Friday, May 21, 2010

Cake Pops

I am of the opinion that anything tastes better on a stick.  Chicken?  Meh.  Satay?  Yum.  Cheddar?  Meh.  Cheese on a stick served by girls with outlandishly loud striped fezes?  Delish.

German chocolate cake from a box mix?  Meh.  On a stick?  Not bad.

After cooing over Bakerella's darling creations for a long long time, I finally had an occasion to make cake pops.  I made them sparkly like miniature disco balls.  And they were so very purty.

For all of their fancy schmanciness, cake pops are fairly basic and easy to make: just crumbled cake and frosting mixed together, rolled into a ball, and put on sticks.  Bakerella's recipe, available here, calls for boxed cake mix and canned frosting. Easy.

Since Bakerella's cake ball recipe is all around the interwebs, I thought I'd give my two cents on a less well-examined part of the process: how to anchor the sticks onto the balls and candy-coat the cake pop.  After you roll the cake balls, Bakerella recommends putting the balls into the fridge or freezer for a few hours to allow the balls to harden up a bit and come to hold their shape.  She also recommends -- and this is a step that I think quite a few disappointed cake ball makers seem to gloss over -- handling the dipping process in small batches.  Take a few balls out of the fridge/freezer at a time.  Heat up only small quantities of candy or chocolate melts at a time (a microwave makes this step fast and easy).  This is important because if you let the cake balls come to room temperature, they'll lose their solidity and won't hold together.  You'll end up drowning your cake balls in candy melts because they'll fall right off the stick.

 Cake balls don't swim, and you'll end up with a cake pop casualty on your hands.

Bakerella suggests that you can create a secure cake pop just by putting a popsicle stick right into the cake ball.  From my experience (and that of others who have experienced cake pop casualties), that's not enough.  To anchor the sticks securely to the ball, dip the end of the stick (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch) into the candy melt BEFORE putting the stick into the cake ball.  This helps the stick fuse to the inside of the pop and also makes a ring at the bottom of the cake ball that serves as a base for the ball to rest (see photo).  Put the cake balls with the sticks in them back in the fridge/freezer for a few minutes to allow the candy coating to dry and work its adhesive magic.

When the candy "ring" at the bottom of the pops is dry and the stick feels secure, you're ready for dipping.  Dip and swirl the pop slowly in the candy melt.  Make sure that the candy coating just overlaps the "ring" at the base of the cake ball, so that a bond is created between the two.  To get an even coating on the cake ball, slowly swirl the stick as you lift the ball diagonally (almost horizontally) out of the candy melt while tapping -- very very gently -- the stick on the rim of the container the melt is in.  The combination of the swirling and tapping will distribute the candy coating evenly around the cake ball.

A few seconds into the swirling and tapping, the candy coating should solidify slightly.  The coating will be less liquid than solid and will not flow easily off the cake ball.  At that point, you can, if you wish, sprinkle edible glitter or jimmies on top of the cake pop to make it pretty.  It's important to get the timing just right though: if you put the sprinkles on before the coating is sufficiently dry, the weight of the sprinkles will pull the coating right off the cake ball, forming a gross lava-ish flow, but if you allow the candy coating to dry too much, then the sprinkles won't stay on.

BTW, if you are using a light colored melt on a dark colored cake, be prepared to dip twice, allowing the candy melt to dry between the first and second dip.  Obviously, wait until the second dip to add the sprinkles.

Although this process sounds complicated, after a few tries, it becomes pretty manageable.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the candy coating dries quickly, so I was able to dip, wrap, and package the cake pops all in one afternoon.

I enjoyed making the cake pops and loved seeing people's reactions to them.  They are pretty damn adorable.

In all honesty, though, I like them more for their aesthetics than their taste.  I probably would have enjoyed them more if I either a) made the cake and frosting from scratch so that both were less sweet and more palatable or b) were a five-year-old kid.  That being said, many guests seemed to find the cake pops quite delicious, which confirms my initial hypothesis that anything on a stick (or that is candy-coated) is guaranteed to be a hit.

Have you tried making cake pops or cupcake pops?  How did they turn out?


Nicole Peterson May 21, 2010 at 7:56 AM  

You always post the most delicious little morsels. That's why I love your blog - you are foodie like me.

Jenna May 21, 2010 at 12:45 PM  

You should email these to Bakerella. They are the best I've seen next to heres.

lavenderpug May 21, 2010 at 1:48 PM  

yummerificous. so cute!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa May 22, 2010 at 4:22 PM  

@ Nicole Peterson: Ditto, hon.

@ Jenna: Aw, thanks. Maybe once I practice making them a few more times . . .

Darwin May 22, 2010 at 5:35 PM  

how lovely, they look so cute and perfect!

laurenlee May 25, 2010 at 9:28 AM  

sooooo damm cute!! looks like my fav flower!!

Unknown May 26, 2010 at 3:49 PM  

these are adorable. i've tried cake pops twice and can't seem to get right texture. sent a question to bakerella. any thoughts?

Mrs. Hot Cocoa May 26, 2010 at 8:13 PM  

@ Danielle: The texture was the bane of my existence too. I made one batch following Bakerella's directions to the letter (i.e., one full can of frosting), and it came out way too goopy, even with freezing overnight. The mixture held together well, but the texture was really yucky. I ended up having to try it again.

The second time, I mixed in only about a little over 1/2 to 3/4 can of frosting; the consistency should be just "wet" enough to hold the cake crumbles together. The reduced amount of frosting and the refridgeration overnight made for just the right texture. You get a good "pop/crunch" with the candy shell and still a recognizably cakey interior (not all gooey and unbaked-tasting like with the full can of frosting).

I hope this helps! Try it again and tell me if it works.

Anonymous,  October 9, 2010 at 9:16 PM  

Thanks for your insight! I am attempting my first batch tomorrow with a 6 & 8 year old. Your tips will be very useful in calming my nerves! Wish me luck!!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa October 10, 2010 at 3:55 PM  

@ Anonymous: Good luck! Take photos. I think they're going to be quite a hit with 6-yr-olds.

Anonymous,  January 12, 2011 at 8:51 PM  

May I know where can I get the pop sticks?

Mrs. Hot Cocoa January 12, 2011 at 9:25 PM  

@ Anonymous: I got the sticks at a party store, in the cake and candy making section.

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