Hello hello, lovely people! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and very happy New Year. It’s hard to believe it’s 2018 already. This past year has been amazing and full of new and exciting things. One of which was that cookie order I told you about. If you don’t remember, I had a coworker come to me asking to bake cookies for her daughter’s first birthday party after she tried the cookies I brought to the Halloween party at work. They looked like this (I’ll go ahead and apologize for the photo lighting and quality. It gets dark at 5 pm and I don’t have a fancy lighting setup. So bear with me, folks!)
They were Pumpkin Spice flavor, obviously!
I was ecstatic! They were vegan cookies and just knowing that people enjoyed them that much was such wonderful news to me. I feel like people can judge vegan foods and vegan people pretty harshly but I find the best activism of all is providing delicious foods for people to try! It’s broadened the minds of so many of my friends and family members over the last year. But, anyway, back to the story.
After talking with her a couple weeks later we hashed out a plan. The party was one week from Christmas so you could say I was sweating a little. I had planned to bake and decorate cookies as gifts this year. Plus, I was making homemade sugar scrubs and other gifts that would require quite a bit of work right before Christmas. That mixed with it being the first time someone would be paying for my baking had me on edge. But, nevertheless, I survived and I’m here to tell you about it.
My coworker, after some deliberation, decided she wanted two dozen cookies, two dozen cake pops, and a big batch of chocolate covered pretzels. Cue the internal panic. I assure her that this would be no problem at all and as she leaves my office I deflate. Quick as a flash I take to Pinterest, Google, blog after blog, Youtube, and so much more to come up with design ideas and, quite frankly, figure out how the hell to make a cake pop. That’s right, I agreed to make this woman cake pops when I had never even attempted them before. Like, what? I was panicked. But I’ve always been the type of person who can teach herself to do just about anything given enough time. So there I sat until I was fairly certain I could master the cake pop.
But of course I couldn’t leave it to chance and risk messing up her order, so I set out to gather all the supplies I needed to practice. I got vegan white chocolate coins for dipping, lollipop sticks, princess themed cookie cutters, and more. The hardest part was finding sprinkles that didn’t contain confectioner’s glaze. That one was super tough but I eventually conquered at Walmart. Whew, what a relief!
Back at home I set up my battle station. I baked up some cookies first and practiced my royal icing a little more.
I looked ready to charge into a sugar-dusted war zone. I decorated my cookies and gave them to my husband and his friends to taste test. So there’s no evidence of the final product. I then excitedly baked my cake, cooled it, and crumbled it up. Then, thanks to my Youtube-ing, put it into my food processor with a spoonful of frosting. Then, I pulsed until the mixture stuck together in a ball on its own. Now I was ready for the fun part (or at least at the time I thought it’d be fun…) Thanks to a very handy tool I picked up on Amazon, a meat-baller of all things, I was able to knock out about thirty cake pops in about an hour. Undecorated of course. After they had set up in the fridge, I began the arduous task of decorating them. For the practice run I just used vegan dark chocolate chips because they are cheaper than the white chocolate I bought. I didn’t want to waste it. All in all it went smoothly and I was confident I would be able to knock it out of the park come go time.
A couple mishaps occurred, naturally. There were a couple cracks and leaky spots on the cake pops, but once again, thanks to my research, I was able to fix them all up no problem. Thank goodness for the internet is all i have to say about that! I also decided to knock out a few cookies to get designs hammered out. The party was going to be pink and gold princess themed so I made a few tiaras, some flowers, and some number ones. I Once I was settled on designs I cleaned up my mess, my husband and I shared the spoils of my adventure, and I put it all out of my mind.
Until the week of the party. It was a hectic week, given that I had to work on top of also making all these treats. How and why did I talk myself into agreeing to do this? It took three days of work but I managed to get it all done. Even with the disaster that struck.
Remember how I said that for my trial run I used dark chocolate to coat the cake pops? Well, when I went to make the cake pops for the party I decided half would be chocolate and the other half white chocolate. The inside was strawberry cake so that when guests bit into them there was a pop of pink. For decoration I was going to use these adorable white and gold assorted sprinkles. All was fine and dandy until I dipped my first white chocolate pop. Right away I could tell the consistency was different than normal white chocolate. It wasn’t setting up as quickly as the dark chocolate. Uh oh. The first one cake out looking like a bumpy, clumpy mess, and once the sprinkles went on, the weight of them pushed the chocolate down the sides of the cake pop so that it just puddled onto the makeshift cake pop stand I had fashioned from an old cardboard box. This wasn’t looking good. My second attempt I made sure to let all the excess drip off and had the bright idea to rotate the pop continuously so that it would dry evenly. This took forever. At this rate I’d be coating cake pops until I retired.
My makeshift stand. It worked in a pinch. (Don’t worry I removed my address from the box labels!)
Instead of freaking out I did the only thing I could think to do and grabbed a fan. Then, for the rest of the cake pops I dipped, swirled, and then stood in front of this fan, on high no less, until each and every pop had dried. The timing had to be perfect enough that the chocolate was set enough not to run but still wet enough that sprinkles would stick to them. It was a regular PITA (if you know what I mean). But, I came out victoriously in the end. Once those were finished I set them aside to dry completely while I did the pretzels. Again, the white chocolate didn’t set up very quickly but this wasn’t much of an issue since the pretzels were laid flat on parchment and didn’t need to be perfectly spherical like the pops. So that took no time. At this point I’m finally feeling like this was all worth it. Especially since my husband and I nibbled away on the failed or broken pretzels. The “rejects” I called them.
Last were the cookies, as I wanted to wait as long as possible to bake them. If they were baked too early they’d be stale come party time. So I baked them Friday night and let them cool completely. I had the brilliant idea (okay it wasn’t my idea, I actually veganized this recipe) to add sprinkles to the batter to give it a more interesting appearance. I don’t know about you but sprinkles scream birthday party to me!
Just look how exciting that dough looks!
The cookies rolled out perfectly and I got them all cut out and baked. That night, once cooled, I layered on my first layers of royal icing. I use aquafaba instead of egg whites in the traditional recipes. It works beautifully and doesn’t give any weird flavor. Well, at least no one’s ever told me it tasted off. This went well, albeit messy. I had icing in my hair, on my clothes, in the carpet in the upstairs room where I had set up my station. But there would be time for cleanup later. Saturday I spent a good portion of the morning airbrushing (which is kind of a pain if you’re new to it…like I am), putting decorative details on cookies, and wrapping up all the cake pops.
Didn’t turn out half bad for a rookie!
Oh the cake pops. Thought you’d heard the last about those, didn’t you? Hah! When I went to wrap them in cellophane I noticed the white chocolate ones were leaking oil. Oh god tell me this isn’t happening! When cake pops leak oil like that it means there’s more than likely a small, barely visible with the naked eye, hole somewhere in the chocolate coating. Because the white chocolate was thinner, some places developed holes. So, I took a deep breath, muttered a few choice words under my breath, and set to work wiping away the oil and patching the holes with melted chocolate. You have no idea (or I mean maybe you do, I don’t know you’re life story) how hard it is to patch up cake pop while still keeping the surface smooth and pretty. I felt like a surgeon, working with intense focus and precision. It was back breaking work but I got them fixed and bagged. Hallelujah!
In a jar for picture purposes. I later placed them all into a container with a lid for transport.
Everything else went off without too many hiccups. Sunday morning when I went to box up the cookies I noticed that the gold sprinkles has bled into the white icing, so I quickly covered them with pink icing, hoping no one would be the wiser.
Then I packed up my car and off I went the two miles down the road to her house (coincidentally enough she really just lived across the street). I was sweating I was so nervous. What if she hated them? What if they tasted bad? They’d surely blame veganism and not just my novice skills. I was tense and hot.
But no! She thought they were perfect! I breathed for the first time all morning after showing them to her. She had a cookie right on the spot and said they were “so good”! This just lit up my heart. Here was a non-vegan eating my treats and loving them. A whole party of people would be eating these dairy and egg free creations! It was my little way of doing just a little activism. And it felt great.
We left so they could finish setting up for the party and on Monday she let me know everything was a hit. AND many people had asked her where she bought the cookies. She even asked me for a Christmas cookie order but unfortunately there was not enough time before I went out of town for the holidays.
After weeks of stressing it was all over and had gone swimmingly (for the most part). I actually had a blast decorating and baking everything and can’t wait to do it all over again sometime soon. Or, ya know, next Christmas. Hah!
So, there ya have it; that’s the story. I hope you guys had a wonderful 2017 and have had a great start to 2018. With new years come new opportunities. So get out there and try something new! Don’t be afraid to fail because you might just surprise yourself. I know I did.
Until next time,