Chow Bella's launching a new feature this week -- peeking behind the scenes and getting our hands dirty in the kitchens of some of our favorite chefs, foodies and Phoenix tastemakers.
Today our visit takes us to the west side of town and the quirky, colorful home kitchen of Kathy Cano-Murillo. The self-styled Crafty Chica can more often be found in her art studio than her kitchen, but this spring she caught the cake pop bug and when we saw Facebook photos of the cute little confections she fashioned for her daughter Maya's birthday, we had to talk Kathy back into the kitchen with us to make a batch.
Turns out, cake pops are more craft than culinary endeavor, so the Crafty Chica was the perfect instructor.
Find out what we learned about cake pops -- and how to make them yourself -- after the jump.
Kathy Cano-Murillo's modest west Phoenix neighborhood is quiet on a Monday evening in late spring. Birds tweet and from the smell of it, someone nearby has just fired up the grill. Approach the Murillo family's front door, and the peace is broken by the insistent barking of a very small (but very loud) chihuahua.
As instructed, I've baked a Betty Crocker chocolate mix cake (Cano-Murillo recommends over-baking it a bit to make it extra-dry) and stocked up on a can of chocolate frosting (just make sure the flavors match well, my instructor cautions -- she recommends cream cheese frosting and strawberry cake), as well as a big bag of those waxy meltable candy discs made by Wilton, found at Michael's. Sprinkles, lollipop sticks, small plastic bags and twist-ties round out the materials list.
I figured the process would be more delicate, maybe involving a ice cream scoop or some other professional kitchen tool. Turns out, all you do is mush up the cake with your hands (til the pan's full of crumbs) then dump in the entire container of frosting -- and keep mixing. With your hands.
Stick the balls in the freezer for at least half an hour. If you're Cano-Murillo, you'll make a craft during your waiting time. We wash our hands and get busy with some tissue paper and glue, and Cano-Murillo shares stories of what it's like on the professional crafting circuit. (Pretty freaking cutthroat, believe it or not.)
I can't fathom making the super-fancy cake pops you see on those crazy cake sites. Getting the ball to stay on the stick is enough of a challenge for me. Maybe you'll have more luck. My advice: Bake a second cake. You're going to be hungry when you're done making cake pops, but you might not want to actually eat them after you've seen what it takes to make them.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.