Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cake Pop Land Revisited

The last time I posted about cake pops, I was having issues with my cake pop maker. I couldn't get round cake pops! Well, I just wasn't ready to give up so I noodled on it a bit and had this thought: why would tons of people have no trouble getting round cake pops while a small minority just can't get round ones no matter what they do? What could be different between their cake pop makers?

My answer: how hot they get!

I figured we all had the same size holes and we were using the same recipes (as many were using the ones from the book or just using a box of cake mix). So heat seemed to be the only variable. I figured the quality control on these things can't be that great -- mine only cost $9 after all -- and, if mine wasn't heating up enough, then the cake wasn't being baked enough and it would not be done rising when I took the pops out. Plus, some of those pops did seem a bit underdone.

So I started cooking my pops longer and longer until I was cooking them 7-8 minutes instead of the recommended 5-6 minutes and - voila! -- round cake pops.

I got so excited that I went on a cake pop making spree. Whee!

I do still sometimes make them the traditional way but I mostly only do that if I'm need them in a non-round shape to make cake pop characters Such as the cute brown bears I made using directions on Bakerella's site and the polar bears I came up with when I accidentally bought Hershey's Hugs instead of Hershey's Kisses.

First it was lack of roundness, now it's oil

Since then I've run into a new problem though. It seems after a certain number of cake pops, my maker started dripping oil out the bottom. I am rather generous when I spray the Pam onto the maker and this thing is rather hard to clean so I guess oil was getting in the cracks and pooling at the bottom of the inside of the maker until it started spilling out.

For this last batch of pops, I tried spraying less on the top part (figuring gravity was dripping oil into the hinge when the top was open) but, when I picked it up just now, a bunch of greasy liquid came out of the bottom. So I've got it propped up in the sink trying to drain all the oil out of it and hoping for the best.

While finding oil over my countertops isn't fun, this problem isn't impacting the taste of the pops at least.

The next challenge - "healthy" pops

As mentioned before, one of the reason that I wanted to get a cake pop maker was to cut down on the sugar (and calories) in these things. So once I was getting round cake pops with traditional recipes, I started in on making them "healthy". Obviously a piece of cake dipped in chocolate is never going to be truly healthy but I figured I didn't want them to have 160-210 calories a piece and 12-18 g of sugar like the Starbucks ones do! Then again, I did want them to be edible.

No, let's be honest here. I wanted them to be decadent!

And, I believe I've succeeded. My friend who don't have weight problems and would eat a Starbucks cake pop in a heart beat all love mine. So do my family,  my work colleague and the kids at Mini-Mac's school. Most of them have no idea they don't have as much sugar and calories as a traditional pop.

Today I perfected my Banana Cake Pop recipe and it's as delicious as anything you'll find in a bakery. In fact, I had a few bites of a Banana Walnut muffin at Coco's today and my cake pops are better. The cake ball itself has about 35 calories and 2 g of protein. The fruit flavored recipes tend to have less protein -- I've made a "Sour Cream" Brownie and a Chocolate Peanut Butter pop that had 4 grams. 

As for sugar, it depends on what you dip it into. Dip it into a Sugar-Free chocolate and put a minimum of sprinkles on them and you can end up with a 50-60 calorie pop! Dip them in premium chocolate and cover them in sprinkles and you can add another 50 calories right there. Since I fear sugar alcohols, I tend to compromise and do 50/50 mixtures. But the part of me that hates artificial ingredients hates buying both sugar-free chocolate and Wilton Candy Melts, which means mostly I use premium chocolate bars and just suck it up.

But without the coating, the Banana Cake Pops have 2 grams of sugar and even full-chocolate dips and tons of sprinkles only adds about 4 grams more. (Around half of the calories in chocolate comes from the fat.)

At this point, I know some of you are clamoring for recipes. I'm going to post a series of them and also do a post about how to substitute successfully in baking as over the past three years, I've learned at lot.
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