Tag Archives: decorate

NCSU Cake Pops

19 Dec

My brother graduated from NC State this past weekend! We’re very proud of him, so my older sister and I made celebratory cake pops. (For a full recipe, see my original Halloween Cake Pops post.)

We used red velvet cake (from a cake mix) and cream cheese icing (homemade). I thought if I made the icing from scratch, I could reduce the amount of sugar and it wouldn’t be a diabetic shock on a stick. But then we got to talking, and I got distracted, and I just made the icing as usual. No big d — I like them super-sweet, and I’m the baker.

What was kind of a problem though — I was still talking, and did not think about the fact that a batch of homemade icing is much larger than what comes in the can, and I just dumped the entire thing in with the cake. It was a little much. We rolled the balls successfully and set them to chill for 15 or 20 minutes. But when we went to dip them in the candy coating, they kept falling off the stick — too much icing. We had to freeze them first in order to coat them without them completely falling apart. It worked well enough, and it saved the batch, but still not ideal. When I bit into one, the other half fell of the stick, so it was a little messy.

They looked and tasted amazing though! We took the red velvet/cream cheese cake pops and coated some in white chocolate, some in red candy coating, and some in dark chocolate. Once they were set, I painted black NCSU symbols on the red pops, and my sister painted red NCSU symbols on the white pops.


I had to hit the road before they were done, but she kindly finished up all the pops and arranged them in a great presentation! She chopped up a styrofoam block and arranged the chunks in a large, clear bowl. She poked the cake pops in there so it appeared like a large ball coming out of the bowl. To cover up the green styrofoam, she arranged red tissue paper in the bowl. It looked amazing!

NC State Cake Pops

How Sue Sees It:
– Everyone loved the cake pops, and the bowl arrangement looked like a fantastically tasty centerpiece on a red, white, and black Wolfpack table.
– Red velvet and cream cheese are always a great combo! Add the icing a little at a time until you achieve the proper consistency. You can always add more later if you need to.
– As much as I’m a Tar Heel born and bred, it was fun to try to figure out how to make a Wolfpack-themed cake pop. We actually tried to make a couple of wolves — Bakerella has a werewolf on her Trick or Treats post — but they looked awful. We gave up on those when my nephew asked me, “What’s that monster!?” If anyone manages to make a convincing wolf on a cake pop, please let me know how it’s done.

Snowflake Cookies

16 Dec

It has been unusually cold in North Carolina, with temperatures in the 30s and snowfall in early December! Very strange, but also a perfect setting for these gorgeous snowflake sugar cookies.

Of course, after my notorious Cookie Fail, I relied heavily on Betsy’s cookie expertise for this batch of cookies. We started with a basic sugar cookie recipe.

After a lot of practice, we got in a good rhythm: Betsy is good at rolling and cutting, and I’m good peeling and placing on the pan. I usually am not big on purchasing specific kitchen tools that do fancy things because I think most baking can be accomplished with basic kitchen items, but I will say that the large spreader from Pampered Chef came in handy. It’s designed to be used to spread icing on large cakes, but it worked really well to slide delicate snowflake shapes off the counter top and get them to the baking pan. Just flour it a little and it works like a charm.

Sugar Snowflake Cookies
After baking and cooling about 6 dozen cookies (yes, it took forever), I set about with decorating (which took another forever).

We whipped up a batch of royal icing and added some whitening cream to make it extra-white, instead of kind of a dull, unappealing cream color. Betsy loaded it into an icing bag with a tiny tip for me, and I got to work. Royal icing hardens into a solid layer when it comes in contact with air. It takes a few hours for it to harden completely, but it gets difficult to spread evenly within minutes. So working relatively quickly, I did one cookie at a time. To make sure I got a neat overall cover, I first traced the snowflake outline and then filled it in. I held it still with a wooden skewer so I could move a little more quickly. Then, using a pair of tweezers, I added light blue sugar pearls. Play around with different patterns and get creative — it’s fun!

Tracing a snowflake outlineFilling in with icingAdding the pearl decorations

I made two different patterns with the white icing. Then we made another batch of royal icing and colored it with light blue dye and a little bit of whitening to lighten it to the right shade. I decorated another 2 dozen cookies with the same patterns as the white cookies, but with light blue icing and white sugar pearls.

While I worked on those, Betsy decorated the rest of the cookies with sugar sprinkles. For a dozen cookies, she used a paintbrush to coat each cookie with a layer of piping gel, which only looks disgusting. Then she poured silver pearlized sugar on top, and that’s it! Quite simple.

For another dozen cookies, we wanted them to be blue, but the blue pearlized sugar was way to bold next to the light blue royal icing. So Betsy mixed a little blue food coloring into the piping gel and then decorated it the same way — paint it on the cookie and then cover with silver sprinkles. It gave a very pale blue shine, almost like glass, underneath the silver sprinkles. Very subtle and beautiful!

After the white cookies hardened completely, Betsy used a large paintbrush (you could also use a blush brush or kabuki makeup brush) to dust on some silver pearl dust. It’s like using glitter makeup with a slight sparkle to it — it’s barely noticeable but adds a nice little sparkling sheen to the cookie.

Snowflake Cookies

So this was a relatively short post compared to the others, but don’t think this is a relatively short process. Cutting cookies takes longer than filling a bunch of cake or cupcake tins, and decorating cookies like this — especially with a complicated cookie shape — takes a long time. All in all, this took us about 6 or 7 hours. And that doesn’t count the packaging and presentation time.

When I got home, I loaded 6 cookies — one of each decoration type — into clear plastic bags I picked up at Michael’s, twisted the top closed, secured it with tape, and tied it with a blue ribbon. They made adorable gift bags!

Snowflake CookiesSnowflake Cookies