There’s just something about cake that brings out your inner child and makes you grin from ear to ear. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about! But the common question seems to be: do you prefer chocolate or vanilla? And I say, “NEITHER. I’m a CAKE POP kind of gal!”
If you’ve had cake pops before, then you know why they’re a tried-and-true favorite. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll see why these little gems of joy need to be at every celebratory occasion under the sun! I’m going to walk you through making them step-by-step.
What Are Cake Pops?
Cake pops are a soft and sweet mixture of crumbled cake and frosting. You roll that mixture into a ball, then dip it in chocolate and add sprinkles!
You’re probably wondering why you’d go to so much effort to make them when you could just bake a cake and still have the same ingredients, but I’m here to tell you that something magical happens in the process of actually incorporating the frosting INTO the cake.
It changes the texture and becomes ultra-fudgy and dense. Once the pops are dipped in chocolate, it truly is a treat to sink your teeth into! The crack of the chocolate followed by the chewiness of the cake pop is an experience you won’t forget.
Box Mix + Homemade Frosting: A Winning Combo
I have been making cake pops for over 12 years and have found that using a boxed cake mix and homemade frosting is the best combination. When I first started out, I used canned frosting, and didn’t like the way it incorporated with the cake. It was too mushy, and that’s not what we want!
If I’m feeling extremely ambitious, I’ll make both the cake and the frosting from scratch. If I’m short on time, I’ll turn to the boxed cake mix. I promise your cake pops will turn out beautiful either way, but I will ALWAYS take the extra few minutes to make frosting from scratch. It truly can’t be beat.
Make accidents into cake pops! There have been times when I’ve made cupcakes that have come out extremely misshapen or baked a cake that cracked, but instead of feeling discouraged, I simply use them to make cake pops.
Cake Pop Filling
The frosting really is the glue that’s holding the cake together, so you want a good-quality frosting.
When adding frosting to the cake pop filling, less is more. There have been times when I’ve added too much frosting and they stick to my hands when rolling the pops out, and then they’re too soft to dip in chocolate.
Start with 1/4 cup of frosting, and then mix it into the crumbled cake in 1/4-cup increments. I’ve never had to use more than 1 cup, which means you’ll have leftover frosting! Put it in the fridge for your next cake pop adventure or use it on cookies or cupcakes. Or simply grab a spoon and dig in after you’ve had a really stressful day. I promise I won’t tell anyone.
Add a Splash of Color With Gel Food Coloring
If you’d like to color the frosting or the cake, I recommend using gel food coloring. Wilton is my go-to brand because I can find it almost anywhere! Insert a clean toothpick into the coloring and then drag it through the cake batter or frosting. If you need more coloring, repeat the process, but use a clean toothpick each time!
Just a little PSA: using liquid food coloring may change the consistency of the frosting, so stick with gel!
Mix and Match Flavor Combinations
An Expert’s Cake Pop Tips
- Let the cake cool completely before crumbling. If you add frosting to a warm cake, it’s going to affect the consistency of the frosting.
- Crumble the cake with a stand mixer. I’ve done it by hand, and it takes a long time!
- Don’t use too much frosting! I already mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. You want the mixture to hold its shape, but still be a little firm.
- Refrigerate after you’ve combined the cake and frosting. It’ll really firms things up and make it easier to roll into balls. I usually do this overnight, but you could do it in a couple of hours.
- Use candy melt circles for your chocolate coating. I used Ghirardelli in this recipe, but have used Wilton, and even bulk candy melts from Winco. Using regular chocolate will cause the cake pops to melt in your hands.
- Add a tiny bit of shortening to your coating to thin it out a bit. I personally like the consistency of a slightly runnier coating because I can dip the pops faster. I’ll melt the chocolate in the microwave in a heatproof bowl in 30 second increments, and then add the shortening in 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Don’t use vegetable oil or coconut oil to thin it out. The chocolate won’t set up properly. Learn from my mistakes and stick with the shortening.
- Use a cookie scoop to get the ball rolling… Literally. Ha! I’ll scoop everything out, and then go through and roll the pops. If the pops aren’t forming while you’re rolling them, take a ball, smoosh it together between your hands, and then roll.
- Dip your stick into the melted chocolate and then insert it into the ball. Lay it on the cookie sheet. Once they’re all done, freeze for a half hour to really firm things up.
- Work with your coating in small batches. This will keep the coating from becoming too difficult to work with and from using too much chocolate.
- Use a spoon to help get the chocolate all around the cake pop and to help smooth it out. I will twist the cake pop against the spoon to get the excess off.
- To really get extra chocolate off, tap the stick against the rim of the bowl while also twisting to make sure the chocolate comes off evenly. It sounds intimidating, but you’ll find your groove!
- Place the cake pops standing up so they can harden. I used a cardboard stand I found at Walmart, but you could use a piece of Styrofoam too.
- If you’re using sprinkles, add them while the chocolate coating is still wet! If the candy coating has hardened, dip the top of the cake pop in the chocolate and then add sprinkles. I promise no one will notice.
Make Ahead Cake Pops
Cake pops aren’t something you can whip up last minute, but you can break down the process and make them ahead of time. I usually make the cake and frosting, mix it all together, and the next day (or a few days down the road) I’ll do the assembly part. If the cake pop batter is in the fridge, you can leave it there (covered, of course) for about 1 week.
I don’t recommend making the pops completely and then freezing. The chocolate wouldn’t thaw very well, and you’d have a mess on your hands. If you’d like to make the cake pops without the chocolate, you can freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. To thaw, pull them out of the freezer and let them sit at room temperature, then begin the chocolate dipping process (in method Step 8).