Last week I managed to convert one more of my coworkers into a fan of my super dark & moist chocolate-y cake. As a result, I was lucky enough to help her with a birthday party by making 50 Elmo chocolate cake pops to accompany the cake she had ordered. I’m always so happy to be a part of anyones special day whether it be birthday, anniversary, wedding – you name it, I love baking for it! 🙂 I can’t thank her enough for letting me be a small part of a big day!
I’ve made cake pops before and every single time I make them my skills improve so I was excited to work with them again. The very first time I made them 70% of the pops fell off the sticks. The second time they stayed on the sticks but after refrigerating started to crack and frosting would leak out!! Ugh!! There was always some new and confusing issue that arose with each batch but over time I would slowly adjust my technique and achieve a new level of success. This post is going to be a beginners tutorial. Ideally it will improve your skills considerably the first few times you make your own cake pops. However, if there is anything I’ve learned from my cake pop failures it would be that persistence is key to success. Repetition is what’s needed to achieve cake pop greatness – so grab those sticks, melt that chocolate, and let’s get going!
BAKE A TON OF CAKE
The very first thing you’re going to need is cake and lots of it. My super moist chocolate cake is a winner for cake pops because it needs very little frosting to achieve a shapeable consistency. Two 13×9 pans of chocolate cake made all 50 cake pops, with a few extra for taste testing. 😉 The first few times I made cake pops I relied on my own to hands to crumble the cake. Eh! Wrong! The best and easiest way to crumble cake pops into a super fine and even crumb is using your Kitchenaid mixer! (For small batches a food processor works well too but the amount of cake needed means you’d have to do several batches). I threw both cooled cakes whole into my 6 quart (woohoo upgrade!) Kitchenaid mixer with the beater paddle and let it go 3-4 minutes until I had a nice, fine consistency.
ADD SOME FROSTING
To achieve a nice moist, shapeable cake pop you will need to add a little bit of frosting to the crumbled cake – try my American buttercream and flavor it any way you’d like. Get creative and use strawberry buttercream for chocolate covered strawberry cake pops!You will only need a few tablespoons of frosting for the whole batch depending on the moisture of your cake, how long you let it bake, the humidity in your area, etc so start with one heaping tablespoon and check the consistency once its mixed. You’re going to want to be able to pick up about a tablespoon worth of the cake and roll it into a ball with very little effort. If it does not make a fairly smooth ball, add more frosting. The end results should look something like this.
MMMMMMM cakey frosting goodness!! To get the same size cake pops every time, use a cookie scoop to measure each ball then roll each one into to a smooth circle. The will look like this when you are done.
MELT SOME CANDY COATING GLUE & ADD THE STICKS
I recommend refrigerating the rolled balls for at least an hour before moving onto the next step. For coating for the cake pops you are going to want to use a candy coating like Mercken’s or Wilton candy melts. My mom used Mercken’s whenever she made any candies and I tend to prefer those whenever I can find them. Wilton’s candy melts are usually much easier to find though and just as tasty. They are wonderful for cake pops because they come in a variety of colors and reduce the risk of having to color your own chocolate and have it seize (definitely happened to me before!). Now, melt a little bit of the candy coating, about 1/3 cup and get your lollipop sticks out. You’re going to dip the end into the candy coating and then stick it a little over halfway into the cake pop like this:
MELT MORE CANDY MELTS, THIN IT DOWN & COAT THOSE POPS!
Because the pops are cold and the candy coating hardens fairly quickly, it will create a “glue” or seal that will keep your cake pops on the sticks! Let these rest on a cookie sheet at room temperature until the cake pops themselves are room temperature and then start melting more chocolate to coat the pops completely. The closer to room temperature the pops and the candy coating are, the better your end result will be. For 50 cake pops I used about 16 ounces of candy melts. That only covered each pop once, so if you’d like to double dip them for a smoother finished product you will need double that amount. Since candy melts are thicker in consistency than other melted chocolates and can weigh down your cake pops, you should consider investing in Wilton’s EZ Thin to thin the consistency. I used 2-3 tablespoons of it, just add it to the warm candy melts and stir well until it dissolves. Then let your candy coating cool to almost room temperature before dipping. Hot candy coating can cause your cake balls to come apart or crack later on.
When dipping your cake pops make sure to lightly tap the side of the stick against the edge of your candy bowl/container. Tap too hard and your cake could fall right off the stick! Be patient, let as much drip off as possible and place each pop standing up for laying down on a cookie sheet. I prefer laying down since it would be the back of Elmo’s head and easier to hide than a flat top.
DECORATE YOUR POPS
After each pop has been dipped and your chocolate has hardened you can melt other colors and begin decorating your pops. I used black, orange, and white candy melts and melted about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of each. Using a parchment piping cone (watch a great video here on how to make your own piping cones) put the final touches on your cake pops. Tiny treat bags and a little bit of ribbon work great for making individually wrapped pops that your guests can bring home. Take a look at my finished Elmo’s! 🙂
RECAP – TIPS & TRICKS
- Use a Kitchenaid mixer or food processor to achieve a very fine cake crumb.
- Start by adding small amounts of the frosting until you achieve a moldable consistency.
- Use a cookie scoop to make all pops the same size.
- “Glue” your sticks to the pops by using candy melts and let harden before dipping.
- Use candy coating instead of chocolate and thin it for easy coating.
- The closer to room temperature your pops and candy coating are, the better.
- Tap as much excess off as possible. Re-dip only when original coat has hardened.
- Use a parchment cone for precision decorations.
- Tiny treat bags and ribbon make for easy transportation and individual cake pop gifts!
Phew! You are now armed with some serious cake pop knowledge! The only thing you need to do now is practice, practice, practice! There will always be a few people who have the skill to make perfect treats every time but for the rest of us, it’s a matter of persistence and hard work! Put that effort in, practice by making small batches for family, friends, or at work, and you will be a cake pop master in no time!