September 11, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Push Up Cake Pops

You guys, me and cake pops do not get along.

First, the texture: they're basically soggy cake. It's cake crumbs, mixed together with a ton of frosting. It's mushy, and not in a good way like icebox cakes.

Secondly, the taste: they're too sweet. You've already got like a 1:1 cake to frosting ration, and then you dip it white chocolate candy melts.I may have a sweet tooth, but I don't like my sweets overly sweet, you know?

Thirdly, construction: they're fussy. Remember the Mr. Potato Heads I made for baby CC's first birthday party? Remember how it took me four and a half hours just to construct 19 of them? That doesn't include baking and cooling and chilling times. First you gotta bake the cake, then you gotta let it cool, then you crumble it, then you mix the crumbs with frosting, then you shape it all into balls, then you chill it, then you dip them in candy melts- and make sure you're super gentle when tapping off the excess, or it will fall off and you have to start all over again- then you have to decorate them. No thank you please!

But what I can't deny about cake pops is the wow factor. They're adorable. And it doesn't take much decorating skill to make them look decent, either. Let's face it: Everything's cuter on a stick.
Well, I've found the solution to my cake pop dilemma: push up cake pops. They're just like the push up ice cream pops you used to get as a kid from Annie the ice cream lady, but with cake and frosting instead. They're super easy, no special skills required, totally simple to put together, and still have the wow factor of cake on a stick. Plus, they're completely self-contained (the containers come with little tops), so they're even easier to transport than cupcakes. And where cake pops are one bite of soggy cake dipped it white chocolate, these are full, satisfying portions of cake, with a much better frosting-to-cake ratio, in my opinion.

Of course, you can use as much or as little frosting as you like. You're not making weirdy moldable cake mush; no one has the right to dictate just how much frosting you use!

Unless you run out. Then you're SOL.
Obviously, these do take one special piece of equipment: the push up pop containers themselves. I dithered for a while over whether or not to buy them, as I had no clue how often- if ever!- I'd use them, and single purpose items like that always make me hesitate. But because I'm me, and I'm easily swayed by cute things, I bought them. Because LOOKIT TEH CUTE!!!

And simple, oh-so simple. You just bake the cake in a jelly roll pan (or if you're me, and don't have a suitable jelly roll pan, you bake it in regular layers then split the layers) because you want it on the thinner side. Then just use the containers themselves to cut the cake into little circles. And then this gives you cake leavings to nom upon. (I'm reeeeaaaallllly tired right now, does it show? Nah)

Then you layer: cake, frosting, cake, frosting, cake, frosting, and a cherry on top. I didn't even use a tip to pipe in the frosting because it got smushed anyway. Just put it in a zip-top bag, snipped a corner, and squished it out.

If you like more frosting-to-cake, you might want to only put 2 layers of cake in the pops. As it was, the cherries got a little squished when I put the tops on. And brought them to baby CC's 2nd birthday, because I'm consistent like that.
You can buy the containers here. This is the same brand I used, and they work great. And they have new, taller tops, so no squished cherries for you!

Chocolate Cherry Push Up Cake Pops
Yield: About 12 pops

1 recipe Devil's Food Cake, or your favorite chocolate cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)
12 maraschino cherries

Bake the cake as directed in a jelly roll pan* and allow to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting: beat the butter with electric beaters on low speed. Gradually add in the powdered sugar. Add the cherry juice and almond extract. Gradually increase the speed to high, then whip until light and fluffy. Place in a pastry bag or zip top bag, and snip the corner

Using the pop molds, cut the cooled cake into small circles. Add the first layer of cake to the mold, then pipe the frosting on top. Continue to layer with cake and frosting until you reach the top of the mold, ending with the frosting. Top with a maraschino cherry.

Tip: Place the pop molds in a piece of Styrofoam to keep them upright while frosting. I was also able to use my cooling racks to do the same.

*Or bake in regular layers, then split in half with a sharp, serrated knife after cooling

Recipe by Kim