January 7, 2011
It’s January 7th. You’re probably back in your routine by now. Though I’m sure you’re busy, working at your usual hyperactive speed is a likely relief after the neck breaking, supersonic rate at which you were moving during the holidays.
Not me. (Poor Stacie!)
See, my older son’s birthday is in the first week of January. Every year for the last four—yes, every one—January 2nd brings the stunning realization that I’m not done. Not only do I have a birthday to contend with, but I’ve got to deal with it fast because I haven’t had a moment to give the celebration proper thought. It’s brutal. Don’t believe me? Note that the post before this one is for New Year’s Eve cocktails.
My response every year has been to plan a big to-do. Because I feel guilty. The Hungry Boy shouldn’t have to suffer just because he was born immediately after the holidays. Why should his party be a last-minute afterthought? It’s not his fault that I’m exhausted. (Well, actually, it is, but that’s another story.) So, every year I push myself to do it up with homemade treats like corn pudding, baked chicken fingers and chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate chip buttercream. But this year I’m redefining what “do it up” means. This year I’ve decided to take it down a notch. Just one. It’s still crazy, but I’m trying.
One way that I’ve given myself a break is to host his party out of the house. Though I was disappointed about this at first, it’s actually working out beautifully. Another way is that I’m forgoing attention to every detail to focus instead on the ones in which I can find joy.
Enter cake pops.
For whom does this not bring joy? I dare you: speak up!
I know I’m a little late to the cake pop party. I guess I haven’t had occasion to make them. (Possible?!) Also, unless you’re ready to get labor intensive, cake pops are all about using cake mix and pre-made frosting. Since you know that’s generally not my scene, I figured they were too much work for anything other than a very special occasion. Like a Hungry Boy turning 4.
Finally. Time to make cake pops!
But, wait. I’ve been cooking for days. Shopping. Wrapping. Then out of town. I’m so behind. When’s his birthday?
Oh boy. I want to make cake pops. Really, I do. It will make me happy, damn it! But. So. Much. Work!
Exit Stacie. No! Enter Nora.
A couple of months ago, the kind folks at Naturally Nora sent me a bunch of free cake and frosting mixes, but I was too busy making everything holiday from scratch to give the products a try. I remembered my stash just in time to save the cake pops. They were the convenient mix I needed, without more guilt that I was feeding my birthday boy chemical-laden food out of a box. (No, I’d save that for the guilt of dipping the cake pops in synthetic food color-laced candy chocolate, non-pareils and edible glitter. The irony that I just wrote an outraged post about evil food dyes is not lost on me.)
Naturally Nora totally saved the day! Cake pops made. Hungry Mama not wiped out. (Well, not completely.) Hungry Boy HAPPY.
It may seem like a small thing, but finding an all-natural convenience product totally helped me bring it down a notch when I needed to. For me. Without compromising for the Hungry Boy. Like I said, it’s a small step, but it’s something.
Now, on to the birthday party weekend! More soon.
For more details on why I love Naturally Nora, read my review of the product on The Family Kitchen. Keep in mind that though I was given product for free, I was not paid or required in any way to review Naturally Nora. I just really like the stuff.
original concept and recipe by Bakerella
(can be shared with kids 24+ mos*)
1 box cake mix, I suggest Naturally Nora or a homemade 13×9 sheet cake, any flavor
16 oz frosting, I suggest 1 box of Naturally Nora frosting mix if not homemade, whatever flavor goes well with your cake
1 package chocolate bark or candy melts, any color*
decoration of your choice, e.g., non-pareils, edible glittler, jimmies*
4″ lollipop sticks
a styrofoam block, optional
wax paper or parchment
1. Bake your cake according to package directions or recipe. Allow to cool completely. Many say overnight is best, though I didn’t wait that long. Once cooled, break the cake up into fine crumbs. I started with a fork and then worked the crumbs with my hands.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake crumbs and frosting. I did this with my hands. Messier but way faster and easier. You should end up with a very moist mixture that you can roll into balls. This amount of cake and frosting should make about 45-50 quarter sized balls. Place each finished cake ball on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill the cake balls for several hours. (Bakerella says that you can speed this up by putting them in the freezer.)
3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave per package directions.
4. Remove a few chilled cake balls from the fridge at a time. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted chocolate or candy coating and insert into the middle of a cake ball. Now dip the cake pop into the chocolate or coating. If you want to create a totally smooth surface, use a deep bowl so that you can submerge the entire cake ball and remove it in one motion without stirring. (Bakerella suggests that you add a few drops of vegetable oil to thin your chocolate or candy coating if it’s too thick.) Allow excess chocolate or coating to drip back into the bowl.
5. Decorate! Depending on what you’re using, you can sprinkle stuff on or roll the still wet candy coated ball in a bowl full of sprinkles or such like.
6. Allow the cake pop to dry. For best results, place the pop in a styrofoam block. Alternatively, you can place it cake side down on the lined baking sheet. Just keep in mind that, unless you hold the pop until the coating hardens a little bit (it doesn’t take too long), this may create a flat spot or smoosh some of your decor. Once the candy coating has hardened, your cake pops are ready to go! If you need to store them, they keep packaged (as in cello bags) on the counter or stored in an airtight container.
*Note: These are very sugary and, if you use colored chocolate or candy coating, they also contain controversial food coloring. I’d recommend serving these—in age appropriate serving sizes—to older kids only. Also, whether you’d like to share these with younger children or not, you may consider plain, non-colored chocolate coating and all-natural colored decorating ingredients like these by India Tree available through Amazon!