about 1.5. I like frosting, but don’t like it overpowering my cookie. I microwave it just a bit and work quickly spreading the frosting, which is thinner because it’s been heated up. This is followed by Ava who is on sprinkle detail. To avoid spending lots of money on colored frosting in the tubes ($5 per tube), I change up the color of the frosting from the can with food coloring (7 colors) and stick to colored sprinkles and 2-3 writing tubes of frosting (red and green in this case).

 

The Stars Align

The Stars Align

We mix up the cookies when putting them back in the containers, so we can pull out a few over the holidays to take to parties and deserving neighbors. They go immediately into the freezer for safe-keeping. Ava helps me keep watch over them and has learned to scold others who try to eat more than their share. She is a quick study.

 

And there you have it. A Christmas cookie years in the making and a reminder that baking with kids equals messy fun and creativity. We laugh about the cookies that don’t look quite as perfect and have a Misfit Cookie and Tea Party on Day 3, humming “since there’s no place to go (due to huge snow drifts and freezing cold temps), let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

 

So sorry to those Floridian and Californian homemakers, trying so hard to create Christmas memories and traditions, baking away while their kids frolic in the outdoor pool, the Minnesotan cookie-baking experience may have you beat by about 20 parallels.

 

 
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