Monday, October 31, 2011

Holiday Cake Pops

I've tried cake pops only a couple of times before, from Starbucks and from a local bakery, and they were DIVINE.  But they're always relatively expensive, and I thought, "There's gotta be a way to make these at home."  Or at least customize them.  So I did a little research, and here's what I came up with.  The pictures here are Halloween cake pops only because I'm making them during October, but obviously they can be made at any time and decorated any way you like.  :)  I will definitely be trying to make these at other times of the year.  Stay tuned.  ;)

So, before I begin, I thought I'd share some of the stuff I learned along the way while making them.  If you've ever worked with either candy and/or colors (such as with fondant or icing), then some of these observations will not be new to you.  But for an amateur/novice like me, these are things I wish I knew ahead of time.

What I learned from this experience:
  1. When trying to make the orange color in melted candy, equal parts red + yellow  orange.  It ends up being more like a reddish-peach-pink.  Emphasis on the pink.  :( My advice would be to start with yellow candies and add red until the desired orange shade is achieved.  That and/or buy yellow candy color to add. Either way, buy way more of yellow than red candies to melt.  ;)
  2. Formed cake balls are HEAVY on lollipop sticks.  Do not skip any of the refrigeration steps.  They are your friend.  And don't make them any bigger than golf ball sizes.
  3. Using a double-boiler or fondue pot is probably your best bet for keeping the melted candy pliable and in a consistent state.  Yes, the candy is most likely microwaveable, but to do more than a couple of cake pops will require the melted candy to be in a constant melted state, and the cycle of microwaving-cooling-microwaving may alter the consistency of the candy.
  4. Do not use a wire rack to place your freshly-dipped pops. Use waxed or parchment paper.  Trust me on this.
  5. The nice round pop-shape is difficult to do for first-timers; I recommend doing a caramel apple-type of pop instead until you get the hang of it.
And with that, I bring you Holiday Cake Pops...

Cake portion
1 package cake mix
eggs, oil, etc., according to package directions
1 can of frosting (do not use whipped frosting; regular or homestyle is best)

Candy melts - get at least 1 bag of white, then whatever colors will comprise the shades you'll need for your occasion
Lollipop sticks
Cookie frosting or cake icing (don't use the gel form, solid icings work best)
Candy food coloring (if needed)
Decorator sugar, sprinkles, etc.
1-2 tsp canola oil, as needed

Bake cake according to package directions.  It's best if you bake in a 9x13 pan since you'll be working with it later. 

Let cool completely (about 3 hours or more).  Crumble entire cake into a large bowl. 

Add frosting; start with 1/2 the can and add more as needed.  Cake mixture should be moist, not overly frosting-y or greasy.

Cover bowl and chill 15-30 minutes.  After chilling, take scoopfuls of cake mixture and roll into golfball-sized (or smaller) balls. Don't make them any larger or they'll be unwieldy when dipping in melted candy later. Chill.

As I learned later, this is too large. ;)

While cake is chilling again, melt a small amount of candy in a microwave-safe bowl; it's best if it's the same color or close to the finished color you plan to use for the pops.  Or you can always use white.  :)  Take out cake balls from the fridge.  Take lollipop sticks and dip one end into melted candy. Insert all the way into each ball.  Chill again. 

Melt a larger amount of candy (3-4 cups) in a double-boiler according to candy specifications. Consistency should be smooth and not too thick (should be thinner than pudding); if melted candy is too thick, add *drops* of oil a little at a time and stir in. 

Take balls with pop sticks out of the fridge.  Carefully take each ball by the stick and dip/dredge in melted candy to completely coat. Place on waxed or parchment paper.

Don't do what I did here...use waxed paper to rest them on!

Dust with sprinkles, non-pareils, decorator sugar, etc (whatever you decide is best for your occasion). Return to refrigerator.  After another 15 minutes, cake pops are ready for cookie frosting for final touches, or are ready to serve as is.  If not serving immediately, cover in a tall, air-tight container and return to refrigerator.

Ready for transporting & gift-giving!

Makes about 30 pops.


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