Grant turned six in March, and for his friend birthday party he chose a Lego theme. Thanks to Pinterest, I found a cute blog post from Living Locurto with Lego figure cake pops – you can see her instructions here. Cake pops are everywhere now, and from what I kept reading, they sounded relatively easy.
I am here to tell you – either every blogger out their is a liar, or I’m a huge failure in the kitchen. Okay, it’s most likely the latter, but still. Not easy. Or I should say, not quick. And if it’s not quick it’s not easy.
Grant’s party was at 5:00 on a Friday. My work in the kitchen began at 9:30 that morning. Armed with my iPad and the sense that I was going to do something amazing for my child, I set forth to make my cake pops and also Lego cookies (found on Cake Central) with homemade royal icing. I did fear I could end up at the grocery store later in the afternoon, ranting about the impossible standards perpetuated by food blogs and Pinterest, but as each task ended up looking more or less like the treats I was trying to recreate, my confidence soared. I was amazing, Grant would love me, and all the kids would be gushing over my perfect cake pops and impossibly smooth icing.
Shaping the Lego guy heads and carefully setting the precisely cut mini marshmallows took me about an hour. Maybe even more, though I probably shouldn’t admit that. 25 cake pops in all. Then the royal icing for the cookies (ooh, fancy!) took 12 minutes just to beat into stiff peaks, then I had to tint each one. My red ended up decidedly pink, and I knew Grant wouldn’t go for that, but then orange managed to stump me. How could I screw up orange? Yellow + red, right? Apparently there is some special ratio that I hadn’t figured out, so I just kept adding a little more yellow, then a little more red, until it’s possible my icing was more gel coloring than, well, icing.
The cake pop coating took me way too long, as well. I was trying to be a perfectionist and make the surface smooth and then I remembered the guests were kindergarteners who’d probably spend 3.8 seconds looking at their cake pops before sinking their teeth into them and destroying all evidence of my hard work. So I allowed myself to slack off a bit, and they still looked fine, which then made me mad I’d spent time trying so hard in the first place.
I eyed my drying cake pops with cautious pride. They looked… good. I was suspicious. Things were turning out too well.
Took out my black Food Writer markers and started to draw one simple Lego guy face when Grant walked in and crushed my soul.
“I wanted them to look like Lego guys,” he said.
“These ARE Lego guys, see?” I said, pointing to the little face I’d drawn.
Grant’s lip quivered. “But I wanted it to be a Lego STAR WARS party,” he said.
“Grant,” I really said, “I don’t think I have time to decorate these to look like Star Wars guys.”
“Okay,” he answered, dejected. I felt like I’d just let my kid down in some huge, monumental, unforgivable way.
Then he brought me his Lego Star Wars character encyclopedia and pointed out a creature called Ventriss. Could I draw her? Never mind I still had to clean the kitchen and, oh, get dressed.
At that time the markers quit working. Not sure if I got a bad batch, if it didn’t want to adhere to the coating, or if it was user error, but my black marker wouldn’t draw. Luckily I had a little jar of black food coloring so I ended up dipping the marker in that to try to draw the eyes and mouths. Grant even got me to draw one Ventriss (the one on the right in the first image), some Snow Troopers and some other guy who’s name escapes me. Most were basic faces, though. Grant decorated his own to look like a Sith because he was so disappointed in mine (his is the one of the left in the first photo).
My kitchen saga didn’t end until about 4:15, almost 7 hours after I began.
I may never make another cake pop as long as I live. But all that matter is that, in the end, Grant adored them, and the guests were happy with the sugary mess.
But if YOU want to step into the cake pop fray, I have some tips.
Tips for Making Cake Pops if You’re Crazy Enough to Try
– Let the cake cool completely before mixing in the frosting. The first time I made cake pops I was too impatient and didn’t let it fully cool and it was way more of a mushy mess.
– Use the whole can of frosting, or nearly so. The more playdough-like the consistency, the better. Don’t be stingy!
– Do not skip the step of putting some melted candy coating on the stick before sticking it into the cake pop. Again, the first time I made cake pops I didn’t do this and the pops just slid right off the sticks, resulting in some very inappropriate words flying out of my mouth.
– Find some low glasses to dry them in so you don’t end up with a flat spot on the back. I’ve also seen photos of people who used colanders, my sticks didn’t fit in my colander.
– If you’re slow like me, you may have to reheat the melted coating periodically so it doesn’t thicken too much. I put it back in the microwave for 15 seconds at half power when it started to be too gloppy.
– Don’t cry. You’re probably the only one who cares what the cake pops look like, anyway.