In a house not so large as to impress thieves, but large enough to impress those who officially aren’t, Olive and her husband Mick have not spoken for a decade. Olive went silent on him when he let her budgie die, and they are now locked in desperate communication through written notes. A stray cockatoo softens the decade long stand-off between husband and wife, but as more cockatoos descend, a peaceful world is tragically shattered. (“The Cockatoos” synopsis)
If only Mick had thought to make Olive some apology cake pops, this situation would have been sorted out years ago.
Cake pops, you ask? Imagine some tasty cake mooshed up with tasty icing/frosting, rolled into a ball and then covered in a candy or chocolate coating. Pretty good, right? Now imagine it ON A STICK. As my housemate has said many times – there just aren’t enough foods on sticks. For too long the horrifying Dagwood Dog has been the forerunner when it comes to stickified foodstuffs, but in this latest instalment of the International Incident Party we’re trying to address this situation.
I started off on the sticky theme quite splendidly by finding myself stuck for an idea. Luckily some virtual eucalyptus oil came in the form of an invitation to a script reading by my lovely friend Renee’s theatre company Happy Dagger Theatre, for a stage adaptation of “The Cockatoos” by Patrick White.
You see, I have a bit of a thing for birds, and I have a particular thing for cockatoos (Exhibit A: my earrings in my video for Eat Drink Perth). I’m not much of an ornithologist, but give me a lineup of tweets and squawks and I can pick out a Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo call every time.
There was thus only one thing for it – I had to make cockatoo cake pops.
Cake pops have been made famous in the past couple of years by the blogger Bakerella, who has now published a book about them. Bakerella likes to make her cake pops using packet cakes and canned frosting. Call me a snob if you will (I promise I won’t set many cockatoos upon you), but I see no point in resorting to weird ingredient filled packet mixes when it’s so easy to make a great vanilla cake or chocolate cake using only one bowl and minimal ingredients. I have no idea if canned frosting is even available in Australia, but I have pretty similar views to that as well so I also made my own.
Despite my soft spot for the black cockatoos, the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are such an Australian icon, and probably the type of cockies in White’s story, so I thought I should make some of them as well.
You will need:
- Baked and cooled vanilla cake (I used my go-to recipe, multiplied by 2/3)
- Baked and cooled chocolate cake (I made my vegan choc orange cake)
- 1-2 cups basic buttercream
- 1-2 cups chocolate frosting
- White chocolate melts
- Milk/dark chocolate melts
- Banana lollies and mini glace orange/lemon halves for the head feathers
- Yoghurt or white chocolate coated sultanas
- Milk/dark chocolate coated sultanas
- Lollipop sticks (I bought mine from a baking supplies store)
1. Crumble the two cakes into separate bowls. Mix in enough of their respective frostings so that you end up with a consistency that holds its shape. Refrigerate the mixtures until firm – at least a couple of hours, I left mine overnight.
2. Once fully chilled, you can form the cake mixture into the bird shapes. I made full birds and bird heads, made little dents in them to house the noses and head feathers, and also attached halved chocolate melts to the full birds for their wings. I did all of this using gloved hands to minimise any stickiness.
3. I then attached the sticks by first dipping the ends into some melted chocolate then poking them in where I thought the centre of mass would lie. And then, into the fridge to really chill before the next step. You could pop them in the freezer for a while too, to speed this up.
4. I melted a lot of chocolate for the next bit, then kept it over a double boiler at a low heat while I coat them. I learnt the hard way that you want the naked birds to stay chilled while you do this, so I found it best to take them out of the fridge one at a time as I worked. I dipped each bird in the chocolate to coat it, removed it, then twirled it carefully around to let the extra chocolate run off. Before it set I then added the noses and the head feathers for the heads, then poked them in some styrofoam to set properly.
5. After they had fully dried I added some eyes with little dobs of chocolate writing icing (you could use normal melted chocolate for this too).
The final finish wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, but what is life without a few ruffled feathers occasionally?
I thought that most of the sulphur-crested heads looks more like koalas. Punked up koalas. Jolly sunshiny punked up koalas.
I felt a little guilty that the drying chocolate had formed jowls on some of the cockatoos. No one likes jowls (unless they’re on Horace Rumpole).
Although I sadly could only stay long enough at the reading to drop off the Cake-atoos, I hear it was a “very lyrical and intense experience” and am sure the play itself will be a winner – follow Happy Dagger on Facebook to keep up to date with its progress.
Whether enjoying the cockies was as intense an experience I’m not sure, but I did hear they were very much enjoyed and a few lucky ones got taken home to find refuge in their favourite habitat of the stomachs of small children.
I’ll leave you with some of the spunkier cockies who have clearly had to bust a few Western Long-billed Corellas out of their nesting spots – be it through a good old fashioned head butt, or the tried and true poo-in-your-face method.
And finally, of course, please check out the other cake pop creations, and a MASSIVELY SUPER HAPPY FUN TIME YAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our ever lovely host Penny.