Lately, I have become fascinated with cake pops. The first time I made them (using packaged frosting and candy melts, as so many tutorials directed) they were way too sweet and lacked depth of flavor. So ditched the candy melts in favor of real chocolate and turned to the herb garden for inspiration, designing a rose, cardamom and pistachio cake pop; a basil and strawberry cake pop; and a lemon thyme and lavender cake pop.
In all of the recipes below, I used a plain boxed cake mix.Each cake was baked per package instructions, then I added the herbaciously flavored home-made buttercream frosting to give it character.I tried to use this project to highlight differenttechniques for incorporating herbal flavors.
If you aren't familiar with cake pops, here's a quick rundown on the basic instructions
Crumble cake into a roasting pan or very large bowl.
Add frosting a few spoonfuls at a time and knead into the crumbs until you get something resembling an undercooked brownie paste.It should be moldable and able to roll up into a bowl.If it won't keep its shape, you have added too much frosting. (In the recipes below, I have cut the frosting amounts way down, and while you may need to use all of it, you may have some leftover.)
Roll the cake paste into ping-pong ball sized balls.
Partially freeze the balls. (I take them out of the freezer 2 or 3 at a time, to prevent them from thawing while I work.)
Melt chocolate in a narrow, deep bowl (I use a mini crock pot), making sure it is almost full.
Dip the stick in the chocolate, then impale the cake ball on it, pushing the sick about two thirds of the way through the cake ball.
Place the cake ball into the chocolate, and tilt it to cover.Use a spoon to ladle the chocolate up the sides if it gets low, but try not to touch the cake.Pull the up from the chocolate carefully, tap the stick on the side of the bowl to let excess chocolate drip off.Push the end of the stick in a block of Styrofoam or a cup filled with uncooked rice so the cake pop can dry.
Rose, Cardamom and Pistachio Cake Pops
Chocolate cake is mixed with a buttercream infused with fresh rose petals and ground cardamom, then dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with minced pistachios and rose sugar.
Technique highlighted: grinding herbs together with sugar, salt or other dry solids using a mortar and pestle.
To make the rose buttercream:
Handful rose petals 2 tsp. ground cardamom 2 tbsp. confectioner's sugar 2 tbsp. solid vegetable shortening 2 tbsp. butter, softened splash vanilla 1 c. confectioners' sugar 1 tbsp. rose water
Place rose petals, cardamom and the 2 tbsp. confectioner's sugar in a mortar and pestle.Grind together until you get a pink, powdery paste.In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla, rose paste and remaining sugar. Add rose water.
Strawberry Basil Cake Pops
Lemon caked is mixed with strawberry-basil buttercream, then dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with pink sugar.
Technique highlighted: Pureeing herbs together with fruit or vegetables
To make the strawberry basil buttercream:
Handful Basil Leaves 1 c. strawberries ¼ c. shortening 2 c. confectioner's sugar
Blend strawberries and basil in a blender until strawberries are well pureed.Pour into a large bowl.Add shortening and sugar and blend with electric mixer until smooth.
Lemon Thyme and Lavender Cake Pops
Vanilla cake is mixed with buttercream that has beeninfused with lavender and studded with finely minced lemon thyme leaves, then dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with lemon peel sugar.
Technique highlighted:Infusing herbal flavor into butter, cream or other dairy product.
Once you get a feel for these techniques, feel free to substitute your own herb, spice and fruit combinations.Cake pops are great for parties (they are portion controlled, don't require a plate or fork, and really cute), and once you get the basic technique down, yours are sure to be a hit.
About Amber Royer
As a librarian turned freelancer, I like to research the history and botany behind the modern garden. My true plantly love is the herb garden.