Sunday, August 14, 2011

How To Make Cake Pops

They're adorable and SO good... cake pops. It takes a little practice, and a few mistakes along the way, but this how-to will help you make the most awesome cake pops every time!

What You Need
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)
Lollipop sticks
Vegetable oil or shortening
Tall mug or bowl, microwave-safe
1 tsp.-sized dough scoop

Start with your cake. When it's completely cooled, break it into pieces and put it into a large bowl.
(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.)

To get the cake into crumbs, I usually break the cake up further with my hands, then use a fork in a "twisting" motion to further break the cake into crumbs.

For a few, stubborn clumps of cake, you may need to use your fingers. I just try to smash it between my fingers into the smallest crumbs possible.
If you have large clumps, it can make the cake pops harder to form into balls.

This is about what you want your crumbs to look like before adding the icing.

Add the icing (at room temperature). I usually start with about 1/2 to 1 cup, and use between 1-2 cups of icing for an entire cake.
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.

Work the icing into the crumbs with a fork, using much the same motion you did when you turned the cake into crumbs.

Mix the "dough" until it begins to stick together in the bowl and form clumps. Be sure you get the crumbs at the bottom of the bowl. You know the consistency is right when you can place some in your hand, press and roll it into a ball, and it sticks together, not falls apart.

For evenly-sized cake pops, I use a heaping scoop from my 1-tsp. dough scoop. (I found it at a specialty kitchen store. It's much smaller than the ones you find at my craft stores.)
I've found that if you "oversize" your cake balls, they fall down the sticks when you go to dip them in the coating.

Now comes the really messy, sticky part. With clean hands, scoop the mixture into your hands. Using some pressure (pushing on it while you roll), roll it into a ball with both hands. (Like you used to roll playdough into a ball when you were a kid.)

See how smooth this ball looks compared to the photo above it, straight from the scoop? That's how you know you've got a good, compact cake ball that will stay on the stick, and stay together when you dip it. If it's not compacted, it will fall apart as soon as you try to get it in the candy.

!! 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.

Repeat approximately 50-60 times for one cake-- making 50-60 cake balls.
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.

When your cake balls are set, you need to melt the candy coating. Add about 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil or vegetable shortening to the melts. This helps thin them out so that they cover the cake pops better.
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.

You want to work with just a few cake balls at a time. Bringing all of the balls out of the refrigerator at once will mean that most of them will get warm before you get a chance to dip them. I usually work with 5-10 at a time. Another trick you can do is set a cooler pack from the freezer underneath your plate of cake balls to help keep them cool while you work on them.

Next, dip your lollipop stick into the melted candy, then insert it about halfway into the cake ball.

Quickly dip the cake pop into the melted candy. DO NOT TWIRL the pop in the candy... this makes it fall off of the stick. I usually dip it straight in until the candy comes to the bottom of the cake ball. Lean my stick left, lean it right, and pull it back out.

DO NOT FORGET to tap the stick on the side of the mug. You will tap the stick gently about 5-10 times to get the excess candy to come off of the cake pop. Otherwise, you have way too thick of coating on your pops, and it often makes big drips or blobs on the underside of the pop.

To let the cake pop "set," insert the stick into a stryofoam disk or sheet. It sets up very quickly. If you want to add sprinkles, you need to do so immediately, or it will set before you can add them.
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.


Would you like to purchase a printable version of this tutorial for $1? Click here to purchase the easy-to-follow instructions all on one page. The link will take you to Pay Pal, where you will enter your email address when you pay. I will then email you a .pdf version of the tutorial, complete with photos and instructions.

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

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  1. Thank You, very nice pictures and demonstration... really helps.

  2. Hi! Thanks for the awesome tutorial! It was just what I was looking for! I am featuring your tutorial on a post on my site, hope you don't mind! You can find it at

  3. how much candy melt need for 75 to 100 cake pop?

  4. If you're using only one color, probably two bags.
    Realizing that you tend to use more when you've never made them before (you don't tap as much off at first), I'd grab one extra bag to have on hand just for covering your bases.
    - Beki

  5. thank heaven for you explaining this, i was trying to do it just after i rolled them, and they are so heavy, and it was a disaster so i put them in the fridge, where i will leave them until tomorrow & try again!

  6. hey,
    can u suggest me any other icing besides using candy

    1. If you're looking for it to have a good "crack" when you bite into it, almond bark, or candy melts are the way to go.
      You can use melted chocolate, but you would probably want to temper it first.

  7. Can you make these the night before? I have two kid parties, two days in a row and don't want to have to do this twice! Thanks!

    1. Absolutely!
      My unscientific rule is no more than five days from making to eating.
      - Beki

  8. how long does it take to make these? I'm volunteering these for a bake sale so i need to know the total time so i can get my hours.

    1. If you have never made them before, I'd say two hours to bake/ cool cake. 30 minutes to make icing. 1 - 2 hours to mix, ball cake pops. At least 3 hours to chill. 1-2 hours to dip/decorate.
      - Beki


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