I was trying to make a slide show for the blog, with all these sweet pictures of him, but y'all? My tech-savvy must be broken this morning, because I was seriously struggling. So I finally just said screw it and decided that I would link you to my favorite Coby-centric post, because even though I wrote it two years ago, it's still true - even more so today, as he grows and matures. And if, years down the road, he reads this and wonders why I didn't love him enough to cobble together a mediocre little birthday slideshow, well ... none of his brothers have had one for the past year or two either. So, you know, everyone is even.
Coby (and practically every other little boy his age) is currently obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also obsessed with a YouTube channel called Nerdy Nummies, where a charming young lady named Rosanna Pansino (whom I suspect Coby has a bit of a crush on) whips up all kinds of fun treats based on video games and book characters and stuff. And it's where - unfortunately for me - he found this tutorial for Ninja Turtle cake pops.
He turned those huge, soulful brown eyes upon me with longing and was like, "Mommy, can I please take some of those to school to share with my class for my birthday?"
And I was all ...
Because you guys. How could I not be? Just look at this face!
So despite the fact that I had never before made cake pops, I promised to make twenty of them for his class.*
*And then I freaked out inside because OMG WHAT HAD I DONE????
Let me give you a couple of important things I learned about making cake pops, in case you, too, have a child with pleading and hypnotic eyes who sweetly begs you to make cake pops.
- I didn't use cream cheese to hold the cake balls together, like she does in the tutorial - I used frosting. (I only like cream cheese in savory applications, like crab rangoon or something.) The frosting worked just fine and was delicious.
- The fondant (for the turtles' bandannas) sounds scary but it was surprisingly, refreshingly simple to make ... and MUCH cheaper than buying it. You literally just melt mini-marshmallows with a teeny bit (I'm talking a couple of dribbles) of water and then knead it with some powdered sugar. I used this recipe ... and even though I only made a half-batch, I had leftovers. Make sure you grease every surface it touches liberally with shortening. And when you color it, use gel or paste coloring because the liquid kind changes the texture and makes it all sticky. Trust me on this one.
- I used Wilton Candy Melts in green for the coating, which apparently she uses in the tutorial. I bought one bag, and had just enough for the twenty pops.
Although where hers were nice and runny and perfect for dipping, mine were kind of the consistency of toothpaste when I melted them. So make sure you heat them slowly or they'll get stiff. You can thin it out with a bit of shortening if necessary, which it totally was for me. Keep a little bit of extra on hand because I had a couple of cake pops that cracked, and I just smoothed some extra coating over the cracks with my finger.
- I guess you could make your own eyeballs out of frosting or something, but I bought these:
Because making your own eyeballs, I'm guessing, would be ridiculously tedious. And ain't nobody got time for that ... especially when you're already making cake pops. The pre-made ones were easy and stuck to the fondant bandannas just fine, no extra adhesive needed.
- I went out and purchased special food-writing markers for the mouths. I thought they'd be perfect. But guess what? They didn't work. I guess the coating on the cake balls was too waxy or something. So I went with my emergency plan B and used a little softened butter, some powdered sugar, a couple drips of water and some black gel food coloring to make a black frosting, which I then (painstakingly, cursing under my breath the whole time) dabbed onto the cake pops in the shape of a mouth with the end of a skewer. Blah.
- Buy a cardboard cake pop stand. Seriously. They are only like two bucks but they give you a place to put them while the coating firms up. Once it's hardened, you can lay them on a tray or something without damaging them - but when they're wet, you need a place to put them. Unless you just want to stand there holding them until they harden, which I did not.
- Everything can be made in advance. I made the fondant two days before and stored it in plastic wrap in the fridge. I made the cake balls the day before, and kept those in the freezer (keeping them cold makes them MUCH easier to work with). All I had to do on Cake Pop Day was assemble them - not that it isn't a lot of work, mind you, but at least I didn't have to bake the cake and everything all at once.
I ended up making a huge mess and slightly lumpy cake pops.
But they tasted great, and most importantly, the kids LOVED them. Seriously, they freaked when I brought them into the classroom. And Coby was beaming with pride, which made up for all the work.
And the fact that my fingers, four days later, are STILL stained various colors from tinting the fondant. Which brings us to my last tip ... buy some damn latex gloves.