There seems to be a noticeable divide between baking enthusiasts regarding their opinion on cake pops. Some bakers seem to absolutely adore them for their variety of flavors as well as for their decorative properties. On the other hand, some bakers aren’t really the biggest fans of how much effort it takes to whip up a batch of them. If you lean more towards the latter opinion, we don’t really blame you. However, we’re here today to show you that making your very own cake pops at home doesn’t have to be that hard.
Preparing the Cake
If you’re making your cake pops from scratch, start by making a basic vanilla cake. You can always use other flavors, but a vanilla cake will allow the different flavors of the frosting and also the toppings to shine through.
There are plenty of recipes available from different sources, so feel free to use the one which suits your taste. You can also use a boxed cake mix if you’re strapped for time, but starting from scratch will always produce the best product. You can really taste the difference when you make most, if not everything, from scratch.
If you don’t have a vanilla cake recipe on hand, we suggest that you start by preheating two large spring form pans that are eight inches in diameter at least, in an oven set to 350º F. Cream together half a cup of unsalted butter, one and a half cups of sugar, and half a cup of canola oil in a mixer. Once they reach an even consistency, add four room-temperature eggs, one at a time. Stir in a tablespoon of vanilla extract afterwards to give the cake a boost of that vanilla flavor.
Take another bowl and whisk together a tablespoon of baking powder, three cups of all-purpose flour, and a pinch of salt. Add this to the butter, eggs, and sugar concoction in small increments. We advise using a spatula to combine them in order to avoid over-mixing and ruining the cake’s texture – another thing that non-cake pop enthusiasts commonly complain about. Divide the batter into your two cake pans and put them into your preheated ovens. Allow them to bake at 350º F for 30 to 35 minutes.
You can tell if the cake is done if the top springs back when you put a bit of pressure on it. Another way to test if the cake is fully cooked is to take a toothpick and insert into the center. If it comes out relatively clean – a few crumbs here and there are okay – it means that the vanilla cake is not undercooked and there is no wet batter left behind to ruin the cake pops you’re about to make. When you’re certain the cakes are done, let them cool for 1 to 15 minutes before moving on to the next step.
Whipping Up the Frosting
Now that you’ve got your vanilla cake ready, it’s time to whip up the frosting. As we’ve mentioned before, you can use any flavor of frosting you want in your cake pops – we won’t judge. Although, we’re going to provide you with a recipe for our favorite vanilla frosting since, for one, it tastes absolutely fantastic, and also because other flavors such as chocolate and red velvet can easily be included in it. The best part is that, like the vanilla cake, it’s extremely easy to make and only uses a few readily-available ingredients.
To make the frosting, all you need to do is combine the six whites of large eggs and one and a half cups of granulated sugar in a stand mixer. Once thoroughly mixed, place the bowl of the mixer you used over a pot of an inch or two of simmering, but not boiling, hot water. Remember, you don’t want to cook the egg whites in your mixture. Heat it up until it reaches 160º F or once it no longer has a grainy texture when touched. This process usually takes about three minutes, so don’t take your eyes off of it.
Place the bowl back on the stand mixer and switch it on at medium to high setting. Watch it do all the work in turning your egg white and sugar mixture into meringues with stiff peaks. Doing this also helps the mixture cool down to a workable temperature. This, on average, takes about five to 10 minutes to accomplish. You can use that time to do other things like crumbling your cake, or preparing your various toppings and decorations. Once five to 10 minutes is up, slowly add two cups worth of cubed, unsalted butter using a paddle attachment until everything is smooth. Finish it off with two tablespoons of vanilla extract for more flavor.
Making the Cakes “Pop”
You now have the makings of a great vanilla cake. However, we’re here to make cake pops so get your stand mixer ready again because we have to crumble the cake. Once that’s done, add a little bit of frosting then add it to the cake crumbs. Don’t use too much frosting since the cake itself is already moist. Adding to much frosting may result in a mushy, unpalatable texture. In some cases, the cake pops may even turn out greasy if you add in too much frosting.
If you can, use a pair of clean hands to mix and roll the cake and frosting mixture into its desired spherical dimensions. In case you have kids around, this is a great way to let them help in kitchen. Just make sure they wash their hands first before they grab a hold of anything that’s meant for eating. You could also use a mini ice cream scooper so that you get equal portions. This doesn’t only make your life easier, as you no longer have to eyeball how much mix you have every time you roll, it also results in a more aesthetically pleasing end product.
If you don’t want to get your hands too dirty, you can also use the stand mixer to incorporate cake crumbs to frosting. Again, don’t forget to use your mixer gently so the cake would have a crumbly texture – a dense and compact cake pop is never, under any circumstance, a good cake pop. You’d still have to use your hands to roll the cake pops into shape though.
Here’s a tip – it’s a lot easier to roll the balls into your desired shape if they’re allowed to chill first. A couple of sources recommend kicking things off with rather rough rolling and shaping first then letting the balls chill in the fridge for a minimum of two hours. Once they’re set, roll them out again to give them smoother edges. If you didn’t know, cake pops need to be chilled properly first before they’re dipped, so at least using this technique gets that out of the way.
Dip and Let Set
Now it’s time to dip the formed cake pops. If you’re making these on the day of the bridal shower, christening, birthday party, or whatever event you made them for, we recommend using white chocolate, simply because it tastes the best out of all the available options. You can add a bit of food coloring to melted white chocolate if you’re not a fan of just plain white cake pops and you want to add a pop of color. Remember though that you’re still probably going to use a bunch of colorful toppings so you may want to go easy on the food coloring.
If you’re making these in advance, you should use candy coating instead. It may not have the same flavor as the white chocolate, but it’s also less likely to melt and smear on your wrapper. Plus, this already comes in a wide array of colors so no need to add coloring. Whether you use white chocolate or candy coating, the easiest way to dip cake pops is to use a deep and narrow container such as a measuring cup. To get the cake to stay on the skewers, add a bit of coating to the end of the skewer before sticking it through the center of the cake.
Sprinkles are practically a must for cake pops and these finishing touches are available in a wide range of designs and colors if you’ve already grown tired of the classic rainbow sprinkles. Once your cake pops are top, stick them on to a block of Styrofoam or on the top of a hollowed out box so they’ll stay in place while they dry. Once they’re set, you can wrap them in some clear plastic to prevent accidental damage. Close off the ends of the plastic wrappers by melting them or tying them off with cute ribbons. You can also do both to be extra sure.
So there you have it – cake pops made easy. If you’ve had bad experiences with this delicious treat before, follow our tips and we’re certain that your opinions about it will change for the better. You’ll have so much fun whipping these up for your next event.