cake ball

(Almost) Starbucks Lemon Cake Pops

Springtime. Seriously, is there anything better?

Today, I was telling a friend how a song I can’t get enough of right now (Gone Gone Gone by Phillip Phillips if you’re curious) makes me feel like it’s 75 degrees out, and like I’m driving with the windows down, hair blowing in my face, sipping an iced coffee and wearing sandals. Even though it’s still officially long-sleeves and heater on weather, I feel spring when I hear that song.

You know what else gives me that feeling? Lemon cake pops. Oh my gosh. It doesn’t matter what diet plan I’m following, Lemon Cake Pops from Starbucks are one thing I just can’t say no to. Which means every time I head to Target or my local grocery store, I end up buying a Lemon Cake Pop. See, the thing about lemon is, it truly gives me that “Windows-down, Radio-up” feeling that I love.

But I knew there had to be a way to capture that feeling at home, so I wouldn’t have to drive up to Starbucks to get one. I mean, I’m lazy, and 15 minutes is a long drive. Plus, there had to be a way to make them cheaper!

Seriously, if you’re looking for an exact duplicate, these are spot on. In fact, they may actually be even better than the real deal. So what is a lemon cake pop? Well, according to the Big Bucks themselves, it’s a vanilla white cake with lemon buttercream, dipped in white chocolate and topped with sugar sprinkles. So, to make a good duplicate, mine should be the same basic type of pop.

For the white cake base, I went with a Betty Crocker White Cake Mix, and the supplies listed on the back of the box. While yes, you could go totally homemade with a white cake, boxed cake is perfect for this recipe. It’s moist, it’s quick to prepare, and it just streamlines the process.

For the lemon buttercream, I decided to tweak things and make my favorite lemon cream cheese buttercream recipe, which uses cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and lemon and vanilla extracts.

To give the pops that signature yellow color white chocolate, instead of tinting a white chocolate, I decided to use these beautiful yellow Wilton Candy Melts! They’re the perfect color for these lemon cake pops, and they don’t require having the white chocolate and a gel color on hand.

Finish with pretty sugar sprinkles (I picked these up for $1 at Target) and you’ll be all set. If you’re making them into actual pops, you’ll want to make sure you have cake pop sticks on hand. If you’re like me and prefer to make balls, you might consider some pretty mini cupcake liners or truffle wrappers. Mine are from Wilton, and oh-so-cute!

Start by making your white cake according to package directions (or from scratch if that’s how you roll). For Betty Crocker mixes, that means 3 egg whites, 1 1/4 C water, and 1/3 C oil with the mix, baked at 350 for 29-34 minutes.

One way that white cakes get their signature white appearance is the lack of egg yolk in the batter. Yolks will tinge it slightly yellow, so pretty much all white cake mixes will use more eggs, but only the whites of each.

Once you’ve baked your cake, let it cool completely. If it’s even a little warm, the frosting will melt when mixed with it and give you mush. So patience is a virtue!

In the meantime, start your lemon cream cheese buttercream. You’ll want 1 block of room-temperature cream cheese (8 oz), 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of lemon extract. While lemon is a personal taste and you might like yours slightly more or less lemony, I’ve found that, side-by-side, 2 teaspoons tastes most comparable to the real deal when the pops are fully finished. Remember, you won’t want the lemon to overpower the vanilla of the white cake, but you will also want to make sure that the white cake doesn’t overpower the lemon. A delicate balance, for sure!

Cream this together until it’s nice and fluffy, very well whipped.

Slowly beat in 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, whipping it with a mixer until it’s perfectly creamy. This is about the look you’re going for.

When the cake is fully cooled, crumble it to bits. I mean just destroy it. Then, add in a couple of spoonfuls of the frosting. Stir and smush until it’s fully combined, then continue squishing until it combines into a thick dough, adding slightly more frosting if needed.

{Side note: You will have some leftover frosting, which you can use with additional baked cakes for more cake pops, eat it as-is, or top some cupcakes or a cake with it. Personally, I like layering crumbling graham cracker crumbs in the bottom, then cake and frosting in mini cordial glasses and serving them with a mini tasting fork for a “cake shot.” It’s a great way to use a variety of leftover frosting!)

When the dough is ready, chill it for about 15-30 minutes before rolling it into balls, then once you’ve rolled all of the dough into quarter-sized balls, go ahead and pop those in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Melt your yellow Wilton Candy Melts. I like to use a double boiler, but you can absolutely melt the candy melts in the microwave if you’d prefer.

Dip your chilled cake balls in the melted white chocolate, coating it, then removing it. If you’re making cake pops, your technique will be slightly different from mine using a fork. Place the dipped balls on parchment or waxed paper, then sprinkle with the sprinkles before the chocolate hardens.

Don’t worry, though– if the chocolate does harden, you can use drip some more chocolate on the cake ball and sprinkle after.

For a fun party display, you can put a block of foam in the base of a watering can (I got mine for $3 at Target’s One Spot), cover it in Easter grass or shredded paper, and either stick your cake pops directly into the foam, or stack your cake balls carefully. Wouldn’t that look fun as a dessert buffet centerpiece or as a delicious gift?

 

In the comments below, tell me, what makes you have that springtime feeling, even when it’s not spring yet?

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(Almost) Starbucks Peppermint Brownie Cake Balls

I did a bad thing, guys. I started rewarding Zach and I for successful shopping trips by occasionally grabbing a cake pop from Starbucks for each of us. It started out occasionally, but then we both really liked it… and it became the standard rather than the exception. And now, it seems inescapable. Every shopping trip, we’re lured in by the smell of coffee, cocoa, and pastries. And don’t even get me started on the amazing Starbucks Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops. Zach and I just can’t get enough.

However, I also realized I couldn’t always pay $3.00 for two cake pops. Especially since they’re surprisingly easy to make at home. So, after spending lots of time and money taste testing the Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops, I knew I had perfected a copycat. It took eating many, many Starbucks cake pops, though. Or, actually, it didn’t, but I really like those darn cake pops. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

The best part about the copycat recipe is it literally only costs about $0.25 per cake ball versus $1.50+ each. And it tastes almost identical. Start out with a Betty Crocker Hershey’s Premium Cupcake Mix. The mix includes a filling pouch in addition to the cake mix, and you’ll use both for this recipe, eliminating the need for extra frosting to make these cake balls. You’ll also want to grab the ingredients listed on the back of the cake mix box to make the cake, some Nestle White Morsels (or your white chocolate of choice), and the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Pieces.

Prepare the cake mix as listed on the back of the box, but instead of putting it in cupcake liners, bake it in an 8 inch round pan at 350 for about 28-30 minutes. Let it cool completely.

Once it’s totally cool, you’ll practically massacre the cake. You’re just going to dig in and shred it up really fine. It’s especially fun to do in front of those people who haven’t seen cake balls made before. It also helps to add a cackle or two as you shred it, to make people think you’ve really gone off your rocker. I did this in front of my boyfriend, and you could see him cringing over me taking a beautiful cake and shredding it to bits. He, of course, stopped protesting once he tasted the finished product. Pour in the contents of the filling pouch and mix the destroyed cake with the filling pouch.

Then, roll them into balls with a diameter roughly the size of a quarter. You’ll get about 20 cake balls out of this.

Melt your morsels in the microwave in 30 second increments, then dip your balls into the melted chocolate and tap off the excess.

While the chocolate is still a little wet, sprinkle on the Andes Peppermint Crunch bits. You’ll want it to still be a little wet so they stick, but don’t slide off. If you waited too long and the balls hardened already, don’t fret– you can spoon a little extra chocolate over the top before sprinkling on the bits!

You can, of course, serve them Starbucks-Style on a stick, but I prefer to tuck them into cupcake liners (or just eat the whole batch while I’m topping them, more often).

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never dip quite evenly enough to make them look like Starbucks does, but at least they’ll taste the same. If you happen to be a pro cake pop dipper, your friends and family will never know the difference between yours and the real deal!

 

What’s YOUR favorite coffee shop treat? Let me know in the comments below! Who knows, I may even try to duplicate it!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Truffles

I know we’re starting to get to the part of the year where everyone is saying “Pumpkin’s out! Bring on the peppermint!” However, I couldn’t resist just one more fall recipe before Thanksgiving. I kind of view Thanksgiving as that time where you transition from fall to winter. It’s like the last Hurrah for pumpkin spice lattes, caramel apple cider, and other truly fall-ish treats before they disappear and it’s all peppermint mochas and salted caramel brownies until spring.

So, think of these truffles as, like, Custer’s Last Stand, but in Pumpkin form. It’s Pumpkin’s Last Stand, and it promises to please and leave you with nothing but good pumpkin memories to get you through the sea of Winter Wonderland.

You’ll need everything pictured above, and water. I didn’t include water because I’m really hoping y’all have some on hand and I don’t have to tell you to buy it.

I’ve shared with you about this Duncan Hines mix before, but I have to share again, because, hello, it’s really awesome. See, when I went to New Jersey this year to the Duncan Hines Test Kitchen, I got the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of really great people, like Chef Joe. And while we were chatting, a lot of us were throwing some ideas out there that we’d love to see. It was dinner, and we were brainstorming. And this was one idea that I shared with Chef Joe. I told him I’d love to see a Pumpkin Spice Decadent mix come from Duncan Hines, similar to their Red Velvet Decadent Mix, the Strawberry Cheesecake mix, and the amazing chocolate Decadent Mix they’ve created. Because, y’know, I’m a huge pumpkin fan.

Chef Joe kind of looked at me like “Yeah, okay. I don’t know. Seasonal products can be hard sometimes because there’s not a ton of time that seasonal products are in stores.” My hopes were a little dashed, I suppose. Then my awesome friend Jeannie suggested that Duncan Hines do seasonal products on a shipper, which is a type of cardboard display, to make sure they have more prominence in stores. It was a great idea, but again, Chef Joe was kind of “Eh, I don’t know.”

So then, the next day, we were all getting pumped up. They were about to do a big reveal of the NEW products coming from Duncan Hines! It is always such an exciting part of our trip, to see the new products that Duncan Hines is releasing. They pulled back the curtain, and… OHMYGOSH! It was a Decadent Mix… but not just any decadent mix. It was THIS decadent mix. Pumpkin! I was dying. Then, they revealed the next seasonal product and, in the words of my dear friend Jeannie, “Dontchaknow, it was on a shipper!”

Chef Joe said it was SO hard not to tell us the night before, but he just had to wait for the big reveal! It’s the key thing that tells me they really did listen to our thoughts and advice from the previous year. I definitely get how Chef Joe said it was hard to keep it a secret, though, because then *I* had to keep it a secret from all of you until it hit stores! Crazy! In fact, I still have a few secrets that my lips are sealed on.

Anyway, just like the other Duncan Hines Decadent Mixes, this cupcake mix comes with your cupcake mix (enough for twelve), frosting mix, and a pastry bag so you can fill and decorate cupcakes easily. You’ll want to set the frosting mix and pastry bag aside for now, and grab your cupcake mix.

Mix it up according to the ingredient instructions on the back of the box, but instead of putting it in a cupcake pan…

…put it in a greased 8″ round cake pan. I used my Wilton Ultragold for this one. Bake at 350 for about 28-30 minutes, then remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.

While that cools, you’ll want to mix the frosting pouch, but you’re going to just totally disregard the package directions for this one. Take 1 block of softened Philadelphia cream cheese (8 oz) and mix it with the frosting pouch using your mixer of choice until it’s well blended and creamy. Don’t add the water or butter listed on the back of the package. It’s totally not necessary, as the cream cheese is enough, and will give it that cheesecake taste.

Once your cake is cooled, shred it to bits. I can honestly tell you, making cake pops is the easiest way to save your sanity when you have a child experiencing the terrible twos. While he is throwing a temper tantrum in the background, you can just tune him out to shredding cake instead of pulling your hair out. It’s a great way to keep that bald spot you’re getting the size it is instead of letting it get bigger. (Zach really isn’t too deep into the terrible twos, luckily, but those teeth are killing us!)

From there, you’ll mix in large spoonfuls of the frosting, stirring and rolling until your shredded cake mixture is more like a thick dough that can be rolled into balls.

Roll them into balls about quarter-sized, and then chill them for at least half an hour.

There are two ways you can finish these, both involving Wilton Candy Melts. The first way to finish them is to grab the Vanilla melts (or white, or whatever your favorite vanilla-ish dipping melt is). The second way, which will really pack in the pumpkin flavor, is to use the Pumpkin Spice Candy Melts, pictured above.

They smell so good! Go ahead and melt those in the microwave or in a double boiler the way you would typically melt chocolates. For microwave, I’ve found that trying 1 minute, stirring, and then doing additional 30 second increments if needed is an easy way to melt without scorching.

It’ll look creamy. If you used vanilla instead, it’ll look just like this, but white instead of orange.

I decided to make some of each! Dip the ball into the melts, then tap off the excess and place them on waxed paper. While they’re wet, you can sprinkle on some cute fall sprinkles!

Or, you can tint leftover vanilla melts green using Wilton gel food coloring, and use the pastry bag that came with your Duncan Hines Decadent Mix to pipe little pumpkin vines and stems onto the orange balls.

So yummy. They’re like, melt-in-your-mouth yummy.

 

How do you feel about winter flavors starting before Thanksgiving? Would you prefer to wait until after for peppermint, or do you like to bring those flavors on early? Let me know in the comments below!

Trick Or Treat: No-Bake Cookies and Creme Truffles

I know, I know, it’s only mid-September, but seriously, everyone around here is asking me what costume I’m planning to get for my little guy, and I’m thinking it’s time to get into the spirit of Halloween.

I have a confession to make, though… I’m not a huge fan of Halloween.

There, I said it. I mean, I’m not a fan of the costumes at all. Sure, I’ll take any excuse I can get to throw a fun get-together, like one of the parties featured on my blog last year (Hollywood Glam and Death By Chocolate, in case you missed them). But there is really only one part of Halloween that I actually enjoy.

The candy.

Seriously, I can’t pick a favorite! So when it came time to start thinking Halloween this year, my mind first went to the candy. And that’s why I decided, with a little nudge from the baking aisle of my local grocery store, that a little bit of fun, candy-inspired baking was in store this year!

Over the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing the logo below quite a bit, hopefully. It’s all leading up to Halloween, and giving you the best in spooky treats for your family and friends.

So, basically, look for the Trick or Treat and know you’re in for a real treat!

When it comes to candy, one of my top ten favorites is the Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme bar. Seriously, you just can’t beat how creamy it is, and I love the little bits of cookie thrown in!

So when I saw these, I couldn’t say no to letting them jump in my cart. After all, I had the perfect recipe in mind that only had three ingredients and didn’t require me actually turning on my oven, so it was really a perfect plan…

I started by dumping my cookie mix into a bowl. Seriously, doesn’t this look like it’d make the best cookies? That texture is insane! Then, I grabbed my frosting and set aside the cookie bits. After all, the mix has cookie bits, and I’m going to use that yummy topping later.

After spooning in half the jar of frosting, I made sure to really cut it into the mix. I added more frosting by the spoonful, trying to achieve something like a dough, that could be easily rolled, but wasn’t too full of frosting to where it just smushed. There’s a fine line between crumbling and smushing, so try to get that balance as best as you can.

It’ll look a little something like this.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty as you dig in and roll the mix into balls. You’ll get about 24 of the truffles from the mix.

I put them on a cookie sheet. After that, the truffles get frozen for a bit. It’ll make the chocolate solidify a little faster if they’re frozen, and keep the frosting in them from melting upon touching the warm chocolate. Freezing them for about an hour seemed to do the trick.

I grabbed some vanilla flavored candy coating and microwaved it in 30 second intervals, stirring after each set of time.

Then, I dipped! Carefully making sure to tap off all of the excess chocolate so there was just a perfect coating layer helped give them the cream look they needed.

About like that!

As soon as I set them on the parchment to set, I sprinkled them with those candy bits I set aside. BAM!

Definitely serve these super-rich puppies with some milk!

They’ll disappear quickly.

 

Now it’s your turn to tell me in the comments below: are you a fan of Halloween, or would you prefer to skip it altogether? What’s your favorite Halloween candy (or candy in general)?

 

No-Bake Cookies and Creme Truffles inspired by Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme bars

1 Package Betty Crocker Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme premium cookie mix
1 Container Betty Crocker Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme premium frosting
1 Package Vanilla Candy Coating from your favorite brand

Open frosting, setting aside topping bits for later; stir frosting thoroughly.
Pour mix and 1/2 container frosting into bowl. Continue to cut in frosting until a dry dough forms.
Shape dough into balls, setting on a cookie sheet. Freeze for approximately 1 hour.
Remove dough from freezer. Microwave candy melts until melted, stirring every 30 seconds.
Dip truffles into coating, covering them completely and tapping off the excess coating. Place on parchment and immediately sprinkle with reserved topping bits.
Let harden (or place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to speed up hardening time).
Serve with milk, optionally.

 

 

Disclaimer: The powdered cookie mix does contain eggs and, as such, the manufacturer recommends that you do not eat the mixture raw. Because these are no-bake, that’s considered “raw” and you’ll want to consume at your own risk.

 

Almond Joy to the World… the Cake Pops are here!

It never fails. In the post Halloween madness, I rifle through the candy dish only to find that the Almond Joys are gone. We have this problem every year, an Almond Joy shortage, because everyone in our family happens to love Almond Joys.

So, as I was walking through the grocery store, I saw something that made me do a serious double-take.

International Delight has come out with Almond Joy coffee creamer! I was hesitant to put it in my cart, because, come on, how often do things actually taste like the candy they’re supposed to? I’m a skeptic. But, I thought, if nothing else, this will taste pretty good in coffee.

Then, I remembered something. Miss CandiQuik wrote an awesome post about using Coffee Creamer in cake pops! Um, hello? Wouldn’t that just be perfect?

When I got home, I tasted a little bit of the coffee creamer, and I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. It literally tasted like liquid Almond Joy, and I was in heaven.

To make the cake pops, I started by baking a chocolate cake. You can totally use your favorite boxed chocolate cake mix here if you’d like, but I realized after my shopping trip that I was fresh out of chocolate cake mix (how does that even happen?!) and decided to whip up my favorite from-scratch recipe. If you’re making the cake from a box, add in 1 teaspoon of almond extract when it’s in the batter phase. If you’re making a from-scratch cake, substitute any vanilla called for with the almond extract.

To make the cake from scratch, start with 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, making sure to sift t, then add in 1 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 3/4 of a teaspoon salt. You can actually stop here, bag up the mix in an airtight baggie or container, and keep it on the shelf for up to three months, but I decided to add my liquids and bake right away. Before using the mix, I try to sift it again, which produces a lighter cake.

Once you’ve sifted your dry ingredients, stir in 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup of water, 3 eggs, and 2 teaspoons of almond extract (for a typical cake, use vanilla, but for these cake pops, almond adds that extra boost for Almond Joy flavor). Bake the cake in a 9×13 pan in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until cake is done in center and toothpick comes out clean.

Now let it cool completely, which is really, really difficult to do when you smell the cake and want to dive straight in, fork optional.

Once it’s cooled… shred the cake to bits!

This is where your Almond Joy coffee creamer comes in. Pour in as little as 1/4 cup but as much as 1/2 cup, kneading the mixture together as you go, making sure it’s moist enough to form a ball. In this step, I also added in 1 tablespoon of CocoReal to boost the coconut flavor, but that is totally optional and doesn’t affect the taste too much. Then, knead in 1/2 cup shredded coconut.

It will look a little something like this:

See all of that delightful moist cake-y coconut mixture?

Take that and roll it into balls. This is where you can take one of two paths… I rolled mine into ping-pong sized balls, which is about the size of a typical fun size Almond Joy once it’s shaped. This size is a good size, but it can actually be a little rich, so you might want to roll them about half of that size. On the plus side, you’ll get more of them, which is perfect if you’re taking the treats to neighbors and friends, or bringing them to a cookie exchange. If you’re like me, you’ll want the big pieces. It’s up to you how big you’d like to roll them.

After making sure my balls were all uniform (I live with a 12 year old… I can’t type that without snickering anymore), I rolled each of the balls into a log-like shape that resembled an Almond Joy more closely, then I pressed an almond into each one.

Pop those into the freezer for at least half an hour, but preferably a little longer than that.

Melt some milk chocolate, remove your pops from the freezer, and then dip your stick into chocolate and then stick it into the pop. If you find the chocolate is too thick for proper dipping, you can always thin it out with a little bit of coconut oil.

If any of your almonds decided to jump ship, at this point, you can drizzle a little bit of melted chocolate into the indentation and press the almond back onto the pop. That should secure it on easily.

Refrigerate or freeze those for a little longer to solidify the chocolate and make sure the sticks are secure.

Now, do the final dipping… dip each cake pop in chocolate, shake off the excess, and then let them dry completely, sticking them in the refrigerator to help speed up the process. Melt some white chocolate and tint it green (or use Nestle’s fun red and green baking bits!) and drizzle that over the top of your cake pops, if desired, to add a festive touch.

Don’t have any lollipop or cookie sticks on hand? Don’t worry… you can absolutely make these cake pops into cake bites by leaving the stick out and dipping the bits into chocolate themselves.

Serve that with a large cup of coffee using the leftover Almond Joy creamer, and you have the makings for a perfect snack.

Don’t forget to play with other flavors of International Delight liquid coffee creamer and let me know which ones you like best in your cake pops!

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Truffles

There’s something about fall that I really love… perhaps it’s the sudden influx of seasonal flavors. Think about it. Spring might bring some yellow-tinted Oreos and a little Easter candy, but summer seems to be lacking for fun seasonal flavors. Fall is the first time when all of that comes back.

These Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Truffles are packed with seasonal flavor, plus they’ve got fun fall decor. If you think cake pops are trendy, you’ll love this new twist on them!

It helps that assembly is easy!

Start by melting 1/4 cup butter (in pieces) and 1 (10 oz) bag of Jet-Puffed Mini Marshmallows over low heat in a saucepan, stirring frequently. Once melted, remove from the heat and pour in 1 box of Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix, stirring it in until the pudding mix is completely dissolved.

Fold in 5 cups of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, then let cool for about 15 minutes.

Spray your hands with some Pam and shape the mixture into small balls with a diameter about the size of a quarter. Place them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up.

Melt white chocolate chips or vanilla almond bark, letting cool slightly. Dip Rice Krispie balls into coating, making sure they’re completely coated. Top with sprinkles while still wet and set on waxed paper until firm. I chose to use Wilton sprinkles in a fun fall leaf motif! I love them!

You can also spear the finished truffles on lollipop sticks or bamboo skewers to turn these fun truffles into a pop perfect for a seasonal display. My favorite way of serving them? Fill a vase with Rice Krispies, then stick the pops into the vase.

 

Would you like more Rice Krispie fun? Stay tuned today for more Rice Krispie recipes, then check out my Rice Krispie Pinterest Board here. Don’t forget to head over to my Rice Krispie Party Post for a chance to win a Rice Krispie Prize Pack!