Cake pops are surprisingly easy
I always admired parents who made cake pops. They seemed so fancy and I’d imagined they’d spent hours in the kitchen, perfecting each little ball of cakey goodness before dipping it and decorating it.
While I’m definitely better at baking than cooking (which isn’t saying much), I don’t like making cupcakes because I find it a pain to frost them individually. I prefer to just slap some frosting on a cake — much faster — and maybe toss on some sprinkles. I assumed cake pops were way out of my league.
But when we threw a “mobile” birthday party for our daughter back in April, I realized cake pops would be really convenient. We wouldn’t need to pack napkins or muck around with globs of frosting and we’d also avoid the crumbs that come from half-eaten cupcakes.
I was shocked to discover that cake pops were MUCH easier than I’d imagined. They were actually kind of fun to make! They were tidy to eat, really delicious and a huge hit with our party guests (and their parents).
So, if you’ve been tempted to try making cake pops but figured they were too difficult, here’s exactly how to master them on your first try …
- Start with a cake — any cake. It could even be a store-bought cake. I’d thought about doing the cheater method, which involves using unglazed Timbits you preorder from Tim Hortons. But in the end, I decided it was much cheaper to just use a 99-cent chocolate cake mix from the grocery store. I baked it in a rectangular pan and let it cool.
- Crumble it up with your hands. This part is fun. Normally you’re all concerned about your cake baking evenly, but this time you just tear into it with your bare hands like an animal.
- Mix in a few tablespoons of frosting — any frosting. I warmed a bit of butter and made a tiny batch of chocolate buttercream, but you could use a few spoonfuls of canned frosting. You just need something to make the cake stickier.
- Roll it into balls. I could have used my cookie dough scooper, but it didn’t take long to roll the cakey mush into little balls. It was like making meatballs, except I could sneak a bite here and there without an E. Coli risk.
- Dip the sticks. I’d bought a package of lollipop sticks at the craft store for a couple of bucks, along with a package of candy melts (which had always been a total mystery to me). I poured about 1/4 cup of the melts into a dish and microwaved them until the melted, stirring every so often. Then I dipped one end of each lollipop stick and shoved it into a cake ball. I stuck the whole batch of balls-with-sticks in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
- Dip the pops. I poured the rest of the melts into a glass dish and heated them up in the microwave. When they were nice and melted, I started dipping each cake pop into the melty mixture — using a spoon to help coat them. The melts are very forgiving, so you can really slop on the goop and it hardens into a smooth coating. If you want to shake on a few sprinkles (or dunk the whole pop in a bowl of sprinkles), do it now while the coating is still wet.
- Stand them up to harden. We had just bought a new BBQ the day before, so we still had tons of styrofoam lying around. I stuck each lollipop stick into the styrofoam so the cake pops could harden, and any excess coating could drip off. (The next time I made them, we didn’t have styrofoam so I stood them up in my cooling rack.)
Once the cake pops were hardened, we were able to cover them individually in plastic wrap tied with ribbon. Even the unwrapped ones travelled beautifully, all stacked up in a plastic container. They were gobbled up without any mess, since each one is only a few bites’ worth of cake, and everyone loved them.
Cake pops, you’re the new cupcake — and I’m glad.