Naturally, my celebratory contribution came from the kitchen! Each holiday, my family does a cookout and we invite people over for a big party. Typically, I'll cook something or furnish dessert. It's my "thing"--but lately, I haven't had much time to spend in the kitchen, and this dessert occasion hadn't really crossed my mind! So when my sister cornered me (on Sunday, mind you) and demanded, "So...what tasty treats are YOU cookin' up, missy?!", I stammered for a moment and produced some non-answer before making a speedy escape. (There she is, pictured below!)
I rushed home and combed through scads of red, white, and blue recipes, but none really appealed to me until I thought, "CAKE POPS. I've never made those before! Great time to try it out, right?" Then began the research. I love desserts, but if they're ultra sweet, I can't enjoy them--and most of the recipes I found add a can of frosting to the cake! I instantly knew that would be overkill for me (and for the guests!), so when I found this recipe (slightly adapted) from Angie at Eclectic Recipes, I was thrilled. She substitutes a block of cream cheese for the can of frosting, (no healthier, obviously, but so incredibly delicious!)
Wilton Gel Colors produces beautiful, pigmented color in cakes and frosting.
But...nothing worked out. I didn't have piping bags, so the swirls didn't work like I had planned--and then, one of the icing bags exploded WHILE I was icing the cupcakes, causing a bright red frosting eruption that was a huge mess, and THEN one of the cupcakes just fell over! It toppled right on its head and lost all the frosting. Good grief.
Thankfully, the cake pops didn't present such a challenge, and I absolutely love the way they turned out. Obviously, I must pay homage to the cake pop queen, Bakerella--so here's a cake pop video by Bakerella herself, for you to watch and learn in your cake-pop endeavors!
Wilton Candy Melts for the first time (beautiful finish, but VERY sweet). Good luck and godspeed!
- 1 box white or yellow cake mix (I used yellow)
- 1 package vanilla pudding mix
- All ingredients needed to make box cake mix (I substituted butter for oil in the cake mix, and added a dash of vanilla extract!)
- 1 package cream cheese, softened
- 1 package Wilton Candy Melts (or white almond bark)
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- Lollipop sticks
- Red, white, and blue candy sprinkles (I found a can of "Patriotic Sprinkles--perfect!), sparkling sugar, or anything else you want to use to decorate.
Prepare cake as per directions on cake mix, adding 1 package vanilla pudding mix. Bake as directed in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Let cake cool completely (I stuck mine in the fridge to accelerate the cooling process). Set cream cheese out to soften (I left mine on the counter while the cake baked, which was plenty of time, but if you need to soften it, microwave it for 10-12 seconds--it should be soft; not melted).
Form cake balls (I used a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop so they'd be uniform) and place on a wax or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 - 20 minutes. Meanwhile take a deep, microwave safe bowl and melt the candy coating in 30 second increments, stirring between. Add a tablespoon of shortening (this is to thin the coating) and stir until until melted and smooth.
Remove from candy melts and let drip then hold it sideways in your hand tap your wrist with your free hand to remove the excess (you can see how she does it in the video linked above). If you're using sprinkles, add them before the coating sets .
Let dry standing up in Styrofoam blocks or stand upright on wax paper.