Social Distancing - Week... Who knows anymore??
I think we're in the middle of our 6th week home, but honestly have lost count. The news came this week that Massachusetts Public Schools and Early Learning Centers will not open before the end of the school year. This news was expected, but also not easy to swallow. I feel sad about it, and not just because it means I have 2 more months of trying to do remote learning with C, but because of the things we're missing out on (specifically for him, his pre-k/preschool graduations that I didn't realize I was looking forward to until I learned it wouldn't be happening). This isn't the end of the world for him, he'll get the opportunity to have other graduations throughout his life. My heart hurts more for the seniors in High School (my nephew included) who will be missing their proms and graduations. I think the other really hard part of all of this is that no one really knows when we're going to start to get back to normal, or what normal is going to look like when this is all over - it's an unsettling feeling.
Anyways, I thought I'd share a really fun activity that little C enjoyed helping me with in this blog post. I'm finding it's hard for me to get creative with my photography right now, because I'm feeling pulled in many directions - trying to help C with remote learning, trying to entertain G who is in a very needy phase right now, and trying to keep up with things like dishes, laundry, and other housework (it's amazing how much laundry 4 people who barely leave the house can generate), so I've been trying to take some time to just photograph our every day lives. This project was from week 3 of social distancing - Cake Balls! It was such a fun thing to make with C, and because of the process (which I'll explain in this post), it helped keep us busy for a while.
If you've never made cake balls before, I'll warn you of this - this makes TONS of cake balls (I think ours made about 55-60), so if you don't have self control, this might not be the activity for you! You start with a cake - we aren't fancy, just used a boxed chocolate cake. You want to bake it in a 13x9 pan and let it cool completely before moving on to the next step. I think I let ours cool for about 4-5 hours on a rack. Then comes the fun part - using your hands (I'm sure this could be done differently, but this made it SO fun for C), crumble the cake. I wouldn’t recommend using a food processor here, I think that would make the crumbs too fine. I found that taking two chunks of cake and rubbing them together crumbled it nicely.
The next part is also super fun for the kiddos - you take frosting (again, we're not fancy around here, I just used store bought chocolate frosting) and you mix it in with the crumbled cake. I found that using my hand mixer to kind of whip the frosting first made this step easier. I'll also recommend not adding the whole can on frosting, we added a little at a time and I tasted it until it was to my liking and could hold together as a ball. The more frosting you add, the richer the cake ball will be. I think we used about 3/4 of the can of frosting and they were delicious!
Once it's all mixed well, you're going to roll the cake/frosting mix into balls. This part gets real messy, but is also fun (because what kid doesn't like to get messy). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or wax paper) and fit as many cake balls as possible onto the sheet (our batch needed 2 sheets, one having a few less than the other). You're going to want to refrigerate them before moving to the next step. I kept mine in the fridge overnight, but a few hours should do the trick. This just helps them harden to make the next step easier.
The final steps is to melt chocolate (I ended up needing 2 bags of chocolate chips, and used both semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips). I don't have any pictures of the actual process because my helper had bailed on me at this point (and oddly enough came back just in time to lick the melted chocolate off the spatula). I used a glass bowl and microwaved the chocolate chips for 30 second increments and stirred them in between until they were melted. Then I just used a fork to help roll the cake balls around in the melted chocolate until they were covered and placed them back on the parchment paper. Mine are definitely not that pretty, but I was rushing because I knew I was on borrowed time with G's nap.
Once all of the cake balls are dipped in chocolate, put the baking sheets back in the refrigerator (I did this overnight, but a few hours should be fine). My cake balls may not be aesthetically pleasing, but they sure did taste delicious. I went simple, just made chocolate cake balls dipped in chocolate, but you could make cake pops instead (using lollipop sticks) or decorate them with colored white chocolate or even sprinkles, maybe I'll step up my game next time.
I loved being able to photograph my little buddy helping me with this baking project. He had so much fun helping and even more fun eating the cake balls! I loved practicing different shooting from different angles to capture the different steps of this process :-)
What are you doing to keep busy during this social distancing time?
Thanks for stopping by!