Cooks Exchange

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like cake pops

Cake pops can be a fun Valentine’s Day treat for kids.
Cake pops can be a fun Valentine’s Day treat for kids. MCT

Red paper decorated shoe boxes trimmed with hearts and flowers served as mailboxes for that all-important school Valentine’s Day party. Now, the children bring bags full of candy, toys or unsweet treats.

Yes, Valentine’s Day is less than a week away. This year is zooming past, too.

Some parents make cupcakes or cookies, which works well for the older children. The younger set usually won’t eat a whole cupcake and need something their size.

Enter the era of cake pops. These three- or four-bite treats are just right for little hands, and the pops do not take long to make.

The pops are placed in clear or heart-patterned bags and tied with colorful ribbons. Store-bought or homemade valentines can be attached to the ribbons.

This is where the old decorated shoe box can be used today. Cut holes in the bottom of the box, just wide enough for the lollipop sticks. Place the cake pops into the small holes so pops remain upright. Little ones or their parents, grandparents or guardians proudly can carry the box to the classroom.

When it is party time, each classmate gets a cake pop with valentine attached. There is barely no fuss or mess.

Electric cake pop makers exist, but the silicone or plastic pop molds work well and are cheaper than buying an appliance. Clever gadgets are tempting but unnecessary. The pops also can be made without molds or pans, simply using a small cookie or ice cream scoop.

I like the molds because the pops can be made in different shapes, especially hearts for Valentine’s Day.

Bought cake mix, frosting and white chocolate or colored candy melts and sprinkles are the major ingredients.

Most pop recipes use crumbled cake mix and frosting to make the pops unless using an electric pop maker or a silicone baking mold. Then, the cake mixed per package directions, is poured into the maker or baking mold. Other recipes add pudding to the cake mix and a few other ingredients.

I like to use white cake mix and white frosting for the cake pops and then dip into the colored Candy Melts, but let imagination be the guide.

My granddaughter and I will be making cake pops in a heart mold, dipping them in pink Candy Melts topped with red, pink and white sprinkles for her Valentine’s party on Monday. Her party is a day ahead of Valentine’s. I prefer using a white cake mix because some classmates are allergic to chocolate. Now, Lilly would much rather have the chocolate.

I’ll share a good pop recipe from Wilton and another source.

Whenever I want to do a specialty cake, cake pop or candy, my Wilton books are my go-to guide. Tutorials and instructions also are available at www.wilton.com/ .

CandiQuik also offers a recipe for cake pop made with, what else, CandiQuik, a candy coating mix, I will share that recipe, too.

Additional items needed include foam block, lollipop sticks, cellophane treat bags, colored candy sprinkles and colorful curly ribbon.

Whatever treat is chosen for the kids, make it colorful, fun and with love. Be sure to let the children help with the treats even if it is only putting on the sprinkles. Treats mean more if the child gets to help. Don’t keep them out of the kitchen.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

WANTED: COCONUT PIE

Dottie Fleming of Bradenton, Florida, wants a good recipe for coconut pie. She saw one in the Bradenton Herald, but misplaced it.

Readers, please send me your coconut pie recipes to share with Fleming. I will publish them in the column and send her a copy by mail.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

BASIC CAKE POPS RECIPE

1/2 cup ready-to-use white decorator icing

1 package bright white Candy Melts candy

1 box favorite cake mix

1 box (3.4 ounces) instant pudding and pie mix

4 eggs

1 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch sheet pan or two 8- or 9-inch round pans with vegetable spray

In large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil; beat at medium speed with electric mixer 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes for round pans; 35-40minutes for sheet pan or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, remove from pan to cooling grid and cool completely. Divide cake in half; freeze one half for future use.

In large bowl, use hands to crumble cake until no large chunks remain. Add icing; mix with fingers until well combined. Form mixture into cake balls or use small ice cream or cookie scoop to form balls. Chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours. Melt Candy Melts per package directions. Dip sticks into melted candy and insert into cake balls; let set. Wait until candy is completely firm before dipping the pops completely in melted Candy Melts.

Makes 48 (1 tablespoon-sized) cake ball pops (each about 1 1/4-inch diameter.

Makes 24 (2 tablespoon-sized) cake ball pops (each about 1 1/2-inch diameter.

Makes 16 (3 tablespoon-sized) cake ball pops (each about 1 3/4-inch diameter.

Recipe from Wilton

NOTE: If using a silicone baking mold, pour the mixed cake mix into the mold and bake. Frost with the pops are cool.

BASIC CAKE POPS

1 box cake mix (plus ingredients for the cake mix)

1/2 cup canned or homemade frosting

2 (16 ounce) packages chocolate and/or vanilla Candiquik coating

Lollipop sticks

Styrofoam block to set cake pops in while drying; found at any craft store

Optional: Sprinkles and/or food coloring (oil or powder-based only. Found at craft or specialty baking store.)

Prepare and bake cake mix as directed on box. Allow to cool slightly, at least 30 minutes or longer if not in a hurry.

Crumble trimmed (See note) cake into a large bowl. Add frosting and mix thoroughly with hands. Chill mixture approximately 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Measure cake mixture and roll into 1-inch sized balls. Place on wax paper lined baking sheet. You may need to place the cake balls back in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, allowing them to firm up.

Insert lollipop stick into each cake ball. You can dip the lollipop stick in a small amount of coating before inserting into the cake ball if you have had issues with it falling off the stick.

Remove a few cake pops at a time to dip, storing the others in the fridge until ready.

Melt Candiquik per directions on package, being careful not to overheat. If desired, add oil or powder based food coloring, stir until blended. To dip: you can use the trap that the coating comes packaged in or a deep microwaveable bowl or a mug/cup works great.

Dip cake pops in melted Candiquik; allow excess coating to drip off (Hold at a 30-degree angle allowing the coating to drip off the bottom and not drip on the stick) by tapping the stick and place in the Styrofoam block to set.

Decorate cake pops as desired with candy coating and/or icing and sprinkles. Makes 40 cake balls.

Note: For smooth cake balls, trim off the edges and bottom of the cake. Mix crumbled cake thoroughly with frosting. For best results, use your hands to thoroughly combine the cake and frosting together.

Recipe from Candiquik

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