Cake Pops are one of the most popular things to come from my kitchen. I really enjoy making them, and while they can take a little time, the results are absolutely worth it. They last longer than normal cakes, due to the candy coating, and you can individually wrap them, making them portable and less of an issue for groups to distribute (bake sales, birthdays, etc).
1. Make a cake mix, but add in a packet of instant pudding powder to give it more density and moisture. Don’t worry if the cake sinks in the middle – you’ll be destroying it anyway.
When the cake is cooked and cooled, trim off any hard bits around the sides and then crumb the cake up in a large bowl. (Kids love to help with this stage.) Then add two tablespoons of prepared frosting (the type you get in tubs in the supermarket), and mix it through until you have a mixture the consistency of cookie dough. Don’t make it sticky, but also not dry. It shouldn’t crumble – think that if you wanted to make a log you actually could, and none would fall apart. It’s almost like play dough.
2. Roll balls of the cake mix in your hands to a good size. You can use a melon baller to help with consistency of size. Bigger than a chupa chup, smaller than a golf ball. Put the rolled balls on baking paper on plates and put in freezer for 15 mins (or fridge overnight).
3. While the balls are getting nice and cold, melt some candy melts in a bowl (nuke 20secs at a time. Chocolate melts do not work as well). Dip candy stick ends into the melted warm candy and stick them into each cake ball. This helps the stick stay in the ball. Do not worry about the lump of candy around the stick – it gives you a nice guide and finish for the final version. (Tip: keep the cake pops in the fridge/freezer and only bring out three or four at a time to work on. This will ensure they stay cold. Return them to the fridge/freezer after each batch is done for each stage. Basically, you want them to stay cold.)
4. Using my drag, tap and twirl method is best for covering the pops completely with the candy. Melt a good amount of the candy melts in the bowl, so there is a depth of melted candy. Take a cold cake pop at one side of the bowl, and drag it at a tilt across the bowl so that there is a wave of melted candy gathering near the earlier lump near the stick. Twirl the pop a little as you go to ensure you cover it all, without going down the stick. Keeping the cake pop tilted away from you, lift it out of the bowl and tap the stick on the side so the majority of the excess candy drips off (be patient – this takes a little while) when it stops dripping, twirl the pop a little while still tapping to ensure even coverage. After every 3 or 4 pops, you will need to nuke the melts for 15-20 seconds to ensure it doesn’t cool and get thick. (See the trend? Keep the pops cold, and the melts warm throughout for best results.)
5. Using a piece of styrofoam covered in glad wrap (so you can re-use it), stick the finished cake pop in so it can dry. I sometimes put this styrofoam in the fridge too, the help the process along. You can then finish the pops with different decorations, slip plastic/cello covers over the top and use a twist tie to ensure they are individually covered.
Once you’ve done the basic pop, you’ll get creative and try different shapes, different blends of cake with pudding flavours and so on.
1. Be careful if you are decorating with sprinkles. Sprinkles are heavy and if added too soon after the cake pop is in the styrofoam they can drag your candy covering down.
2. If your finished pop’s covering tends to crack on cooling, this is likely a sign you’ve got it too thick. Ensure you’re warming through your melts regularly to make it flow more quickly and you can have a thinner finish that won’t crack.
4. If they fall off the stick when drag, tapping or twirling, and you’re sure about all the items in 3. above, then ensure your melts are warm and fluid, and that you used a decent amount of melted candy to attach your stick.
Finally, you can add colours to the candy at any stage. Twirl a fork dipped in colour through the candy to get a marbling effect. Charlie says mine are better than the ones from Starbucks. From him, that’s high praise. Have fun!