Monday, March 21, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Takes the Cake (Pop)!

Exciting things are happening.

The first flowers, and the first bees (!!), have made an appearance. I have a lovely spread of crocuses in the yard, ranging in color from deep purple to a lighter, bluish shade.

The shy face of this daffodil will be gloriously displayed within a few days.

My hydrangeas and lilacs are budding furiously. The columbines are unfurling all over the yard. I must have nearly 50 plants now, all from 6 little seedlings I coaxed back into living several years ago. Other nice things are happening, but one of my favorites is happening inside.

I had a great idea this morning.

I bought this metal spice rack at IKEA for $1.99 recently. I didn't intend to use it as a spice rack, but knew it would be good for something. Today I finally took off the packaging...

...and placed a plastic bag in the bottom.

I shored up the sides with moss (one medium size bag = $2) and filled the container with violas.

I love it! I have a beautiful, simple planter - container, moss, and flowers - for only $4. It makes a lovely centerpiece.

Nothing beats a cheerful table!

Maybe you noticed that St. Patrick's Day was last week. I'm Irish...I think.

Just in case, I decided to celebrate it properly, and made St. Patrick's Day-themed cake pops. They're so fun and tasty, you've got to make them! All you need is a cake, some icing, candy melts, and lollipop sticks, all easily purchased at your local grocery store.

To make it easier on myself, I bought a white cake mix and a can of vanilla frosting and tinted both green with food coloring.

I used my KitchenAid to reduce the cake to crumbs. I suppose a purist would've cut off the brown parts of the cake for an even green, but the brown and green mix made me think of mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is certainly a positive association.

Next, I mixed in half of my can of frosting and stirred until the crumbs resembled cookie batter.

Then, I rolled the batter into one inch balls and placed them carefully on wax paper.

I bought some Wilton candy melts in milk chocolate and vanilla flavors, which melt easily in the microwave. Most recipes say to mix shortening into the melted candy to make it more fluid, but I didn't have any. Canola oil is a fine substitution! Once I obtained the desired consistency, I dipped in a lollipop stick and inserted the candy-covered end into my cake balls. Easy!

I put them in the freezer for about 45 minutes. This serves two purposes: to harden the ball so that it stays on the stick, and also the cold, hard ball causes the melted candy to harden quickly, which is definitely a benefit.

When they were nice and cold, I just swirled each ball around in the melted candy until completely coated, tapped the stick to make sure the excess chocolate dripped off, and gave them a good sprinkling of green sugar.

I used a drying rack and the bottom side of a styrofoam egg carton to support the pops until they dried.
They dried within a few minutes and stored easily until the big day.

To use up the leftover icing, I made simple chocolate sandwich cookies and piped the tinted icing into the centers. YUM!

One recipe makes over 40 pops, depending on how much batter you eat beforehand! :) Cake pops are easy to make but a bit time-consuming.

It was worth it, though. DELICIOUS. Cake, icing, and a thin layer of candy? Yes, please!

These can be tailored to any holiday, of course. The possibilities are endless. I hope you give them a try!

Have a great week!

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