So You Think You Can Bake? Everything You Need To Know To Make The Best Cake Pops EVER

So You Think You Can Bake? Everything You Need To Know To Make The Best Cake Pops EVER

Secrets from a cake pop baker that pastry chefs don't want you to know.

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When I was about 14 and going through a "Mom, please buy more flour so I can make desserts" phase, my mom bought me a cake pop/donut hole machine.

Now, five years later, I can tell you that my cake pop machine is long gone! When my brother, Jacob, asked me to make "something good" for his upcoming dessert silent auction, I knew right away what would entice little kids in attendance to ask their parents to bid on... cake pops.

Here's every step I'll be taking to make these cake pops tempting to all in attendance.

1. Bake a cake.

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I'll be using this recipe and following instructions for the "one pan cake." Although I prefer vanilla, I'll be baking a chocolate cake because there is a higher percentage of (strange) people who choose chocolate over vanilla.

2. Let the cake cool, and trim away the "crusts."

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After letting the cake sit for about an hour or two, I'll carefully cut off the sides, edges, and top of the cake. This ensures there are no "crunchy" parts of the soon-to-be cake pops.

3. Crumble the cake.

It may seem counterproductive to crumble the cake I just spent hours baking, but TRUST ME, this is how the best cake pops are made! The finer pieces of cake will allow you to shape the cake pops however you please later in the process.

4. Mix in half a can of (or homemade) chocolate frosting to the crumbled cake.

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Add just enough frosting until the consistency will allow you to form balls from the batter. Too much frosting will cause the balls to be too "mushy." In my opinion, it doesn't really matter that the frosting isn't homemade. Although it contributes to the taste, it's main function is to serve as the "glue" that holds the cake ball together. But if you're going to use homemade frosting, use this recipe.

5. Form the cake balls.

Using a cookie scooper, dish out as many cake balls as the batter will allow. Compact and press the scoops together tightly, as you don't want them to crack later when dipped. Place on wax paper to prevent them from sticking to the plate.

6. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Placing the cake balls in the freezer will allow them to harden and make dipping 100x easier!

7. Affix a fork/cake pop stick about halfway into the cake balls.

A fork is sturdier and more secure when dipping; I recommend using a plastic fork if it is your first time making cake pops. I've found that the lowest price for cake pop sticks is at Walmart.

8. Prepare the "candy melts" for dipping.

Candy Melts are available at Walmart or Michaels, and come in various colors. For best results, melt according to the package instructions, and add in one tablespoon of Crisco.

9. Dip the cake balls.

Begin by submerging half of the cake ball into the candy melts. Use a spoon to pour candy melts over the rest of the cake ball. Submerging the cake ball all at once increases your chances of causing the cake ball to fall off the fork/stick.

10. Stick cake pops upright into styrofoam.

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It's a better idea to stick the cake pops upright into styrofoam than to place down onto wax paper. This will ensure that your cake pop is round. Drips make occur, but you can prevent this by gently tapping the cake ball on the side of the bowl after dipping.

11. Add sprinkles/decorations.

Check out this website for some of the best cake pop ideas. Experiment until you you've made the perfect pop! I'll be making the cake pops pictured next week. Bakerella and Pinterest also have tons of ideas for decorating cake pops.

12. Use gel for extra decoration.

From previous experience, I know that black candy melts fade when melted, so it's really more of a gray color. This color won't work for my cow pop spots, so I'll be adding a few drops of this gel to darken my black candy melts.

13. Cover the cake pops with mini treat bags.

Buy these sleeves from Walmart to ensure your cake pop stays in one piece! These are not necessary, but nice to have on hand.

14. Make an interesting cake pop stand.

Now that your cake pops are ready, you'll want to show them off! Get creative! To transport the cow cake pops I'll be making, I plan to stick styrofoam inside a pair of new cowboy boots! I'm also considering painting a styrofoam block to look like a hay bale.

15. Eat in at least two bites.

Sure, anyone can eat a cake pop in one bite, but why not savor it? It will be well worth it!

Now that you're an expert cake pop chef, you'll be a hit at events and parties!

And if you're ever in need of a good laugh, perhaps you can pull this prank on someone!

Cover Image Credit:

upload.wikimedia.org

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The Definitive College Ranking Of 16 Ramen Noodle Flavors

I ate all of these for you!
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Ramen noodles are the staple food of the modern American college student. They're cheap, filling and widely available, and as such, they have become a sort of cultural icon. Every kid who has set foot on a college campus in the last twenty years knows what ramen noodles taste like.

This is why I am here to provide you with a service. For too long the debate has raged on: “What's the best ramen flavor? What should I spend my hard-earned 25 cents on?" The little round head on the plastic packaging smiles at you from all angles. It's a desperate smile. He's imploring you -- make a decision, quickly. But there are so many choices lined up on the shelf. You have been standing in the aisle for what feels like multiple millennia; your friends, who were kind enough to take you out to the supermarket with them, are starting to really hate you. Everything around you is crumbling as you are absolutely unable to make up your mind.

I am presenting to you a way out of this situation, in the form of a definitive ranking, top to bottom, of every Maruchan ramen flavor, so that nobody has to spend this long in the ramen aisle ever again.

(Disclaimer: this is just an opinion, and I know opinions can be both wrong and scary, but know that if you give them no power they cannot hurt you. I am just a ramen enthusiast trying to help the poor soul lost in the aisle.)


16. Sriracha Chicken

sriracha chicken ramen

Alright, so, I'm a huge sriracha fan (I own that one shirt and everything), and when I saw this product on the shelves, I thought this flavor would make perfect sense. It's chicken with a kick, so to speak. The flavor packet provided is the foulest smelling thing I have experienced in quite a while. It just smells like straight up poison. So after going through that, I pull out my bowl and go to town. What do I find? This stuff has not even the slightest hint of sriracha flavor! It just tastes like a thing of chicken-flavored ramen that has gone kinda stale. Gross.

15. Lime Chili / Lime Chili Shrimp (tie)

lime chili shrimp ramen

I know a lot of people who are going to be mad at me, so let me preface this: I really don't like lime-flavored anything. There are very few things I like that have lime in them and that's why I have to rank these two so low. It does have a solid kick to it, but the lime taste really puts me off of it.

13. Shrimp

shrimp ramen

Serious question: why is this one of the most readily available flavors of ramen? I don't understand how something like this sells to anyone. It is just gross, artificial fish flavoring steeped in hot water. I just don't get it. The broth, while sufficiently salty, reeks of fish and even the sheer heat of it cannot mask the taste. I totally get why mom never let us keep this flavor around the house.

12. Picante Beef / Picante Chicken (tie)

picante beef ramen

I've only had these once and I was left entirely underwhelmed. Not very “Picante" at all.

10. Chicken Mushroom / Chicken Tortilla / Creamy Chicken

Creamy chicken ramen

Maruchan absolutely loves their twists on chicken flavored ramen. They're like the Fast and Furious sequels of ramen. There's too many of them, and they keep getting more and more ridiculous. Maybe it's because American audiences (i.e. me and you) eat that stuff up. That being said, these three are pretty alright as far as flavors go. I was incredibly skeptical of Creamy Chicken, because creamy is not an adjective I necessarily look for in ramen, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. Chicken Mushroom is good, too, but it has really stiff competition.

7. Chili

chili ramen

Finally, a ramen with some kick. There's not much else going for it flavor-wise, but if you like heat, then this is probably your best bet, barring doing some ramen-doctoring of your own.

6. Chicken

chicken ramen

Everyone loves Chicken because it's a staple, but for me, it's simply average. It tastes like chicken, but it doesn't “aspire to anything great" to use my movie critic voice. It is and always will be there for you. Clean, simple chicken ramen.

5. Roast Beef

roast beef ramen

Roast Beef is the sequel to Beef that gives the fans what they want, but deep down, they know it's not as good as the original. Roasting the beef gives you more of that juicy broth you love, but something is missing in those spices. Still a good flavor, though.

4. Oriental

oriental ramen

Oriental Ramen tastes like what ramen should taste like all the time -- loaded with soy sauce, salty, savory and delicious. I add soy sauce to most of my ramen, but Oriental doesn't really need it because it already has that soy flavor packed in really well.

3. Beef

beef ramen

The staple. The classic. Number one in the hearts and minds of millions. The thick beef flavor overwhelms your taste buds (alright, let's be real here -- it's just packaged ramen. But still, this is some solid ramen.).

2. Roast Chicken

roast chicken ramen

If Roast Beef is the sequel that satisfies, Roast Chicken is the sequel that manages to surpass the original, like "Toy Story 2" or "Aliens." It takes it in a whole new direction, fleshes out the characters you know and love even more and gives you and your taste buds an experience that you wish you could relive again and again.

1. Pork

pork ramen

My mouth is salivating as I type this. I need to find more Pork ramen to complete my Pork ramen basement for when Doomsday comes. I will live and have lived off of Pork ramen for weeks at a time. It's the perfect ramen to dress up. Throw in some sesame oil and some soy sauce, some chives and maybe an egg. Ugh. This is ramen you can take home to Mom and Dad. This is ramen at its most complete. Maru-chan, that little round face on the plastic packaging, smiles because he knows that he has achieved perfection.

Please note that all items are in stock as of the time of publication. As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

Cover Image Credit: NYT Cooking

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15 Romantic Desserts To Make This Valentine's Day

You can make brownies, but please anything but boxed

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Valentine's Day is legit only a real holiday cause it's an excuse to eat sweets and make desserts. Or maybe just for me 'cause I'm single. The only thing that will stop me from making these desserts on Valentine's is if I have a much of assignments due that day, which is honestly sad but is my life right now. The following desserts are traditional, with the occasional European dessert that usually takes up the whole day in baking (joking! But not really!). If you're like me and like to be challenged, make anyone one of these! But if you're looking for a more chill dessert, brownies are probably the way to go (but please I am literally begging you to not make boxed brownies because it literally just tastes like the box).

1. Russian Napoleon Cake

My favorite dessert, that is actually pretty common in Mexican panaderias! It's multiple thin puff pastries with pastry cream in between each layer, and if made in a panaderia, usually with some cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce) in the bottom or top layer.

2. Cheesecake

Shukuko Uchide on Instagram: “. 今週末も実家にお泊りだったので、実家と姉家族へのバレンタインケーキを作りました😊 . 今回は苺+ブルーベリーのレアチーズケーキ🎂 いつも12cmの型で作っているけど、18cmの型で作ったら豪華😂👏🏻 . .…”

A classic and honestly who doesn't like cheesecake. Even seen in the name, dairy is one of the primary ingredients, but there are some variations where cashews can be easily substituted to make a vegan version. AND if you end up with a cracked top, it could easily be covered with some fresh berries and a compote!

3. Brownies

Another classic that literally takes 30 minutes, with them being homemade. Because nothing is worse than a box brownie and anyone can fight me on this (i.e. the boxed brownies that literally just taste like the box). Top with some whipped cream or ice cream and sprinkle with some powdered sugar.

4. Apple-Puff Pastry Rose

One of the most difficult desserts that require ALOT of patience. But when they're done it is so worth it! And is pretty impressive when you give them out. The main ingredients are puff pastry and apples (that are thinly sliced and not peeled).

5. Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcakes: easy (especially red velvet because it's just chocolate with red food coloring). Frosting: a simple cream cheese frosting. Both of these together make an amazing dessert that complements each other so well and is a perfect fit for Valentine's day!

6. Petit Fours

Not necessarily difficult, but definitely time consuming. Especially in the decorations. But like the apple rose pastries, they're such an impressive dessert that will literally have people think you're a professional baker.

7. Truffles

Truffles are pretty much just chocolate (okay ganache, but chocolate either way). I'm honestly not the biggest fan of this, but it wouldn't be Valentine's day if a chocolate dessert wasn't included in this list...

8. Crepes (Crepe Cake!)

This seems easy... but it's actually a bit harder than it looks. The trick here is to make sure whatever filling you use is the same for each layer. For a more clean look, you can also trim around the edges using a large plate fitted over the cake.

9. Mini Cream Cheese Danishes

With wontons or puff pastry, cream cheese danishes are usually simple but can be so versatile as you can see above. But a variety of fruit fillings and create different designs with the puff pastry-- whatever you do it will not only taste good but look good too.

10. Macarons

Besides eclairs, this is the biggest challenge that I have faced in the kitchen. Probably because I measured in volume and not in mass, but honestly once you get the hang of it and practice a few times, you can easily make these cute treats. The problem I'm still having is having a proper filling for the cookie since I'm not the biggest fan of whipped cream or buttercream. Besides buttercream, berry compote and jelly are also common, contrasting with the sugary taste of the macaron cookies.

11. Cream Puffs

As you can see in the picture, there's a layer of pastry cream and then one of whipped cream. With puff pastries, although it is traditional to fill with pastry cream, it is a bit heavy. By mixing some whipped cream into the mixture (or even stacking the two fillings on top of each other as seen in the picture) it creates a more balanced flavor and a lighter mixture.

12. Mini Eclairs

After failing countless times and failing for each, I have stil not mastered the art of eclairs. And I wouldn't say that they are the most difficult of this whole list, but they are up there. It consists usually of a pastry cream filling (or what I do is mix the pastry cream and whipped cream together), a choux pastry and a piping bag.

13. Decorated Shortbread Cookies

A sugar cookie does not have to be decorated (or professionally created), but cookies that are able to be enjoyed and not just stared at.

14. Danish Butter Cookies

Nope it's not actually the sewing kit. No more being disappointed when you found the metal can but it's filled with miscellaneous files

15. Crème Brûlée

I've never tried this before, but I am assuming that it is like flan, except in a smaller form such as in a ceramic cup or small coffee cup. And if this was presented in this same way, not only will you be impressing other people, but the people you're spending V-day with get to also be impressed.

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