Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cake Pops! (first attempt)

So... we made cake pops for Lauren's birthday. Which may or may not have been more than a month ago- yeah I know I'm behind. But hey. School. Life. You know how it goes.

Anyway, back to the cake poppery. The process (more than the product) was kind of great to say the least. Although it was totes last minute and a little chaotic like most of my baking projects during school, I was so stoked to finally get the chance to make these quasi-celeb desserts (made famous by Bakerella --but did you know that Starbucks is making them now? Crazy!); and I have to say they didn't turn out too badly. But yes, there are some things I would def do differently the next time around, which I will go into in a bit, but they looked good and were, well.. edible. So I guess you take what you can get.

It was kind of a ridiculous ordeal, gathering all the materials needed for this project. We made six different stops: Safeway, the Met, Artco, Sonic, the SUB, and the wooonnnderful Treasures n' Thrift Family Store. Kay, so yeah we did get a little bit sidetracked, but in the grand scheme of things these detours were necessary. J, always on the cutting edge of fashion, got a supes cute quilted shoulder bag and I got a movie on VHS called Woman On Top. Yeah I know, the name is a real winner. It's going to be one of those movies that's so good because it's so bad. Or maybe it’ll just be bad. I’m feeling optimistic though, cause the main character is a chef so it’ll have some redeeming value, yeah?

So first of all, it took us forever to realize that "chocolate bark" is just straight up chocolate, as in bars or chocolate chips. Lame sauce! Chocolate bark at the Met, like most things at that store, is hella expensive so we just went with chocolate chips. BUT, if you’re going to go with white chocolate for dipping, don't buy cheap-o white chocolate chips. They don't melt evenly, even over a double-boiler and they never reach a thin enough consistency to dip the cake balls in. I'll have to do some more research on melting white chocolate later because the ones we dipped in the white chocolate that didn't completely fail were actually pretty tasty.

The last thing I'd change is that I would either make the red velvet cake from scratch or use a better quality red velvet cake mix. The one I used was way cheap and you could definitely taste all the weird fillers that went into the mix. Point of the matter is--and I know this probably seems obvious--is that if the cake doesn't taste good on its own, it's prrrobably not going to taste good as a cake pop. heh.

Or maybe the broader point I should be making is that it's definitely possible to take the whole "frugal student baker" thing too far. In this case, cheap ingredients resulted in cheap tasting food, no matter how good the recipe was or how well I followed it.

But in the unlikely case that I haven't completely turned you off the idea of making cake pops by now, I've posted the recipe so that maybe you can try it yourself and learn from my mistakes, and maybe a few of your own too.

Red Velvet Cake Balls from Bakerella, [plus some of my own prep pics! (I finally remembered to take some :D)]
1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper

long lollipop sticks if you're making cake pops

Start with straight up red velvet cake.


1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.


2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting.


(It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

Uh..tchyeah ya think?


3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet.


Put cakey sticks in!!


4. Then chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)

5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.

6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (dip in chocolate and then tap off extra.)


and voila!






Thursday, March 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Love Cake

Wow guys.. I just have to start out by apologizing for being such a suckface when it comes to being consistent with my posts. I hate to give excuses, but February was a busy month. I got a job (UPS catering, woop woop!), joined a sorority (Gamma Phi Beta), joined a community group at my church (they're wonderful), joined an intramural volleyball team, and I also really should have been smarter about taking on such a stinkin’ reading-intensive course load knowing how slow of a reader I am. So.. spreading myself a little thin right now, but I’m not regretting any of it!It’s been a fun semester, and I’m finally getting a feel for balancing out all these new things I’m trying. There have, however, been some great opportunities to bake/cook for my wonderful friends, and of course I wanted to document those for my loverly readers. So here is the first good we baked last month, well, some pictures of it at least. Enjoy!

February 2, 2011

First up is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Love Cake. Why “love”? Silly question. Why not love?? It’s a love cake because when you usually see someone purchasing this particular size of a cake (two layers, maybe 5 inches in diameter, typically a 2-serving dessert) at a bakeshop or grocer, it’s for one of three reasons:
  • They’re really craving cake.
  • They know someone else who is really craving cake.
  • They’re buying it to share with their lover on one special holiday or another during which they’re apparently supposed to love their partner more than they usually do.

So anyway, it’s meant to be shared by two. But since the L.C. gang and I are all madly in love
with one another, this cake was shared by.. I think maybe 7 people or so. It was funny, the pieces were something like 2 bites worth of cake. Despite the small servings and rather disorderly distribution of the "slices" (which were more like piles), the massive amounts of love packed into this confection made up for any shortcomings in size, and sweet-tooths were definitely satisfied because the frosting is like.. something illicit that I really shouldn't say on this blog.

It was fairly easy because we used
Trader Joe’s boxed cake mix.
I did, however, make my own frosting, and that is what made this cake so nommable. Well, and the TJ's cake mix wasn't too shabby.

Just a little side story: As I was searching for the frosting recipe I used (which took foreverrrr, but was totally worth it because this frosting is scary good and I can’t not share the joy) I came across pages and pages of debates over the ingredients that are supposed to go into the different types of buttercream frosting (Italian buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, American buttercream, Pâte á bombe, etc. Do you think there’s a “Mexican buttercream”? If not, dibskys on that invention.)
Anyways, hundreds of people just couldn’t resist the urge to assert their opinion on what exactly you put in a frosting before you can call it “buttercream”. I mean, I really shouldn’t be surprised to see trolls roaming the food blog world, but really, in the end, if the food tastes good then the cook must not have screwed up. This is kind of like those people who argue about what genre some new DJ’s music is (dubstep? house? trance? crunk? frapjam?) But c’mon! If you’re that
passionate about the music itself and not the idea of that genre, or the idea of being someone who listens to that genre, then why are you wasting your breath when you could be dancing, singing, doin’ the tippitay-tap? Snap yo fingers, do ya step. You can do it all by yo self, let me see you do it! Ayye!

So point of the matter: if it tastes good, then you got the recipe right. Recipes are made for us noobskys who need some guidance for getting all the proportions correct; so that all the chemical reactions and stuff like that can work out to hopefully produce something edible in the end. If you’re so knowledgeable about what goes into a good buttercream, then why were you on teh interwebz researching buttercream recipes in the first place, huh? Huh?

Here was my favorite comment:

“On May 10, 2006 at 05:00 PM, spacial_k (guest) said...
Subject: American Buttercream
Just so you know, the above recipe is totally WRONG. I graduated from culinary school so I know how to make buttercream. First off, buttercream frosting NEVER contains egg yolks.”

Well, Mr. “Spacial_k”, I guess you never will get to experience the deliciousness that is THIS FANTASTICALLY SCRUMBDIDDLYUMPTIOUS PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM FROSTING. But it’s okay because you graduated from culinary school, so all the best things you’ve tasted and will ever taste are things you made yourself so there is no need to branch out and take a chance on someone else topping your master skillz.

Okay I’m stopping myself there. I’m really not as mean as this post might make me sound..

Moving on: here is the frosting recipe! (ugh finally, Kirsten. Took for-stinkin-EVER!!)
You really should try it sometime. Or ask me to make it for you! It’s so good you might even just want to eat it out of the bowl with a spoon. .err..I mean, like I totally didn’t do cause that’s so unhealthy! Mmm

It looks complicated but it really doesn’t take that long and its totes worth it.

Fantastically Scrumbdiddlyumptious Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup peanut butter (not crunchy) <--I used creamy natural Skippy PB
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Bring a pot of water to a simmer on the stovetop. In a separate bowl over the simmering water, beat together the egg yolk and 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar, until the mixture is hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes (or transfer the mixture to a new bowl), and then beat in the peanut butter, and then the butter. Beat in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar until the whipped cream forms stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the rest of the frosting and beat until combined. Chill in the fridge until the cake is ready to be frosted.

Note: At the stage where you mix the granulated sugar + yolk with the confectioners’ sugar (I think this will be difficult if you’re not using an electric mixer of some sort).. you might look at it and wonder how the heck such a funky looking substance is going to turn into frosting; it’ll look kind of like dried out peanut butter play-dough. However, once you mix in the whipped cream and beat it for while, it will all magically fall into place and you will end up with a beautiful light and silky-smooth buttercream

And in the end, we frosted the cake and dressed it up by pressing chopped up Reese’s into the sides. Although this looked really cute, I have to be honest: as good as Reese’s cups might be on their own, on this cake they were only a distraction from the blissful harmony of the TJ’s chocolate cake mix (which was very good, btw) and the light yet luxurious PB buttercream.

So, you may have your go-to frosting recipe, but this one is definitely worth taking a step out of the box. And don’t be intimidated by the double boiler if you’ve never tried it before. It’s really just a fancier way of heating stuff up than simply using a microwave and it gives you more control over the cooking/heating process. This frosting recipe is pretty versatile, too. If peanut butter ain’t yo thang, you can totally mix anything into this frosting instead of PB! I feel like this would work really well for a vanilla recipe, especially if you used vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. I’ve never tried using the paste before, but I’ve heard that you get a way better vanilla flavor, plus you get the pretty vanilla bean specks :)

Well that’s all for now, friends. Thanks so much for reading and hopefully I’ll get my next post up soon.. (you may or may not have reason to get mad stoked for this.. but I’m just gonna say it.. I made cakepops!! :D )

Oh and this is for you, Nelly.

luv u bbgrl.