I’ve queued in Paris for the legendary macarons from Laudurée, tiny pastries that have become the must-have treats for the prim and proper girls and dessert snobs. And in New York, I never missed a Saturday afternoon with my friends at the Magnolia Bakery and its frosted cupcakes, made famous by the ladies from Sex and the City, or else at the equally good Baked by Melissa where the tiny, bite-sized cupcakes have revolutionized the treat with its finger-food format.
Like all art forms, even pastry baking evolves and mutates over time, transforming and following the current fashion, re-inventing its shapes, sizes and colours. And if up until a few years ago the trend in baking (if you look at books, classes and the ambitions of those working in the field) were monumental-sized cakes, today there’s a preference for something a bit smaller and more manageable: something that even the common mortals can try to replicate at home to impress their friends.
They’re called cake pops, the newest, smallest revolution for the palate: tiny, colourful, round and utterly irresistible. They’re fun little desserts to eat in just a few bites, and decidedly “to go”: you can eat them like a lollipop, and they’re covered with chocolate – either milk or dark – and various, colourful graphic decorations. Something between a sweet treat and a fashion accessory.
It’s a contagious trend that’s putting desperate housewives to work, as well as all manner of creative designers looking for a new genre. And, of course, anyone with a sweet tooth. Cake pops were first launched by the blogger Angie Dudley from Bakerella who, from Martha Stewart’s living room, transformed truffle like balls of chocolate-coated cake into the phenomenon of the moment.
Delicious, miniature, less demanding than a cake and, most of all, lots of fun, with a wide range of shapes and colours. Which to choose? From a Christmas tree, complete with decorative balls, to frogs and sheep, to soccer balls, to one in the shape of an ice-cream cone, to Hello Kitty, dragons, bees, and Santa’s reindeer. Basically, the repertoire is endless!
What’s the secret to the cake pop success? Much like it’s “big sister”, the cupcake, making these cake pops doesn’t require a great deal of baking expertise. All you need is a heavy dose of patience and precision, and be good at following instructions, let your imagination run wild, and keep Angie’s motto in mind: «The more chocolate, the better».
You don’t need much to begin: a cake cooked the day before, frosting or cream cheese and a selection of sprinkles and pastry decoration. And a little bit of self-restraint. After all, cake pops are so tiny, you might not have enough to share!