For the last few years I have been the Secretary of two bowling leagues. The Secretary’s duties are fairly simple—collect the money, deal with the lanes, and generally just make sure everyone is having a good time. In an effort to make things a little more fun, I decided that I would make something for the Holidays to put on each team’s tables. We’ve have candy at Halloween, Chex Mix at Thanksgiving, homemade cookies at Christmas and boxes of those cute little “be mine” candies at Valentine’s Day. When I first started doing this one of the bowlers mentioned to me that I was not taking into account the people who were diabetic. So now, if I’m going with some sugar-laden treat I make sure to put out a sugar free option for the sugar sensitive among us.
This year for Halloween, I decided instead of putting out the usual bag of candy, I was going to make pumpkin inspired cake pops for my Thursday night league. Kathleen and I had just made them for her boss’ birthday and they were adorable! My Thursday league is my largest league with 20 teams of 5 bowlers (parse out the math and you get 100 bowlers). Knowing full well that making little cake balls for 100 people with my single baking tray of 18 at time would take forever, I was off to the store to purchase two more sets of cake pans. Now I can mass produce 54 cake balls at one time. Much more sensible, don’t you think. I made 108 cake balls with regular sugar and 18 with sugar substitute. I have been working on perfecting a chocolate cake from scratch but was not sure how it would translate into these small balls. Both the sugar free and sugar-laden cakes turned out moist and delicious, I was half way home.
Now came the coating. I started out attempting to make a sugar free frosting. My first try was too light and fluffy resulting in a cake pop that looked more like a balding orangutan than a cute little Halloween pumpkin. My second try was too runny and the coating just slid right down the cake leaving me with a strange looking orange glossed chocolate orb sitting in a pool of what could pass for orange toxic waste. Several tries latter, I was exasperated and deflated as I realized that the sugar free frosting was not going to happen. The sugar sensitive would end up with sugar free candy instead of a cute little cake pop decorated like a pumpkin.
With a heavy heart, I move forward to the sugar-laden pops. Since sugar is not an issue here I have decided to dip the pops in orange tinted white chocolate. I make about 2000 dipped candies every Christmas, so I can basically dip chocolates in my sleep. I was confident that I could get the 104 sugar-laden pops dipped in short order. But the chocolate gods were not amused by my cocky attitude. Round 1 of the white chocolate seized in the bowl. My attempt at resurrection made the chocolate too runny. The dipped pops sat on the tray as I watched in dismay as the coating slowly ran down to pool around the base of the pop leaving a sad rendition of a pumpkin in its wake. The second batch of chocolate also began to seize—what the heck—I melt chocolate all the time with little or no effort, why now at the eleventh hour, when I have 104 pops to plunge does my chocolate melting skills desert me? In a complete panic I put the bowl with the chocolate back in the microwave hoping for a miracle so that magically I will be rewarded with creamy silky goodness. After a few seconds I realize that smoke is coming out of the microwave. I snatch open the door and to my amazement, there in my pile of seized white chocolate is a bright orange flame! Just a little FYI to all my fellow part time bakers out there—if you should, in your haste and disappointment, leave a metal fork in the center of your seized up pile of white chocolate when you put it in the microwave, you will indeed start a fire. This fire comes with copious amounts of awful smelling smoke that will instantly fill your kitchen. Days later and my microwave still smells of burnt chocolate. This is ten times worse than setting a bag of microwave popcorn on fire. Yes, I am sad to say that in my attempts to become a somewhat experienced cook, I have set more than one thing on fire in my microwave.
Needless to say, my freezer is now the home to 104 cake pops and my Thursday bowling tables were adorned with their standard Halloween treat bags full of store-bought candies. My baking ego has taken a direct hit. I will chalk this disaster up as one of the worst in my baking history—not quite as bad as the grape pie debacle, but a really close second. This attempt at baking will live in the Kae Allen horrible baking archives filed under “The great cake pop disaster.”