I do not know what it is about cake pops, but people seem to go a little nuts after they have had one...or five. They are like crack, people can't get enough, and the emails and phone calls have been flowing in with questions about how they can get their next fix. Insanity right?
I kid you not, 350 of these puppies vanished within an hour at the wedding reception last weekend. You take something with which people have a long-established love affair, cake, mix it with some decadent homemade buttercream frosting (this may be where the crack factor comes in), add a little whimsy by putting it on a stick, and people just lose their minds.
Need to make some friends? Make some cake pops. Need to impress your co-workers or boss? Make some cake pops. Woo-ing a boy? Make a lot of cake pops. No really, make some cake pops. These little spherical balls of cake have some sort of magnetic energy field surrounding them that just pulls people in and makes them gush compliments at you. Its like magic. Seriously, you will thank me later.
I got the basic recipe from the cake pop queen, Bakerella. If you haven't been over to her site, drop everything you are doing, and check it out. Just be sure to come back here afterwards. Thanks. She calls for boxed cake mix and canned frosting, but since these were for a wedding, I thought I would up the game a bit. Now, I couldn't pass up the buy 2 get 3 free boxes of cake mix at the grocery store, but I did make my own swiss buttercream frosting, which is what I think you really taste the most. If I had made a normal amount of these (you know like 50 or so, rather than 350) I would have made my own cake, but quantity and convenience won this round. Who knows, there may be homemade red velvet cake pops in my future, possibly decorated in blue and white, possibly for the fourth of July? Just a thought.
adapted from Bakerella
makes about 50-60 cake pops (depending on the size you roll)
1 box vanilla or chocolate cake mix, baked as directed on the box in whichever form you like
1 cup of sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 packages white vanilla candy melts
50 4-inch lollipop sticks
Bake the cakes according to package directions. Let cool completely.
Make the frosting. In a small metal or glass bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, whisk together the egg whites and the sugar, whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture resembles marshmallow cream, about 3-4 minutes. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture has cooled a bit and has formed a thick, shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Change over to the paddle attachment and beating on a medium speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing until completely incorporated after each addition. After all the butter has been added, mix in the vanilla, then beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy and smooth.
When the cakes are room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl with your fingers until broken up into pea-sized bits. Mix in 1 and 1/4 cups of the frosting to start with, using either a large wooden spoon, or you hands if you want to get messy. Mix until the frosting is evenly dispersed. Take a quarter sized about of the cake mixture and try rolling it into a ball with the palms of your hands. If it stays together, continue to roll the rest of your cake mixture into balls and place them on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet. If they fall apart or do not hold together, add a little more frosting until the mix is moist enough to allow you to roll an intact ball.
Once you have rolled all the cake mix into balls, place in refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes. When the cake balls have been chilled, melt a small amount of the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl according to package directions. Take one of the sticks, dip about 1/2 inch of the end into the melted candy and stick it about half to three-quarters of the way through the cake ball. Don't go too far into the cake ball, or it will fall apart. The candy melts will help adhere the stick to the cake.
Place the cake pop (we can officially call them pops now since they are now on a stick) back onto the parchment and repeat process with all remaining balls. Place the cake pops in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before coating. This will save you a lot of headache when trying to dip the cake pops into the hot candy melts. If they are mostly frozen, you will have a much easier time getting them to stay on the stick while dipping and tapping the excess coating off. So don't rush this step.
Once the cake pops have been chilled, melt the rest of the package of candy melts according to package directions, and add your candy coloring, if using. I kept the majority of the cake pops in the freezer and took them out about 5 at a time. This way, the whole pan of cake pops doesn't come up to room temperature while you are dipping the first batch.
One at a time, dip the cake pops into the melted candy coating being sure to get the coating all the way up over where the stick is attached to really seal it in. GENTLY tap off the excess coating on the edge of the bowl while rotating the cake pop, to get a even layer all the way around.
At this point you can do one of two things. If you want lollipop-like cake pops, you can stick them in a piece of styrofoam, let them dry pop side up, and serve them just like that. If you do it this way, you may want to reshape the tips of the balls a bit with your fingers before dipping them, as they may have a flattened bottom from sitting and chilling.
If you are making 350 of them it may be easier for you to put them pop side down with the sticks up in the air. They are still just as cute, but easier to make in large quantities, plus you don't have to worry about the flattened bottom since you are just putting it back in that same position anyway. I will leave it up to you.
While the candy coating is still wet, feel free to go crazy with sprinkles, edible glitter, or even crushed nuts. If you are piping or dipping another color onto the pops, wait until the base layer is completely dry before doing so. You may need to melt more candy melts depending on how thick your coating ends up, always have extra bags on hand.
Let cake pops dry for at least an hour or two before packaging them up. I placed mine in a paper towel-lined ziploc baggies and put them into the fridge. You can leave them at room temp for a day or two, especially if you are using canned frosting, or even freeze them for a few weeks. These things have the shelf life of canned goods, I swear to god. My neighbors were actually still rationing the 10 or so that I gave them in return for fridge space, nearly two weeks after the wedding. I told you, crack on a stick, that is the only explanation I have.