springtime

Top 10 Can’t Miss Books for Spring

It’s spring! Finally. As Easter approaches, I’m sure many of you are looking for a great book to start the conversation about spring, or perhaps a treasure to ask the Easter Bunny to bring. All of these books on my top ten are perfect choices for your children. I’ve made sure to list the age range for books so you’ll know you’re getting the perfect picks whether you have a toddler, a teen, or something in between. I also have provided an affiliate link to the product on Amazon. While you should never feel obligated to purchase from one of my affiliate links, doing so is a great way to support DigitalEraMom.com!

Without further ado, here are 10 books you don’t want to miss this spring!

10. It’s Spring by Linda Glaser

This book is perfect for preschool through the middle elementary years.

This book is worth buying for the illustrations alone, which use hand painting and paper sculpture to convey the message. The lovely part is that this book is just one of a four-book season series, so if it becomes a favorite, of course, as spring dwindles, you can always switch to the summer book as well. This is a story about a child observing how spring arrives, and shows the animals, plants, and changes that occur during the spring months. The pictures bring the season to live, and it’s a great jump start to the season.

Purchase it here: It’s Spring

9. Little Seeds by Charles Ghigna

This book is a great pick for 2-4 year olds!

A beautiful springy book with bright colors and beautiful images, it’s a great way to teach all about planting flowers and the importance to them. It’s filled with beautiful colors that are perfect after cold and sad winter time, and it’s a fun poem, too! Definitely worth a read!

Get it here: Little Seeds (My Little Planet)

8. The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

This book is a perfect book for preschoolers on up!

I think Eric Carle is really one of the first authors that readers grow up knowing. He’s an amazing author with very fun illustrations, and it’s always nice to see something special from him besides the Very Hungry Caterpillar we all know and love. This sweet book is a great tale about the life cycle of a flower, and the best part is that it comes with a piece of paper embedded with seeds that can be planted, so you can watch it grow into wildflowers, really helping ingrain the principles taught in the book! What better way to learn hands-on than to read this book and plant the paper inside? The book starts talking about how things happen to seeds, like being trampled on or eaten by birds, so it might be a little sensitive for some young readers, but otherwise, you’ll find yourself cheering for the Tiny Seed as he makes his journey to flowerhood!

Get it here: The Tiny Seed (The World of Eric Carle)

7. The Listening Walk by Paul Showers

This book would be good to introduce in preschool, but has great messages that even early elementary kids can grow with.

This book is a fantastic story all about listening to the sounds of nature. Revised from a 1961 classic, this story is all about a father and child listening to the sounds of what nature has to hold while going on a walk. It’s a great book to inspire a listening walk of your own! The value of this book extends far beyond the actual pages, because it helps kids tune into the sounds around them, be more aware of the subtle things in their surroundings, and listen to the amazing things that they encounter on the way.

You can buy it here: The Listening Walk

6. The Best Bike Ride Ever by James Proimos

This book is good for ages 3 and up, but especially perfect for a beginning bike rider!

This is a newer book that is definitely perfect for spring. Bonnie, the main character, begs and begs for a bike, and her parents finally surprise her with one! She
goes on an epic bike ride, over mountains, under animals, past major landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. However, Bonnie realizes she never learned one important bike riding lesson– how to stop! When she takes a big tumble and learns a great lesson from her parents, Bonnie is back on the bike and ready for more adventure.

Find it here: The Best Bike Ride Ever

5. Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Sidals

This book is great for ages 3 and up!

This is a fantastic (and rhyming) way to teach kids great things to add to a compost pile! Suggestions include eggshells, grass clippings, insects, and more, which will easily get kids learning more about Composting and creating very rich soil for a garden. What better book for springtime than one that rhymes AND acts as a recipe to create a perfect batch of compost!

You can purchase a copy here: Compost Stew

4. Duck and Goose: Here Comes the Easter Bunny by Tad Hills

This book is my top pick for toddlers and preschoolers.

What list of mine would be complete without a touch of Duck and Goose, right? I love these delightful, colorful, very silly board books that are so simple but very educational and happy. It’s so fun to watch Duck and Goose hide and wait for the Easter Bunny to arrive, and perhaps an inspiration to play a hiding game of your own. It’s a great pick for toddlers during the Easter season!

Buy it here: Duck & Goose, Here Comes the Easter Bunny!

3. Ducks In Muck by Lori Haskins

This is perfect for babies and older, and a great pick for a new reader.

Starting as an easy read to even the youngest children, it’s a great first-reader that will grow with them. I remember this book being a favorite of my little brother when he was young, and I enjoy reading it because it’s just so catchy– ducks in trucks, trucks stuck in muck, and you find yourself wondering if the ducks, and the trucks, will ever get out of being stuck in the muck! It’s a fun read with rhyming words that really helps motivate young readers to step into reading. A fun bedtime story, this is a great springtime story that turns into a year-round favorite.

You can get this title here: Ducks in Muck (Step into Reading, Step 1)

2. Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

This is a good pick for 4th-7th graders, but even adults will get a lot out of it.

Another favorite from my childhood, this book is best geared at a slightly older crowd. A chapter book that would be a quick read for advanced readers, it may take a few days to get through, but it’s a great book about diversity, gardening, and the love that even strangers can grow for each other through a common interest. This book weaves together short stories, each narrated by a different character but with all of the characters woven through the book, of people living near each other and turning a vacant lot filled with garbage into a thriving community garden. People from so many different cultures, backgrounds, and stages in life all come together over a common interest, and that’s something worth reading.

You can snag this one here: Seedfolks

1. Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

This is a good pick for kindergartners and older.

This is easily one of my favorite books from my own childhood and ranks in my top ten. As thunder starts to boom nearby, a grandmother comforts her granddaughter by helping her gather the ingredients for a special cake called Thunder Cake. Living in the great plains, storms were a part of Spring every year of my childhood, and they still are. While I still long to make an actual Thunder Cake just like the one described in the book (and yes, the recipe is given!), the story itself is rich and helps quell fears of storms. I look forward to when Zach is old enough to enjoy this treasure with me, whether or not he has a fear of storms.

You can buy a copy here: Thunder Cake

 

Obviously, some of my favorite picks on this list are the books that inspire more than just a story time together, but instead, give practical applications that extend past the story once the book is over. Books like Compost Stew, Thunder Cake, and the Listening Walk can get you engaged to do activities of your very own, getting kids active, exploring, and learning this spring and for many spring seasons to come.

 

What is your favorite book for the spring season, for any age group? Do you think the Easter bunny will bring a book for your little one this year?

Advertisements

How to Make Fruit Stripe Cupcakes

Remember that pack of gum that you always begged your parents to buy you, the Fruit Stripe kind with the Zebra on the package and the tongue tattoos? Even though the flavor faded within the first 30 seconds, it was the coolest gum ever. It didn’t matter if it ended up flavorless by the end, as long as you had the tongue tattoos and the Zebra to get you by.

Yeah, these cupcakes are kind of like that, except the flavor doesn’t fade at all. Packed with stripes of fruity flavor, these have all of the nostalgia of the zebra stripes, with none of the downsides. Sadly, tongue tattoos are not included.

I’m going to say right off the bat, this isn’t a recipe. You can do this with literally any cake mix you love, provided you have enough of it to divide it into two batches. However, I love using the Duncan Hines Spring Velvets because they’re pre-colored, which is no work for me, and they’re nice and rich, even before you add in the fruit flavored extracts.

To make fruit stripe cupcakes, you’ll need your ingredients for your cake (listed on the box, or as spelled out in your own personal favorite recipe; the Duncan Hines Spring Velvets take 2 eggs, some water, and half a stick of butter per cake mix included in the box), one fruit flavored extract for each color you’re using, and some fun toppings… I chose Cool Whip and these beautiful SweetWorks Pearls to add a pretty springtime touch.

One basic thing you’ll want to remember about making Fruit Stripe Cupcakes is to make sure your flavors are complimentary. You probably DON’T want to do Lemon and Root Beer extracts in one cupcake, right? Nevermind that Root Beer isn’t a fruit anyway. If it were, they’re just not compatible flavors. Consider flavors that work well together– chocolate and strawberry, lemon and raspberry, etc. I decided to go with lemon and raspberry for my cupcakes to make a raspberry lemonade flavor mix.

Make your first mix according to package directions or recipe, and, if it’s a white cake, go ahead and tint it the color of your choosing. Since I was using the Duncan Hines Spring Velvets that are already yellow and pink, I didn’t need to add any food coloring to the mix. It’s at this point that you’ll choose one of your extracts and add in about a teaspoon, to taste. I decided to make the lemon yellow, because, well… that just makes sense. Set that aside.

Repeat the process with your second cake mix, adding in your chosen flavor, about a teaspoon or to taste. I used the Raspberry flavoring in the pink mix, again, because it made sense. It was really convenient to buy the Spring Velvets mix because the colors looked perfect side-by-side and didn’t need any food coloring. Plus, who can resist that perfect texture?

Now, you’ve got two mixes with two different flavors and colors, which will create an awesome striped effect inside the cupcake and allow the flavors to swirl seamlessly. You’ll start by lining your cupcake pans with cupcake liners of choice, then grabbing a tablespoon and a teaspoon, or figure out how to eyeball it.

Start with a tablespoon of each cake mix in your cupcake liner, one on top of the other. Don’t spread it out or anything, just let it do it’s thing. It’ll stripe on it’s own. If some of your mix falls more to one side than the other, that’s okay. That’s part of the charm of these cupcakes. What I like to do is make sure that if I started one on pink, I started the next on yellow, then back to pink, to really add to their character. Which means one cupcake would be yellow-pink-yellow-pink, and the next pink-yellow-pink-yellow.

Add a teaspoon of each batter on top of the tablespoons, continuing the pattern. As you can see, when you add the next bit of batter, it starts to make the lower parts spread out, filling the liner and moving the mixes a bit to give it it’s own swirl and character. Every cupcake will be different.

Bake your cupcakes according to recipe or package directions. As you can see, every cupcake’s top looks different from the next, and each one has it’s own swirl and character lurking beneath the surface. When you bite in, you’ll get both flavors at once, but in varying intensities as you get through the cupcake, giving it a unique flavor that makes every bite better than the last, versus just putting both extracts into a mix and making a cupcake with the whole flavor throughout.

Once cooled, frost and decorate your cupcakes. I personally went with piped Cool Whip because it complimented the fruit stripe flavor without overcomplicating it or overpowering it.

Plus, it looks so deliciously inviting when swirled on top!

And who could resist adding some of the SweetWorks Pearls on top? For an easy spring display, add some Easter basket grass or shredded paper to a cupcake tree, then nestle the cupcakes into the grass. Bonus? You can use out-of-season cupcake liners and no one will notice if they’re hidden beneath the grassy display.

To be honest, these cupcakes are so delicious and inviting that my family couldn’t even wait until I was done photographing them for the blog before trying to snatch them up.

Luckily, my little guy’s thievery gave you a chance to see a cross-section of the cupcake and show you how every cupcake is unique, and each bite will contain it’s own swirl of flavors unique to that bite.

The flavor will depend on where you bite into the cupcake, and what flavors are on that section of the cupcake. Isn’t that cool?

These totally took me back to the fruit stripe days of my childhood, and made me realize that these great cupcakes could be tailored to any party colors and theme. Chocolate mint cupcakes for tea, raspberry lemonade for a summery party, root beer and vanilla for a backyard barbeque, and any color choices you like. They’re surprisingly easy to make, too.

 

What flavor would you make? Let me know in the comments below!

A New Creation

Something new. See, a lot of people think about newness around the beginning of the New Year, when we’re setting resolutions and considering the new year and all of the possibilities that it holds. But really, you know when I think of something new? I think of it in Spring, when I start to see all of the growth around me, the new life and fresh creations springing up.

We have this nest on our Sunroom. Every year for as long as we’ve had it, these birds have nested there, and every spring, we get two or three families using the nest. There is even a possibility that some babies born in that nest have come back to nest in that very same nest. Every season, birds come, and repair the damage that winter has caused, and then create new life, eggs that hatch. That, to me, is when things are new, when I see the newness of God’s creation.

We constantly seem to want “new” things in life. I know I’m not alone in seeing the newest version of the smartphone I use being released and wanting desperately to upgrade for a few new features. When I was feeling stuck in a rut, I went and got a new haircut, thinking that the newness would help me feel transformed and shake things up.

So many times, we want a new purse for the new season, or a new swimsuit for spring break, or new new new. But we so often fail to realize that, no matter how many external things we change, we really can’t change some things.

I mean, think about it. You can change your clothing, but you’re still you under that clothing. You can get a new haircut or a new phone, but it’s still you in there. You still have all of those same things you struggle with, your same fears, insecurities, worries about the past or the future, concerns about life in general. No matter how many things you change, from your gadgets to your clothing, are really going to transform the you that is inside of you.

To be honest, all of those external changes really just don’t do a lot. However, there is one great way to get new life, to become a NEW you, to have that new creation feeling.

The Bible makes it clear how we can get that new life. It happens in Jesus Christ. When we go to Him (or return to Him, depending on where you’re at in your journey), you can have that internal change. It isn’t a change on the outside, and it may seem less subtle than new clothes or a new haircut. You’ll still look like you, but you’ll have this new internal buzz.

See, when you find, or even re-find, Christ, you become someone new. It’s in Christ that we can fully experience love, joy, hope… peace. True peace. That inspiration comes fully from Christ, that TRUE God-love, that God-joy, and God-hope, and God-peace. The kind that you just can’t get without Him.

While of course, if you want that new smartphone or that new haircut, you should get it if you have the ability, it will not change how you feel inside. That executive with the 6 figure income, snappy suit, and great hair? He may be rotting inside, miserable, hopeless, stuck in a cycle of sin he can’t break out of. But the hobo on the corner that the executive tosses a nickel to? He may be happy, despite his disheveled clothing and scraggly beard. Outward appearance isn’t an indicator of an inward spiritual gain.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in things… how we look. That new bikini we want to fit into. That new purse we have to have. I do it, too. And those things are okay. Don’t get me wrong. But we’re so hung up on this world, and how we look and what we have, that we’re missing the point of what new life, new creation, newness is really all about.

You have to consider what new, amazing life you can have when you have Jesus. Think about what he said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” Wow. I mean, that, beyond just having life, God wants us to have ABUNDANT life. That’s powerful. That’s a very full life.

I think a big example of the full extent of this new life comes in John 2:19. Think about an old house. You see it there, maybe on your evening walk. There are shingles missing, entire door frames falling apart, rotting wood. You know there’s probably some internal damage, that the house just isn’t what it used to be. Rather than taking and renovating that house, Jesus describes a complete rebuilding. An entirely new creation, something new that wasn’t there, a rebuilt life rather than a renovated one. We can sit and make little changes, but until we are rebuilt, a NEW creation, we will always find something missing in our lives.

It’s time for something new. Spring is the perfect time for that newness. See, I’m sure by now, a lot of you have your New Years Resolutions going one of two ways: either you’ve abandoned them entirely, or you’ve been working on them enough that they’ve become a new habit in your life, rather than a short-term goal you made. Because of that, it’s time to set some new goals, and replenish that newness.

Not in the short term, not something like weight loss, or quitting smoking, though things like that are admirable. But to be honest, as Christians, we have a lifetime goal. This is a resolution that you keep your entire life.

When you’re a new creation, new in Christ, a completely rebuilt structure, it’s time to share with the world your new life. We want to live life with purpose. Our God given purpose is to see everything in the light of that NEW life, NEW creation we are. That doesn’t mean you have to be preachy all the time, and go shunning friends who don’t agree with you or going all Westboro Baptist Church on anyone. It means that you have to be concerned with the welfare of the soul of those around you, and even those not around you.

An ambassador for Christ, which all of us should be, as a new creation in him, knows the heart of Christ, and stays in constant communication with Christ through prayer and action. An ambassador for Christ will keep his heart set on Christ’s interests, and represent Christ. That ambassador is ready to be with Christ at a moment’s notice. If we are only living for the here, the now, this earth, then we’re betraying God’s trust with our behavior and actions. As a new creation, we have to consider C.S. Lewis’s words: “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.” It’s true, those eternal things are what matter the most.

Anyone in Christ will be experiencing the newness of life every day. By putting your trust in Christ, by relying on him, you have that newness. Because we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God, by knowing we’d never be good enough by our own efforts, we HAVE to have a change of heart to fully become new.

We have to make that heart change, not a surface change, to be a new creation in Christ. Without that, we’ll never make it.

So yeah, buy your new Spring break swimsuit. Find a cute new haircut that you love. But this spring, when you’re looking around at all of the newness of life, seeing the new birds and new flowers and new life, it’s time to renew our hearts, too. It’s time to not just renovate, but rebuild. It’s time for us to focus on being a new creation in Christ, and sharing that newness with others, from the inside out, making an internal change, not just for this season, but for good.

I’ve designed this printable of a verse that really rings true to me, in 8×10, and in 4 colors. You can print it, hang it somewhere visible, or just keep it somewhere safe to remind you of this new life. Remember that, in a season of all things new, this is a forever thing, to be New in Christ.

You can download the printables here, choose your favorite, and print.

Watermelon Quick Bread (Or How To Make a Sweet Bread out of ANY Cake Mix!)

I’ve mentioned a lot lately how much I love spring. It’s that 70 degree weather and the delicious seasonal foods that appear in stores about this time, for sure. So the other day, I was shopping at Target, wandering the store the way I do… you know how you go into Target for one thing and there’s that unspoken law that you can’t leave without spending $50 even if you went in for just one $5 item? Yeah, so, I was wandering. And stumbled upon a Target exclusive.

Oh my goodness, Target, you kill me with those exclusives…

Betty Crocker got sneaky and made a WATERMELON cake mix. And frosting to go with it. And oh my goodness, this cake mix, it’s just like a watermelon. But like, in cake form. Psht, like I needed another excuse to eat cake!

So I gathered my Betty Crocker Watermelon Cake mix, a box of Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding, 4 eggs, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 cup oil, then preheated my oven to 350.

Now, I want to tell you here, I used the Watermelon Cake mix because I really wanted to have that amazing watermelon bread flavor. The vanilla pudding compliments that well, but you can use literally any flavor of pudding and cake mix. Want chocolate bread? Try chocolate cake and chocolate pudding. Want chocolate covered strawberry? Use a strawberry mix and chocolate pudding. Want lemon? Use lemon cake mix and lemon pudding and add some poppyseeds… or, use lemon cake and vanilla pudding for a lighter flavor. The sky is the limit!

But for today– Watermelon Cake Mix, Vanilla pudding. Everybody still tracking along?

Put your dry ingredients in the bowl, then add in your wet ingredients while mixing.

Aww, look at all of the fun “seeds” in the watermelon mix! This is a good time to mention that, while these great black seed bits came in the mix, you CAN add in mix-ins like chocolate chips or poppyseeds when making a cake mix quick bread. Use your imagination!

 

I divided my batter among 4 mini loaf pans, but you can make two regular loaves instead. I like mini loaves because they’re so cute, and great for sharing! The baking time should stay the same or increase just slightly if you’re using the regular loaf pans. Always insert a toothpick or use your method of choice to check for doneness!

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until edges are golden. Then, cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing and serving. See, breads will continue to bake just slightly after removed from the oven, so cooling them before slicing allows that soft center to get fully cooked.

Cake mix quick breads are great because they use ingredients people usually keep on hand, and they’re so easy to take to friends or family, serve as a breakfast or dessert, and are just a great treat.

The best thing about the Watermelon quick bread is it’s delicious watermelon flavor that tastes so true to the actual fruit. This is the moistest sweet bread you’ll ever taste!

 

What cake mix/pudding combo would you try in your Cake Mix Quick Bread? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Ways To Experience Spring With Your Kids

Spring is an amazing season filled with all kinds of great sensory experiences for kids. There are new smells, new sights, new life, new tastes… all kinds of amazing things. To help you get a jump start on sharing this awesome season with your kids, here are five ideas on how to experience spring together as a family!

Play piggy! When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was dress up in old clothes, have my mom water down a dirt patch in our yard, and let me just roll in the muck. It’s a great sensory opportunity to squish the mud, feel it between toes and fingers, and enjoy the texture. With the right consistency of mud, you can even practice writing letters with your fingers in the mud or spelling words. Otherwise, even the mucky texture is a learning experience all by itself! Pretend to make mud pies, listen to the slurpy sucky sound mud makes when your feet stick in it, and experience the smell of fresh mud. Have some towels on hand, and make sure to schedule bathtime afterwards for easy cleanup!

Plant together, or tend a garden. Zach loved cultivating blueberries with me, and then enjoying the fruits of our labor– literally! Whether you’re planting flowers or food, gardening together is a good sensory activity, plus it allows children a chance to experience growth, cause and effect, and weather, and understand how things are grown. You can discuss color, shape, petal count, and more as you watch your plants grow and change. If you live somewhere where you can’t plant a garden, consider doing a small container garden or an indoor herb garden to get that experience, or…

explore plants in a different setting! You can go on a nature walk locally or visit a local garden center to talk about the colors, petal count, and more of different flowers. You can experience different smells and different sights when you see hundreds of flowers together, and get an appreciation for the plants! You can still point out parts of the flower plant, even if you can’t bring them home.

Get in the kitchen and make a delicious springtime treat! Whether you’re making a seasonal fruit salad with the newest seasonal fruits available, or being inspired by the colors of spring with a sprinkle-topped goodie. There are a lot of good spring recipes right here on DigitalEraMom.com, but any recipe that gets you cooking together this spring is great. From chopping with supervision, to measuring, to pouring and scooping, it’s all educational, and best of all, fun. Some possible ideas are chopping fresh spring vegetables for a delicious homemade pizza, making mini fruit pizzas on sugar cookies, or making a delicious chopped salad. This is especially great to save for a rainy day when you can’t do the other activities on the list!

Don’t underestimate favorites like sidewalk chalk and bubbles! They’re favorites for a reason. Whether you’re drawing a hopscotch board to practice numbers, creating a fun scene, or just practicing fine or gross motor skills while jumping from circle to circle or scribbling a picture, chalk teaches so many valuable lessons. Blowing bubbles is another fun activity, and chasing them is a great way to get some extra energy out. Include some other fun like hoola hoops or cones and you can even have a fun relay race!

Splash during a rainstorm. No lightning associated with the falling rain? Then it’s totally safe to go outside and play or dance in the warm spring rains! Talk about how the rain feels wet on your skin, how it falls from the sky, and about gentle rain sprinkles versus a heavier soaking rain. Make sure you have towels on hand just inside the door, then warm up with a little hot cocoa. Of course, if there is even a hint of lightning, stay indoors! Don’t want to splash DURING the rain? Find some fun puddles post-storm and go splashing in those! Other options are investing in a kiddie pool or water table to splash in on a warm day!

 

What activities do you love celebrating spring with? Share your favorites in the comments below!

(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?