Saturday, April 16, 2011

International Incident Party! (Boston Cream Pie Cake Pops)

Boston Cream Pie Cake Pops...
This has a "vintage" feel mostly because I ran low on light! 8)
Is anyone else sick of hearing that this or that treat is going to be "the next cupcake"? The sweets I've heard mentioned most are cake pops, French macarons, whoopie pies, and now even regular pies. I mean I know what what people mean when they say it (i.e., "the next big thing"), but please just let each treat have it's own identity! Plus I'm pretty sure actual cupcakes ain't goin' away anytime soon 8).

Partly due to my aversion to fads plus just plain lack of interest, I'd neither tasted nor made cake pops until last month. Then one rainy night right after a particularly painful chemistry exam, I really needed some sugary cheer. Thats when I caved to the adorable pink "birthday cake pops" at Starbucks. Big mistake...after struggling to even bite through the overly thick candy coating, my taste buds balked to be assuaged with greasy, tooth-achingly sweet mush that had long lost any resemblance to real cake.

Boston Cream Pie Cake Pops In Progress...
Was this what all the fuss was about? was my first thought. But the funny thing is (and this will tell you something of my personality) rather than put me off from cake pops forever, this experience made me suddenly determined to redeem what was actually a pretty great idea for parties and/or for using leftover cake. I was on a mission, ladies and gentlemen, to save the cake pop from my own worst judgment! It seemed to be fated, then, when Penny of Jeroxie announced her latest blog event, the International Incident Cake Pops Party, the very next week. Now I had some serious motivation to try my own cake pops at home.

So it's nearly impossible to mention cake pops without mentioning Bakerella. While I'm not certain she "invented" the treat, she's the one person most responsible for their ever-increasing popularity as far as I can tell. My first stops in formulating my own recipe were naturally her blog and very helpful video tutorial.

Other than the usual goal of creating cute n' tasty treats, I had several others in mind: to avoid (1) an overly mushy/greasy/sweet filling, (2) flavorless cake, and (3) excessive coating. My solution was to make cake and frosting from scratch and only dip my pops once in each coating. By going homemade, I held more control over the flavor and sweetness of my filling. While the appeal of storebought mix and frosting is understandable, you can't expect great taste from such ingredients. The last and trickiest part of cake pops for me was the texture. Too little frosting and the pop falls apart, too much and it's got the mouthfeel of gooey paste. Considering the variation of moistness in cakes, I highly recommend adding a little frosting at a time until it feels right over dumping in a whole can.

Fail Pops =p
Fail Pops: before I figured out the best dipping method =p
Now for the fun part...the flavor! My inspiration for these pops was Boston Cream Pie, which is not a pie but a yellow cake with pastry cream and chocolate glaze. I had a lot of fun figuring out how to incorporate a soft filling into the pop. While you obviously won't get the same lovely texture contrasts as in the original cake (which I highly recommend you try), I'm really pleased with how my cake pops turned out. The filling is creamy, not too sweet, and as flavorful as the yellow cake that went into it. The chocolate coating is a ganache and thus a little softer than melted chocolate, which makes it a bit more reminiscent of glaze. And the pastry cream filling adds a bonus surprise, allowing you to experience 3 textures in one bite-size treat.

Lastly, please don't forget to check out the cake pops of all the other International Incident partyers by clicking on the thumbnails at the bottom of this post below the recipe.
Also remember to nominate your favorite blogs for Saveur Magazine's 2011 Best Food Blog Awards (nominations close April 22; finalists to be announced April 26)!


P.S. - I finally created a Facebook page for my little blog. I'd be honored if you'd check it out and "like" it =D

Boston Cream Pie Cake Pops [Printable Recipe]
General procedure adapted from Bakerella
Makes 45 to 50 lollipops

XIAOLU'S NOTES: Honestly it's fastest and easiest to use your hands to work with the cake mixture, so wash 'em up and dig in! =D Though I was hoping to achieve a more cake-like texture to these pops, I eventually realized that a certain amount of "mushing" is required to make the pop adhere to the stick and itself. If you've never tried cake pops before, please be prepared for a creamy, truffle-like consistency inside. Do NOT use water-based liquid or gel coloring as this will cause the chocolate to clump up.

Moist Yellow Cake (Recipe below or use your favorite)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, as needed
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted and as needed

Pastry Cream Filling (Recipe below)
1 lb. white chocolate chips
1 Tbsp trans fat-free shortening (such as Earth Balance)
1 tsp canola or vegetable oil
Cream/brown/yellow oil-based or powder food coloring (optional)
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp light corn syrup

About 45 to 50 lollipop sticks
Styrofoam block, to hold cake pops upright while drying

Transfer pastry cream to freezer. After cake has cooled completely, crumble it into a large bowl, removing any overcooked/crusty pieces. Try to roll the mixture into a quarter-size ball. If the ball isn't moist enough to hold together, you'll need to add some buttercream. Make the buttercream by beating the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and mix in thoroughly. Now add buttercream 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to the cake mixture, incorporating it into the crumbs completely between each addition, until the mixture is moist enough to hold together in a ball.

Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper, and take the pastry cream out of the freezer. Make round "bowls" out of about 1 tablespoon of the cake mixture (make the middle hole with your fingertip) and fill the middle with a scant teaspoon of cold pastry cream. Press another 1/2 tablespoon of cake mixture to make a "lid" for the "bowl." Cover the cream-filled cake ball with the cake piece, press edges together, and roll/press the cake ball to make an approximately 1 1/2-inch diameter cake ball. Repeat until the remaining cake mixture has been used up.

Place white chocolate chips and shortening into a heatproof bowl and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until it's completely melted. Add cream/brown and yellow food coloring a little at a time, mixing thoroughly between each, until you have a light yellowish-tan cake color. Mix in the vegetable oil. Dip the tip of your lollipop sticks in a little melted chocolate and insert into the cake balls (about halfway in). Place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up so they won't melt when dipped in the hot chocolate.

Once firm, carefully hold a cake pop sideways (but angled slightly upward) just above the melted chocolate, and quickly pour 3 large spoonfuls of melted chocolate over the ball, then rotate the ball to the opposite side and do the same. Now check if any spots are still uncoated and pour large spoons of chocolate over them. Once covered, softly tap the stick against the edge of the bowl for about 10 to 15 seconds until the excess chocolate drips off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off, too! And do NOT rotate the stick or the coating won't be as smooth anymore. Stick cake pops straight down into a styrofoam block to dry or place down onto a parchment-lined pan with the sticks pointing straight up. Do NOT refrigerate as this will lead to condensation on the coating (freezing is fine).

Meanwhile, place heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place chopped semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling cream over the chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Stir the mixture until smooth and shiny. Add butter and corn syrup and mix well. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Dip the cake pops diagonally into the chocolate, then hold over the bowl for a few seconds to allow excess to drip off. Place cake pops back in styrofoam block or on parchment-lined pan. Let cake pops cool completely or freeze, then enjoy at cool room temperature with friends!

Moist Yellow Cake
Makes a 2-layer 9-inch cake

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup PLUS 1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 large egg yolks, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of two 9 x 1 1/2-inch round pans. Grease the pans lightly with oil or cooking spray, then place the paper in the pans and grease the paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, vinegar, oil, butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with on medium to medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and yolks and continue beating an additional 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake for 22 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake comes out clean, or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool cakes on wire racks for 15 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

Pastry Cream Filling
Adapted from Bakewise
Makes about 1 cup

2/3 cup milk [not skim]
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp PLUS 1 tsp cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Add milk and cream to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the liquid starts to produce steam. In medium heatproof bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and cornstarch and stir until evenly combined. Drizzle the hot liquid mixture into the sugar mixture, whisking immediately and continuously. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly.

In a medium bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot mixture into the yolks, then add the yolks to the saucepan. Bring everything to a boil, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom, until the custard thickens and becomes smooth. Make sure to bring the entire mixture to a good boil; otherwise, the enzymes in the egg yolks will break apart the starch and the custard will become soupy instead of thick.

Pour the custard into a bowl and cover. Stir in vanilla and butter, mixing until butter is completely melted and mixed in. Once it has cooled to room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

87 comments:

  1. Yes I was surprised how truffle-like the are inside. I was kind of expecting them to be gross but I kind of liked them. A lot. Which is why I just sent my batch off with my husband to a potluck. SO I don't eat them all. I LOVE your version of these - filled with pastry cream.... My fave!!!!

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  2. I too have been dying to try those charming birthday cake pops but have held back exactly for fear of the experience that you described. Your cake pops look lovely and, being a Bostonian, I can't help but love the ole' cream pie.

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  3. These are cute cute cute. i am not very fond of any kind of cake with cream etc. So these small pops actually work better for me. As for the starbucks pink ones, good that u told. Now I am not getting them for my gals:)

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  4. Love the flavor! I've never seen anyone do a Boston Cream Pie pop before, that's an inspired idea.

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  5. very nice and yummy...:D

    Is this the new craze? I can't even master macarons yet...'sigh'

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  6. Xialou,these pops looks so pro & gorgeous.I really like the style of dipping half of the pop in dark chocolate.I cant wait to try them.

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  7. This recipe begs a full photo tutorial that walks us through the process from the point where you crumble the cake to the finished product poked into the styrofoam block to 'set up'... I tried reading through the recipe and got confused ... sorry that I'm ditzy.

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  8. These look pretty enough for any affair! And I love the idea of a filling. I've only made cake pops once before and didn't quite have the patience to master the proper dipping technique. I think I'll have to try again soon though.

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  9. These are super cute and perfect for party! I am going to try these sometime. I don't like cake with frosting/ cream on top .. but this looks nice :)

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  10. Those look incredibly scrumptious! What a divine treat. They are beautiful.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  11. I've been studying a lot in Starbucks lately and I have to say, I wondered about those pops! Glad to know I'm not missing out by not trying any...won't waste the calories. I'll just make these little beauties instead!

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  12. I hadn't tried cake pops either... they did sound too sweet and that alone made me steer clear of them. I think with more tweeking and a whole lot less sugar involved they can wind up being truely great if one has the patience.

    Yours are gorgeous and next time I do the cake pop thing I'll have to give Boston cream a try :)

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  13. I had a few issues with my dipping method as well. And good job for joining and trying out. We all did great. And we all had a treat eating it

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  14. Omg I love cake pops are you kidding me? MMMmmm pastry cream *drooooool*

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  15. What a unique variation! These look absolutely delicious!

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  16. WOW! Those cake pops look so lovely. I'm bookmarking it and add it in my to do list :))

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  17. Your cake pops in the first photo looked dreamy and zen-like. Such beautiful styling, which I rather suck at. The Boston cream pie flavor must also be quite scrumptious, I'm sure!

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  18. so cute! i've never attempted cake pops before but i've always wanted to...i bet ur boston cream pie ones must be so yums! ^^

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  19. I LOVE Boston Cream Pie! What a clever idea to morph it into a cake pop! Gorgeous, delicious looking perfect and I want a dozen of them!

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  20. Thanks everyone! You all are just too sweet =D.

    Susan - Thanks so much for your honesty. I've now embedded Bakerella's helpful video which I referenced to make these pops and which is super helpful. I do use a different procedure from her in several parts. Please let me know which steps you're particularly confused by and I'll try to improve the way the recipe's written or add illustrations. Thanks again!

    Foodiva - Thanks so much. I was actually frustrated that the 1st photo maintained that look as the other photos look more "realistic" and I wanted them to match. Glad you enjoy the look. As for styling, I thank you very much for your compliment though I have plenty to learn there. Please take a look at my early posts and you'll realize it didn't come naturally to me at all. You can definitely learn to style and photograph better by analyzing your favorite photos from others for the specific reasons that it appeals to you. Also, you'll want to pay a lot more attention to detail when plating food you plan to shoot rather than simply eat :). Hope that helps and feel free to ask me questions.

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  21. Sips and SpoonfulsApril 17, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    I had a teriible experience making cake pops- greasy soggy cake, i color my choc shell pink btu it turned a nasty grey color and just overall dud. Yours look pretty professional and I love the Boston Pie flavour here. The second photo is my favorite. Looks messy and natural.

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  22. A truly noble mission you set yourself on! We don't have Starbucks here but I can imagine how super sweetened up they would make theirs. I think your look and sound delightful and I declare your mission to be a success!

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  23. This is awesome. I was given the Cake Pop book from a colleague for not reason, just because (I cried when she gave it to me). It surprised me that it used cake box mix. You've done all the hard work for me here. Your cake pops are elegant and fun. I love it!

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  24. Oh girl! this looks good. And the flavors are sounding great. I don't know when I'm making it but I'm sure popping back here for your tips and notes!

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  25. These are beautiful! I love boston cream pie, and know I'll love these little guys. Yum!

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  26. Your cake pops are SO adorable! And the flavor is perfect!

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  27. Xiaolu, I think each time I look at your posts, your styling just gets better and better! Seriously. The pastry cream filling sounds absolutely delish and the white chocolate coating sounds heavenly! I do the same thing as you too, I think making your own filling for the cake pop is so much better than store bought, and you can adjust the sweetness to your preference so easily :)

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  28. Those little morsels look gorgeous and spell utter deliciousness...!!

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  29. I've never tried those things, looks like a deconstructed and reconstrued rich cake with rich cream.

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  30. Yours look so pretty... loving how the half dipped look make them look so classy.. especially in a tiffany blue cupcake thing! So Pretty!

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  31. Oh this looks soooo good! And classy too! I've yet to try this though I really enjoy Bakerella's blog :) I love the bell-shaped glass you have over there too :)

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  32. Your cake pops are so pretty. I agree -- there's no taste like homemade!

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  33. Those cake pops are so cute and yummy-looking!

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  34. Yay! Yours are upside down too! :P I love them, even the 'fail pops!' I agree with the adding a bit at a time of the frosting, but it's difficult to know what texture they're meant to be if you've never eaten one before!

    Thanks again for letting me know about the International Incident Cake Pops Party :)

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  35. I so agree with all the blabla of the next thing and that cake pops..the basic one...is a mushy sugary overdose. I think you did a great job in redeeming some dignity to a good cake pop and I love you flavor concept

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  36. Xi, these are too cute! I just love your photos. You are amazing!

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  37. You always have some prettiest and loveliest creations here. :-))

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  38. Wow, I'm sure these pops are a lot better than the store-bought kind. I actually have my first cake pops(cake mix version) chilling in the fridge, and I'm really wishing I had taken the time to do homemade. Your Boston cream pie version sounds delicious, and they look so gourmet!

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  39. Thanks, everyone! I can't believe how fast you all are. Really feelin' the love here =D.

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  40. This is such a great idea! I love that you infused a traditional cake flavor and turned it into one of these trendy pops! Love your photos telling the story!

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  41. I am not a cream-cake person too but having said that, there is nothing I don't fancy in your boston cream pie cake pops! There is just everything to like about them :)

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  42. Honestly these look amazing!The photos are excellent!

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  43. I've never had Boston Cream Pie because I'm not really a cake person myself, but I do like the cuteness of your cake pops :) I just know I'd end up giving up on the decorating and end up eating spoonfuls of crumbled cake mix though :P

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  44. just too pretty! I like the first photo a lot, too! Fantastic styling :)

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  45. Dear Xiaolu,
    The pops are looking absolutely FANTABULOUS.....!!!! I am in love with all your pictures, they are just gorgeous. Its always fun to see ur appetizing recipes. Saving this recipe of yours to try out . I wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day !

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  46. now i really wanna try boston cream pie too :) yeah, like you i thought those pops are just a fad and never really cared to try...but def looks like a fun way to use up left over cake!

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  47. I love little lollipop desserts!

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  48. Cake pops are so hot right now! These look absolutely perfect, such a lovely treat!

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  49. { Penny Candy Studios }April 17, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    It had never occurred to me to try a filling inside a cake pop -- but it's a genius idea! I am absolutely CRAVING one of your delicious-sounding Boston Cream Pie Pops!

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  50. These look so pretty! I've never actually tried a cake pop before but your version sounds good especially with the homemade pastry cream filling...I like how you were determined to get to the bottom of a good cake pop too :)

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  51. How gorgeous those look! You have done a fabulous job! I have never made a cake pop before and this sounds absolutely divine! I am bookmarking this one... Thanks for sharing :)

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  52. OMG I must not show this to my friend because she loves Boston Cream Pie and she loves cake pops too! And I'm sure she would beg me to make this :P Actually that's not a bad thing is it?

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  53. That pop just sounds horrid, the one you had at starbucks!!! I would have been put off as well, and I too have not made a pop, I think credit goes to bakerella for sure.

    I avoid any cake that comes in a box unless it has only natural ingredients or it's just for a photo shoot and I need something to look good in a quick hurry.. and EWW frosting from a tub... I can't eat overly sweet things.. perhaps I've been in Japan too long.... but you have tempted me to make these..I really do want to give them a try, they look so adorable to boot.

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  54. Oh my this looks heavenly..It truly looks and sounds awesome..Love it!

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  55. I'm yet to give into the world of cake pops, but the only reason is that candy melts are somewhat difficult to come by and it just seems a little too fiddly/time consuming! I do have to say that they look utterly divine though :)

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  56. Really - great job! I love that you showed your "failed pops". it's like the blogging version of wearing your heart on your sleeve and you totally do - that's what I love about you! i love the blue liners - how the color pops! no pun intended! heehee.. ps - i absolutely will nominate you! have a great week!

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  57. Beautiful and I love the flavor you picked.

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  58. Here in France, it is the other way round ie. Cupcakes are the next macarons ...

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  59. I missed the dateline! I had thought the event is on the 20th! The post is still sting unpublished in my blog... Humph!

    Love the interesting flavor!

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  60. incredibly delicious..
    visiting your space for the first time..sure you have a lovely blog..excellent photography..
    Am your proud follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

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  61. Thank you so much for sharing this post! It was a joy to read and your pops are inspiring - I love Boston Cream Pie!
    It's nice to be reminded that photos of food you see on blogs and in magazines are the result of a lot of trial and error.

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  62. I'm glad you ended up liking your cake pops. What a great flavor! I love cake pops but they take FOREVER and are fickle. Not sure if they will be the next best thing, but I am seeing more and more of them (which is great because I'll be able to enjoy without having to make them.) :)

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  63. Stunning. I like the first photo with the cloche on the doily. And I'm glad you go to try the Starbucks one to know everything you didn't want yours to be!

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  64. And here I thought I had seen it all when it came to cake pops... These are so ingenious and delicious, I'm quite impressed! Must remember this next time I need some cute little treats... Especially for kids. I'm sure they'd get a kick out of anything on a stick.

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  65. These look fantastic Xialou! You definitely were on a mission and succeeded! They are so sweet and gorgeous.

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  66. oh these are adorable and look like way too much fun to eat!

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  67. Wow I'm bowled over my the response to this. Thanks so much, everyone =D.

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  68. Yummmm! These pops look delish!!!

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  69. Love it!! So creative. I've been hearing about these recently from many places. You're inspiring me to give them a go - so adorable! :)
    Heidi xo

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  70. Oooh, So Beautiful pops! Great flavor combination- and I too have never made cake pops. But you have inspired me to make these babies :)And will have to give them a try! What an inspired idea :)

    Cheers,

    Aldy.

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  71. I love boston cream pie! Very creative of you to adapt the flavor into cake pops. Gorgeous looking.

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  72. Oh, I love these! What a great idea. They look and sound to-die for.

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  73. how clever and lovely. while i don't hope these are the next craze (i find them tedious to make and disappointing to eat), what you're done is wonderful!

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  74. I haven't tried making cake pops before. But after looking at your wonderful pops, I can't wait to make some too.

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  75. Thanks, ladies! Your comments mean a lot to me :).

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  76. I've always wondered about cake pops too, never made them. This is a prety extensive tutorial, going to look to it whenever I decide to try them :)

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  77. I am totally in love with this entire post, recipe, photos, Bakerella mention and all. You are so talented! XO

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  78. They look fantastic Xiaolu! And thanks I will have to give the yellow cake recipe a try!

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  79. Found you via Indian Simmer and I am thrilled. Im so glad I'm not the only one that found the Starbucks version DISGUSTING. My kids would not even eat them. Thanks for redeeming the cake pop and making my day. With your amazing photogaphy

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  80. Hehe I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought that! It's a relief to think not all commercial cake pops are like that either. Thanks for your lovely comment about my photography too!

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  81. I was never tempted to try cake pops at Starbucks, but when I learned that it was the theme for April International Incident, I couldn't stop craving them! Your take on Boston Cream Pie looks and sounds incredibly delicious!

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  82. Wow these are the most delicious cake pops I've seen! Love that you recreated boston cream pie in cake pop form. :)

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  83. oh no wonder my cake pops always end up smeared looking! its cuz i rotate the sticks themselves! thanks for the tip friend! :)

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  84. I love your cake pops and the way you approached them. The only cake pops I made yet were just brownies dipped in chocolate. I was always afraid that the "real ones" won't taste that good just what you said. Since most recipes out there use packaged cake mixes, I am really excited to try yours. I already bookmarked it.

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I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu