Cake, any size, any flavor - baked & cooled
Icing (I prefer my cream cheese icing for cake pops)
Candy coating (Wilton's candy melts or almond bark)
Vegetable oil or shortening
Tall mug or bowl, microwave-safe
1 tsp.-sized dough scoop
(I often use cakes that didn't turn out quite right for one reason or another for my cake pops. If a cake stuck to the pan, I'll break it up, wrap it in plastic wrap, stick it in a Ziploc, and put it in the freezer for my next cake pops-- which is just what happened with this cake.)
If you have large clumps, it can make the cake pops harder to form into balls.
I usually prefer my cream cheese frosting for cake pops because I think it helps cut down on the sweetness. Also, I've found that using butter-based or shortening-based buttercream can make the pops taste a little "greasy."
And while we're at it, I also prefer just about any flavor than vanilla cake with vanilla frosting coated with vanilla candy melts. It tends to be a bit of a sugar bomb. So, if you're doing vanilla cake, try chocolate candy coating. Or try a different cake flavor. I love chocolate, banana or pumpkin cake.
I've found that if you "oversize" your cake balls, they fall down the sticks when you go to dip them in the coating.
!! What you don't see is that I have a damp dish towel sitting right next to the bowl. In between rolling each ball, I wipe my hands with the damp towel. It makes rolling them SO MUCH EASIER. It gives your hands a little water to help the icing not stick, and it helps clean off the last bits of cake ball, leaving a better surface to roll. Try it. It's a great trick to help roll them faster and keep your hands clean.
Now for the waiting. These cake balls need to go in the refrigerator (covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container) for AT LEAST 3 HOURS or overnight. I know, it's hard to wait. But that really is the best way.
If you really can't wait, you can use the freezer... BUT... only leave them in there about 30 minutes. Remove them from the freezer to the fridge after those 30 minutes. If you leave them in the freezer for too long, you will notice that your candy coating will crack when you dip it.
Place them in a microwave-safe bowl or mug. (I prefer tall mugs because I think they make it easier to dip, and I waste less candy in the end. The mug pictured above is this mug from WalMart.) Using the defrost setting - I use power-level 3 - at 30-second intervals, melt the candy until it is just melted. If it gets hot, it will clump, and it will not coat well.
I store mine in the refrigerator because I use frosting that needs to be refrigerated-- plus, I like the "crack" when I bite into them.
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Click these links to see:
Decorating Ideas for Cake Pops
Video from the Local News Making Cake Pops
How Long Does It Really Take to Make Cake Pops
Why Do Cake Pops Crack?
How to Swirl Cake Pops