Every year when the kids’ birthdays roll around, my wife Carol tries something different to celebrate. As a creative director, she is, well, pretty creative, so I’m always expecting something new & exciting. This year she decided to try her hand at making cake pops.
Cake pops have been “all the rage” ever since Angie Dudley of Bakerella fame published her recent book. Although Angie forms her pops from crumbled cake, Carol decided to try baking them from a set of Bake Pop trays. Carol also wanted her pops to have a soft exterior coating of frosting, rather than the harder candy melt surface that Angie suggests. Either way, cake pops are all about the decorating, and, as you can see from our photo above, anything goes!
You will need…
- cake mix
- bake pop tray or baking pan
- candy melts and your favorite frostings
- lollipop sticks
- piping bag & tips
- sprinkles, nonpareils, etc. (for decorating)
- styrofoam board (for drying)
Bake cake mix in bake pop trays. Allow to cool. Remove pops from tray.
Place candy melts in narrow microwave-safe bowl and melt in microwave, per candy melt package directions.
Dip lollipop stick approximately 1/2″ into melted candy. Next, insert stick halfway into cake pop. Place pop on small baking sheet or plate. Repeat with remaining pops.
Place pops in freezer for 15 minutes to secure lollipop stick.
Place frosting in narrow microwave-safe bowl and microwave one minute. Tint if desired. Stir. Repeat until frosting is thinned enough for dipping. (Do not overheat or frosting may break down.)
Dip cake pops fully into melted frosting and allow excess to drip away.
Insert stick end of cake pops into styrofoam board to dry. Once the pops have dried, decorate as desired.
For more cake pop tips & methods check out Bakerella’s “how to” video.
Have you noticed? Cupcakes are all the rage. So many flavors, so many frostings, so many toppings, and so many sizes! Cupcakes have become a whimsical replacement for traditional desserts. I remember when they were just a simple treat to send to school for kids’ birthdays—now they pop up all over, even at wedding receptions!
For those in the Connecticut area, I have started a cupcake venture, Cupcakes for a Cause. Part of the proceeds are donated to a local animal shelter. Visit my website and see my limited holiday flavors!! www.cupcakecause.com
Showcased in the above photo is one of my offerings – Cup o’ Joe (developed in honor of my A LA CARTE partner, Joe, who makes the best coffee in town!) It is a rich Espresso Cupcake topped with Mocha Buttercream, then sprinkled with chopped candied coffee beans & ground cinnamon.
These Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting & Holiday Sprinkles are made from Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting. I added 3 tablespoons Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder to the cake batter for added chocolate flavor. The cupcakes taste great, but also look great thanks to the beautiful cupcake liners.
As a props stylist, I am sometimes stopped dead in my tracks when I discover a new product that I could only have dreamed of in years past. While other people may be excited by, say, advances in technology or medical science, I get excited when I see products perfect for photo shoot propping, and I am always on the lookout. Colorful straws that bend, square plates, tiny glass Christmas balls in unusual colors…well, you get the idea.
Cupcakes have always been hard to shoot because the see-thru thin paper liners were so unattractive that they ruined the shot. The foil liners were a bit better, but not by much. (Seriously, I have been known to handpaint cupcake liners because what we needed for a shoot simply did not exist.) For many years, cupcakes were pretty, cupcake liners were not. It was common knowledge. At least in my world.
Therefore, I was recently blown away when I came across Reynolds’ line of decorative foil cupcake liners that change seasonally. The red and green ribbon swirl pattern practically jumped off the shelf as I browsed the baking aisle of my grocery store. The liners are paper on the outside and foil on the inside. They hold their color and their shape; in fact, you do not even need a cupcake tin to use them. Pretty & practical…now that’s genius.
Oh, what a whirl! Or should I say swirl? Swirls do come to mind when I think of “Sweet Indulgences”, a new dessert shoppe in Dumont, New Jersey. The shoppe’s owners, Gwynn Galvin and Bryan Mueller, are a mother/son team
Peanut Butter Perfection
who have combined their talents to create amazing treats with an innovative twist. Cheesecakes and cheesecake cupcakes in a variety of whimsical flavors—Cup o’ Cappuccino, Brownie Delight, & Apple Cinnamon Sensation—are their specialty. To give you an idea of how wonderful they are, the Brownie Delight features a dark chocolate crust with luscious brownie bits baked into the batter with a topping of brownie chunks, fudge and a white chocolate drizzle. Need I say more?!
Other desserts include cupcakes in fun flavors such as Bubble Gum and Cotton Candy, as well traditional favorites such as Red Velvet (pictured below). The shoppe also offers an Indulgence of the Week, and proceeds from its sales are donated to charity. Now that’s a guilt-free dessert!
Gwynn has an extensive culinary background and is currently test kitchen director for Woman’s World Magazine. Bryan has a marketing and PR background specializing in food accounts. As a food stylist, I have worked with Gwynn for many years and I can say first-hand (or should I say first bite) that this team’s “sweet indulgences” are not to be missed!
If you are in the NY/NJ area, you can visit Gwynn and Bryan’s shoppe at 120B West Shore Ave. in Dumont, New Jersey (201) 384-CAKE. You may also visit them on the web at SweetIndulgencesNJ.com or become a fan of Sweet Indulgences on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook/SweetindulgencesNJ.
Frosted cupcakes piled high with coconut chips. Yes, coconut chips!! I came across them at a food show and thought they would make a beautiful complement to chocolate cupcakes frosted with vanilla buttercream.
We shot this cupcake at the studio one day, and it has become one of our all-time favorite shots. To make a more dramatic presentation, I used a Texas-size cupcake pan lined with extra-large paper liners. (A standard cake mix will make 10 to 12 cupcakes.) I frosted the cupcakes with a rich vanilla buttercream. To give the coconut a hint of color and to bring out its flavor, I very lightly toasted the coconut chips. (Place them in single layer on a baking sheet, and toast in 275° oven for about 5 minutes.)
The best coconut chips are just pure dried coconut—organic, unsweetened and sulfite-free. You can eat them straight from the package, add them to your favorite trail mix, stir them into a fruit salad—be creative! Coconut chips may be a little harder to find than shredded coconut, but they are certainly worth the search. I found them at Trader Joes, and they are also available at natural food markets. Or, you can order them online. Here are a few online resources: Tropical Traditions, Nuts Online, or Melissa’s.
as photographed by our team, alacartepartners