A really strict one that forbids me to eat a lot of things including dairy and starch. So I've been avoiding baking.
But... If you have a needy, spoiled little sister who smiles up to you like a lost kitty cat and asks for Red Velvet cupcakes, well, you turn around and say "Cake pops na lang?"
I first heard/saw cake pops from my talented friend A. I've always thought the cake pops I kept seeing are just round balls of cake dipped in chocolate, but boy was I wrong.
It's actually regular cake that's crumbled, and MIXED with the frosting, rolled in balls, THEN coated in chocolate.
My eyes just got wider and wider when A educated me (also, my arteries were constricting).
Anyway, I used my 3 year old altered Cakeman Raven recipe as a base: Southern Red Velvet Cake and altered it further to account for the sweetness of the frosting (I'm not a fan of desserts that are too sweet).
Ingredients for the cake:
Vegetable Oil for the Pans
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup white sugar (original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (original recipe calls for fine salt but I don't have that - don't use iodized salt!)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups canola oil (regular vegetable oil will do)
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (substitute recipe below)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (The 1 ounce McCormick food coloring will do)
1 teaspoon white vinegar (important to counteract bitterness in food coloring)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (in my case I used 1/4 vanilla bean because I didn't have any extract)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 packs 225 grams cream cheese, softened
1 250 grams unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar (original recipe called for 4 cups!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (in my case I used 1/4 vanilla bean)
White chocolate block (500 g)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil and flour a 9 inch round cake pan. I used a springform pan.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. If you're using fine salt you can sift it with the dry ingredients, otherwise include in the liquid to melt properly. If you don't, someone will get a nasty-salty surprise later on.
If you don't have buttermilk:
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
~1 Cup of full cream milk (no low-fat, no skim-milk, no excuses)
In a measuring cup, add the vinegar and top off with the milk. Leave around 10 minutes to slightly curdle and you have buttermilk substitute!
Using a standing mixer or your wonderful hands + whisk, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed. Don't over beat or you'll get a tough cake.
Place the pan in the middle part of the oven. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry (about 30 minutes).
Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate and then re-invert onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely. And I mean COMPLETELY. This needs to be cool so as not to melt the frosting later.
While the cake is baking, start on the frosting:
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or your wonderful hands + whisk (prepare your muscles!!) mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 - 7 minutes. Make sure you mix all and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low when adding the vanilla. After it's incorporated you can increase the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy. You can store in refrigerator until slightly stiff before using (so it won't melt during the next steps!).
This maybe too much frosting for you so adjust as necessary but.... :D it's just enough for me!
Once both the cake and frosting are cool, crumble a portion of the cake and mix with some frosting. Taste it at this point to make sure you're happy with the amount of sugar. If you'd like it sweeter, you can bring the frosting to room temp again and add confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. *Note - the chocolate will make it much sweeter later on so be careful!
Once you're happy with the sweetness, mix it all together and roll into 1- 1 and 1/2 inch diameter balls. If it's too sticky, try to stick it into the refrigerator for a bit (around 30 minutes) to firm up. After completing all the balls, pop them in the fridge.
While it's cooling in the refrigerator, melt your chocolate dip.
In this instance, I'm using a white chocolate block (500 g) from Bakers depot.
Give the chocolate a rough chop (it looks like tofu!)
Once chopped up small, put half of the chocolate into a bowl and stick it into the microwave for 10 seconds at a time. After the 10 second buzz, stir it to help even out the melting. Do this 3x - 5x more, adding the remaining chocolate 1/4 cup at a time.
It would look like nothings happening at first, but don't fret and don't be tempted to do the full 50 seconds in one go. It'll ruin the chocolate if it gets too hot.
P.S. If your chocolate is too thick, try to add 1 tsp of vegetable oil at a time to make it smoother.
Take the cakes out of the refrigerator to start dipping.
Get your sticks (in my case I'm using paper straws since I couldn't find lollipop sticks on short notice) and dip them in the chocolate. After this, stick in the cake balls and let it set while you do the others. Gently dip into the melted chocolate. (If your chocolate gets too thick, buzz it in the microwave again for 10 secs).
If the entire ball isn't covered, don't swish it around or you risk breaking them. Just use a spoon/spatula to gently spoon more chocolate to cover the top.
To get perfectly round ones, stand the finished cake pop vertically in any styro (I was lazy, I just placed mine on a plate - if you do this make sure you put wax paper underneath!)
After the initial taste test, the sweetness was on the spot, however the white chocolate I bought was too sweet and overpowered the cake after dipping. I'll need to re-adjust this for next time and make the balls smaller to really look like the regular cake pops.
If you'd like to learn more about Cake Pops, visit "Bakerella" (the creator's) blog.
Yields ~ 30 giant pops.
p.s. I like cooking savory food than baking.