Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ritual Roundup - Celebrating the first day of school with lumpy, albino apples?

Today was the first day of school for my big two and, in the spirit of establishing and maintaining family rituals, as the big day drew near I started scouring the web for fun, school-themed treats that I could make for all of the kids at the bus stop. Three years ago I put together fruit kabobs - they were healthy and easy to eat. Two years ago I made pretzel "pencils" - I prepared them the day before and, like the fruit kabobs, they were easy for small hands to manage at the bus stop.  Last year I made applesauce muffins with cookie "chalkboards" - they were cute, but a bit of a bust courtesy of pouring rain that morning.  Nonetheless, kids got the chance to enjoy them at the after school ice cream social (another fun ritual despite the fact that it had to be moved indoors due to the weather).

After last year's anti-climatic bus stop snack, I was determined to make a comeback today.  So, in all my optimistic glory, I set out last night to make these adorable apple cake pops.  Between Cindy's excellent tutorial and great tips - and this learn-from-my-mistakes post by Trophy Wife Tara - I felt confident that I could whip up something that would be acceptable to the elementary school aged crowd.  Putting aside my concerns about giving the kids something with no nutritional value (they're shaped like apples, that somehow counts as a fruit...right?), I dug right in to making cake pops for the first time.  As in the first time ever.  I mean, really, what could possibly go wrong?

Oh, where shall I begin?  It started out well - I left the cake/frosting ball mixture in the fridge overnight as instructed.  The balls came out looking pretty good, but I'm not entirely sure I nailed the consistency because they were a bit crumbly and if I wasn't very careful while putting them on the lollipop sticks they tended to fall apart.  No problem, this is why I doubled the batch.  Next - and this was really the beginning of the end - I decided to use some white chocolate chips I had at home and simply add red food coloring instead of buying red colored candy coating wafers.  The chocolate melted perfectly, but I went through a full bag and a half of white chocolate chunks until I realized that adding the food coloring was horking up the consistency of the mixture and no amount of microwaving it was going to help.  At this point, it was too late to run out and get something else, so I resigned myself to making white apple cake pops.

Exhibit A:What kid wouldn't want a sticky, red mess or a cake pop that falls apart if they look at it?
The first one turned out looking pretty good for a white apple.  (Check out that cake pop in the lower righthand corner of the the picture below.  If you don't look too closely, it can pass as an apple...right?  If not, try squinting.  If that still doesn't work, feel free to lie to me.)  It all went downhill from there.  Each cake pop I made after the first one became progressively lumpier.  After my fifth pop, I knew it was time to admit defeat.  "So, what are we bringing to the bus stop?" asked both Princess Wonder and E2B after I explained that my treat for the morning didn't turn out exactly as I had planned.  I don't think that they were impressed with my "your smiling faces" reply, but it seemed more age appropriate than "my dignity on a platter" so I just left it at that.  Three of these beauties were eaten at breakfast as a side to their scrambled eggs - I was still laboring under my it-counts-as-fruit fantasy - and the other two, to my slight embarrassment but my children's great excitement, went into their teachers.

Exhibit B: The "finished" product...introducing the lumpy albino cake pop!

There's still the annual ice cream social after school today, so I'm just going to focus on that.  And try to figure out what to do with 40 unfrosted cake balls.

UPDATE: Heidi, who I happen to know is a stone cold baking genius (seriously, I routinely drool over her Facebook page), suggested mixing a gel-based icing color with the chocolate instead of the "traditional" food coloring I used.  I did have some in my baking cupboard, but it is very old and more closely resembled tar than gel color.  That being said, I decided to give it a try and I'm pleased - but not surprised given the source of the suggestion - to report that it worked!  I tried for green, but given the freshness level of the gel, the color is quite light.  Miss Intrepid tried one out for me and gave it her approval.

Still a bit lumpy, but had I managed this earlier I might have served them at the bus stop anyway.

Version 2.0 got a thumbs up from my littlest taste tester.

One element of our back to school rituals did come together beautifully, even if they cake pops did not. As we have done since we started our own back to school shopping about five years ago, each of the kids also sponsored a child through our local YMCA who was in need of supplies for the upcoming school year.  They each chose a tag for a child their own age - or in Miss Intrepid's case, just one year older - and filled a backpack with supplies.  It is gratifying to watch my children put as much thoughtful consideration into picking out just the right backpack, pencil case, notebook, etc. for another child as they do for themselves.

"Seriously, Mom - these pained expressions are the best we have to offer right now...please stop taking pictures."

May this September open new doors into the mysteries of the world to us all. Happy Tuesday, friends!

"All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind."  ~Martin H. Fischer


  1. Brittany, next time try a gel-based icing color...it won't "hork" up the consistency of the white melting wafers!

    1. Thanks, Heidi...I tried this out with a few of the as-of-yet unfrosted cake balls and the consistency was a thing of beauty!

  2. LOVE it. I could eat your kids, they are so cute. And a failed cake pop just convinces us all that you are a REAL mom. :)