That Man on Horseback

Un homme a cheval va jamais voir ca.
(Cajun French for "A man on horseback will never notice that.")

That is the quote that I apply liberally at the first sign of desperate perfectionist tendencies.  Oddly enough, my perfectionism rears its ugly head a LOT when I'm crafting, but not at all when cleaning toilets or mopping floors. (Heh.) Now, I'm not saying that what I create ever turns out perfect, only that I have this pathological need to correct/fix/improve to the point of taking a lot of the fun out of the process. I've had to throw projects away because the fabric was absolutely ruined from repeated ripping after multiple attempts to top-stitch a perfectly straight line. That's nuts.

While I have more free time than my dear C, I don't have time to endlessly re-do, and so I am learning to tell myself that there IS such a thing as "good enough." There IS such a thing as "quit, already."

With that said, today is Wednesday, a block day, the final final exam period for my daughter's senior English class.

Time for one last treat for my Cake Pop Project friends, in honor of their upcoming graduation. And about 3 a.m., it was time for me to conjure up the man on horseback and proclaim, "Good Enough."
graduation cake pop

All along, I intended to duplicate Bakerella's mortar-board cake pops (at the bottom of this entry, below the Reese's version) for the last treat, in dark chocolate. Okay, so, even in dark chocolate, it would be brown, and mortar boards probably don't even come in brown. But it looked like a suitable step up in complexity for me, novice cake-popper that I am. 

After all, I said way back when that I didn't want to overkill on the decoration part. It's what's INSIDE that matters, I said. You remember. Me pontificating and all that.


But then Sweet Pea liked this picture better. Except, you know, in the "right" purple for her school. And without the sour punch straw tassel.


And just like that, four days before I needed to send them, I found myself pulling Gs in the Learning Curve. 


You gotta understand, I'm new to all this. Before this project took off, I'd never colored candy melts, made chocolate bars, or used fondant (or even lollipop sticks). 

I can bake, so that's okay. (That's an 8-egg white bridal cake in there, by the way.) 
white wedding cake balls

I can model clay, so once I got the density thing figured out, forming the balls was no biggie. 

What kills me is when I have to let my skills catch up with my ambitions. Especially when playing catch-up starts reaaally late at night. Here's what got me this time:

The Chocolate
The chocolate disks--once I finally found a mold that would kind of work after visiting FIVE stores  (if I only filled part of the mold, which was intended to make two chocolate bars) --were pretty easy.  Just pour, cool, pop out. (Of course, I overcomplicated it by using the scale and making each disk precisely 5 grams. See why I need that quote tattooed somewhere obvious?) 

Griffin Purple turns out to be one bag of dark blue, one of lavender, and one of orchid, with just the tiniest bit of red and blue colorant stirred in...about five minutes worth of work. There was kind of a strange "frost" on some of the bars, but I just compensated by making extra.

The Tassels
After Sweet Pea changed the gameplan on Sunday, I called my nephew Damon for fondant advice on Monday. (He's a preacher, so calling Sunday was out.) Listening to his description of the process, I was convinced long before he finished even telling me about it that making fondant took too much effort (ha!) and yielded way more product than I'd use in my lifetime since the Cake Pop Project is coming to a close. I put that on my errands list for Tuesday.

Yeowza! It's expensive! Ten bucks for a pound, and all I needed was about 1/4 cup of the stuff! Ditto gum paste, and I wasn't even sure that would work.

So I wandered the aisles in Michael's waiting for inspiration (and resisting the urge to buy some more crafty stuff), until I remembered this post that introduced me to modeling chocolate. Like any modern crafter, I googled "using modeling chocolate" right then and there.

"I can do that," I said out loud. No doubt, somebody on the next aisle was chuckling to themselves, recognizing what was coming.

Short version of what I learned on this part of adventure (I'm sure you can fill in the details yourownselves): 
  • You CAN'T make modeling chocolate from candy melts. 
  • You SHOULD read from more than once source so you can learn some stuff the EASY way rather than...not. The parts, for instance, that say "white chocolate is finicky." Over and over. Yeah. 
  • You CAN quickly overheat the chocolate, rendering it useless for the purpose. When they say "gently," they apparently mean it.
  • You CAN use your Christmas-present coffee mug warmer and a tiny bowl to keep a handful of modeling chocolate just about the right temperature to knead for the next set of tassels. 
  • You can also scorch said handful if you forget it because it's late and your project has turned into a three-ring circus. (Just sos ya know: if you do this, it is VERY hard to get out of the bowl, even with boiling water.)
  • At $2.93 for a bag of Ghiardelli white chips, it was a bargain. (But there was a point--about 11 p.m.-- that found me wondering if I couldn't just take a rolling pin to a vanilla Tootsie Roll. If I'd had any vanilla Tootsie Rolls, that is.)
  • You CAN make flexible, tasty tassels out of it once you finally get a small amount kneaded juuuust right. (Apologies to anyone who gets one of the tassels made at 2 a.m., since I can't vouch for the tastiness of those.) 
mortar boards
Sorry...a middle-of-the-night shot with terrible lighting.
The Face
I'm pretty sure the original baker used an edible marker for the faces. I bought some, only to find at 1 a.m. that they WOULD. NOT. WRITE. They sort of skipped and scratched when I tried one on a "reject" pop. This forced my Very Tired Brain into a Pooh attitude: "Think, think, think...."

Whether it was the best solution or not, I ended up using a teeny paint brush (brand new, and well cleaned) dipped into my black gel food coloring...deep breath.... Dot-dot-swoop. 

graduation cake pop montage
Good enough. 

Thank goodness for that man on horseback.

(With apologies to Sweet Pea, from whose FB page I swiped this image!)
to the guys and gals in
Mrs. S's Early Start English class! 
Geaux Get 'Em!
...and many, many thanks to Mrs. S, 
teacher and all-round good sport extraordinaire!

*The little "cheering" fellow in the upper right hand corner of the montage was sent as "lagniappe" for Sweet Pea's lunch group friends. Two pops stuck together in the fridge and a hole resulted when I tugged them apart! Makes me smile.

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