I’d like to start out by blaming my friend Jamie.
Because she’s the kind of friend that grabs the popcorn and watches her friends dive off of deadly cliffs, such as the time she noted that our friend Katherine didn’t know how to use Instagram properly, but instead of educating her, she just unfollowed her, leaving poor Katherine to her doomed destiny of Instagramming her hemorrhoids for all to see.
(I’ll wait here until you get back from reading that story – no worries – no photos were included.)
So yes. My failure, too, is Jamie’s fault, although the silver lining is that it was just my dessert that was ruined and not my dignity.
It’s Jamie’s fault because she makes all of these adorable, delicious, beautiful cake pops, and she makes it look all easy and stuff. And when I told her that I, too, was going to make Cake Pops for Thanksgiving, she said, “Oh, great!”, and that’s it.
Instead of what she clearly should have said, which was, “STOP, RACHEL! Making cake pops is more difficult than creating a nuclear bomb from pencil shavings!! You will destroy your kitchen, ruin your relationship with your family, and hate yourself in the morning!!”
But she didn’t.
She casually watched me drive my Dessert Train right off the Cliffs of Insanity, eating her own popcorn-shaped Cake Pops as I plummeted to my death.
(No – seriously – she really does make cake pops in the shape of popcorn.)
So you see how this is all her fault.
Chris and I host Thanksgiving at our house for both of our families combined. Everyone makes something, and my responsibility this year was the turkey (which I admittedly didn’t actually make), the mashed potatoes, and a dessert.
I decided on Cake Pops because Noah’s cake balls came out so delicious (albeit ugly), and right after making them I found the Gingerbread Cake Mix I was looking for.
How hard could it be to just add sticks, right?
Here’s how it went down:
1. I used the opportunity to spread the propaganda of my Fabulous Mother Status (FMS): I told Ali that she could have a special treat and stay up late on Thanksgiving Eve and help me bake.
2. We had made the cake earlier in the day, but needed to crumble it. Jamie had recommended using a food processor. Halfway through Cake Emulsification, my food processor’s blade broke off (how can cake break a metal blade?!?), and took out several chunks of surrounding plastic.
3. The blade was in one piece, but the plastic was not. Panicked, I sifted through every bit of crumbled cake in search of more plastic. I found a couple pieces. So I sifted again. And again. And again – until I didn’t find any foreign substances.
4. I asked Chris if I should throw the whole thing out. But husbands can sense impending breakdowns like dogs can sense fear, so he quickly went into reassurance mode.
“What? No. Plastic is harmless. And I bet you found it all. And this is totally not like that time that you exploded an entire Pyrex dish into the giant pot of soup.”
(I did throw that out, for the record.)
4. Ali and I mixed the icing into the cake crumbs, again looking for plastic. We began scooping and shaping cake balls with the nifty Wilton Cake Ball Scooper I had bought just for the occasion.
5. After 32 balls, the not-so-nifty Cake Ball Scooper broke.
6. I fixed said Cake Ball Scooper.
7. After 1 ball, the loathsome Cake Ball Scooper broke again, this time permanently.
8. I made the remaining balls by hand, cursing Wilton and it’s cheap manufacturing (but somewhat looking forward to returning it to Michael’s Lady.)
9. As the balls chilled, I began heating our Wilton candies for the outside coating.
(Because Jamie had recommended Wilton over my previous use of White Chocolate Bark.)
Due to my already frantic disposition, I managed to overheat (and therefore completely ruin) a bag and a half of candies, leaving me dangerously short of coating.
10. Ali and I began coating with the color that melted best – orange. Chris came in and started taking pictures, sensing somehow that I’d want to savor this beautiful moment of mother/daughter bonding.
I did not.
11. The cake pops would not stay on their stick. They were crumbling in the melted coating, making a disgusting mess. They were behaving worse than a gold digger at Trump’s mansion. I was quickly losing my ability to act suitably in front of my daughter, and my FMS was nearly depleted.
12. The behavior of the Cake Pops became even more sordid. My frustration grew, and Ali disappeared every few minutes with the explanation of,
“I’m going to go talk to Daddy for a minute.”
Then she’d return with the report of,
“Daddy says you’re going to be okay.”
13. With the popping difficulties and the ruined candies, I quickly ran out of coating. But it was late Thanksgiving Eve, I was tired, and my options were limited to whatever I could find in the house. So I frantically demanded that Chris pull apart the pantry and look for anything that I could melt and coat over stupid horrid spiteful balls of cake. This request resulted in a vast amount of my pantry being emptied and placed on the kitchen table.
“Icing? How about icing? I’d eat them with icing.”
“Oooh…marshmallows. Can you use those?”
14. I took over the search and found my bag of Wilton melts from a former baking project and began melting them, knowing that it was potentially (okay probably) well past their expiration date.
15. I completely gave up on pop-making and resigned myself to making gruesomely ugly cake balls again. But they were even uglier than mine and Noah’s had been, because I quickly learned that Wilton’s candy doesn’t coat as easily as the White Chocolate Bark. So I ended up with Ugly Cake Balls coated too thickly with expired candy.
(Happy Thanksgiving, family.)
16. And an obscenely messy kitchen.
17. And dining room table.
18. And all of TWO actual Cake Pops.
(Both of which I’m saving for a very special occasion.)
(Like the Queen of England AND Ryan Seacrest coming to visit on the same day.)
19. After spending the rest of the evening cleaning the traumatic mess, I decided that I better try a cake ball to make sure that they weren’t too offensive. So I bit into one of the ugliest ones.
20. I chewed. I felt something funny. I worked at it with my tongue. And I found a piece of plastic stuck in my tooth.
From the very first bite.
21. Chris grabbed my hands right before I started pommeling the wall with cake balls and quickly soothed me, assuring me that I had most definitely found the last piece of plastic – way to go!! – and that the rest were totally safe now.
I moaned, saying that I could never serve them for Thanksgiving.
He reassured me, telling me it was just family – they’d never know.
I texted Jamie with contempt over her allowing me to fail so blatantly.
She called me.
“Oh yes – there are a million things that can go wrong with cake pops.”
Really. Really? REALLY?!?!?!
Thanks for the timely information.
But ultimately, I absolutely served* those vile cake balls – they didn’t suck away two years from the end of my life and every bit of thankfulness out of my soul for nothing.
And nobody – not a single person – asphyxiated during dessert.
* I did offer a Surgeon General’s Warning to my family, strongly recommending that they not partake. But they ate them anyway – perhaps only to have the opportunity to sue me later.