So after reading a lot online and hearing about the craze of cake pops I decided to have a go myself. This was to be my first attempt for a friend’s birthday and I have to say it was much harder than I thought it would be! I took around 8 hours making and decorating as my kitchen is tiny and I had to do the pops in two batches but on average and with practice it should take less than half that time. Check out how I did it below the recipe!
What you need to know:
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins plus 1 hr mins cooling (or make cake night before)
Making and Decorating time: 2-4 hrs
Ingredients for 40 Pops:
485g/1lb box of cake mix or own 9 ins square gluten-free cake
453g/15oz tub of Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting or make your own butter-cream
x2 170g bags of ready to use icing or 340g/11oz home made royal icing
Sprinkles and edible glitter to decorate
Lollipop sticks and plastic bags and ribbon (available online)
Piece of paper to catch the leftover sprinkles
A couple of bowls handy
Paintbrush only used for food
Polystyrene or a box for standing the pops in (I used an old card box and pierced holes in it using a screwdriver the width of the lollipop sticks)
1. Bake the cake according to the instructions or use your favourite recipe and let it cool. As a tip I baked mine one afternoon and covered it with cling film overnight. I decorated the next morning. As this was a present for a friend who didn’t need gluten-free I used a regular box of cake mix but you can use any gluten-free cake.
2. Cut the cake into four large parts. With each quarter of cake break it into two halves and rub them against each other over a large mixing bowl to crumble the cake. If you don’t need 40 pops you can freeze half the cake for later.
3. Add 1/4 tub of vanilla frosting. Here is tricky-determine how moist your cake is. If it is very dry add more frosting, if it is already quite moist use sparingly. Too much frosting will make your cake pops too slippery and they will slide off the sticks!
4. Scoop up small handfuls and lightly roll the dough between your palms into a ball shape. Aim for around 1 inch in size. Here you can gauge how well the cake is holding together. If it crumbles add more frosting to the batch. You can re-work your cake pops as often as you need to get the right consistency. Be careful not too make them too moist.
5. Place the balls when ready on greaseproof paper on a tray and cover with cling film. Put in the freezer for 15 mins and then transfer to the fridge. This helps to make the balls firm enough to work with but be careful not to freeze them. Otherwise when they have been decorated and they start to defrost the icing will crack or go soggy with the excess moisture and they will contract.
6. Make up the batch of icing or prepare the table/workspace for decorating. Grab the paper, paintbrush, sprinkles etc.
7. Take 3 balls at a time to work with and leave the rest in the fridge to keep cool and firm. Start with one and carefully insert a lollipop stick halfway into the ball. (Half way of the ball not halfway of the stick!) Turn the pop upside down so the stick is standing in the air and with the icing bag squeeze a circle around the stick base to secure it to the ball. Then turn it over and cover the entire ball generously in icing. Use the brush to help evenly spread the icing and catch drips. If you want a really bright colour wait for the coating to dry and then add a second layer.
8. Holding the pop over a piece of paper sprinkle the pop with glitter or sprinkles and rotate. Keep rotating and sprinkling until the pop is covered to your liking. Shake off the excess and place in the stand.
9. Gather the paper at both sides and fold inwards so it is a gutter and let the excess sprinkles slide back into a bowl or pot to reduce wastage.
10. Let the pops dry for around 5hours or until the icing is definitely hard enough to pack. Either eat straight away, put in a air-tight container or pack in little bags with ribbon for presents.
If after an hour you notice the pops sliding down the sticks then maybe they are too big or too moist. To save them as best as possible lay them flat on a piece of greaseproof paper to dry. The icing may smudge or slightly stick but hopefully the ball should hold onto the stick when completely dry. If they still fall off you can present them as cake balls instead of pops. They will still look good enough to eat and you can wrap a couple in a goody bag at a time.
My first trial:
So I came up with the above recipe after my failed attempt with white chocolate. I figured I could make chocolate truffle style cake pops on a stick but mine where a little big and I had an accident with the white chocolate so hence I turned to icing in the end. I think icing makes it more stable too as chocolate softens in any temperature and that’s why most recipes I’ve read say to use icing or candy coating. I shall attempt a chocolate truffle pop a bit later on when I have had a bit more practice! I’m determined to make it work!
These were the ingredients I used although I later found out that white cooking chocolate (Kuvertüre) didn’t work. I wanted to colour the white chocolate bright yellow so i stocked up on powdered food colouring that didn’t have a water base. I read on the white chocolate packaging that water can ruin the texture of the chocolate so only oil based colourings should be used.
1. So here I used the cake mix as it was quick and easy but you can use any basic cake recipe you like. The cake mix had chocolate icing with it but I didn’t use this as it would have made the cake too moist and I only needed the cake for crumbling.
2. Cutting the cake into four quarters I started with one quarter at a time and broke it in half. Rubbing the halves together crumbled the cake really well. I also checked for any big lumps that could cause problems later on.
3. Originally I had intended to freeze half the cake and just make 20 pops but I accidentally added way too much frosting. I forgot to halve my measure and threw in nearly half the pot! This made the mix gloopy and oily so I had to use the other half of the cake to soak up the excess moisture so it meant more pops. I also added some more flour as even a 9 ins cake with 1/2 tub of frosting was too moist. This is where I should have noticed the cake itself was fairly moist to begin with. So check your cake first before you add frosting!
This was my first batch using half the cake and half a tub of frosting. You can see how shiny and wet they are and they wouldn’t hold their form. Plus they were on the big side. So I threw them back into the mixing bowl, crumbled the rest of the cake and played around with the consistency until I got it right. It literally is practice makes perfect as mine were rubbish at first!
4. Once the cake-frosting consistency was right I very lightly rolled lumps between my palms for around a minute until I had a perfect ball shape. I also made them a lot smaller than the first batch.
5. The perfect batch of balls ready to be cling filmed and put in the freezer for 15mins and then into the fridge! 😉 Although still slightly too big and moist as I was to find out later on!
6. I wanted to make my cake pops with white chocolate coloured yellow so i melted the chocolate over a pan of water and kept it at a reduced heat so it wouldn’t stick or burn.
I used the entire bottle of yellow food colouring but it still didn’t give me the yellow I wanted. I also ran a test by dipping one of the balls in chocolate but it didn’t set and the chocolate was really thick and gloopy so was difficult to cover the entire ball. I put it in the fridge for over 2 hours and it still didn’t set let alone on a stick. I decided to try thinning the white chocolate to see if it would set more quickly or would be easier to dip. I read on the packaging that water shouldn’t be used with this chocolate so I thought well chocolate is made with milk so milk should thin it out without ruining it……
…. it curdled and solidified into crystals and the colour changed to the shade of yellow I was looking for except now it was not usable! Oh my! Does anyone know why it did that?! I used milk not water! So I had to run out to the shop to get some icing pronto otherwise the pops wouldn’t have been ready in time for Reimund’s birthday!
This is what I bought, I decided to go for two colours as they only had one bag of yellow left!
7. After inserting the lolly stick half way into the ball I turned it upside down and squeezed a circle of icing around the base to help secure the cake to the stick later on when dried.
If you make a batch of icing in a bowl or have candy coating then it might be easier to dip the balls straight in but I used the squeezy bags so for me a paintbrush was the best tool to spread the icing evenly and quickly avoiding drips. I only used one coating but generally if you are using dark cakes then darker icings are probably better so the cake doesn’t show through or you can ice the pops twice once the first coat is dry. You could try yellow icing with a plain sponge cake to make the icing look much brighter.
Purple worked really well for the chocolate cake as both are dark colours. I made a mixture of yellow and purple ones for variety.
8. Sparkle time! Holding the pop over a piece of clean paper I sprinkled the edible glitter over the pop whilst still wet. I kept rotating the pop until I was happy enough that it was covered and sparkled like sunshine then shook off the excess and placed it on the box stand i made to dry.
9. Picking up the paper on both sides I folded them into the middle to create a gutter and then poured the excess glitter back into the pot for later on. I also did that for the sprinkles later on. If you don’t have a pot you could pour them into a bowl or food bag. After every pop I decorated and sprinkled I tidied and poured the excess back to keep the mess to a minimum and to avoid wastage.
Whilst waiting for the pops to dry I noticed that a couple of mine started to slip down the sticks which meant my cake mix was either too moist or my cake balls were too big and therefore heavy with the icing layer on top. To try to stop the pops sliding down the stick I stuck the pop into the polystyrene at an angle (see photo above) but I found the best way to stop the cake pops sliding completely off was to lay the pop down flat on a piece of greaseproof paper. Out of 40 pops and all my trials and tests I think I got around 30 really good pops so I was happy with how they turned out. I left the pops to dry around 5 hours and the second batch overnight. I made all the cake balls in one day and left them in the fridge covered. I decorated the first 20 in the morning and then packed them away in the afternoon. I then decorated the second batch in the evening and left them overnight to dry. I did them in two batches merely because I didn’t have enough room to dry all the pops in one go. I’m not sure if you could leave the balls in the fridge overnight in-case they dried out too much but I found making the cake the day before and decorating the next day was much better for me.
10. Once the pops were dry I popped them into small gift bags and tied them with ribbon for a finishing touch. You could put them into small air tight containers or place them in mugs or holders and display them if they are to be eaten on the same day. I got the gift bags on Amazon for around £5 for 100 bags incl. delivery.
Troubleshooting: Should your cake pops slip down the sticks don’t panic. Mine did too so I carefully placed them on a piece of greaseproof paper and took away the stick. Once dried I individually wrapped them and they still look just as cute as cake balls.
Here you can see that even my finished pops weren’t perfect. The top right started to slip down the stick and the top of the lollipop stick you can see breaking through the icing.
So that was my first trial and I think i did very well! It took me all Saturday and an hour of wrapping on the Sunday morning but with time I should get quicker. I definitely love the idea of cake popping (that so should be a word) and all my friends loved them. I gave some extras to my friend’s children and they said they were so beautiful they didn’t want to eat them! I can’t wait to try some new designs and maybe different shapes next time! Let me know how you get on with yours!