Friday, April 29, 2011

The End of the Beginner's Guide... and Cake Pops Take 2.

I had a big post planned for today.  It's the last day of my week of Beginner's Guides, and I was planning to give you the Beginner's Guide to "Putting It Together."  (This is cute only if you're a fan of Sunday in the Park with George, which is also the origin of my blog name.)

I was going to tell you all about how you have to be patient with yourself, because not every day is going to be perfect, not every choice is going to be the healthiest, not every weigh-in will show you the numbers you're hoping for.

I was going to tell you that the most important thing in this whole process is to learn how to pick up, brush off, start again.  It can't be a built on self-punishment or self-loathing, because the second you step outside of your plan - which you will, because we're all human - you'll spend your energy flagellating yourself instead of on making the next good choice.  Each day is a new day, but even more potently, each moment is a new moment.

I was going to tell you that the best thing you can do for yourself is to love yourself, thoroughly and completely.  Knowing your flaws.  Accepting where you've been.  And believing in where you can go.  Because YOU CAN DO THIS.

But then I got a call from my doctor.  Yesterday I had received what I thought was good news.  There was a magic pill to make my current illness go away.  Today they're rethinking it, and it looks like I might have to have surgery soon.

I immediately felt blue.  I want to feel better.  I wanted that damn magic pill!  My anemia affected me so much that I could hardly make it through class last night.  It makes me feel scattered and low.  On the ride back from the pharmacy, where I had gotten the call, we passed a pie shop.  My stomach said, "oh, I should eat some pie."  And my brain responded "what the heck are you thinking? You don't even like that pie shop.  It isn't even good pie."  And my heart chimed in, "you're just feeling sad."

So I passed right on by.  And then I thought... why should I tell you all of these things I'd planned to tell you about "putting it together," when I can show you, instead?

So instead of eating pie, instead of lashing out at myself for even thinking of pie... instead of laying in bed all day trying to avoid anything... I'm going to show you how I can pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.  I'm going to eat a healthy lunch.  I'm going to paint my toenails a shimmery coral.  I'm going to skip the last list-style edition of the Beginner's Guide.  I'm going to teach by example.

And then I'm going to show you how to make some more cake pops.  We made it this far together, and it's time to practice a little moderate indulgence.  This new recipe I've worked on, outing #2 on Cake Pop Quest 2011, is a resounding favorite, both with family (for whom I made these when I was in Indianapolis) and with friends (for whom I made these for Easter.)

They're moist, tender, and surprisingly low-calorie for something that tastes like such a treat.  And the secret, my friends, is pumpkin.

All I'm using is the Trader Joe's chocolate cake mix, 1/4 of the frosting mix
with 1/4 of the required butter, plus pumpkin. (And candy coating, but that's minimal.)

The recipes I'd found for using pumpkin as a cake binder called for
18.5 ounces of mix, and the Trader Joe's box comes in 28 oz,
so I first measured out the mix by weight.

Then I combined the mix with 15 oz of canned pumpkin (plain, not pie filling.)

It will be much gooier than the usual cake batter.
You'll have to use a spatula to get it all off your spatula - that's how thick.

Pop it into a 9x13 pan, and follow the baking time/temp directions on the box.

As always cool overnight, and then crumble it up with forks. 
Because the texture is so chewy, you'll need to to a little extra work on the corners.

Measure out 1/4 of the frosting mix, and add 1/4 of the required butter.  (This picture is of a double-batch)

Mix the frosting mix and butter together first.  It will seem clumpy, even if the butter is room temperature.

Then add 1 tb of hot water.  DO NOT ADD MORE until you see if you need it, and then only
add an extra 1/2 tb water. It's surprising how little hot water is needed to make the dry/butter mix creamy.

Then mix the frosting in with the cake crumbs.

Moosh it together until it's a thick past-like consistency.

Then use a tablespoon truffle scoop (or melon-baller) to dole out the batter and roll into balls with your hands.
Then spear each cake ball with a lollipop stick, and freeze for at least a few hours.

Alas I don't have pictures of the dipped product - but you melt the candy coating with a double-boiler, and dip each cake ball.  And here's a new tip... push the stick into dry florist's foam to dry and display.  (I totally should've taken a picture of both rounds... the first one I did as a flower garden, the second one I did as Easter eggs in a basket.  I'll learn to keep the camera with me at all times, one of these days.)

The magical part of this recipe?  They are only 100 calories a piece.  And they're far more satisfying than some little bag of 100-calorie dry cookie crumbles.  Make sure you share your batch, though!  One is a perfect serving of sweet, but don't forget your moderation.

OK.  I'm off to keep taking care of me.  You take care of you, too.


  1. I can't wait to hear how they taste!

  2. Um, is it too late for me to vote for Magic Pill?

    But, whatever will help you out - even if it's radical, must be done. Heidi, I love you so much. Corny to say, but seriously let me know if there's anything I can do - now, later, during recovery, whatever.

    Just feed me cake pops, and I'll walk the earth for you. OMG, those were so delicious!

  3. These are the most amazing treat I've ever had! not the best picture, but here is the finished product!

    (Amazingly I still have a few left! Yay moderation!!!)

  4. Oddly, I was just reading elsewhere about putting pumpkin in cake. Deliciousness in cake form. Can't even tell pumpkin is in there. I flove Trader Joe's cake mixes. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  5. First off: *BIG HUGS* You persist at being an incredible lady, Heidi.

    Second: Holy crap I am so trying that cake pop recipe! Who needs pie? Those look AWESOME!

  6. Thanks, Keith, for posting the photo!

    And Lindsay, thank you! Big hugs back - I'm so glad we've become friends. Be sure you let me know (and maybe take a picture?) when you make the cake pops!!

  7. I'll have to try this one. I tried the box cake with diet soda yesterday. Turned out pretty bad, all gooey and hard to make balls. Hungry girl had one she made using a box cake baked with applesauce and water, then mixed with cool whip. I'll try that too.