I have to confess, I don’t really like cooking with my children. I am not at all a neat freak in my daily life, but something about the mess makes me twitch. Perhaps it’s because my children are still of a young enough age that I am cleaning up after them a lot of the time as it is. The thought of allowing them to deliberately make a mess that I know makes more work for me is hard to reconcile. But I also know that I just have to get over it. Not only does it provide a great activity for housebound children, it is a great learning experience and teaches them so much about the food they eat and the effort it takes to make it. And when I let go of my hangups, seeing them get down and dirty with the ingredients is actually a lot of fun for me too. Little kids love to make a mess and the joy on their faces is priceless.
This really isn’t so much a recipe as a project suggestion. It was really fun, especially as I had the kids help me pick out the supplies at the craft store. Then we came home and I let them get their hands right into the bowl, crumbling the cake and mooshing it up with frosting to make it dense and truffle-like. Rolling the dough into balls was a lot like playing with play-doh and they had a blast. And licking their hands off at the end was an added bonus. I couldn’t let go of my hangups quite enough to let them dip the cake balls into the melted candy coating, as that would have been just disastrous. But I did let them play with the sprinkles, lightly sprinkling some of the pops and dipping others right into the sprinkles for full coverage.
I don’t take any credit for this idea. If you have your finger on the pulse of the foodblogging world, you have probably seen cake pops all over the place. There is even a whole cookbook devoted to them by Bakerella, and she and many other bloggers are far more creative with them than I. Mine were simple, but they were really fun and my kids love them. I found some great step-by-step instructions from Recipe Rhapsody.
I simply used some leftover cake and icing I had in the freezer from several birthdays. My cakes often peak at the top so before decorating them, I slice off the tops to create an even surface. But frugal girl that I am, I am loathe to throw away those bits of cake and have been collecting them in a bag in the freezer, not knowing what the heck I was going to do with them. Well, now I have a fantastic, fun use for leftover cake. But even if you have to make a cake from scratch for this, it’s a great activity that your kids will enjoy.
Valentine’s Cake Pops
Cake equivalent to two 9-inch round layers (from a box, from scratch, or from leftover pieces, whatever you’ve got!)
1/2 – 1 cup frosting of any sort
2 14oz bags of candy melts (we used red and white, and then mixed the two to get pink)
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, crumble cake with your hands into fine crumbs. Stir in half the frosting and mix with your hands, squeezing to create a truffle-like consistency. Add more frosting as needed, you want it to be quite dense and hold together well.
Roll into 1-inch balls and place on prepared cookie sheet. Freeze for at least one hour.
Melt candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl according to package directions. Working with a few balls at a time, dip the end of each lollipop stick into candy coating and then insert into the flat side of the cake ball, about halfway in (the balls will be slightly flattened where they were resting on the cookie sheet).
Insert each ball into melted coating, turning and swirling to coat fully. Tap lollipop stick gently against side of bowl to remove excess coating. Immediately drizzle with sprinkles or dip into a bowl of sprinkles to cover fully. Because the balls are frozen, the coating begins to set quickly so be sure to add the sprinkles to each cake pop right after coating it.
Set the end of each cake pop into the styrofoam block to allow it to set.
1. If your cake balls are becoming warm and getting too soft, pop them back into the freezer. I found it was best to simply leave the whole baking sheet in the freezer, only taking out 6 or 7 at a time to dip.
2. The candy melts can be reheated if the the coating is getting too hard to work with. I did only half a bag or so at a time.
3. We did different colours at a time, first working with white, then red, then mixing the two together to get pink, so we could have pops of different colours.
Makes 40-50 cake pops. The recipe could easily be halved.