Fun with CakePops

 

My friend Karen gave me this great book Cake Pops by Bakerella.  I saved the tops of my leveled cakes and some left over buttercream and we decided to have a play date and make cake pops. This was very “ad hoc”…meaning we just used what we had handy for decorations. It was great:)

Supplies:
Cake – any flavor
Frosting – any flavor (store bought is fine)
Candy Melts or dipping chocolate
Lollipop Sticks
Styrofoam to hold finish pops
Various sprinkles and sugars for designs

I had read a lot about cake balls and cake pops on the internet. The most common problem seemed to be using too much frosting. So although the official instructions call for quite a bit of frosting per cake, we just mushed up the cake and added a few tablespoons of frosting until the consistency would hold a ball. The first few cake balls we made, we just grabbed a hunk and rolled them up. But then I grabbed my handy cookie scoop and that gave us more even proportions for the cake balls. We rolled several in advance and chilled them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Do not freeze them too long or the chocolate will crack…trust us…we learned from experience:)

Melt the candy melts in a microwave in a deep narrow container on 1/2 power. I used a 2 cup measuring cup. This was a nice amount of chocolate to work with and easy for us to move in and out of the microwave. It is easy to burn chocolate so always melt it in small increments on medium heat.  The book says “you may need to add shortening to thin out the chocolate”. Using candy melts, it was absolutely necessary to add shortening to get the coating consistency just right. I added 2 heaping tablespoons to the one bag of candy melts and that worked well.

You have the choice of making cake balls (not on a stick) or cake pops which are on a stick. The rules are basically the same but if you do cake balls you need to place the ball in the chocolate using a dipping fork or a regular plastic fork with the middle tines removed. This lets you remove the ball without damaging the chocolate on bottom. Place the cake balls on parchment or wax paper to set up.

For cake pops, you dip the end of the stick in the melted chocolate and then press gently into the naked ball of cake. Let it set up a bit and then you should be able to pick up the stick and the cake ball will be attached. Too much frosting and the ball will pull away. If they are not chilled enough you can have the same problem but generally for us it was a frosting issue.

Dip the cake pop into the chocolate and swirl gently until the entire ball is covered in chocolate. Lift the pop out at an angle and let the extra chocolate fall back into the container. You want to make sure the chocolate is thick enough to coat but thin enough to cover..so it’s a bit of learning curve until you get the chocolate just right. Once the cake pop is covered place the stick into a piece of styrofoam to let it setup.

Various decorating ideas:


 

 

 

Karen did one of my favorite design which was a swirl pattern. She dipped the pop into white candy melts, then using a toothpick applied dots of red. Using the toothpick she created patterns with the colors directly on the pop.
Sprinkles – I have a pretty big assortment of sprinkles and dragees. Rolling the cakepops in sprinkles got a solid covering. If you just took a pinch of sprinkles and literally sprinkled them on top of the cake pop you got a much more open pattern The dragees gave a fun modern effect of spots. Place each dragee separately to get a nice even placement.

For shine I had both pearl dust and a luster spray so we decided to do a side by side comparison. 

The left is dusted with luster dust and the right is sprayed with Pearl Sheen

The only design we did directly from the book was the cupcake pop which we loved. I can’t wait to try other designs  for her book. To make the cupcake press the bottom of the ball into a small round or flower shaped cutter to create the base of the cupcake. Dip the bottom of the cupcake in one color and lay it face down (non chocolate side down) and insert the lollipop stick.

Once the chocolate has set, use the stick to dip the top of the cupcake in a another color.  Apply designs and sprinkles at will. We used red gobstoppers as our cherries but you can use whatever red candies you have handy.

We were shocked at how many cake pops you can get out of a small amount of cake so be prepared to be dipping for a while!

Also my friend Ari posted a great thread on making the apple cake pops
http://letsgetcaking.blogspot.com/2009/08/chocolate-apple-cake-pops.html. They came out super cute. 

Happy Caking!

My “Go To” Chocolate Cake Recipe

Everyone has their “go to recipes” so I’m posting my chocolate recipe first. Overall, I use both doctored cake mixes and scratch recipes depending on the flavor cake I’m making. My go to Chocolate Cake Recipe is from the  the Cake Mix Doctor….one of my favorite recipe book.

I prefer Devil’s Food cake to regular chocolate cake but I’m sure you can adjust using the chocolate cake mix you prefer.

Ingredients

1 Devil’s Food Cake Mix (I like Duncan Hines)
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use the Hershey Dark which is a dutch processed cocoa)
1 1/3 cup of buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract*

*Almond extract  is not in the cake mix doctors original recipe. I really love chocolate cake with a little bit of almond flavoring. I also love chocolate cake paired with an almond buttercream.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Traditionally you bake cakes at 350 degrees but I find you get a more even cake and less of a dome at 325.

Put the wet ingredients in the bottom of the bowl then add the dry ingredients. This prevents you from having to scrape down the very bottom of the bowl as you mix.  Blend all the ingredients together for 1 minute on low , scrape down sides then mix for  2 minutes on medium speed.  

By the way I use powdered buttermilk because it keeps longer in the fridge than regular buttermilk and I always have it on hand.  

You can grease and flour your pans but I prefer homemade cake release (recipe at the end of this post). Prep two 8 inch  pans. Fill each pan about 2/3 of the way full. This recipe makes 2 8 inch rounds with a few cupcakes left over.  

Bake at 325 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean. Ovens do vary so you want to watch your cakes but try not to open the oven all the time. This can cause the cakes to sink in the middle. I usually check my cakes around 30-35 minutes and they’re usually finished around  40 to 45 minutes.  Mine do take longer than some because I bake at 325.

Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out on a cooling rack and leave them until they are completely cooled.

Homemade Cake Release
Ingredients:
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup flour

Mix until completely combined and looks kind of like paste. Use a pastry brush to apply to the pans. Be sure to coat the corners well.  This is much easier and much less messy than the grease and flour method.  I store my cake release in a squeeze bottle from Michael’s that I got in the candy making section. It keeps on the shelf for several months but it rarely lasts me that long. If you need a larger quantity just be sure you use equal parts shortening, oil and flour.

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