Away in the wilderness
in sheltered environs
a plant is growing
with roots like irons.
It grows to the sky,
yet no matter how high
it continues while none may rely on it.
For you see this plant
is an imposter to that realm,
it creates decay
and disregards the sun`s helm.
This plant, in fact, is no plant at all.
It is in fact a mushroom,
a culinary wall.
For you see, none can eat it
with any safety
as it`s colors will lead you
to clearly see.
This being is poisonous,
not fit to consume.
Perhaps that`s why it bears
such bright plumes.
A Tale of Woe…
I`m sorry, but I couldn`t help it. I just needed a poem today, and this is what happened. You may be wondering why I wrote a poem about mushrooms, of all things. There are actually a lot of reasons for it. For one thing, I like mushrooms. I think they are pretty, and kind of sweet, and I like that they have a lot of personality. One would as soon kill you as look at you, then you talk to it`s identical twin and find out he tastes amazing in soups, and is even safe to eat. It truly boggles the mind, and I always love a touch of complexity. It makes a nice change from the shallow and bitter surface of the world to see to some things of beauty.
I also like the taste of mushrooms. They may be one of my favorite foods, next to brussel sprouts and spinach. Well, and seafood and Thai food, but that is rather besides the point. Anyways, I love eating them. This is rather unfortunate, as my brother and mother have to be careful around them. My brother has to follow the low something-or-other diet, which really just means his healthy bacteria is at a disadvantage considering his flourishing ‘bad’ bacteria (antibiotics are real strong arm solutions, and they kill the good and bad in you. If they were human, we`d call them insane; but they are medicine, so it`s a good thing. Or that`s what people keep telling me…) This means that they can`t have mushrooms very much, if at all. Which really is sad, as I`ve said before I love them, and I think the world would be a better place if everyone had access to some good mushrooms. Well, if we are being literal, that means no one would be hungry, so it really would help. Except everyone would hate mushrooms then. So I guess this system is better.
That being said, I wanted to give my Mom a mushroomy treat for her birthday. I didn`t. I gave it to her yesterday, which is pretty late considering her birthday was on Thursday, which makes it about a work week ago. But in the end, it was worth the wait. Nothing came out right, and the end result was pretty ugly, but that was really part of the whole experience.
… And a Recipe To Match It
For the cake, I used Betty Crocker`s gluten free sponge cake mix. I know, it`s horrible to use mixes. But I did it anyways. I`m rebellious like that. I found a nice baking starter kit at Amazon that includes the cake mix, as well as a few other basics you probably haven`t figured out how to do on your own yet if you are a GF newbie. (GF= gluten free. Some bloggers say G-free as well. They will often say that about other allergens. D-free for dairy, C-free for casein [which is in dairy products], S-free for sugar, etc.)
For the mold, I used Wilton`s pop molds. They turn out really weird. I guess I should have only filled the batter half way, despite the fact that gluten free batters don`t rise as much as normal wheat flours. They ended up looking more like freaky ice cream shapes than cake pops.
Self-Handle Cake Pops
- Mix the cake according to package/other recipe`s directions.
- Pour batter into mold*. You will need to pour the batter mostly to the top of the cells, leaving perhaps a half centimeter of space. You want the batter to puff out a bit for this one. Do NOT grease the pan if you are using the one I mentioned, as it is made of silicon, and is already non stick. You`ll probably get greasy cake for all your effort if you spray the pan.
- Bake at 350 (or as recipe specifies) for 15-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean.
- Let pops cool in mold, then carefully pop them out of container after cooled. (The pan is flexible because it is made of silicon, so it is pretty easy to wiggle out.)
- Mix up fondant according to recipe.
- Adding as much food coloring as is needed, squeeze and knead the fondant again until the color is uniform.**
- Roll fondant flat (with a roller or with your hands) and drape over the top of the ‘mushrooms’.
- Decorate your mushrooms heads with icing, gel food dye, or those flat icecream sprinkles. I wanted to do that last one, but I couldn`t find any, so I had to make do with what I had. That seems to be the theme of the whole process, actually.
* For the mushroom shape, we want the batter to puff out the top of the pan so there is a stem and cap area to the treats. For more normal cake pop needs, it might make more sense to only fill the mold half way with batter, so it comes out in a more spherical shape.
** In the pictures, my mushrooms look very white. That is because gel dye doesn`t work here. If only I`d had some liquid food dye on hand! I suppose I`ll survive the inconvenience. I just thought I`d give you a heads up so you don`t have the same frustrations that I had.
You could always make normal cake pops and somehow make them look mushroomy, but I kind of like this happy accident. It came out pretty cool, you have to admit! I`m glad there weren`t any lollipop sticks on hand, and all of the popsicle sticks had mysteriously disappeared. I really need to plan more when I bake, I guess. In my defense, I`ve never claimed to be a baker, and could live out my days happily as a cook only. But then I`d never have bread or birthday cake, as hardly any bakeries sell gluten free things fresh, so I`ve had to suck it up and push out of my comfort zone. Maybe it`s better that way. Either way, I`m glad it`s the way it is!
This is the exact recipe I used from about dot com. I don`t recommend it, it was terribly difficult to work with, impossible to shape, had none of the smoothness of fondant, and none of the shine.
- 8 ounces miniature marshmallows (4 cups not packed, or half of a 16-ounce bag)
- 1 pound powdered sugar (4 cups), plus extra for dusting
- 2 tbsp water
- Food coloring or flavored extracts, optional
- Dust your counter or a large cutting board with powdered sugar. Place the marshmallows and the water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, until the marshmallows are puffy and expanded.
- Stir the marshmallows with a rubber spatula until they are melted and smooth. If some unmelted marshmallow pieces remain, return to the microwave for 30-45 seconds, until the marshmallow mixture is entirely smooth and free of lumps. If you want colored or flavored fondant, you can add several drops of food coloring or extracts at this point and stir until incorporated. If you want to create multiple colors or flavors from one batch of fondant, do not add the colors or flavors now. Instead, refer to step 6 below for instructions.
- Add the powdered sugar and begin to stir with the spatula. Stir until the sugar begins to incorporate and it becomes impossible to stir anymore.
- Scrape the marshmallow-sugar mixture out onto the prepared work surface. It will be sticky and lumpy, with lots of sugar that has not been incorporated yet–this is normal. Dust your hands with powdered sugar, and begin to knead the fondant mixture like bread dough, working the sugar into the marshmallow with your hands.
- Continue to knead the fondant until it smoothes out and loses its stickiness. Add more sugar if necessary, but stop adding sugar once it is smooth–too much sugar will make it stiff and difficult to work with. Once the fondant is a smooth ball, it is ready to be used. You can now roll it out, shape it, or wrap it in cling wrap to use later. Well-wrapped fondant can be stored in a cool room or in the refrigerator, and needs to be kneaded until supple before later use.
- If you want to add coloring or flavoring to your fondant, flatten it into a round disc. You might want to wear gloves to avoid getting food coloring on your hands during this step. Add your desired amount of coloring or flavoring to the center of the disc, and fold the disc over on itself so that the color or flavor is enclosed in the center of the fondant ball.
- Begin to knead the ball of fondant just like you did before. As you work it, you will begin to see streaks of color coming through from the center. Continue to knead until the streaks are gone and the fondant is a uniform color. Your fondant is now ready to be used or stored.
*I still don`t recommend it. Find a recipe for a good fondant that actually works, or make white modeling chocolate that you can easily dye. Just skip this recipe, as it was really annoying.
And now you can go to town with some extra decorations and cuteness! These really are rather cute when done properly, and somehow managed to be cute when done horribly as well!
What do you think of this new and unconventional cakey shape? Is it a no go, or are the ‘stems’ the perfect handles for eating, and being cheap on real lollipop sticks? Tell me what you think!
For more information on cake pops, please visit my earlier post on the subject here. You can also look at this tutorial for more conventional looking and built cake pops in this other blogger`s post, Cake Pops for Dummies.