Game of Thrones Cake Pops

23 May

HBO’s Game of Thrones

Being a big fan of the Game of Thrones series on HBO (and also of the books, which I had read long before there was ever talk of a show- that makes me a REAL fan, not a poser fan like some people I could tell you about *coughGcough*) and also a big fan of cake, when I saw these decapitated Ned Stark head cake pops on Not Your Mommas Cookie, I knew I had to make them.

Let me just say that I have never made cake pops before or worked with candy melts. That means this was an adventure. And unfortunately, the instructions given for these cake pops were rather lacking, in my opinion, so there was plenty of trial and error.

Here’s how it all went down:

First, I swiped the red velvet cake ball recipe from Bakerella. It is here that we encounter the first problem. I’m in Australia and cake mixes come in different size boxes than in America, unless you can find an American brand. The only red velvet mix I could find was the White Wings brand and unlike American cake mixes, it only makes enough cake to fill one 8″ round pan, not two. So I had to buy two boxes.

I also couldn’t find canned cream cheese frosting, so I ended up using plain vanilla. Luckily, we do have Duncan Hines frosting here, so I was able to get it in a 16 ounce can.

If you’re in Australia and you want to make these, I do not recommend using the frosting mix that comes with the cake mix. The consistency is all wrong for this kind of project and it doesn’t make enough.

By the way, I did not make the cake in round pans. Since it does need to be crumbled, I went with a 9″ x 13″ pan to reduce the surface area that would become thicker by being in contact with the edges of the pan. The thicker stuff doesn’t crumble as nicely as the interior of the cake. Also, I was lazy. My oven is too small to fit two round pans side by side and I didn’t want to have to take the time to bake them separately.

The page with the Ned Stark cake pops estimates that this will make 45-50 cake balls. Well, I ended up getting 80 cake balls out of it, minus all the dough I ate. I reckon I ate about a dozen cake balls’ worth of dough. And I didn’t exactly make them small.

RedVelvetCakeBalls

Eighty red velvet cake balls, ready for the fridge

It was a lot of effort making all those cake balls, so I called it a day and put them in the fridge to chill overnight.

The next day was decorating day. I was able to find some peach candy melts. The original recipe called for a mixture of pink, yellow, and white candy melts to get a flesh tone, but since these things cost between $8 and $12 a bag here, depending on the brand and the store, I opted for two bags of peach coloured ones. I ended up using one and a half bags, so I think if you had all three colours, you would end up with a lot leftover. Unless you use them often for other projects, I imagine they would just go to waste.

PeachCandyMelts

Peach candy melts

Anyway: Second problem. Did I mention that I have never worked with candy melts before? The original recipe says to microwave according to package directions. That’s great, but my package had no directions on it at all. So I put the candies in the microwave for three whole minutes and then took them out when I smelled something burning.

The funny thing about candy melts is that they don’t actually melt very well. It turns out that you really need to stir them… often. And preferably melt them on low heat. The middle bunch of melts was scorched. I tried to save the mixture by stirring it up really good, but I ended up with some chunky bits in there. At least I was wise enough to start with only half a bag (approximately one cup).

ScorchedCandyMelts

The chunky bits in here are what got scorched. I used it anyway, so as not to be wasteful. The colour is more yellow in the photo than what it is in real life. It actually has a really good peach colour to it, especially after it dries.

And this brings me to the third problem. I needed to dip my cake balls in this, but it was extremely viscous. Not only wasn’t it runny enough, but the high viscosity meant that it went on far too thick and weighed the cake ball down so much that it fell off the bamboo skewer. What to do, what to do?

I did what any good cook would do and I consulted Betty Crocker. My cookbook said to add vegetable oil or melted butter to the candy. I gradually added a bit here and there, stirring vigourously each time, until I got the consistency I wanted.

DippingCakeBall

Dipping the first cake ball. The excess on the skewer comes off easily once it has dried. The coating is a bit thin- for someone who is dead, it makes the skin look paler. A thicker coating gives a deeper, healthier peach glow. I personally prefer the dead look for a decapitated head.

Instead of dipping the cake balls (they tended to slide off the skewers if I did that), I spooned the melted candy over them and then set them to drip. The addition of the vegetable oil meant that the candy took longer to harden. Not really a problem, but it did slow me down a bit because I had to wait for each one to stop dripping before I could set it aside and do the next one. In all, it took me about five hours to dip all the cake balls.

***A note for anyone who is new cake balls: Some sites will tell you to bring the cake balls up to room temperature before dipping to avoid the candy coating cracking as it dries. You actually want them still slightly chilled (just not super cold), or they will slide off the skewer or break it half. They are much more firm and easy to work with if they are slightly chilled.

CakePopStand

The first batch of dipped heads. I used an upside down colander as a stand while they dried. Obviously, some of these don’t look so nice. If yours look like crap, don’t worry about it. Either dip them a second time once the first coat is dry or see if you can find a smooth spot that will suffice for the face. Most blemishes can be covered up with the hair and beard.

The next batches of candy melts did not get scorched. I learned from my mistake and microwaved them for only 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between. When they were fully melted, I added plenty of vegetable oil (don’t ask me how much- I didn’t measure it) and used an electric whisk to incorporate it. The other nice thing about adding the oil is it keeps the candy at the right consistency for a lot longer than it would without it. If you don’t add any, it starts to harden up very quickly and you have to keep microwaving it.

DoubleDippedCakePop

This cake pop is from the non-scorched batch of peach melts. It’s been double dipped and has a nice colour and a smooth finish. If you are lucky, most of yours will look like this. If you are as untalented as I am, this will be the exception. But hey, it’s okay! Ned isn’t a pretty boy!

After dipping all the cake heads, it was getting sort of late and I was eager to be done. I selected two-thirds of them for hair and make-up.

We’re supposed to be on a diet, so we don’t really need to be eating 80 cake pops ourselves. All of H’s coworkers are huge GoT fans, so I suggested we share some with his coworkers. I figured I would decorate just enough for them and do the rest another day.

To save time, I persuaded H to help paint on the hair and beards and he actually turned out to be pretty good at it.

For this, we used the brown candy melts. In this case, you don’t want it to be too runny or it goes on too smooth and you can’t really get any texture to it. The thicker, the better for painting on hair. I used half the bag for this step (about one cup), but probably would have used two-thirds of it had I done all of the cake balls.

RunnyNedStark

If the candy melts are too runny, you will end up with very smooth, glossy hair like this.

We did the hair and beard with toothpicks. Since not all the cake pops were perfect spheres with an even coating of peach candy (fortunately, decapitated heads don’t need to look beautiful), my strategy was to decide which part of the cake ball looked the nicest and then outline the moon of the face to avoid accidentally painting hair where I didn’t want it. The rule was that any ruined ones had to be eaten on the spot and I was pretty sick of cake pops by this point.

After painting the hair, we then outlined where the mouth would go and painted a bit of a beard around it. H got pretty carried away with this and started making some of his look more like Chewbacca than Ned Stark. I relieved him of duty when he started making his heads talk to each other before they even had mouths painted on them.

ChewbaccaNedStark

One of H’s “Chewbacca” style heads- a good example of the great texture you can get with a thicker consistency.

When they all had hair (and thankfully, they dried fast), I melted up the red candies. I made these nice and runny with vegetable oil because I wanted it to drip down the pike a bit. To get it on the skewer without accidentally dripping on Ned’s face, I dipped a fork in the melted candy and ran the skewer up and down between the tongs. I used maybe a half a cup of melts for this, or a bit less.

Since it was late and I was tired, I had to save the face painting for the next day. Had I known this was going to be a three day project, I never would have bothered with it.

But the face painting was pretty quick. I used a black food writer, which had to be melted in hot water, but turned out to be pretty easy to use. All the Neds had faces within the hour.

NedStarkCakePops

Completed Ned Stark cake pops- they taste better than they look!

I packed them up in a container and drove them down to H’s office, with instructions to make sure to give them all away because I did NOT want ANY of them to come back home. Ten minutes after I left, he texted me to say they were all gone and everyone loved them and that a lot of people had wanted to take pictures of them. I was glad they appreciated them!

And now for the handful of people in the world who have no idea what this show is, who Ned Stark is, or why he got his head cut off:

9 Responses to “Game of Thrones Cake Pops”

  1. megalagom May 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    Wow, they came out great!! All that hard work paid off. The best way to use the candy melts is in a double boiler- I cant imagine its easy to do in a microwave! Very cool project!! love it

    • housewifedownunder June 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      I was worried about doing it with steam in case the chocolate got any moisture in it. Thanks for the compliments! πŸ™‚

  2. Cosette May 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Well done! These look great.

  3. Lainey Bird June 10, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    You are awesome.

  4. Jennifer @ Not Your Momma's Cookie June 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Hello – thank you for making my cake pops! I’m sorry to hear that you found the instructions inadequate. I’m not very familiar with what specific ingredients are available in other countries or how the sizes would be different. I am sorry about referring to the directions on the bag for the candy melts – I usually buy Wilton, but have bought other brands, and the instructions always varied slightly; I didn’t want anyone to not follow the directions on their own package! I’ve added some additional language about melting the candies. If you have the Wilton brand candy melts in your area, it melts very well and is much cheaper in the US than the price you mentioned (usually about $2-3 a bag). I think they came out great – it sounds like they were a hit! πŸ™‚

    • housewifedownunder June 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      Oh, the instructions were okay. The pictures of what it was supposed to look like helped a lot! It’s always harder to make a recipe when you don’t know what the end result should look like. I tried to find Wilton here, but the only way I could get them was to order online and it was cheaper just to buy what the nearby cake shop had in stock. I did complain to them that the package had no instructions on it and they looked at me like I was a total idiot for not just knowing how to use candy melts. :-p But in the end, they tasted pretty good and it was a fun and different activity.

  5. Rose September 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    You must have spent a lot of time on this one, but you did a good job! I’m also a big fan of Game of Thrones. Can’t wait for season 3!

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