I’m slightly obsessed with bringing these fun little treats to parties. There is something so whimsical about a little piece of chocolate-covered cake at the top of a stick. And they have some major advantages at dessert time…no cutting, no serving, no mess, and usually no left-overs! People can grab them and go without even having to sit down.
If you’re interested in making cake pops, the first thing to do is read Bakerella’s book called Cake Pops Tips, Tricks, and recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats. I’ve read it from cover to cover and I still refer to it often when making pops. But in this blog post, I’ll break down the basic steps and provide some helpful tips of my own.
The Main Steps:
It is time-consuming to make cake pops. By dividing the work into three main steps, you can make it easier.
You can even do these steps on different days:
1. Baking the cake
2. Rolling the balls
3. Dipping the pops
Step1: Baking the cake
For this step, prepare a 9 x 13 cake pan. I like to spray mine with Wilton Bake Easy spray. This ensures that my cake never sticks to the pan.
Here is my prepared cake pan.
Use your favorite box or scratch cake recipe. I used a white almond sour cream cake which works well for cake pops. The recipe I used yields 7 cups of batter.
Once your cake is baked, allow it to cool. Score it into four equal parts with a knife. A box mix yields 12 cake pops from each quarter cake or 48 pops from the full cake. My batter is a little higher yield, so each quarter yields about 15 pops or 60 pops for the entire cake. Note the quantity that your own favorite recipe yields the first time you make them. This will help you plan in the future.
For this tutorial, I worked with one quarter of my cake. I removed it from the pan and let it finish cooling.
If you are not using the entire cake, wrap the other quarters tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. You can store them in the freezer for the next time you make cake pops.
Step2: Rolling the balls
For this step you will need:
Creamy vanilla frosting (canned actually works best!)
Cookie sheet that fits in your refrigerator
Small scoop for consistent sizing
One of the best tips for making consistent round cake pops is to find a small scoop. This one is a 3/4 tablespoon size and it works perfectly for cake pops.
Cut the outer edges from your cake because they can create hard lumps inside your pops.
Cut your cake into four pieces. Pick up two of the pieces at a time and rub them together over your bowl to crumble the cake into fine crumbs.
Continue the crumbling process with your hands or two forks until the pieces are very fine.
I always make homemade icing for my cupcakes and cakes, but canned icing actually works the best for cake pops! This vanilla cake is very moist so I add less than a quarter can of the frosting. The amount you add will vary based on the moisture of your cake recipe. You want your mixture just moist enough to roll into balls. Tip: Be careful not to add too much icing or your mixture will be too moist. This can make for heavy cake pops with an unpleasant texture.
Distribute the icing evenly over your cake crumbs then mix it in. I use the back of my spoon for a smashing motion until the mixture binds together.
This is what the mixture looks like after mixing with the back of the spoon.
Use your scoop to get enough mixture for a well-rounded ball. Use your hand to round out the top of the mixture into the ball shape. This ensures your pops have a uniform size.
Place the mixture into your clean hand. Tip: Clean your hands frequently and keep them lightly moistened with water. This helps to get a smooth exterior on the cake balls.
Roll the ball between cupped hands applying firm and then gentle pressure. Do this until you are pleased with the shape of the cake ball.
Continue until your mixture is done. Place the cake balls on your parchment-lined cookie sheet as you go.
The finished cake balls look like this.
Cover them with plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate them for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. Tip: If you’ve had problems with your cake balls falling off the sticks, they may not have been firm enough. Build time into your schedule so they can refrigerate overnight. This will help them firm up before the dipping process.
Step 3: Dipping the pops
For this step you will need:
Chilled cake balls
Foil-covered foam block
Skewer for making guide holes
Candy melts (I use Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping & Enrobing Formula)
Remove the foil from the cake balls and place them in the refrigerator while you prepare the candy melts. I take them out one at a time from the refrigerator as I dip them.
Place enough candy melts in the bowl so you can submerge each pop straight down into the chocolate and it will be covered to the stick.
Follow the directions to melt your candy melts. Unfortunately, the brand of chocolate I use is only available for shipping in the U.S. and Canada. It is a very thin dipping chocolate. It melts to a silky smooth consistency for easy dipping. Chilling the cake balls and using this chocolate ensure that I never have a cake ball fall off the stick.
Dip your lollipop stick into the melted chocolate about one inch.
Push the chocolate-covered end of the stick into the middle of the cake ball.
Dip your cake pop straight down into the chocolate until it is submerged and the melted chocolate touches the stick. Hold it sideways over the bowl and rotate it slowly as it drips. Tap the wrist that is holding the pop with the free hand to encourage the chocolate to drip off.
When it is done dripping, turn it upside down so that any excess chocolate stops dripping. Let it dry like this for a few moments.
Clean off the excess chocolate on the stick with your finger for a nicer look.
Pre-drill a guide hole with your skewer before placing each pop into your foam block to dry.
I added a tiny bit of candy color to the melted chocolate between dipping each cake pop to demonstrate an ombre-effect color palette from light to dark pink. (Tip: You must use candy colors for chocolate because they are oil based. If you use icing colors, which are water based, your chocolate will seize.)
Here are the finished cake pops. I displayed them in a low vase filled with decorative glass beads.
Tip for re-using chocolate: The chocolate I recommended in this post is rather expensive because of the high quality. Save left-over chocolate for your next project. Pour the chocolate onto parchment paper or plastic wrap and let it cool for 20 minutes. Peel the solid chocolate piece off and break into large pieces for storage.
Place the chocolate pieces in a zip lock bag and label it with the date. It will re-melt perfectly for your next project!
I hope you found some useful tips in this post and I welcome you to add your own cake pops tips in the comments!