DIY Fail: When your Cake Pops turn out like Vomit Blobs

October 21 | Guest post by Ang

Seems to be that lately every single wedding has a DIY component. It's gotten to the point where you feel like you're doing something wrong if you don't sew/glue/tie/cut/bedazzle some aspect of decor/favors/invites/apparel.

There's a dark seedy price that you have to pay for all that charm. Dude, this crap is HARD, and don't let Martha Stewart or the billions of crafters on Etsy tell you any different.

Many are the brides who've had this realization while curled in the fetal position, glitter smeared on their faces, failed projects in disheveled disarray around them.

Yes, I have had these experiences.

Wanna hear about one?

Enter… The Cake Pops.

I'm sure you've seen them. I've been a fan of Bakerella from way back, you know, when she started in 2007 which is like 400 in online years & ADORE her. Her cake pops were adorable and SO easy! How hard could it be? [Insert Doom Song]

About 6 months pre wedding day
I sent my mom the website. We ooo'ed and aww'ed appropriately, bought all the supplies, and prepared for a day of bonding.

Here are the cake making supplies, in case you didn't realize what they looked like.

Candy Melts, Molds, and USELESS PIECE OF SHIT BOTTLE.

After we got into the actual process of making said cake bites, the picture taking stopped. First the bowl was too small. So we got a bigger bowl. Then the frosting was sticking everywhere EXCEPT the cake dust, so I had to use my hands, which isn't THAT big of a deal, but Bakerella did not tell me how totally adhesive this crap is. I don't know HOW, but it ended up on the ceiling, inside the drawers, inside my cleavage, and in my hair. But I persevered, I was domestic gumption personified, and eventually I had a thoroughly mixed bowl of quasi viscous cake goo. (Not to be confused with quasi vicious cake goo, although at this point they both would apply)

I dimly remembered something about "don't handle the cake too much or your body heat will blah blah," but the OCD in me must have perfectly round cake balls. No sooner did I victoriously set down a perfect sphere of moist delectable cake, then it'd crack in half. Sometimes they'd hold together for a whopping 10 seconds before they'd crumble from the stress of having another one placed next to it. They had become defiant little black sawdust balls of death.
Evil Black Cake Balls-Perverts

Keep in mind that you're supposed to get forty-five to fifty cake balls out of this. Between the kamikaze cake splooge and the ones that weren't structurally sound. I got this many.
Stage 3

You can count them if you want. There's thirty-eight. "That's not too bad" you might be thinking, but about six of them decided they couldn't handle life on the inside, and promptly disintegrated in the freezer.

Ignorant of this, I had moved on to the candy melts. The orange candy melts are day glo radioactive orange, not the rustic pumpkin inspired thing I was going for, I figured, "Hey, add some brown, get a nice earth toned orange." Right?

No. It goes more like this:

  1. Put mostly orange and a little brown.
  2. Get radioactive orange.
  3. Add more brown.
  4. Get slightly less radioactive orange.
  5. Add half bag of brown, realize the bowl is too small, transfer melted chocolate and gooey partially melted chocolate to bigger bowl.
  6. Have light brown chocolate.
  7. Commence minor freak out.
  8. Add more orange.
  9. Wonder why clear liquid seems to be leaking out the top.
  10. Wish you paid attention in Chemistry.
  11. Wonder if this has anything to do with Chemistry.
  12. Notice bag says "Don't melt too much or candy melts will separate".
  13. Attempt to throw out melted chocolate.
    Everyone was too traumatized to take a pic of me parking my ass in a puddle of chocolate with a giant red burn blister on my arm, so I illustrated it for you.
  14. Burn self and spill chocolate, making sure to cover all areas not already encrusted with dried cake splooge.
  15. Sit on floor (in puddle of chocolate) and cry.
  16. Try to fill useless candy bottle with brown chocolate by use of careful pouring.
  17. Make huge mess.
  18. Scrape spilled chocolate back into bowl because your stupid parents live in the middle of nowhere and you have no more candy melts.
  19. Fill bottle ½ inch.
  20. Use bottle to fill 1 ½ candy molds before bottle becomes blocked.
  21. Throw bottle away in fit of rage.
  22. Throw other innocent unused bottle away before it has the opportunity to insult you.
  23. Use spoons to fill rest of candy molds, making sure to drip everywhere so mold resembles solid mass of chocolate.

By the time the cake balls came out of the freezer, I had gotten to the numbness point. The last stage before drooling, cackling wildly, running up and down the street naked, then being driven away in a soft comfy van driven by large friendly men who would give me a pretty jacket.

The final stage was the candy molds I had gotten were way too shallow. If I possessed a dipping spoon things might have been different, but I didn't, so there was a lot of fingers being dipped in chocolate, half assembled cake bites being dropped in chocolate, and hardened chocolate bases melting from being held too tightly. We only had twenty-four survivors, and they weren't pretty.
Poor Buggers

In a last ditch effort to save them, I dipped a spoon in chocolate and flung half hearted decorative swirls all over the countertop, incidentally hitting a few of the cake bites.
Half Hearted Swirls

End result? Epic DIY fail.

One day I might attempt them again, but even if I don't, I'm still awesome, and my wedding was awesome. So even if your 1,000 origami cranes look like a pile of sweaty colorful spit wads, or your felt bouquet resembles the home-ec project of a well-intentioned color-blind ungulate, YOU ARE STILL FUCKING AWESOME.

  1. Oh my god. I haven't laughed that hard in a while! I have had thoughts of DIY stamping candles. I'm sure this will be a complete nightmare, but right now I'm almost looking forward to my hilarious story similar to this that I will write after I fail them.

    Thank you!!! This made my DAY!

    24 agree
  2. Thankyouthankyouthankyou…All I can say is thank you. As a DIY bride a week away from her wedding and on the verge of losing it on a few projects I needed to read this – and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Well written, hilarious, touching. Thank you so much for sharing and for the boost. :)

    11 agree
  3. I haven't laughed this hard in a long long time. Thanks. Things like this remind my why I'm not a DIYer

    5 agree
  4. Glad to see that your cake pops escapades went slightly better than mine. I finally figured it out and have been successful in future attempts. But the first time, having two young kids helping on top of everything, it was a stressful occasion.

    The icing on the cake (ha!) was that I did about 40 red and green cake balls (that I thought was cute) and was informed by my fiance that they looked like santa/grinch balls.

    Oh and don't get me started on my pretty tray of cookies that I managed to dump in the driveway walking up to our friends christmas party… lol. Thank you for the reminder that things sometimes suck, but the stories are fantastic! :)

    4 agree
    • Actually, I've been thinking of failsafe ways to make the cake bites. I did try the actual pops a few weeks before the wedding, but that was an atrocious fail and was edited out for content purposes :P I'm terrified to think of sending children to therapy when I started hucking them (cake balls, not kids) across the room…

      If he wants Grinch balls, roll them in coconut mixed with green food coloring. Muwahahaha.

      3 agree
      • That is kinda what I was thinking about the balls, but I didn't want to comment.

        1 agrees
      • I may just have to reprise the grinch and santa balls, which were festive and I thought were quite cute. But this time roll them in colored coconut this year. I know it would crack up my fiance, but I'd also love to see the looks on my coworkers faces when I bring them to the Christmas party.

        "What?! They are cake… just pop the whole thing in your mouth, it's delicious!!"

        1 agrees
  5. Ah, I tried using candy melts to do chocolate-covered Oreos that had neat little molds with wedding bells on them and little hearts. I decided to do a test run and I think I got about 5 decent Oreos done before I got a little hostile (i.e. saying aloud "Fuck you and fuck all this. I work for a living. I don't need this shit."). Glad to know that some else did not find the candy melts (or their related plastic bottles from hell) very easy to work with.

    11 agree
    • I work part time right now and i have edited my DIY projects down ALOT to make them more realistic, There are just some things I dont need to do and pretty much the majority of the ones I got rid of are food/dessert oriented, I can't even really eat sweets so the idea of fighting with cake dough or cookies and candy melts just doesn't make me happy, and this is my happy place when I think about our Handfasting, I refuse to let myself do anything I will hate.

      1 agrees
  6. Sounds a lot like my macaron making attempts. I believe they are made with some kind of magic.

    3 agree
  7. YES! THANK YOU-I think we all need to know more about DIY gone crying in your chocolate bad.

    Your sense of humor about the whole situation was a delightful added bonus.

    1 agrees
  8. Ahhhhh – this made me laugh! I have totally had this experience, with the cake balls AND of course, other projects too. (DIY is awesome, and all of us are awesome too, but sometimes there is a REASON to give yourself a break and pay a pro…) Thanks for sharing!

    2 agree
  9. Oh, Ang… I wanted desperately to commiserate and feel your pain, but you just made me laugh. And for that, I love you.

    1 agrees
  10. Ang,
    Just looking at Cake Pops makes me think "That is way too hard to do."
    I can't help but wonder if you tasted your end result and if they tasted good?

    0 agree
    • I did not. Matt did. He said they were amazing and that I should make them "all the time." I'm being one hundred percent up front and not funny at all when I tell you that was the first time I ever had a facial tic, and I still have it.

      11 agree
      • Dear Lord what a traumatic experience dear!
        Well at least if you learned anything from this, you learned he likes Duncan Hines cake with chocolate frosting.

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      • My neighbors and dogs must think I've gone round the bend, I'm laughing so hard at this comment.

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      • They are pretty tasty if you try them. I mean chocolate, cake and frosting all in one little bite.

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  11. I've tried the damn cake balls and trust me, yours are picture-effing-perfect next to the piles of dog crap I ended up with!!

    1 agrees
  12. I have FINALLY figured out how to make cake balls taste amazingly good. (Hint: Dark chocolate cake mix, caramel frosting, and milk chocolate for the top.) However, I still have no clue on how to make them pretty. And I have made them quite a few times now in my quest for pretty cake balls. I am so glad to know that someone's first (and only?) time was even worse than mine. Did they at least taste good?

    1 agrees
  13. THIS is why I love OBB! :D

    xxxxxx (smooches for your awesomeness!)

    2 agree
  14. Sure, they're a tad ugly, but they look DELICIOUS and I want one anyway.

    1 agrees
  15. Incidentally, I'll never be a good baker since I consider anything tasty a success, no matter how hideous. And they're always hideous.

    1 agrees
    • My friend asked me if I was making cupcakes for the reception, hell no I said, she pointed out I make them for every big party which is why I told her I dont want to do them, I make OK cupcakes but even walmart makes better cake than I am NO STRESS… I intend to be done with everyone one week before our Handfasting on april 30th or it just plain is not being included.

      0 agree
    • This, totally. I'm a good cook; I once made cornbread that a gen-u-ine Texan said was the best he'd ever tasted. But do not ask me for pretty! My sister Erin can do delicious *and* pretty (she and my brother's wife made my other sister's wedding cake, which was amazing); I can't. Any DIY at my hypothetical future wedding won't be mine, though I'll gladly assist if someone wants to DIY for me.

      0 agree
  16. Oh Ang, I love you.

    This just makes me think of Craftfail.org. DIY frequently goes wrong, and most definitely when it comes to weddings. I anticipate some of my own.

    1 agrees
  17. Oh my lulz. I laughed like a crazy person while reading that, but thankfully I was at home and only startled the cats.

    Favorite sentence:

    "Throw other innocent unused bottle away before it has the opportunity to insult you."

    I kind of want you to write a book filled with little essays like this because I would buy it and laugh like a crazy person and scare my cats and I think I love you the end.

    2 agree
    • P.S. Drawing of sad, crying/burnt Ang in a puddle of chocolate while her brain-self stabs the cake pops? WIN.

      1 agrees
    • Aww thank you, you give me warm fuzzies!

      0 agree
    • YES! YES! Write the book, Ang! I like to read funny books while walking my dog, cracking up to the point of hysterical tears and flying snot in front of my neighbors who think I'm weird anyway.

      1 agrees
  18. I think that with all the other cake pop fails (I don't feel so alone!) I really need to work on my no fail cake pops.

    0 agree
    • And Thank You for giving me a name for my non existant band.

      3 agree
  19. This was definately a great post, I often don't start projects for fear of failure and thinking that I alone am inept at such challenges. I like knowing I'm not alone, and that such feats need practice.

    0 agree
  20. Thanks for this. We celebrated our one year anniversary a few months ago. The wedding was good fun and prep was generally light hearted fun. Still, my button bouquet was completely balls. An ocean of my slowly collected vintage buttons were there on very sharp wires looking every shade of pathetic. I cut myself a million times making it. It was not used in the wedding, because people would look at it and politely inquire "WHAT IS THAT?" sounding all concerned like. I recently snipped all the buttons off that hateful wire and moved on. It was a good thing.

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  21. Ang, firstly, thank you so much for the laugh… needed it more than you'll ever know – so great big hugs for that.
    Second, you made me cry…oh you poor sweet love…all that effort, and mess, *and* "war wounds"…All I wanted to do was put some Aloe Vera on your burn, make you a nice hot cup of tea and sit you in a comfy chair while I cleaned up the mess.

    Now, tell us, has the tic stopped? ^_^

    0 agree
    • Thank you sweety! I recovered eventually and while a very strange part of me was hoping for a little scar to add to my collection of stupid scar stories, I healed rather nicely.

      As for the tic, it shows up every once in awhile when I'm especially stressed. It's like a visual signal of "Ang is about to breath fire out of her nose, remove yourself from the area for your own safety."

      1 agrees
      • We *all* hope for battle scars like that! I don't know how many times I've sliced into myself with a razor-sharp paring knife and thinking "Bugger! That won't scar at all!" It's the rebel/freak/strange/outsider in us… that, and they do make for *great* stories!

        Oh, you can breath fire too?? I thought that was only me! But, my warning to everyone is the evil red hair…^_^

        0 agree
  22. HAHAHAHA.

    Sorry, it was funny. I am laughing with you, not at you!

    I hope they tasted good, at least!

    BTW, why was that liquid leaking out? Too much liquid. I found while making truffles that different liqueurs required different amounts and mixing times to properly mix into chocolate. So the Chambord, Grand Marnier and whiskey truffles were all spectacular, but the batter for the Courvoisier truffles had this weird melty oily goo on top. Too high butter/milkfat: Courvoisier ratio. The liqueur just couldn't be added in that amount, mixed at that temperature etc.. We soldiered on, scraped off most of the goo and made truffles anyway.

    They tasted fantastic, they were just a little less structurally sound than the others.

    (This was for our engagement party so it's not so bad).

    1 agrees
    • Apparently, the liquid was the candy melts separating. If you reheat, cool, reheat, cool, like I was doing, the oils in the chocolate lose their bond and rise to the surface. (I'm sure there's a real scientific explanation but that's the conclusion I came to after extended Google time). It's why pastry chefs are so amazing, what with their chocolate tempering skills. Yet I screw up microwavable chocolate. :P

      PS. It's OK to laugh at me. I do all the time!

      0 agree
  23. Non-food fail: I tried to make my own decorative lanterns – the square kind that stand up on a table, not the hangy kind (though I suppose you could hang them).

    I made one, thought it looked fine, though not as elegant as I'd hoped. Showed it to my now-husband. "I didn't know we were going for a 'rustic' aesthetic…?"

    Thanks honey.

    I posted it on OBT and someone said "Your FH is being really nice!"

    Thanks guys. :)

    (I appreciated the honesty. It looked like a pre-school project.)

    0 agree
  24. hey nice to see I'm not the only one driven to a nervous break-down by those damn bottles.

    0 agree
  25. I've tried the cake balls/pops several times. My first try was with red velvet cake, cream cheese icing and milk chocolate almond bark. The second try I used white candy melts. I had FAR more success with the almond bark. You cannot make the pretty colors but they taste amazing, especially after refrigerating them.

    0 agree
  26. "or your felt bouquet resembles the home ec project of a well intentioned color blind ungulate"

    This seriously made my day.

    2 agree
  27. IF you try these again..and I realize that's an if.. I think if you use a moist cake mix you don't need HALF the frosting Bakerella suggests.. refrigerating 'em for about 2 hours before shaping helps, and melon ballers help to shape..I don't ball melons, just got one for this! Covering them, well, still working on that part, but me I LOVED the pollock-like splatter, and thought your end result looked delish, like fancy reeses!

    1 agrees
    • Full Disclosure: I have never attempted Cake Balls and at best can only consider myself an amateur at candymaking. I have, however, dealt with those damn candy melts before. I've found that it is waaaay easier to control the tempering of your chocolate (candy melts or otherwise) in a double boiler (best) or fondue pot (better) rather than the microwave (tempermental piece of crap.) Chocolate is very fickle and overheats and burns very easily, and microwaves don't often heat evenly. If you don't have a double boiler, get a saucepan and a slightly smaller metal bowl (it should fit inside but be able to rest on the edge so that there's space between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the pan) and fill with enough water to go just below the bottom of the pan. Toss your chocolate in the bowl and bring the water to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. If the chocolate gets gritty-looking or if it smells like burning sugar, it's too hot and/or burning! Sounds complicated but it's honestly much easier to control than microwaving. Hope this helps!

      0 agree
  28. This is why, while I'm planning on making my own wedding cakes, I'm doing them in normal-sized cake pans and there will be NO FROSTING involved. Except maybe for the yellow cake. And then it will just be slapped on to look "old-fashioned." And screw fondant. Just screw it. It tastes gross anyway.

    Long live plain cake! :)

    1 agrees
  29. I literally laughed out loud and managed to spit my coffee all over the place. Great post. I am glad to know your wounds healed!

    Like so many have said, I have great DIY ideas, but my implementation would not go so well. Glad to know I'm not the only one out there!

    0 agree
  30. I had the same problem when i did my cake pops. broke my heart really. i wanted to cry. instead the FH ate them up one by one, proclaimed how delicious they were, kissed me on the forehead and told me we'd find an other way to insert our geekness into the wedding (the cakepops were suppose to look like lil kirbys from the video game).

    i understand your frustration. they aren't as easy to make as Bakerella makes them out to be.

    and you're right. in the end YOU'RE STILL AWESOME and so is your wedding!

    Good luck if you do decide to ever try them again. I know i haven't grown the balls to dare to venture back into that land.

    0 agree
  31. I'm really glad I read this, because I was thinking of cake pops (with cutesy polka-dot ribbons tied on the sticks! how adorable, right? and how hard can it be!?) as bridal shower favors…it was between that, and DIY Bride's "cupcake in a jar".

    Thank you Ang & fellow commenters, for pushing me towards cupcake in a jar, which I hope will be less stressful than all of this.

    0 agree
    • I've done cupcake in a jar (And brownie in a jar), and cookies in a jar, and layer-a-ton-of-baked goods-and-frosting-then-throw-M&Ms-on-top in a jar) and those went awesome.

      For those who are wondering the "In a jar" baked goods are pretty simple. You make cake, cookies, whatever, in a sheet pan, then cut out circles, and put them in a jar. You layer them with whatever you want, so fruit, frosting, whipped cream, candy, other baked stuff. No special recipe required.

      My suggestions are:

      Make sure everything cools completely before you start cutting and layering.

      Have an assembly line mentality. Cut all your circles, prepare all your fillings, then go down the row. Put your bottom layers in all your jars, then do a layer of frosting in all your jars, then a layer of fruit or candy, etc. It saves you a TON of time instead of going back and forth.

      Cut your circles a little smaller than you think you need them. Makes them easier to get in the jar, and really helps the flavors mingle down the sides.

      Freezer bags with the corner cut off, are great for squirting frosting. (Thank you Alton Brown. I love you!)

      Find a good hiding spot. I made like twenty and only got to eat one, because they're delicious!

      0 agree
  32. Absolutely hilarious! I had many DIY-wedding fails, too, so this is a welcome opportunity to laugh at myself!

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  33. OMG what a trooper you are!
    As a pastry chef I might have warned against the "ease" of such a project. Those "simple" treats are usually the most painstaking to make. You have the patience of a saint, as I would have been carted away for certain.
    Initially my wedding was to be 90% DIY but Ive opted against it for these exact reasons. Projects and patience go hand in hand, therefore…not for me!
    I give you a whole lot of credit, and as a writer, double that credit as your story could not have been told better..it was hilarious!

    0 agree
  34. A little background information on myself; I have a Bachelor in Fine Arts and work at a very popular craft store. I have a very very crafty set of friends and family. That said, there is a LOT in my DIY wedding that will not be DIY. I'm not cutting a single piece or paper; I'm having a machine do all that for me. The stationary? While my fiance and I are drawing it, the entire printing and assembly part will be done at a printing shop, because we actually want to live to see our wedding. You could not pay me my dream honeymoon to touch the food. Nope. Not happening.
    There is a time and a place for DIY. The only thing I can say about my BFA and job is that it has let me know before hand what my strengths and weaknesses are. Hopefully that will mean less crying in the middle of a mess.

    1 agrees
  35. LOL that made me laugh so hard -it's the funniest thing I've seen online in a long time! Especially since I have admired the Bakerella site for a while now. I will NOT be trying them after reading this! Baking is supposed to be fun!

    0 agree
  36. HAHAHA!

    This article had me laughing out loud, especially this part: "your 1,000 origami cranes look like a pile of sweaty colorful spit wads"

    Genius.

    1 agrees

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