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Monday, August 29, 2011

Merckens Chocolate Vs. Wilton Candy Melts Vs. Make N' Mold Melting Wafers

So... a while back I was going to do this big test of 5 different candy melts and a bunch of cake pops and see if it was the candy itself that led to cracking pops. It was an ambitious goal that I failed at... It was just too much to do. Too many supplies, too many pops, too many variables. Sorry.

What I did instead is melted 3 popular candy melts and judged the melting consistency and temperatures. This is not rocket science, but there were some parameters. 

I tested Merckens White Chocolate, Wilton's White Candy Melts, and Make N' Mold Melting Wafers.

Using my scale, I weighed 6 ounces of each candy.

Using a 1000 watt microwave, I started off with 45 seconds at 70% power for each bowl of candy.

The Merckens and Make N' Mold only needed one time in the microwave. The Wilton's needed a bit more to fully melt. I should have taken my own advice and been a bit more patient, because I did get the Wilton's too hot. 
My humble opinion (if ya got two cents):

Pros:  Smallest wafers which may have led to quicker melting and a smoother consistency.
Melted smooth without being too runny. I prefer a thicker coating. The coating stays put and does not drip down stick or make funny "tails" on the pops. 
Overall the best tasting coating of the three.
Cons: Not sold in craft stores. Must order online or find local baking supply store.
Price: $3.80 -$4 per pound. Discount in bulk purchasing 

Wilton's Candy Melts
Pros: Cheapest and most easily found in craft stores (or even Wal-Mart).
Cons: Thickest coating. Too thick in my opinion.  The thicker the coating the more likelihood of it pulling the cake pop off the stick. Largest wafer size takes longer to melt.
Price: $3 for 14 oz bag. Can be found on sale for $2

Make N' Mold Melting Wafers
Pros: Of these three, I thought this had the best dipping consistency and was the easiest to work with. 
Cons: Somewhat difficult to find (locally at A.C. Moore only or online)
Price: $3.30 for 14 oz. bag online. Discount in bulk purchasing.

All in all, the pops looked the same. I could see no difference in the final product. I think it comes down to your preference and your budget. For me, Wilton’s is fine when it’s on sale :) and I am lucky to have Merckens and Make N’ Mold within an hour drive of my house.

Have fun creating! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Making Specialty Pops using a Mold

I have seen a few molded pops on the internet and I got a Facebook request to make a tutorial on them, so I decided to give it a try. As a side note, this was my second time making the molded pops, so if you have any suggestions or tips, please feel free to share them. I'm sure that I'll be modifying this as I work more with the molds. 

I got this mold at JoAnn's Craft Store but you can also get it here. Spinning Leaf also has some great molds. I'm thinking about some Christmas ones. 


Friday, August 5, 2011

No Cracks! Again!!

SO... I have been popping for the past two day and I feel my that creative juices are happy again. It's been a tough summer with the heat her in the Northeast Atlantic area. Lots of days in the 90's some hitting 100 and the humidity is always outrageous. It was a reasonable 85 the other day and I had an order to make, so I cranked the AC down to 73 (I heard the dollar bills fly past my ears as it ran) and made some wonderful cake pops. On one day I made 3 dozen and NO CRACKS!!! 

I was stunned... but then I noticed something... I had a full mug of candy melts and I was dipping straight down and back up again. When I have small orders I usually melt 6 oz or so in a small bowl and I coat one side then the other and maybe the sides depending on the shape. That got me thinking, that maybe my cracks were a result in the chocolate on side A hardening while I am coating side B and maybe that SEAM is where the cracks are happening. 

I've never seen or noticed a seam after tapping off the excess and allowing the coating to flow around the pop, but I'm sure there has got to be a weak spot along that line. 

Just to test this theory, I dipped again for a second day. I made different shapes and used different colors, but I also melted a lot of coating to completely dip the pop in one movement. Viola! No cracks again :) 

Here's how I melt my chocolate and deal with pops:

Entire bag of Wilton Melts in microwave for 45 sec at 70% power in a CERAMIC mug. 

A ceramic mug/bowl gets hot and I use that heat to slowly melt my candy. Give the melts a good stir and let it sir for a minute and stir again. It will be half lumpy and half melted.

Return to microwave for 30 sec at 60% power and let sit for a minute before stirring. I use a spatula to stir and scrape the side and get the heat evenly through the candy.

It should be 90% melted by now. Lumps are ok for now.

I take 3 to 4 out of the fridge and stick them. I do not return them to the fridge. I set them in the stand and keep sticking them. After a dozen are on the sticks the first pop is ready to get dipped. 

Give the candy a good stir and now all of the lumps should be gone. The temperature has come down and the candy is smooth. Don't be tempted to heat again, keep stirring. If you feel like you MUST heat do it for 10 sec at 50% power. Stir, stir, stir! Candy should be less than 100 when dipping. 

Dip straight down and back up again. Tap off excess. Stand up to dry.
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