What’s for dinner? Well, it’s party time…
Cake pops are not something I would usually recommend for dinner, but our house is full of birthdays in late January, hence the need for this Marie-Antoinette moment on a stick.
In case you’re wondering, cake pops are little balls of mashed-up cake and frosting on sticks. They are bite-sized delights made solely of the best bits of cake, all in one delightful mouthful. You may have seen them as there’s been a bit of fuss about cake pops in the online cooking community. Personally, I’m not convinced that Cake pops will become “the next cupcake” as some commentators have predicted—they are a bit too time-consuming compared to their longstanding and much simpler counterpart—but they are fun to make and the kids will love how they look.
I will come clean: I was scared of making cake pops especially once Barista Kids wonderfully talented renaissance woman, Holly Korus, had warned me how messy they were. That said, I’m always up for a challenge so here goes. And here are a few hints if you’re also up for the challenge:
- Unless you have loads of time, break up the process by making the cake pop mix in advance and keeping in the fridge for about 3 days
- You can use a cake mix and store-bought frosting to save time
- Have something ready to put your cake pops into when drying, you could use styrofoam (cover with Saran wrap so you can reuse it) or an upside down colander
- When coating the cake pop with chocolate, swirl and then tap the stick with your hand to remove excess covering
- Do NOT (as in “never ever never”) dip the cake pop into sprinkles, the smooth surface of the cake pop will get very messy. Instead, sprinkle the sprinkles over the top with one hand while rotating with the other. Sprinkles: the clue’s in the name…
- Last and most important hint: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MAKE THIS RECIPE WITH YOUR CHILDREN UNLESS YOU ARE A SAINTLY, PATIENT, PERSON WITH A TEAM OF WILLING CLEANING STAFF TO HAND. I am not that person and I do not have servants, and making cake pops was messy and time-consuming enough without lowering the average age of the cooks and prolonging the process. Work alone, people – you’ll thank me for it.
Making the mix for the Cake Balls
Ingredients: makes about 24
- 1 batch chocolate cake mix (either a box mix or use recipe below)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon milk (or more, as necessary)
Bake the cake and let it cool completely on a rack. This is a very moist cake, making it ideal for this recipe. It’s best to let it cool overnight at least. When it is completely cool, break the cake into a large bowl. Crumble it with a fork until it looks like fine crumbs.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. Pour the frosting mixture into the bowl with the cake crumbs and mix with a spoon. Try to resist licking the spoon. Then continue mixing with your fingers, kneading and mixing until fully mixed into the cake. Try to resist licking your fingers. Check a little to see if it will roll into a ball—it should, as this recipe makes a very malleable, easy-to-handle cake mixture. But if it needs a little extra moisture, you can add milk a spoonful at a time.
When the mix is completely done, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. You can leave the mix refrigerated for several days at this point.
Making the cake balls
- Long lollipop sticks (found at Michael’s, AC Moore, or other craft stores: My advice is to get the long round white ones rather than the flat, wooden popsicle one)
- 1 bag of Wilton Candy Melts
- Colored sugars, candies, and other decorative sprinkles
Take the refrigerated mixture out and mold into balls the size of golf balls, either using your hands or an ice cream scoop. Put a stick in each ball and place on parchment paper before putting in the freezer for at least one hour.
Decorating The Cake Pops
Stage one: Frosting
You should now have a freezer full of cold cake balls on sticks and that’s the perfect time to start making the frosting. Melt the candy melts either in a microwave or in a double boiler on the stove. If you don’t have a double boiler – I don’t – just use a heatproof pan over a pan of simmering water. Stir well. Dip each ball into the chocolate until covered. Then swirl around and tap with one hand to let excess drop off.
As per hint above – sprinkle the sprinkles over the pop while rotating the lollipop stick, rather than dipping the cake pop into the mix. I used several different shades and sizes of decorative sprinkles. Once decorated, stick the sticks into styrofoam to dry and cool. At this point you can freeze them.
If you want to make the chocolate cake from scratch, here’s a recipe, which is just as good eaten as a chocolate cake rather than split into balls and stuck on a stick!
Very Easy Chocolate Cake
makes two 9-inch round cakes
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Mix in boiling water – the batter will be quite thin. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack, then tap the cakes out of the pans. Cool completely before frosting.