For Christmas, Simon bought the house a cake pop maker. As a rule, kitchen presents are always 'for the house' around here and this was no exception. The idea was that Maisie and I could have fun making and decorating them and we could all have fun eating them. I have to say, for a fun present it has gone down very well. Maisie and I have spent a good few hours baking and decorating cake pops - icing them and sticking on Smarties and pretty sugary shapes. She will eat them afterwards as well, which is always a bonus!
I wanted to make some cake pops for Simon's birthday party and I've been trying to find different ways of displaying them. It occured to me that I could make a kind of topiary out of cake pops, so I looked around for some ideas. I saw this very nice ombre cake pop tree on Pinterest - do have a look it's quite incredible!
I wanted to make something a little more informal than this as it was just for a small party at home. Also, I wanted to put little cake cases on my cake pops as I felt that this was just a bit more practical. It will allow people to handle them a bit more and I don't know about anybody else, but we've had many a cake pop fall on the floor as they've broken off the sticks. I thought adding little cake cases may help to solve this problem.
To make the basic tree shape, I used a vase that I bought for £3 in my local discount store, a cone of florist foam cut to shape to fit inside the top of the vase, a 12cm sphere of florist foam, some garden canes cut to size, some tissue paper and some ribbon.
To make my vase a bit more sturdy I filled the base below the foam with glass beads.
I inserted my garden canes into both of my floristry foam shapes and secured them into the base with a hot glue gun. I wrapped both of my foam shapes with tissue paper to make them a bit more 'food safe' and secured the tissue paper to the sphere with a ribbon. And there you have an undressed cake pop topiary!
For the cake pops themselves I cut 3.5" lollipop sticks in half and I used some 'Sweetly Does It', Petit Fours Cases. To get a rough idea of how many cake pops I needed to make, I made a hole in the centre of the cake case with a knitting needle and attached each one to the foam sphere with a half lollipop stick. It worked out at roughly 43 cake pops.
So I set to work... These cake pops are not the more popular, traditional ones made with crumbled up cake and fondant icing. They are round balls of cake, so they're much lighter and 'sponge like'. I imagine that they are quicker to make than the hand rolled ones, but you haven't got the flexibility of shape as you would if you were forming them by hand.
They cook in batches of 12 and each batch takes 5 minutes, so it didn't actually take long to make 48 cake pops. Once out of the machine, I like to sit them lighter side down on the cooling tray.
Then I sat them in the fridge to cool down completely and melted some chocolate to attach the sticks with. Once cooled I inserted my stick into the melted chocolate and then inserted the stick into the lighter, softer side of the cake pop. I put them back in the fridge for the chocolate to set completely and then put them all in a freezer bag to be frozen overnight.
I like to cover my cake pops in good old fashioned chocolate. Cadbury's milk chocolate and Tesco's best white chocolate to be precise. I fill a narrow cup with pieces of chocolate and then melt them in the microwave. Then I just dip the cake pops into the chocolate and tap them on the side of the cup until the chocolate stops dripping. I do find that if you cover them in chocolate while they are frozen it sets very quickly and you haven't got the problem of your chocolate dripping everywhere.
Once they're set comes the fun part of inserting the sticks back into the sphere. This is where the cake cases came in handy as I wasn't handling the chocolate as I would without them. I started at the top and I was able to reuse many of the original holes, however as I moved lower down I had to remake a few of the holes as my cake pops were slightly bigger than I estimated. As it turned out, I used 37 cake pops to cover the sphere - so a decent amount for a party of 12.
To finish it off I poured a packet of jelly beans onto the base to cover the tissue paper and to serve as a sweet treat.
If I'd had more time I would have loved to have iced each cake with swirls of chocolate or stuck on smarties, flowers or sugar crystals. Oh the possibilities!
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