Sometimes when I’m eating a sugar cookie, I wonder, “is there anything better than a sugar cookie?” And then I remember there are CAKE POPS! While a lot of my blog is dedicated to decorated sugar cookies, I’ve been making cake pops for years and EVERYONE loves cake pops. If you haven’t tried making them, today is your lucky day and I’m going to break it into manageable steps. Now, mastering cake pops, just like mastering decorated sugar cookies, takes a lot of patience and practice. But if you really want to learn to make them, don’t listen to the bakers that refer to them as “the devil’s balls”. 😆 Let’s do this together, bestie, you got this!
Cake Pops VS. Cake Balls
First things first, let’s define what a true cake pop is and clear up any confusion! There are a couple different ways people make these and universally call them cake pops, but there is only one true cake pop method!
A cake pop is made of crumbled cake, mixed with frosting, formed into a ball and covered with candy melts, almond bark or tempered chocolate.
A cake ball is simply cake batter baked in a mold to make a ball shape and then covered in the same manner as a cake pop.
So, a cake pop is dense, moist and like a piece of frosted cake on a stick. A cake ball is similar to cupcake consistency with a decorated coating. My family, friends, customers and I prefer cake pops by far. If you decide to offer cake pops to your customers, you may want to clarify what they can expect since again, some people have a different idea of what a cake pop is.
Let’s Do This
Okay, enough about pops and balls, let’s get into baking! Your first step is to bake your cake. You can use your favorite cake recipe in any flavor you’d like. Once baked, let the cake cool in the pan. Once cooled, you’re going to crumble the cake into a large mixing bowl. I usually bake my cake in a 9×13 pan, so when I’m ready to crumble it, I slice it into 8 rectangles and put in the bowl. I use my gloved hands to simply crumble the cake and start kneading it. Here is a picture of the crumbled cake:
Next, you’re going to start kneading and squeezing the crumbled cake; your cake should be moist enough that it starts sticking together. Now you can add your buttercream frosting to the bowl and continue working it with your hands. You will learn the ideal ratio of cake to frosting, but I tend to use about 1 cup of frosting for a 9×13 cake. You’re literally going to work the mixture until it is similar to Playdoh consistency. Here is a picture of the completed mixture:
Next, I use my food scale to weigh out 28oz balls and hand-roll them. You will learn to eyeball or determine the ideal size cake pop ball for you. Here is a picture of rolled cake pop balls:
I suggest chilling your rolled cake pop balls for at least 30 min. Then, melt a small amount of your cake pop coating. You will be dipping the end of your stick in the melted coating and putting the stick about 3/4 of the way into the ball. You will then chill the balls with the sticks in them for at least 10 minutes. I prefer 4″ sticks, like THESE.
Prepping for Dipping
Once you’re getting ready to dip your cake pops, take them out of the fridge and let them get closer to room temp. If you attempt to coat a cold ball with a warm coating, the coating will crack. Once your balls are closer to room temp, melt your coating and let it cool slightly, while stirring, so that it is not HOT when you dip.
Before you start dipping, you want to have a place to put your cake pops once they are wet. I’m not a fan of setting them upside down, resulting in a flat edge. I use a cake pop display stand, like THIS, to put my cake pops in while they dry. You will also want to have your sprinkles, sanding sugar or other decorations ready. Coating drives quickly so you need to be ready to decorate as soon as you dip.
Playing with Colors
There are a few ways to achieve different colors for your cake pops. Today, I’m using melted, white almond bark for coating my cake pops. I’m using sanding sugar and sprinkles to decorate, but you could certainly color your coating as well. Note that when you are coloring chocolate or almond bark, you should not use coloring that is water-based. It will seize up the coating. THIS set of ChefMaster coloring is made for candy/chocolate.
Here is a secret tip: you can use water-based gel colors but will need to add paramount crystals to your coating to un-seize it. HERE are crystals I recommend. I would advise against trying this your first time as it’s just another variable to master. Reserve this method for later on when you’re more comfortable with dipping cake pops.
Lastly, you can always buy pre-colored candy melts for your coating. These are readily available at Walmart, Michaels, Joann and Hobby Lobby.
Dipping & Decorating
If you haven’t worked with melted candy wafers or almond bark previously, pay special attention to how you melt it without overheating it, in which case it will seize.
As far as dipping, I use a bowl for my almond bark and a spoon to help coat. I have always had the best luck setting it in the coating and using a spoon to cover coating on it. Then pull it out and gently bump my right hand/wrist with my left hand to shake the excess off. This technique puts less stress on the actual cake pop ball. If you simply bounce your cake pop, the ball will likely fall off.
Once most excess has stopped dripping off, I decorate and place in the cake pop stand to dry.
HERE is a link to a video by Bakerella, who is arguably the inventor of the cake pop. I think it’s helpful to digest the advice I’ve offered above but also see the technique from someone else. You will learn what works best for you after some practice!
I gave these to a friend who is married with two boys. She always appreciates anything pink! I like to individually package in treat bags like THIS and wrap with a fancy twist-tie or curly ribbon.
I hope this post all about making cake pops was helpful for you and inspires you to give them a try if you haven’t already! Worst case scenario, they are always DELICIOUS to eat regardless of what they look like!
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