So for my step-dad's birthday, of course, I wanted to make the cake. He loves Diet Coke, really really loves it and I didn't feel like messing with fondant to make some techy-gadget cake, so I decided on a Diet Coke cake. Now let me be honest, I set out to make a couple dozen mini-Diet Coke Cake Pops...we had a mishap along the way and that's not exactly how it turned out...but I was pretty pleased with the result and it was DELICIOUS nonetheless. I mean decadently delicious ;)
So first, get your ingredients for your cake...
Yes, seriously, this is all you need for the cake. No eggs, no oil, just1 box of chocolate cake mix and 12-14 ounces of Diet Coke (or regular Coke) until you get a good consistency. Preheat oven to the temp the mix box says, grease your pan and bake according to the box as well. The batter, I found, is slightly thicker and lumpier and the cake mix box calls for 2- 9" pans; I poured all my batter into one 9" pan and it baked for the same time as 2 - 9" pans would.
I ended up making three cakes, one for my pops and two for a two-layer base cake.
I never was a big sweet eater until I had my girls and suddenly chocolate became my best friend BUT I am a total germaphobe and wash my hands constantly during food prep. Consequently, to my family's disappointment, I don't allow people to "lick the bowl/spoon" while I am baking because of the raw egg. I swear it will make them sick and it's just not right. One excellent perk I found while making this cake is there is no raw egg so go ahead and clean that bowl before you wash it! ;)
Bake your cake (mine took about 34 minutes at 350 degrees but it will vary by mix, oven, and the consistency you get your batter too)
Once done, let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then turn them over onto cooling racks to cool completely.
The original Cake Pop recipe is not, in fact, made in a "bake pop" pan where you simply bake your batter into ball shapes but rather it calls for baking a regular cake then mashing it up in a bowl with a tub of icing, forming a sort-of "cake Play Doh," then hand rolling yours balls.
So, when the cakes were completely cool, I dumped one of them...
("It's not you cake, it's me...I have to smash you now...")
Right into a big bowl.
Crumble your cake really well, then add a tub of icing.
Here's where I encountered the first problem with sugar-free icing. It is super duper thick and much stickier and heavier than regular icing. Imagine wet Play Doh, and since here is not the point where we wanted the Play Doh consistency, it made this messy part extra messy!
Mix thoroughly. I'd recommend taking off your rings and using your hands. You need this nice and mixed in order for it to roll well and then set well.
When you have a nice doughy texture, rolls small chunks of your cake into balls. This was super sticky so instead of flouring my hands and making the outside yucky, I used cocoa powder on my hands. It serves the same purpose as flour but well, tastes better :)
My plan was to make mini-Coke cans, so I actually didn't roll balls, I made can shapes.
Now pop those in the refrigerator or even the freezer while you get your chocolate/candy nice and melty to dip them.
Wilton's white Candy Melts and Wilton's black dye (icing dye, yes, you technically aren't supposed to use icing dye for candy because it's not oil based like candy dye, but I remedied that problem, don't worry)
Melt your candies the way the bag says. There are several different methods, I used the microwave and it worked just fine. This was my first time making cake pops so I played with a few to get the feel of it before I made the "real" ones. I couldn't get my chocolate smooth no matter how melted I got the candy, so I did a quick search online and found if you add a little bit of vegetable oil and mix it (almost whip it) very well after your candy is melted it will be easier to get a nice smooth covering. This also helped my non-oil-based dye blend a little better.
If you plan on using pop sticks and not just dipping the cake balls with a spoon, it helps to dip your pop stick in some melted candy first, then insert it into the cake ball (or in my case, cake cans) and then dip it into the candy. I got a nifty little Cake Pop stand at Walmart for fairly cheap to stand them to dry in but I actually wanted to dry mine flat on their tops to make the lip of the soda can.
Okay, quick preschool science/art quiz...
If you want to make the color GRAY, what colors do you mix????
If you answered black and white...you'd be wrong.
When it comes to the art of mixing candy colors, if you mix white candy with black dye, you may in fact end up with a nice shade of...
Yes, as in purple.
This here is the reason I didn't end up with several dozen cake pop soda cans.
At this point it was almost 2am and I panicked. I tried silver confectioner's paint but it wouldn't hold to the candy coating. So I slept on it and in the morning went back to my supply store and got more white chocolate to try again.
This time I mixed only a teeeeny tiny bit of black into the melted candies, you could hardly tell it was colored at all. It darkened when it hardened so it turned out okay for the color of a Diet Coke can. However, I was not about to re-dip 20 of these babies, so I did one as a cake topper. The rest tasted amazing, they just looked a little sad :(
In the meantime, my two layer cake needed some attention.
On a whim, when I realized the sugar-free icing was too thick to spread without ripping apart the cake, I decided to fill my two layers with white chocolate, so while the two cakes were still WARM, I put some of the candy melts on one, and stuck the other on top to melt them.
Yummy. Worked perfectly. (At least one of my plans did!)
I used the sugar-free icing to ice the two layers together, but I popped in the microwave for a little first to make it smoother and more workable.
I finished my ONE Diet Coke can with some hand drawn details (yes, all the details are hand done in melted chocolate, not icing)
And here it is...The final product...
(Those are my first attempt, chunky, not-smooth-chocolate pops I used for "garnish," drizzled with red white chocolate)
Why yes, that is a hand-made "tab" on the top of the soda can ;)
So, it's definitely not what I was planning on making. And it's not what I expected. But I learned some very valuable lessons for the next time I decide to make pops or play with melted candy. Too bad I learned the lessons after I finished this cake :/ but it was delicious. Super rich and gooey, you'd never know it was a "low fat" cake with sugar-free icing. It tasted like 15 pounds but except for the candy-coating, it was pretty low cal!