a mother’s day case study

In the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, there seemed to be several posts in multiple mom groups I am in on Facebook where moms noted that their spouse was asking what they wanted for Mother’s Day. Countless replies said moms would just like a day of rest. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, that is all I really want for holidays too – that the cooking, cleaning, etc. is done by someone else. While nice in theory, this does not always happen. And that can be a good thing. Here is a Mother’s Day case study.

Mother’s Day 2023 started with the kids greeting me with homemade cards and gifts. After years of helping them come up with homemade gifts for various holidays, they now plan and create things for me on their own. They made me bracelets, necklaces, and a clay jewelry tray, all such sweet gifts that they put so much hard work into perfecting.

After adorning me with all of my new jewelry, my 10-year-old said that she would like to make a special dessert for our Mother’s Day dinner. My parents were coming to dinner, and my husband and kids had promised to do all of the cooking. She wanted to make cake pops and assured me that she and her siblings could do it by themselves. One of my daughters and I are gluten-free, so making any kind of dessert at our house actually involves making 2 different desserts. I agreed and offered to help with the gluten-free version.

the best plans

I helped my younger girls mix up the gluten-free cake and get it in the oven. My 10-year-old led a couple other siblings in whipping up the other cake. While the cakes were baking, I helped them clean up the kitchen and wash the mixer bowl so that it was ready to use again to create the cake pop mixture from the baked cakes.

When the gluten-free cake cooled, I helped the little girls get it into the mixing bowl and start adding milk. We slowly added milk until it was just the right consistency to form the balls, moved our mixture into another bowl, cleaned the mixing bowl, and moved to the table to start forming our cake pops. While forming our cake pops, my oldest daughter was putting the non-gluten-free cake into the mixer and adding milk.

The next thing I know, “Mommy, I think we have a problem,” comes from the kitchen. Not a phrase that you want to hear from the kitchen when appliances are involved, so I stopped what I was doing to go check. She had gotten a little carried away with adding milk to the cake. It now looked more like chocolate soup than cake.

mom to the rescue

“Can we do anything to save it, Mom?”

The only thing that came to mind was to make more cake. She was thrilled and immediately started gathering ingredients. She got to work mixing and putting another cake into the oven while I helped the other group finish balling and freezing our gluten-free cake pops.

While the third cake was baking, I went outside to check our bee hives with my husband. I made it back in the house just after she had taken the third cake out of the oven and added it to the chocolate soup mixture. She was attempting to make it into balls. The third cake was enough to turn it from chocolate soup into a gooey mess. There was cake mixture all over her hands, the table, and the outside of the mixing bowl. “What are we going to do now?” she said, looking very defeated.

I can’t touch wheat without gloves on so I grabbed a pair of latex gloves, sprayed my hands with Pam, and sat down to help her. The grease from the Pam spray was just enough that I was able to turn the now-double-batch of gooey mess into small blobs. They weren’t ball-shaped, but at least they stayed formed enough that she was able to put cake pop sticks into the middle. Into the freezer they went, and we hoped for the best.

naptime! but not for mom

Up next – lunch and naptime for my littles. The big kids helped fix lunch while I started cleaning the kitchen. Cake pop goo led from the mixer all the way to the kitchen table, and to a mountain of dishes in the sink from all of the baking. With the kitchen cleaned, I decided to try coating the outside of the gluten-free cake pops with chocolate before I took the littles up for a nap. This resulted in all of the littles wanting to decorate with sprinkles, which led to the counter and floor also decorated in sprinkles.

After multiple rounds of melting chocolate and more sprinkles than I could count, we were finished with the gluten-free cake pops. We wrapped them up, put a couple in the refrigerator for dessert, and popped the rest back in the freezer to save for later.

Next up? Get the food started for our early Mother’s Day dinner, so the littles went upstairs for a nap and the big kids went to their rooms to play. My husband started smoking the main course outside. By the time I cleaned the kitchen again, I needed to start the sides to go with dinner. The kids had promised to help cook, so I had the big kids come back down to help.

My 10-year-old was determined to get the cake pops finished. She is a great cook and is normally so helpful in the kitchen, but she was focused on getting the cake pops right – and not concerned about any other food. I worked on preparing sides for dinner while she melted chocolate and tried to coat the cake pops. When I realized she was going to melt her second round of chocolate chips, I stopped to see how her cake pop decorating was going.

She just used over half a bag of chocolate chips on 5 cake pops. At that rate, we were going to run out of chocolate long before we finished dipping the cake pops. I asked her to give me a few minutes to get to a stopping point and I would help. A few minutes later I was able to join her.

“Mom, could you dip all of these cake pops and I’ll decorate them with sprinkles? I’m having a hard time doing both.”

hi-ho, off to work mom goes!

She melted more chocolate, and I got started. I was trying to figure out how she had used so much chocolate on 5 cake pops until I tried it myself. Carefully, I dipped the cake pop into the chocolate, spun the stick, and tapped on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Somewhere between spinning and tapping, the cake pop fell off the stick and into the bowl of hot chocolate.

As I attempted to rescue it from the chocolate with the stick, I realized that the molten chocolate dip was melting the cake pop back into a pile of goo. Being out of the freezer and dipping them into hot chocolate melted them faster than I could dip them. We put them back in the freezer to let them harden back up a bit.

With them completely frozen, we were able to get most of them dipped without them completely falling apart. Another child walked through the kitchen and said it looked like we were making poop emojis instead of cake pops. My laughing hysterically didn’t make dipping them any easier. My optimistic 10-year-old said, “Well the uglier they are, the better they’ll taste.”

After what seemed like hours of trying to finish the cake pops, we finally succeeded. I was able to pull off one more round of kitchen cleanup and help put the finishing touches on dinner just in time for my parents to arrive. Dinner was lovely and everyone said her cake pops were delicious.

Does this post seem like a marathon? At the end of the day, I felt like I had run a marathon. At one point in the day, my husband asked if my day was going ok. It may not have gone as I had planned, and I definitely didn’t get that day of rest I was hoping for, but what I did get was so much better.

Instead of laying on the couch watching tv or aimlessly scrolling through my phone, I spent the day with my kids in the kitchen doing something that they were so excited to do for me and my mom. We baked, we cleaned, we mixed things, we cleaned some more, but we had a great time and we laughed a lot – better than the day of rest I had requested.

Would you like to try your hand at cake pops?

cake pop instructions

  1. Bake your favorite cake recipe for your base. We’ve done these with a variety of cakes and flavors and they have all turned out delicious.
  2. Once the cake has been baked and cooled, crumble the cake into your mixing bowl.
  3. Add milk slowly while the mixer is on low. Add just enough milk that the cake becomes a consistency that can be formed into a ball. The amount can vary greatly based on humidity levels. (If you are allergen-free, you can substitute milk for your favorite non-dairy milk. I use coconut milk in my dairy-free recipes).
  4. When the desired consistency has been reached, form the mixture into balls. A meat baller works great for little kids who can’t form them by hand yet.
  5. Insert a cake pop stick into each ball.
  6. Freeze the cake pops.
  7. Once frozen, melt chocolate either in the microwave or on the stove. We prefer to do chocolate chips in the microwave but make sure you stir every 30 seconds. (Allergen-free chocolate chips work great if you are dairy-free.)
  8. While holding the stick, dip the cake pop into the melted chocolate. Spin and tap the stick against the side of your bowl to shake off the excess chocolate.
  9. Add sprinkles to the top while the chocolate is still warm.
  10. Sit the cake pop into a stand to harden. A thick piece of styrofoam or an upside-down egg carton with a hole poked into each egg compartment works well.
  11. Enjoy! If you have any extras that won’t be eaten right away you can wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag to save for later.

Need a chocolate gluten-free cake recipe? Give this a try; you won’t need the frosting if you’re using it for cake pops.

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