My first encounter with a cake pop was a couple of years ago via Martha Stewart. A blogger by the name of @Bakerella (Angie Dudley) was demonstrating her cupcake pops on the Martha show http://www.marthastewart.com/315587/cupcake-pops-and-bites, and I was captivated by these cute, bite-size little desserts. I checked out her blog (Bakerella.com), and I was hooked. I didn’t actually make them myself for at least a year, but who can resist a Halloween ghost or pumpkin??
Cake pops have gone mainstream since Starbucks introduced them in their stores, and if you google cake pops you will come up with a multitude of hits explaining in detail how to make them. Anyway, here is my take (and a few bits of advice) on how to make these spooky sweet treats at home yourself.
- 1 box cake mix and 1 can of icing (flavour of your choice)
- coloured candy melts or chocolate wafers
- sprinkles, candies, edible ink pens, icing, etc. to decorate your pops
- sticks if you want your pops on a stick
Just a little note here – I love to bake, and I am usually a “from scratch” kind of baker. However, in this case I am going with a mix for basically 2 reasons – first, the texture of cake made from a mix is a bit drier and less dense, and therefore works well in the cake pops; secondly, these little things take plenty of time to make already without adding an extra chunk of time for the “from scratch” cake. Just sayin’…
Ok, make your cake-mix cake. I like to use water in the mix instead of milk, just to keep the richness down a bit and lighten the texture. After your cake has finished baking, cool it completely before going on to the next step.
Once the cake has cooled, take it out of the baking pan and crumble it into a largish bowl using a large spoon or your fingers (fun for the kids to help here!) Now spoon about 3/4 of the can of frosting into the cake crumbles and mix well. The mixture should be sticky and hold together in a ball, but not be mushy. Refrigerate the mixture for a bit so that it is easier to handle.
Roll the mixture into 1″ balls using your hands (use a melon baller to scoop the mixture to get more evenly sized balls). Place the balls on a wax paper or parchment lined baking pan and pop back into the fridge. You can also use the freezer, but be sure that your balls do not completely freeze. I have tried freezing them completely before, and when the balls were coated later with chocolate they would often crack or leak.
Now it is time to melt your chocolate wafers or candy melts. You can use a double boiler to gently heat your coating, but I prefer to use the microwave. Just make sure that you heat slowly and stir often so that you don’t overheat the candy. If the texture is too thick, you can add a bit of shortening to thin the coating out a bit.
Take your cake balls out of the fridge and insert the sticks into the balls. To help them stick better, dip the end of your stick into the candy coating and then about 1/3 of the way into the cake ball. Place back in the fridge to keep them chilled.
Working with a few cake balls at a time, dip the ball into the coating making sure to completely cover the cake (you can use a spoon to help here if you need to). Pull the cake ball out of the coating and twirl it slowly, letting the excess drip off. If you want to add sprinkles, shake them on while the coating is still wet. Place the cake pop upright so that the coating can harden.
Once the coating is dry, it is time to decorate. Add icing, candies, or details with edible ink pens to bring your pops to a whole new level of fun!
The finished cake pops can be stored at room temperature for a few days (as long as you didn’t use cream cheese icing) or in the fridge or freezer. If you store in the freezer, make sure to thaw in the fridge before serving to minimize sweating of the candy coating and/or cracking and leaking.
Enjoy, and have a spook-tacular Halloween!
All photos by Anita Woo.