We can all thank the lovely and talented Bakerella for placing the spotlight on cake pops. After one of her beautifully decorated cake pop pictures went viral in 2008, she then appeared on the Martha Stewart show, further catapulting cake pops into culinary trend history. Though cake pops would never replace the cupcake craze of the early millennium, cake pops are available at most Starbucks, asserting their strong foothold in the culinary confection world.
A condensed ball of cake and frosting covered in a chocolate shell, cake pops pack a powerful punch of decadent sweetness. Often decorated with sprinkles or various colored chocolate, their festive exteriors can brighten any celebration. Most cake pop recipes call for cake, frosting and dipping chocolate, allowing for plenty of flavor versatility. Some interesting cake pop flavors include: key lime pie, maple/bacon, rum, and pina colada. If you are a talented artist with a steady hand, you have even more opportunity to wow consumers as these cake pops offer a blank canvas for the highly skilled. Check out Bakerella’s cake pop mini cupcake designs, aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen?
Last week was my son’s end of school picnic. Feeling as though I have unintentionally neglected him due to the recent arrival of his sister, I thought I would go the extra mile and ask Banyan what he would like to bring to the picnic. We looked through some cookbooks and pictures on the web. When he laid his eyes on cake pops, he excitedly pointed and said, “that’s it mom, I want cake pops.” A definitive statement such as this is rare from my little guy, I knew there was no negotiating, “operation cake pops” was a go. Though it was a bit of a struggle, the cake pops turned out rather cute. Covered in various colored sprinkles, they were perfect for the last day of school celebration.
As we entered the park carrying a platter of cake pops, we were quickly descended upon by squealing children. There was no escape or hiding, word was out, we were packing cake pops. All I could see were tiny little hands waving wildly in front of me, blurring my vision with trails of movement. Was I finally having that acid flashback everyone had warned me about? Nope, just wild children awaiting their next sugar fix. We started handing out cake pops, one by one quickly, making sure not to give the same kid multiple pops as they tried to hustle their way to accruing more sweets. You would have thought we were handing out Tiffany diamonds by the look of delight emitting from their toothless grins. Though there were cake balls too, the kids wanted the pops. What is it about food on sticks that is so appealing? When cake balls were all that remained, kids reluctantly took one and walked away with bowed heads ruminating silently that they hadn’t arrived sooner.
Once all the treats were distributed, I breathed a sigh of relief as I was no longer fearful of being pawed alive for chocolate. Then the noise started. Just as Clarice had been haunted by the screaming of the lambs, I too would be forever haunted by the high-pitched moans of these little people. The cake pops had started falling off their sticks. I had made them too big and heavy and the sticks couldn’t withstand the weight. Most of the kids were able to catch them before they hit the ground, their nimble hands working in their favor. Those that lost the battle were stuck staring at the grass, now colored with sprinkles and chocolate; a look of disbelief on their faces, quickly followed by those high octave gripes. So high-pitched were their complaints, dogs could hear their displeasure for miles. Well, I guess you can’t win them all. I quickly backed away and tried to camouflage myself amongst the adults, pretending I didn’t notice what was happening all around me. So how about that Bernie Sanders? That opening should keep me occupied for a while.
- 1 package of Oreo cookies (or 30 of your homemade Oreos)
- ½ cup (4oz) cream cheese
- 16 oz candy melts or chocolate
- 20 lollipop sticks
- *Shortening for smoothing out chocolate (3 Tbsp)
- *Paramount crystals to help smooth chocolate - see article
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Fill wide bowls with your decorations.
- Place your Oreos in a food processor and process until fine crumbs. Place in bowl.
- Take ¼ cup of cream cheese and mix into Oreo crumbs with hands until play-doh like texture forms. Add up to another ¼ cup of cream cheese if needed.
- Using a melon ball scooper, scoop dough and roll into a smooth ball. Place balls on one of the parchment lined baking sheets.
- Melt chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave. If using a double boiler, try not to get the chocolate above 92 degrees, (for more instruction, please use the link in the article to learn how to temper chocolate properly). If using the microwave, heat in 15 second intervals, stirring in between. You will want the consistency of chocolate syrup.
- Once your cake pops have been chilling for 2 hours, take them out and start dipping your lollipop sticks ½ inch into the chocolate, then half way into the cake ball. Once all cake balls have chocolate dipped sticks in them, return to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Take half of your cake pops and place them on second parchment lined baking sheet. One at a time, start dipping your cake pop into the chocolate and then swiftly cover with decorations. Place standing upright in your cake pop holder.
- Once all have been decorated, and all the chocolate has dried, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Here are some helpful tips to help assure your cake pop success and avoid the pitfalls we encountered:
1. Don’t use too much icing as this will make your cake balls oily and possibly too heavy. Start with 1/4 cup of cream cheese (or frosting) until a play-doh texture is achieved and then stop. Walk away from the frosting. Cake pops are inherently sweet without frosting, so use frosting sparingly.
2. Make your cake balls small, no larger than 1.5 inches. A melon ball scooper makes the perfect size. Roll into a smooth ball. If you find your cake balls are melting as you roll, due to warm hands, keep a small bowl of powdered sugar near you to dust your hands. This will keep your hands from getting too hot and sticky.
3. Use a deep and narrow cup to hold your dipping chocolate. Dip directly down and then lift straight up. Tap gently on the cup and rotate one full turn to shake off excess chocolate. Do not stir your cake ball in chocolate, it will fall off your stick or you will gather more chocolate than desired.
4. Dip your sticks in chocolate (about 1/2 inch) then insert sticks into chilled cake balls. The chocolate will help your sticks stay in place.
Lastly, I used Wilton candy melts. These melts are full of hydrogenated oils and therefore not my favorite to use. I found an organic version online, which I will be using next go around. If you have trouble with your chocolate, as I often do, paramount crystals have been recommended to help achieve desired consistency. These crystals have hydrogenated oils as well, but only 1 tsp is required per 2 cups of chocolate. I have yet to use these crystals but reviews reveal they appear to be helpful. You can also use regular chocolate. If you would like to learn how to temper your chocolate, check out this helpful link, “how to temper chocolate.” If you are in need of a cute cake pop display, check out these beauties from kcbakes.com.