Enemy, Thine Name is Cake Pops
Cake Pops. Bad news all around. Tell your friends.
I made cake pops for a fund-raiser. 60 of them to be exact. I had seen my friend Sarah make them and they seemed really, really easy.
She did it with grace and style and ease. She was the Paula Deen of the Cake Pop World. It all looked so easy.
So, Friday my Mom and I dedicated ourselves to the production of 60 Cake Pops. Here is what no one tells you about cake pops - they cost a lot of money to make. We had to buy two cake mixes, two frostings, lollipop sticks, two Candy Melt bags, sprinkles and parchment paper. While it might not seem like a lot, the grand total came to about 30.00, and the purchasing was spread out at two different stores: Albertsons and Michael's. See, Wilton has a line of Cake Pop stuff. That's where you get the lollipop sticks, and the Candy Melts. The rest of the stuff has to be bought at a regular grocery store. I feel annoyed about this.
(By the way, I'm aware that people have much better and bigger problems than going to two stores. But I'm not comparing that to say, famine or unemployment. I'm comparing this experience to making a normal cake.)
We got home and started. First, we made the two batches of cake mix: One yellow and one chocolate. We baked said cakes (35 minutes), and then they had to cool for at least an hour. We relaxed and chatted on the couch.
Then we broke up the cake with our hands and with deftly wielded forks, turned them into tiny crumbles.
A tub of frosting was added: Lemon for the yellow cake, vanilla for the chocolate cake.
Then there was the rolling. The endless rolling. You grabbed a hunk of wet cake, and rolled it into a golf-ball sized er, ball. The problem is that as you are rolling them, the cake sticks to your hands. Suddenly your ball isn't a ball anymore. It's half the size it was when you started rolling. And now your hands are so sticky that you are incapable of rolling an even cake ball.
You are 31 years old and you can't even roll a cake ball. Might as well walk into traffic.
At least my cake balls were better than my Mom's; hers were misshapen and totally deformed, less a ball than a multi-angled giant monster. I had to re-roll hers.
Then we had to put the cake balls into my freezer, which took more than a smile, because my freezer is wide enough to hold two ice-cube trays.
The cake balls needed to freeze for two hours. So we went and had lunch at the Bagel Bakery, which has the best sandwiches and the WORST customer service. I ordered a sandwich that came with chips and a drink for .99. The girl, smacking her gum, says to me "Yeah, thats not true anymore." "I'm sorry?" I say. "Yeah, now you get chips and a pickle." Me: "I hate pickles. Can I get the drink?" She rolls her eyes. I frown. "Well, it's on the sign. Maybe you should change the sign to be accurate." She gives a loud sigh and punches the cash register.
Mom and I eat lunch and head back for the dreaded cake pops. Then my Mom TOTALLY ditches me. "I'm tired honey, and I don't want to drive in rush hour." she says, like this is a totally valid excuse for a 55 year old woman who works the most demanding job ever.
I let her go with a big hug and a "Make Mom Feel Guilty Face", and decide to tackle the Cake Pops alone.
I pull them out of the freezer. A cake pop goes rolling down the hallway. I ignore it.
I read the directions, printed from about 5 different blogs, including Sarah's, Miss Perfect Cakepop-pants, all high and mighty. "Melt Chocolate, Insert Stick into Cake Ball, dip in chocolate, sprinkle."
Huh. Seems easy enough. The chocolate melts like a dream (thank you, Candy Melts, for being the only easy part of my day) and I begin dipping the balls.
Be honest. This looks like the octopus in Finding Nemo.
I have come to believe that dipping Cake Pops could never and has never worked. I am convinced of this.
Some of the balls come apart in the chocolate, leaving chunks in my perfectly melted dipping bowl. Almost all of the balls slip off their lollipop stick and land in the dip, leaving a dent in their (Almost) perfect circle shape. I put them back on. I have to turn the cake pops sideways and swirl them to get them to work.
And I have to work fast. The dip is drying quickly, so if I don't get the sprinkles on when they are still wet, then it's no sprinkles at all.
And I can't have no sprinkles because the cake pops are at best, really ugly shaped, and sprinkles both distract the eye and cover a litany of baking sins.
It's maddening. I'm racing, I'm dipping, I'm sprinkling, I'm weeping...it's all there, all anarchy in Cake Pop land.
The sprinkles are sticking together with dripping chocolate in some sort of Andy Warhol color-explosion. It's all chaos, chaos, chaos... it's all over.
I am convinced that I will die here, dipping 60 cake pops and thinking of World's End.
My husband Ryan comes home. He sees me looking like a trainwreck, frizzy hair, red face, sweat on my brow, cursing up a storm at these tiny little Cake Pops. "Uh, what can I do to help?" he asks sweetly.
15 minutes later, Ryan's hair is frizzed, his face is red, he keeps saying "CRAP!" really loud and then declares to me "We are never making these damn Cake Pops again." Yes, that's right, the pastor said damn. About Cake Balls.
I run out of chocolate melt, so I nuke some leftover chocolate chips and try (in vain) to finish the cake pops. It turns out real chocolate is about 10 times heavier than melting chocolate. The balls are literally dissolving under the weight. I stab them viciously, wishing for their pain. Things are getting out of control.
And then, just like that, I'm done.
Finally, FINALLY, 6 HOURS after we had started them, the Cake Pops were done.
They were done and they looked...okay. Some of them were perfect. Some were trainwrecks.
Okay, MOST of them were trainwrecks. My Cake pops weren't so much pop as they were oblong-ish shapes of cake covered in candy. There was no popping, only pain.
The kitchen was a DISASTER. I had dirtied almost every pan that didn't fit in the dishwasher, nice and empty, taunting me with it's tiny capacity.
I smiled as I took this picture, but I was a disaster. Notice the crazy hair and the knife rack within reach. Crrazzzzyy...
Say "I hate CakePops!"
Ryan and I took one look at the kitchen, looked at each other and said "You wanna go out for dinner?" "I'm already there."
We ate at Thai Basil. It's so delicious. Ryan got the Drunken Noodles.
He loves them.
And as for me, my day could be summed up by this oddity I saw at Target:
This is how I feel about Cake Pops.
When I saw people eating them at the Fund-Raiser, I wanted to stop them mid-bite. "Do you know how hard those were to make?? They took 6 hours. Enjoy that bite buddy." They were all eaten, thankfully, otherwise I would have had meltdown #2. I told myself it was worth it (and it totally was) to get to give these little treats to people who were so generous at the adoption fund-raiser. They gave us much more than we gave them.