The cake pop craze is in full swing!
Cake pops have become very popular over the past couple of years, with many different designs and recipes available online and in cookbooks.
The first time I attempted cake pops, I made them by hand, which turned out to be an extremely long and messy process.
Since then, I bought the babycakes cake pop maker and tried a few recipes from "175 Best babycakes Cake Pops Recipes" by Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss, published by Robert Rose Inc.
This book not only offers a variety of sweet cake pop recipes and decorating tips, but it also provides recipes for savory appetizers, vegan and gluten free cake pops and even a dog treat recipe.
After a brief introduction, the authors offer instructions on how to use the cake pop maker.
The cake pop maker itself, also comes with a set of instructions, as well as a fork tool for testing and removing pops from the maker, a cooling rack, cake pop sticks and an injector for pops with cream inside.
First, I tried the banana nut vegan cake pops, using almond milk in place of regular cow's milk.
The pops came out so tasty that I ended up making a second batch. Everyone who tried them really liked them.
I didn't use any glaze or frosting on them, so they weren't super sweet, but they still did the trick.
One thing to note, the first time using the cake pop maker is an experiment with how much batter to place in the wells.
Too much batter will make the wells overflow, leaving you with little cake pops that resemble the planet Saturn - round, with a ring of hardened batter around them.
But filling them with too little batter results in tiny cake pops that end up dry and hard.
I found filling the wells a little more than half with batter seemed work well, and any overflow was easily brushed off around the cake pops after cooling.
I was excited to try other types of recipes in the cake pop maker besides cake, so I made the olive cheese bites, and I was pleasantly surprised.
The recipe consists of four ingredients, which made them quick and easy to make and they turned out really yummy.
They were moist, but a little bit greasy from the melted cheese.
The cheddar flavor mixed well with the green olive in the center. I made some with olives and some without, for those who aren't olive fans.
I also tried the creamy crab wonton cups, which also were really easy to make.
The wonton cups themselves were made from regular wonton wrappers, cut into four pieces, then placed in the cake pop wells for four minutes to make crispy.
I made the crab and cream cheese concoction to put inside the cups, and they made a really nice appetizer.
Make sure to serve these right away, because if you fill the cups and put them in the fridge to keep cool, the cups will get soggy and limp and they taste much better when they are crispy.
I made the olive cheese bites and crab wonton cups before I started my vegan diet, but most of the recipes in the book are easily adapted into a vegan recipe using alternative ingredients.
The authors offer a few step-by-step photo instructions on how to insert sticks into the cake pops, how to coat them with chocolate and they also show several different ways to decorate them.
"175 Best babycakes Cake Pops Recipes" is available online and at local bookstores.
It is 240 pages and retails for $24.95, according to the publisher.
Makes 1 centerpiece
Welcome spring in grand style. Whatever the event - a shower, a garden party, Easter dinner - this centerpiece of cheerful bluebirds will set the scene for spring.
Blue, green and dark chocolate candy melts
3 cake pops (any flavor)
6 yellow-candy-and-chocolate-covered sunflower seeds
Paramount Crystals or shortening
3 white jelly beans
Toasted flaked coconut
3 cake pop sticks
1 pastry bag or squeeze bottle, fitted with a fine tip
1 fine paintbrush
1 small decorative flower pot (about 2 inches in diameter)
Styrofoam block (at least 2 inches cubed)
Green paper shred
12inches green tulle (about 6 inches, cut into 4-inch lengths)
Melt 1/4 cup blue candy melts and use to attach sticks to 2 cake pops.
Freeze cake pops for at least 15 minutes to set. Reserve the remaining candy melts.
Repeat with 2 tablespoons green candy melts, attaching a stick to the remaining cake pop.
Add 1/2 cup blue candy melts to those left in the cup and melt until smooth.
Coat one of the cake pops secured with blue candy melts. Immediately hold the stick horizontally so that the melted liquid flows down to one spot on the cake pop to create the tail.
Stick a sunflower seed on the front of the cake pop to make a beak. Stick two seeds on the bottom to make feet. Set in a cake pop stand to dry. Repeat with second blue cake pop.
Reheat blue candy melts, adding more as needed. Use the pastry bag to pipe wings on the sides of the birds. Set in the stand to dry.
Melt 2 tablespoons chocolate candy melts, using Paramount Crystals or shortening to thin them. Use the paintbrush to paint dots for eyes. Set in the stand to dry.
Add 1/2 cup green candy melts to those left in the cup and melt until smooth.
Coat the remaining cake pop.
Immediately nestle jelly beans on top for the eggs, then pile coconut around the jelly beans to make a nest. Set in the stand to dry.
Measure the dimensions of the flowerpot and trim the Styrofoam to fit snugly and be about 1 inch shorter than the pot. Place Styrofoam in the pot and cover with paper shred.
Tie a length of tulle in a knot around each cake pop stick.
Slide knots up to just below cake pops. Push the cake pop sticks into the Styrofoam, arranging the birds behind and slightly higher than the nest.
Tip: For yellow birds, substitute yellow candy melts for blue. Use orange candy-and-chocolate-covered sunflower seeds for the beak and feet.
Tip: When you're coating cake pops, the candy melts need to be deep enough that you can dip the cake pops straight down into the melts. If you're only dipping a few cake pops, there will be some candy melts left over, but they can be melted again and used another time.
Thai Crab Bites
Makes 17 to 19 crab bites
Served with Wasabi Mayo Sauce, these Asian-inspired crab bites make a fantastic appetizer.
6 round buttery crackers (about 2 inches in diameter), finely crushed
2tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1 tablespoon chopped drained pimento
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger root
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crab boil or seafood seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1large egg white
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 ounces backfin (lump) crabmeat, drained and picked over to remove cartilage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Wasabi Mayo Sauce
In a large bowl, combine cracker crumbs, green onion, pimento, ginger, garlic powder, crab boil seasoning, cayenne, egg white, mayonnaise and mustard.
Gently stir in crabmeat. Season to taste with black pepper.
Using wet hands, lightly shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in panko.
Brush cake pop wells with vegetable oil. Place one crab bite in each well.
Bake for 8 minutes. Carefully place the fork tool between each crab cake and the edge of the well and gently turn the crab cake over.
Bake for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Repeat with the remaining crab mixture. Serve warm, with Wasabi Mayo Sauce.
Tip: If you don't have buttery crackers on hand, you can substitute 1/4 cup more panko bread crumbs, saltine cracker crumbs or dry bread crumbs.
Tip: You can use a 6-ounce can of lump crabmeat, drained, for the crabmeat.
Tip: In step 2, use a small scoop (one that holds about 1 tablespoon) to spoon out just the right amount of the crab mixture, then lightly shape the mixture into a ball with your hands.
Wasabi Mayo Sauce
Makes about 2/3 cup
Wasabi, a Japanese horseradish, adds great flavor to this sharp, spicy mayonnaise, which partners perfectly with Thai Crab Bites.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2tablespoons prepared wasabi paste
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger root
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight.
Tip: You can use wasabi powder instead of prepared wasabi in this recipe. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons wasabi powder and 1-1/2 tablespoons cold water until well blended.
Let stand for 10 minutes or until wasabi powder has dissolved. Proceed with the recipe.
Excerpted from 175 Best Cake Pops Recipes by Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss, 2012 Robert Rose Inc. For more information, visit www.robertrose.ca.
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.