If you haven’t ever had a cake pop – like Vasili, my counterpart at TSP – go find one right now! I first discovered cake pops about six years ago while working a summer job in a restaurant. The pastry chef there was a genius, and I loved taking my breaks in her kitchen to learn new tricks and techniques. I tried one of the cake pops she made for an event we had, and couldn’t believe how good it was. Then I learned how simple they are to make, and now they serve as a great addition to any celebration.
Cake pops can be created using any basic sponge cake recipe, and I used the same vanilla cake recipe that I posted here a few months ago. Once the cake is baked and cooled, you get to dig in and crumble it up with your hands. One tip for this step is to cut off and throw away (or snack on) the outer edges of the cake because they create hard chunks and in your pops.
Be sure to not skip the step pictured above! Dipping the sticks in the melted candy coating before you stick them into the cake balls is so important. It forms a seal that will prevent the cake balls from sliding right off the stick when you dip them fully in the coating later.
If you’re really in a hurry, I think the pops can still taste pretty good using a cake mix, just add some vanilla to the batter to give it a little homemade flavor. As for the frosting, please please please PLEASE do not use canned! It really won’t taste good and the consistency of canned frosting is much different than a real buttercream. Your pops will end up too sticky because it’s made from multiple oils and corn syrup.
The most helpful trick I’ve learned about cake pops is to buy a styrofoam block ahead of time that you can use to stick your pops in immediately after you dip them. You can also place them upside down on waxed paper, but this will create a flat top to the pops instead of being round. The styrofoam is great because all of your pops will stay upright as the candy coating cools and you can use it over and over again. Remember, your first few pops may not come out perfect because it takes a couple times to get the hang of the dipping process, so be patient!
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp milk
1. Follow the instructions for making the vanilla cake from this post. Use a greased, 9×13 inch pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Cool cake completely.
2. To make frosting, beat butter in a mixer. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add milk until it reaches desired consistency.
3. Cut the edges off of the cake, and transfer the rest into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, crumble up the entire cake into a semi-fine crumb.
4. Add in about 1/4 cup of the frosting, and continue to mix by hand to distribute evenly. If needed, add more frosting (about 2 Tbsp at a time) until the consistency is like a fudge. The dough should not be very sticky.
5. Line a tray with waxed paper. Scoop the dough out and form into balls that are the same size. Set cake balls on the tray and freeze for about 15-20 minutes.
6. Melt the candy coating as per the directions on your container. One at a time, dip each stick 1/4 inch into the melted candy and then stick halfway into each cake ball. (second image in the post shows how this step should look)
7. Once all cake balls have sticks attached, go back and dip the balls fully into the candy coating. Hold upside down above the container and gently spin the stick to help the excess drip off and form a smooth surface. Then turn upright and stick into your styrofoam block. Add any sprinkles or decorative sugar if desired, and then refrigerate until ready to serve.
If candy coating is too thick and heavy while dipping, stir in a little vegetable oil to thin it out.
These will keep well in the freezer once dipped for up to a week so feel free to make ahead of time!