Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bedtime Cake Pop Story

OK. So.  It is a bit past my normal bedtime the night before I work but I know I need to tell somebody this story otherwise I'll just be thinking about it in bed and I won't be able to go to sleep.  I started to text it to a friend but it got way too long so I figured I'd just blog it.  Here goes.

I'm going to tell you the story how I am able to bless others with cake pops.

It is a little bit silly but it isn't at the same time.  It's hit me multiple times lately but today when someone was sharing about how he only allows himself to have one cake pop from Starbucks per month and that my cake pop today was like a super special treat... and to see another girl take thirds... I became extremely thankful for this joy-giving ministry that's somehow developed over the past year or so.

Cake pops were invented by a baker/blogger named Bakerella back in 2008.  I had no idea.  I remember seeing one that someone else had made and I thought that it was pretty awesome but when I heard how she made them, I thought it was kinda gross.  I thought they were super cute though.

Christmas 2011, my Cousinish put a cake pop maker on her Elfster wishlist and I decided to get it for her.  Through some really quick online searching, I was able to find that cake pop maker she wanted... for $3 after rebates.  So I got myself one too.  Just for kicks.

Another friend and I decided to try it out and after spending 8+ hours making pops the very first time I used the machine... I think I swore I was done making those things.  It was a lot of trial and error and I'm thankful that my friend was super patient with the whole process because it wasn't exactly a smooth process in the beginning.  I think we made over 100 that night to give away as Christmas gifts.

I feel as though... the moment I give pops away... I forget all the toil and labor that went into making them.  It seriously lifts my spirits to give them away and to have it be received so... ravenously at times.

I decided to make them again for my birthday in January.  I made cute little tags for them.

After making them with sprinkles, I wanted to try decorating them in a new and different way.  So I decided to use the piping tips I had and pipe something.  Swirly something or other.  I think I piped 2 or 3 before I stopped and decided that they were too ugly and I went back to decorating with sprinkles.  But something told me to think about myself and what I think is pretty... I think flowers are pretty... so I decided to try one more time and pipe a flower.  I piped a sloppy daisy.  And I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

At the time, I only had white and brown chocolate so brown is what I used for piping.  I also looked at my sloppy daisy and decided that the middle was gloopy and ugly and needed some beautifying.  I had also bought these pearl sprinkles which I thought were really pretty but they're too big to be used to decorate cake pops the way I was decorating them before so I had never used them.  I tried putting one... it wasn't enough.  I tried doing 5, it was too many and too hard to control... 3 was perfect.  This was the result... and it became my signature decoration.

The brown was pretty but I wanted pink.  Not just Wilton's Candy Melt pink... I wanted HOT PINK chocolate.  So I googled it.  And I found it.  I drove to pretty much every cake decorating store in a 30 mile radius... picking up random supplies here and there... to make more pops.

My co-workers were also on a cake pop making thing... so we all made cake pops together.  It was a learning experience for us as well.

Anyway... fast forward... I decided to just take holidays as an excuse to make them and give them away.  I made some for fourth of July.  I also made some when I transferred to my new unit as some sort of peace offering or maybe a bribe so they'd be nice to me and/or maybe like me.  Turns out they didn't really need the pops to be nice to me... they were nice all on their own and the pops were just a way for me to say thank you for welcoming me onto your unit.

I gave some to physicians who walk into the unit sometimes... and the last time I made pops, I got the funniest reactions.  One doc told me that I make high quality pops in a deep Indian accent.  After offering one to another doc, he told me, "I don't have any money".  LOL.  And after I told him I'm not selling, I'm giving them... he said he didn't want to get fat.  I gave one each to two docs sitting next to each other and by the time I turned around, they were both holding the sticks in their hand.  I joked that I missed the race so I didn't see who ate them the fastest.  Anyway.  Good times at work.

And then last fourth of July, I gave one to a random stranger who was sharing the hospital room with my friend and she told me it was the first time she'd smiled in 3 days.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I made them as wedding favors for her wedding.  We got a chance to spend time together and at the end of the day, we both had a very content feeling... that we accomplished something great... and we both felt so happy.

At that time, I also looked at a plain white pop and wondered if I could pipe a baseball.  So I did.  It was for the groom and his groomsmen.

So I'd felt pretty successful and accomplished thus far.

Until today.

I wanted to bake something today but I wasn't sure what I was going to bake.  I've been baking a lot more lately since Jon and Miranda gave me an Amish Friendship Bread starter.  People seem to really like it whenever I make it so I just keep making it.  I make loaves, I make muffins... I made OG cinnamon, pistachio, chocolate chocolate chip, lemon poppyseed, butterscotch... and people devour them at work so I just keep making them.  And the starter keeps growing.  So I keep baking.

I decided to try making pistachio pops.  They turned out really well in the maker.  I'm working tomorrow so I made a bunch for work and I had small groups tonight as well so I wanted to make a few for them as well.

After making the balls, I moved on to dipping.  I don't know what I did exactly... but my white chocolate seized.  Melted chocolate seizes when water gets into it.  It congeals into a gloppy, sloppy mess.  I was just about ready to throw it out and start over but... I decided I wanted to rescue my seized chocolate.  You can sometimes save seized chocolate by adding some sort of fat to it.  I added palm kernel oil to it.  It's used to thin the chocolate but it's also a fat so I figured I'd try it.  It worked.  Kind of.  But it got kinda lumpy in the process... so I used a stick blender to smooth it out.  Totally worked.  All this trouble shooting took a lot of time but I felt victorious so I pressed on.  I had thinned the chocolate too much but it was already really full in my little pot so I decided to just dip with it.  It just takes longer to dip with really runny chocolate.  It doesn't dry as quickly.  Drips all over the place.  Anyway.  I finally used up all the white chocolate... and I had dipped about 56 pops.  Now to pipe.

I had never had problems piping.  It just came really natural to me.  Today, my green chocolate also started to seize in my squeeze bottle.  There were bubbles... I couldn't pipe smoothly... I piped 12 of the ugliest pops I had ever piped.  At this point I got so frustrated and disheartened.  I was on the verge of tears.  I was already 5 hours into the process... hitting snags all along the way... and now I couldn't even pipe.  I almost gave up.

And then I stopped myself and realized how stupid I was being.  Why am I crying over the fact that something I could do flawlessly over and over again in the past... I suddenly couldn't do anymore?  Perhaps it was the culmination of all my Olympics watching... after watching the faces of Lochte, the US men's gymnastic team, the Russian women's gymnastic team... I... just got really emotional.  And when I thought about trying to tell someone... the moment I thought about why I was so sad... I felt dumb.  There are so many worse things to be sad about than my horrid piping job.  I ate an ugly pop.  Still tasted fine.

So I prayed.  I thanked God for the blessing and His grace in gifting me with the ability to pipe previously.  I said sorry for taking the skill for granted and for having pride in my own ability to repeat it.  Even the ability to pipe something pretty... is a gift from God.  The wisdom to make 5 overlapping circles into something beautiful... didn't exactly come from me either.  It somehow just hit me and all of the sudden I was able to do it.  What a gift.  How dare I take it for granted!

U edition
I was just about to throw away the green chocolate and start over again... but I decided to try piping one more time.  It got better.  I piped the other 48 pops with hardly any issues and I got it done in record time.  I almost scraped off the ugly green chocolate off the remaining 11 initial pops... but I decided to just keep them the way they were.  They are "extra grace required" pops... and also extra humility required to give them because it takes a lot for me to give someone something that I feel is ugly.  It was because of those ugly pops that I came to the realization that I was being prideful and ungrateful for the gift God had given me.  So they became special edition U pops.  U for ugly.

It's getting really late now and I'm almost to the end of my story.

Even though I was able to finish up the pops mostly to my standards... I still felt tired and frustrated from the process...albeit still thankful for God's grace to help me finish the rest of them and for somehow miraculously saving my green chocolate.  I don't know if it unseized or what happened but I was able to pipe the rest of the pops with it.

I almost didn't go to small groups tonight because I felt so yucky about the day... but I went anyway and I'm glad I did.  Not only did it help me to be around people and to hear everyone's highs and lows... which again, showed me that getting upset over bad piping was kinda silly... but laughing with people and getting a chance to know more about people was really uplifting.  They also really seemed to enjoy the cake pops, which made me happy as well.

I left there feeling glad that I'd gone through the entire process today of battling to finish making these pops because I'd learned so much in the process and the day ended with being able to give a little happiness to others.  I'm also not sure what happened to the rest of the U edition pops because when I got home tonight, only one was left in the fridge.  Hope they found their way into someone's happy tummy.  None of this would have happened without all those events taking place over the past year... and so those smiles from the cake pops I gave tonight has a long story behind it.  It is very meaningful to me whenever I give a pop that's evolved over so many iterations and especially today's pistachio pops... was the result of my hard work and nearly defeated heart.  Those smiles made it worth it. The whole day was so, so worth it.  I'm glad.  And I really need to sleep now.

Anyway... so that's my bedtime cake pop story.
<3 p="p">Tiff

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