American Flag Cake Pops, BFB Bake and Share Military, and What I Have Been Up To

This past month has been ridiculously busy. Every May is crazy. It is the beginning of birthday season in our house which typically lasts into June and includes hosting four birthday parties! Add in baseball season, softball season, end of the school year craziness, and regular life responsibilities makes for one crazy month. I decided that I needed put blogging aside for a few weeks in order to focus on my kids and family and all of my added responsibilities this month. I have a lot to share with you in the next few weeks including my kiddos birthday celebrations and cakes, my end of the year teacher gift, and this very special bake and share post for the military.

American Flag Cake Pops

American Flag Cake Pops

DSC_8575

Two years ago, on June 9th, 2014, my town lost a hero. 19 year old Private First Class Aaron Toppen was killed in Afghanistan in an apparent friendly fire accident during a Taliban Ambush. The town has had a wonderful outpouring of love and support to honor the sacrafice that Aaron made for this country. The latest event to honor Aaron was held last weekend. Will Marquardt, an 8th grade Boy Scout, chose to erect a flag pole to honor Aaron Toppen in front of our local junior high school as part of his Eagle Scout project. He organized the project as well as the dedication ceremony held last weekend. When his mom, my trios former preschool teacher, contacted me to ask me to make cake pops for the ceremony, I jumped at the chance to honor Aaron’s memory with my baked goods. I think, in this case, I felt more blessed just to make this cake pop flag for this event than those did eating them! I didn’t care how busy I was this month. No matter what, I was determined to get this project done! Thank you to all military men, women, and families who serve, who have served, who have given their lives, and to those families who’s loved ones are deployed. Thank you to Will Marquardt for giving our town a wonderful memorial to our town hero Aaron Toppen.

Aaron Toppen Flag Pole

American Flag Cake Pops

When Will’s mom asked me to make cake pops, I knew I wanted to make something that resembled the American Flag. What I ended up doing was pretty simple! I think the hardest part was measuring out the holes to place the cake pops in in order for them to make the flag pattern.

American Flag Cake Pops
American Flag Cake Pops

 

American Flag Cake Pops

2 cakes of your choice. I doubled my tender white cake recipe.
1 batch of your favorite frosting. I used my Swiss meringue buttercream
red candy melts
white candy melts
blue candy melts
shortening
cake pop sticks
a basket or tray to hold your cake pops-my basket was 18 x 26
foam to insert your cake pops in-I purchased my foam at Michaels
white fondant
a small star cookie cutter-I found mine in a set of star cutters at Michales
white crinkle paper to cover the foam

Instructions:

1. Bake your cakes. Let cool completely

2. Crumble your cake. I break my cake apart and pulse it in a food processor until it is all crumbly.

3. Add about 1 cup of frosting to your cake crumbles. Use the back of a large spoon to mix the frosting into the cake. Pinch the cake/frosting mixture between your fingers. If it stays together, you are ready to roll. If it does not, add a little bit more frosting. Be careful not to add too much frosting. It will make your cake balls too mushy.

4. To roll the cake balls, I use a small cookie scoop. This helps to ensure that my cake balls will be the same size. I use a rounded scoop and roll the cake into a ball using my hands. To make the flag, I made 88 cake balls.

5. Cover the cake balls and refrigerate. You can also make the cake balls ahead of time and freeze them. Be sure to defrost them in the refrigerator before you use them.

6. Before you begin dipping your cake balls, you will need to set up your basket and foam you will be displaying your cake pop flag in. I had to cut my foam to fit in my basket. This can be messy. I cut mine outside. Once I had the foam in my basket, It was time to measure! I did 8 horizontal rows and 11 vertical rows. I measured out where each hole should go and marked it. I also determined how many blue cake pops I needed and where exactly they would go. Then, I marked a cake pop stick to the proper depth I wanted each stick to go into the foam. This does depend on what size cake pop stick you use. Be sure that it is deep enough to support the cake balls. I then made a hole using my marked stick in each spot I measured out. This will make placing your completed cake pops into the foam so much easier! It will also ensure that all of your cake pops are the same height! I also added the wooden red, white, and blue stars around the outside of the basket for decoration. I found them in the dollar section at Target.

Basket and Foam

Foam holes

marked cake pop stick

cake pop stick

7. Roll out your fondant and cut out stars.

8. Place the candy melts and and 2-3 TBS of shortening in a bowl.  Melt the candy melts in the microwave. Start with 30 seconds, then stir the candy melts. Microwave for another 30 seconds, and stir. Continue to stir until the candy is melted completely. Return to the microwave for 20-30 seconds more if needed. You want your candy to be a pourable consistency. Add more shortening if necessary to reach the desired consistency. Place your melted candy in a tall glass.

9. Dip the end of a cookie stick in the melted candy, then insert it into the cake ball. Dip the cake ball into the candy just until it is fully coated. Remove it from the candy, and tap off any excess candy. I found this video from Bakerella very useful when I was first learning to dip cake pops. I still use her method of dipping the cake pop, then tapping my hand to remove excess candy for the cake ball. Place the cake pop in the foam to dry. I dipped my blue cake pops first. As soon as I placed the cake pop in the foam, I added the white star to the top before the candy dried.

10. Continue to dip the cake pops until you are finished. After I completed the blue cake pops, I did a row of red, then white, then red, and so forth. Insert the white crinkle paper in between the cake pops to cover the foam when all of the cake pops are completely dry. I used 2 large bags.

11. Step back and enjoy your beautiful creation!

Baking Tips:

*The cake balls can be made ahead of time. Wrap them tightly and freeze. Defrost the cake balls in the refrigerator before using

*Start dipping with chilled cake balls!  I find that the dipping process is so much easier when the cake balls are cold. I take about ten cake balls out of the fridge at a time. Dip those, then take ten more out and so forth

*The cake pops can be made 1-2 days in advance. Just wrap them tightly either individually, or wrap the entire basket making sure no air can get in!

Bake and Share Ideas:

  1. Make American Flag cake pops to share at your Memorial Day gathering or Fourth of July party
  2. Make American Flag cake pops and give them to a military man or woman as a “thank you” for their service

 

 

 

 

Apricot Cream Scones and Faux Clotted Cream

Apricot Cream Scones

Apricot Cream Scones

Last week, I posted an apricot pastry I am making for my mother in law on Mother’s Day. She absolutely loves everything apricot flavored! I have been making these apricot cream scones for her for special occasions for the last few years. I will be hosting her for a Mother’s Day brunch this year that will include the apricot pastry from last week and these apricot cream scones. The first time I made them, I did not think I would love them since I am not a huge apricot fan. However, they are amazing!  I am so glad I tried them! They are incredibly fluffy, moist, and very tender. The little bits of dried apricot throughout the scones give them a delicious sweet bite. Spreading a bit of faux clotted cream and jam on the scones bring these apricot cream scones to an “out of this world,” level.

This recipe can be very versatile. Any dried fruit would work well with the tender, fluffy scone.  I look forward to trying this recipe with dried strawberries next! I use a pastry flour called Perfect Pastry Blend from King Arthur Flour. I do think it lends a bit to the tenderness of this scone, but you can use all purpose flour as well. The cream cheese and butter also lend to the tenderness, so using all purpose flour should be just fine.

apricot cream scones. Moist, fluffy, and tender with bits of sweet apricots throughout

Apricot Cream Scones

Ingredients
3 1/4 cups Perfect Pastry Blend, or All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) package cream or Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1 cup diced dried apricots
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more, if needed
Sparkling sugar for garnish, optional

Instructions:

1.Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet  with parchment paper.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. Cut in the cream cheese and butter, using a pastry blender, fork, a mixer, or your fingers, until the chunks of butter are the size of peas.

Apricot scones
4. Stir in the apricots.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla and milk.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened.
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured piece of parchment or waxed paper, and fold it over several times, until it holds together. Pat the dough into a 3/4″ thick square or circle.

apricot scones
8. Cut the dough into squares, wedges, or diamonds.

apricot scones
9. Brush the tops lightly with milk and sprinkle with sparkling white or pearl sugar. Place the scones about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

apricot scones   apricot scones
10. Bake for 18 minutes, until the tops are light golden brown. Serve with clotted cream and jam if desired. Raspberry jam or lemon curd would pair well

Faux Clotted Cream

Ingredients
½ cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon sour cream

Instructions
1. In a small bowl, combine cream and confectioners’ sugar. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
2. Add sour cream, beating at low speed until incorporated.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a covered container for up to a day.

Baking Tips:

*Be sure to start with very cold butter and cream cheese. It is important to keep the ingredients cold.

*To make ahead, prepare the scones through step 9. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for one hour. Then put the scones in a plastic freezer bag. You can bake them right from the freezer when needed. They may take a few minutes longer to bake.

Bake and Share Ideas:

1 .Bake your mom, mother-in-law, or special aunt/friend in your life apricot cream scones for Mother’s Day

2. Make a batch of apricot cream scones to keep in the freezer. When you have a friend that needs a pick me up, bake a few and deliver them or invite your friend over for tea/coffee and scones.

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