Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cake Pop Winter Wonderland

I am a little lacking in the christmas spirit this year. I have no clue why, but it just doesn't feel christmas-y around here. I have the tree up, the candles burning bright, the oven is churning out goodies, Vince Guaraldi is playing on loop, and yet it is still not sinking in.  Perhaps thats how I ended up with pink and silver holly and christmas trees...

Maybe all I need is some snow, but the forecast here in Chicago is not cooperating with me on that front. From the looks of these pictures I took matters into my own hands and made myself a little snowy wonderland filled with cotton candy pink and shiny silver christmas trees. It seems as though I am only a few years away from a little christmas village taking over half of my living room. 
Thats not good. 

I figured since I was using gingerbread cake, that I should probably make some gingerbread people. I must say I had trouble deciding which would be less vulgar, to put the sticks in their heads or up their butts...heads it is. Now they look like a cross between the Michelin man and a tele-tubbie. Either way, they were tasty little buggars. 

Oh I also decided to go the more traditional route and make some green and red ones. 

But we can all agree the glittery pink disco trees are way more fun right?


Gingerbread Cake Pops with Caramel Buttercream
adapted from La Cuisine d'Helene
makes 2 - 9 inch cake layers

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted then brought to room temperature
3/4 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whole milk

Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and ginger.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the molasses, sugar, and butter until well combined. Add the egg, and beat until combined.

Slowly beat in the milk and buttermilk. It will look like it has curdled, but don't worry, this is supposed to happen. It will fix itself when you add the dry ingredients.

In a few additions, beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Mix until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a baking rack and cool completely.

Italian Meringue Buttercream

4 oz egg whites
8 oz granulated sugar
2 oz water
12 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup caramel sauce, room temperature

Place your egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

Heat the sugar and water in a small sauce pan over high heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring the sugar to a boil and continue cooking until it reaches 230 degrees F. When it hits that temperature, turn your stand mixer to medium to begin mixing the egg whites until they are foamy. When the temperature hits 240 F, remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg whites on a medium speed. As soon as all of the sugar is in, turn the mixer to medium high and mix until the meringue is cool to touch. Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time and whip until thick, which may take a few minutes. Pour in the caramel sauce and mix until combined. 

Cake Pop Assembly

To make the cake pops, see my original post HERE on their assembly. For the Christmas tree and holly shapes, I pushed the cake dough into a mini cookie cutter and then gently pushed it out. There is enough butter in the frosting to make this quite easy and not sticky at all.  Once the shapes are formed, chill them and proceed as you normally would for round cake pops. 

Happy holidays, whatever color your trees happen to be this year. 

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