More Snowy Day Treats…with a twist

Last weekend we had 6-8” of snow in Virginia Beach. Yes, a bit unusual for our area. But we were sort of prepared for it. We had food, football to look forward to, and yes, we were planning to make cookie snowmen.

Until my husband announced he wanted to try to make something one of his clients had told him about.

Ben likes to cook. He fixes most of our dinners, and does a great job, by the way. But he’s not a dessert making guy. He usually buys them if we have dessert.

So when he told me he wanted to make a cake pop type treat coated in chocolate, made with his favorite Baileys Irish cream, and he was ready to actually help, well, I figured the snowman cookies could wait for another snowstorm. 

So we assembled all the ingredients, including a large bottle of Baileys, and started the process.

Actually when I think about it, this was the first time he and I had ever actually prepared something together. Meals don’t really count because we’re each making a different dish as part of the meal itself. This was a first.

And a scary one as well. After all, many years ago we’d tried working together in a business, and let’s just say that lasted about a year before he hired other people, and I went to work for a real estate company. We both want to be in charge, you see…I’m sure you understand what I’m saying.

And making a dessert together requires teamwork. Could we really do it? Without arguing?

I actually did most of the first part, which involved mixing up a yellow cake mix using package directions. After looking on-line I decided to use only half the oil called for and instead of all the water, half of that as well, along with a 1/4 cup of Baileys. Yes, I was sort of making it up as we went along.

My husband did grease the cake pans for me, and then we baked the layers, and let them cool. 

Then the true challenge began. Because Ben hadn’t gotten all the recipe details from his client, I had to improvise from recipes on line. I never do that with baking. Never.

There’s always a first.

One recipe called for 3 cups of crumbled cake, which I had him do. That wasn’t bad. But we ended up with about a cup more before we stopped crumbling. No big deal. Then it was time to add the Baileys. 

Ben said his client told him she added half a shot per cake pop, which she said were the size of golf balls. I said that was way too much. So we ended up adding almost a cup of it, and of course having to add extra cake crumbles. In between his taste testing the mixture, of course. Which he enjoyed a bit too much, I think.

Since all the recipes I found called for adding a bit of frosting to the mixture to hold it together, we did that as well. The result? A somewhat sticky mess that I made him roll into balls. Which turned out bigger than I thought they should be, but by that time, who cared?

We put them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and stuck them in the fridge to chill for an hour until it was time for the last step. 

There are several ways to melt chocolate for dipping. A lot of times I’ve used the microwave to melt candy melts for my cookies. Well, this time that was a disaster. They wouldn’t melt properly even when closely following the instructions and we ended up throwing the whole icky chunky mess in the trash can.

Fortunately Ben had bought several milk chocolate candy bars for the project, and I still had a double boiler set of pans in the cabinet. My mother had always used that for melting chocolate for fudge and frosting making, and actually it does a much better job. Of course my husband said he’d never seen one, so either he didn’t pay attention, or it’d been ages since I used one. Probably the latter!

Anyway, since the cake truffles were bigger than I’d wanted, they were a bit harder to dip properly, even with a toothpick chilled in the middle. But that was Ben’s job. The first couple of tries weren’t easy, with chocolate dripping a little too much on the wax paper. So he let them drip a few extra seconds into the double boiler top before putting them on the wax paper, where I quickly removed the toothpick and shook colored sprinkles on top. Actually, they turned out rather pretty.

But taste testing the final product had to wait until we chilled them again to make sure the chocolate hardened.

And surprisingly they weren’t bad. The texture was more truffle-like rather than cake-like because of the overpouring of the Baileys, but for a first try…fairly successful! We even shared some with friends! And they really enjoyed them as well!

And he’s already talking about how he’ll do them the NEXT TIME! 

I think we’re in trouble here….

Do you have a favorite cake pop recipe? Can you share it? I think we’re going to need it

But here’s how we did ours. I think.

  • 1 box yellow cake mix with 3 eggs and vegetable oil
  • A bottle Bailey’s Irish Cream (use to taste).
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • Chocolate bars (no nuts!)

Mix cake mix according to package directions, except use only half the oil and about half the water. We added some Baileys with the half mixture of water. Bake as directed on the box and let cool.

Crumble the cooled layers. We had about 3-4 cups of crumbs at least. Then pour in the Baileys to taste. However, don’t get the mixture too wet, unless you want to add more cake crumbs. Cream the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy and combine with the crumb mix to hold it together. I think we used more than we should, but that’s up to you.

Roll the mixture into balls. I suggest not making them as big as we did, but then again that’s your choice. Golf ball size is a bit too big, I think. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, stick a toothpick in the top of each one to make dipping easier, and chill for at least an hour so they’ll be easier to handle.

When you’re ready to finish your project, melt the chocolate bars in the top of the double boiler, stirring to make sure they’re melted well. Set up your assembly line like we did and dip each ball individually in the chocolate. Let the excess drip off and put on another cookie sheet lined with wax paper, remove the toothpick and shake the sprinkles on the wet chocolate. When you’re finished, put them back in the refrigerator to chill. Store them covered in a plastic container when you’re all done.

I have no idea how long they will last. I know we still have a few in there from last weekend but I don’t expect them to be there by the end of Sunday’s football games.

As I said earlier, how about sharing your recipes with some pictures? We can all learn about this together.

In Search of the Perfect Flavor

There are so many different styles and types and flavors of wedding cakes being used today….where do you start?

Traditionally a lot of couples still use the traditional almond flavoring, but trending today….anything goes. Just like the styles of cakes. It’s hard to say what you’ll find at any wedding you attend!

One of the most favorite parts of wedding planning for most couples, and for wedding planners, is making sure the food is perfect for the bridal couple as well as the guests.

And the most important part in that is making sure the wedding cake is exactly what the bride and groom envision…both in style and design AND flavor! Most of the couples we’ve worked with, including my daughter and future son-in-law were adamant about the flavor!

And how to be sure you’re going to like it can’t be assured unless you go cake tasting! It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, as the saying goes!

Not only do the style and design and colors on the cake have to be perfect, but it has to taste good as well! We’ve all attended those wedding in which the cake itself was beautiful, and placed on a perfect cake stand, but it was dry, too dense, the icing wasn’t good, or similar problems. It made for great pictures, but half eaten plates left at the reception tables aren’t what you want.

When Ben and I got married we asked our bake shop to make our cake chocolate, with white icing, of course. But as we cut into in, I found myself whispering “It’s not chocolate!” But that was a number of years ago!

Now wedding cakes are available in a range of different flavors, from the always popular almond to vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, key lime, hazelnut, mocha, and everything in between!

You can also add your choice of flavored fillings in between the layers, and can even use different flavors in between each layer.

So cake tasting is very important. And in most cases, even the groom comes along. After all, who can resist sampling all those goodies? And sometimes you’re actually “forced” to try out three or four different cake designers, just to be sure you have the right one! Cake tastings are not exactly what you’d think, because the bakeries usually use cupcakes in different flavors for the bride and other attendees to sample. One bakery we visited had an array of “fake” cakes to show us different styles they’d done over the years.You can also add your choice of flavored fillings in between the layers, and can even use different flavors in between each layer.

You can also add your choice of flavored fillings in between the layers, and can even use different flavors in between each layer.

One of our brides wanted cake pops rather than the traditional wedding cake. Sure, they planned to have a small one layer cake on display to cut and serve each other, but the main dessert was to be cake pops!

And not just any cake pops. She wanted cheesecake cake pops! Raspberry flavored cheesecake cake pops. Which most bakers didn’t do because of the difficulty of storage as well as getting the proper consistency.  But we found someone who said she could do it. And proceeded to set up a tasting.

And she did a great job! She suggested we not do all raspberry since there are people (our daughter who was a bridesmaid being one of them!) who actually didn’t like raspberry. Personally it’s one of my favorites!

And the cake pops were delicious, and we decided on were a combo of vanilla and raspberry. They were quite popular at the wedding, and the display was beautiful! They even added a small one layer cake that they could cut and feed each other, to keep within the age-old tradition!

Funny thing…I brought several of the pops home from the tasting and left them in the fridge for my husband and daughter to try. I hadn’t had a chance to tell her the purple ones were raspberry, and later she called me and told me how delicious those purple ones were! Go figure!

The cake tastings for Ashley and Chris were fun as well, even though the groom was out of town so her matron of honor had to fill in for him. All Chris cared about was that it was almond flavored!

Brides and grooms are also changing what they have for their cake, like our bridal couple did with the cake pops. Couples are now electing to serve cupcakes, usually in a tiered display: cookie cakes; or donuts as one couple recently did; from their favorite doughnut shop of course.

One couple even decided to have a selection of various pies, since neither of them liked cake. Another made the pies into a “cake”.

Then there’s the couple who opted for a wedding cake made from rounds of cheese accented with fresh figs and grapes, since their wedding was held at a winery!

Or there’s also ice cream cakes….

Then there’s also the “naked” wedding cake, for the couple who doesn’t like frosting. Personally I don’t understand that, but that’s not my decision

Actually it’s what the bride and groom want, because after all, it’s your wedding! You deserve to have all aspects of it perfect! And delicious….

And as an update to this blog, here’s the cake Ashley and her new husband had at their wedding. And it was delicious as well as beautiful!

P.S. Note the little fish tail at the back of the cake…just for Chris!