{cake} POP there goes my <3.

OK.  Cake pops are not hard.  YAY!

I’m pretty sure the reason so many people don’t bake is because they’re afraid of it.  Everyone hoots and hollers that baking is a science and it has to be ridiculously precise— which in some recipes this is true.  I mean ladies and gents let’s just not let a chocolate souffle be our first fight in the ring and we’ll be good.  Don’t get me wrong, you may come out with war paint (i.e., flour, cocoa, burnt oven mittens) here and there and all over you and your kitchen but when it’s all said and done, by golly you’re gonna have something to show for it!

So, let us all take a deep breath & I shall give us a few tips to help us in the kitchen:

1. Read the recipe (ingredients and directions) prior to beginning the baking process.  Sometimes need room temperature butter, or your mixture has to sit in the fridge for X number of hours, etc.  You want to know these things so you can plan accordingly.

2. Preheat the oven!  You usually don’t want batters sitting out in the pan for any extended period of time before it has to go in the oven (unless otherwise directed).  Preheat your oven so you can pop that sucker in the oven and it can begin baking right away.

3. If it says use softened butter, use softened butter.  This is a common mistake I used to make when I first started baking.  If the recipe says melt the butter- melt it.  Room temperature butter- let it sit on the counter until is soft enough to spread.  Cold butter- make sure it’s ice-cold.  There is a reason for these temperature variations.  The warmer the butter, the chewier the item; the colder the butter, the fluffier item; so, depending on what you’re baking the directions will vary.

4. Spray the baking pan ONLY when directed.  Again, another mistake I made too many times when I began baking.  Naturally, we want to be double sure the cookies don’t stick, so we spray our baking sheets.  Not a good idea if it’s not in the directions, for 2 reasons: 1) if the directions don’t say to spray the pan, that means there is enough butter/shortening in the batter that is going to keep it from sticking.  You risk overcooking the bottom of the cookie and it being underdone on top if you double-time the oil.  2) you could ruin your baking sheets (especially the non-stick pans).  The cooking spray bakes onto the pans, so if you do this repeatedly you’ll have cooked Pam on your pretty pans.

5.  Invest in an apron- I have no research to support this claim; however, I believe that if people see you in an apron they take you more seriously, and in turn think that the food is all the more amazing.  People will think, “Hm, this cupcake is a bit dry (as they struggle to swallow it), but I guess it’s supposed to taste like this.  I mean look at her… look at that apron.” <— Seriously.

I hope these little tips help you in some form or fashion as you brave the kitchen and concoct something delicious!  This recipe is SO EASY.  Seriously.  And cake pops are so impressive… Deliver them in an apron and people won’t know what hit them.

 Cake Pops:

1 box cake mix, prepared and baked as directed on the box

1/2 cup frosting (your choice… whatever goes best with the cake)

1 lb. melting chocolate (milk or white chocolate)

18-20 pop sticks

Makes 18-20 cake pops

***Some flavors that are good: Strawberry Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting; Yellow Cake w/ Chocolate Frosting; Chocolate Cake w/ Peanut Butter Frosting***

Ooooook.  Let’s get this party started.

So you have your baked cake and your frosting.  They are about to become the bestest of friends.  First, grab a large mixing bowl for your cake crumbles.  Just take chunks of cake at a time and crumble them into the bowl.  You want pretty fine crumbs, nothing too chunky.  Next take the 1/2 cup of frosting and plop it in the cake crumb bowl and stir.  This part is kind of awkward because the frosting stays in like one spot; therefore, use the best pair of utensils— your (clean) hands to combine the mixture.  You want the cake & frosting mixture well incorporated.

Once everything is nice and happy and mixed it’s time to tackle the formation of these delectable treats.  Have a 9×13 pan out and lined with wax paper to put the pops on.  Then, I use a heaping tablespoon amount of the mixture per cake pop.  So, get a little more than a tablespoon in your hand and tightly form in into a ball… repeat until the mixture is gone, placing the cake balls on the lined sheet.  Once they are all formed, put the pan of cake balls in the freezer for 1 hour.

Tick, tock.

Ok, so an hour has gone by and it’s time for the chocolate.  Melt approximately 1 ounce (or one square) of chocolate in a glass measuring cup or bowl (use the directions for melting that’s on the package… these things vary).  Remove the cake balls from the freezer and get your pop sticks ready.  Next, you are going to dip the end of the pop stick in the melted chocolate, then stick that in the cake… One step closer to a cake pop!  Repeat with all of the pop sticks.  Put the cake pops back in the freezer for another hour to set.

Last step! See it’s not hard, just takes some time.

Here we go.  Time to melt the rest of the chocolate in the microwave.  Get a bowl that is narrow and deep or a microwavable cup to melt the chocolate in, this will make it easier to coat the cake pops in the chocolate.  Take the cake pops out of the freezer and get ready to dunk.  Dip the cake pop in the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off, and then place it back on the pan.  (If you want sprinkles on the cake pops, sprinkle immediately after the dunk because the chocolate hardens quickly).  Repeat with all of the pops.  If you notice that the chocolate is getting too cool to dip the cake pops in put the container back in the microwave for 30 second increments.

Once you have dunked and dipped and sprinkled and tasted =) you can store the cake pops in the fridge to stay cool.

Enjoy friends,

Girl Gone Nom


Strawberry Cupcakes

I can just bake to bake.  I don’t need to eat it, I’m not always tempted by the sweet treats, and no- I don’t always lick the bowl.  For me, the thrill is in the preparation and baking process.  And of course, giving the food to someone who really appreciates it.  Each time I preheat my oven, it’s like I’m on my very own Cupcake Wars or Chopped… Attempting to bake in the most efficient and most delicious manner.

“Now back to you, Alton!”

It’s funny too because the people around me also take on roles in the baking process.  For example, my mother, Therese, says she is my sous chef.  She’s always one step behind me, whether it’s washing a bowl, grabbing the next ingredient, or prepping the baking pans.  And then there’s Al, she usually pretends to be Giada De Lautreniis- who takes abnormally large bites of food, or Candice Nelson- who eats the tiniest bit of a cupcake.

SN: Really Candice,  that bite of the cupcake was like the size of my pinky nail.  I bet you don’t even know what it tastes like.

Recently I have been baking for wedding showers, birthday celebrations, and so fourth.  Mom, Al, and my oldest sister Steph all helped me with my most recent orders- really couldn’t have done it without them!  Something these ladies all have in common, besides helping me bake, is they are all wonderful moms.  Our mother of course, is great.  I love her so much, she’s my sous chef, my thrift store partner, the best Nana T to my doggy Tucker, and the most wonderful example of a godly wife and mother.  Then Steph, who Cole and Hayden adore, is so good at being a mom.  She’s the funniest, coolest, hottest mom in their neighborhood for sure.  And Al, who hasn’t even got to hold her most precious Ruby Lynn in her arms yet, but I know will be so good to her.

So today, I want to celebrate each of these beautiful women in my life.  If I am half the wife and mother as you guys, I think I’ll be okay :).

Strawberry Cupcakes:

1 box white cake mix

3 egg whites

1 cup frozen strawberries (with juice), thawed

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Makes 18-20 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl combine cake mix, egg whites, and vegetable oil.  Mix this on medium speed for about 30 seconds.  When that is combined add the strawberries and increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 3 minutes.

In lined cupcake pans, put 1/2 cup of the cake batter in each cupcake liner.  Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezey!

I top the cupcakes with cream homemade cheese frosting.  But you can use whatever frosting you like!

Happy Baking!

Girl Gone Nom