Cake pops are so versatile. I love looking at all those fun ideas you can make with them. You can go for numerous tastes, shapes, decorations… They are so flexible and good for any occasion!
I’d been wanting to make cake pops for ages and even bought a cake pop mold last year, but I never found the time to look into how to make them myself. And without proper preparation, I didn’t feel prepared to start.
To overcome this, I recently participated in a cake pop workshop. A fun evening packed with loads of information and a lot of trying out.
This was the (not yet entirely satisfying) result:
Fortunately, I found that the basics are not really that complicated.
The Cake Balls
The first thing I learned was that there are two ways of making the little cake balls:
1) You use a cake pop maker or a cake pop mold. Then the balls are all cake dough.
2) You bake a simple biscuit cake, ideally let it rest for a day, then crumble it and mix it with some frosting ingredients (e.g. butter and cream cheese) and form little balls that you then put into the fridge for a few minutes.
We did the latter.
Since I already bought a cake pop mold that I haven’t used yet, I’m quite likely to try out baking some time, 😉 but I see some definite advantages to this second technique:
You are flexible with size and form of each individual cake pop that you make. And you don’t have to buy several molds for different shapes.
Second, you can vary what cake you use and what frosting you mix with it. So you can vary in taste a lot.
Third, if you are short on time or spontaneously feel like making pops, you can just buy a cake and use that.
BUT CAUTION: The teacher advised not to use those ready-made loaf cakes with icing that you can buy because they contain too much softening agent. That will make the cake balls too soft so they might fall off the stick. I’d guess that they are also quite sticky and moist and thus much harder to crumble and mix with the frosting.
The second thing I learned was that you best mix cake and frosting with your hands. I personally don’t like the feeling of mixing something with my hands, but since you’re really not using that much frosting, this is the best way.
Thirdly, you don’t have to freeze the balls that often or that long. She taught us that 5 minutes in the freezer are enough. You’d only have to put them in again if they’ve been lying around in the warm room for too long.
Et voilà, this is what you’ll get:
If you want all your cake balls to have the same size, use a scale or a scoop.
The decorating part is where it starts to get a little complicated. Well, actually, it’s not that complicated. It just needs a little practice.
What you can use as decoration:
- either candy melts in different colors or normal icing colored with food coloring
- colored fondant (she told us that you can also buy white fondant and then color it)
- all kinds of decorative sugar sprinkles
- colored sugar
- shredded coconut (can also be colored 😉 )
- candy eyeballs
- food pen
What else you’ll need:
- cake pop stand (there are many you can buy, but the teacher said it works just as well to get a cheap styrofoam block and wrap aluminium foil around it)
- lollipop sticks (you can get them in many different colors)
- if you’re using fondant, it is helpful to have tools for working with fondant like a rolling pin, cutters, lace pads, molds etc.
- a few glasses and a pot to melt the icing/candy melts
- small bowls for sprinkles (optional but helpful)
Boil water in a flat pot and use glasses to melt the icing/candy melts. Put in enough so you can fully dip the pops into the icing later. Stir with a spoon from time to time until fully melted.
A quick tip: Use thin but high glasses that the pop fits into. This way you’ll need less icing to cover the ball completely.
Two things to look out for while melting:
1) Don’t let it get too hot. Take the glasses out on time and let them cool down a bit before dipping in the cake pop. Otherwise it will be running all over the place rather than stay on your pop. And if you put on sprinkles in this state, they will go under!
2) Be very careful not to get water into the icing. Icing has an oil base and oil and water don’t really get along. It will get the weirdest consistency and harden and refuse to melt ever again. The same thing can happen, by the way, if your water bath is way too hot. Go for a low temperature.
Dip the stick into the icing once before you put it into the pop. Stick it in to about two-thirds of the ball. Give the icing a few minutes to harden. Now you’re ready to go …
Two more tips:
Don’t just dip the cake pop into the icing. Turn it around a little and then keep turning it while you pull it out to get the excess off.
Have all the decoration that you want to use ready before dipping the cake pop in because it sticks much better while the icing is still wet. However, if you want to attach fondant, that might not be enough, so you can use more icing as “glue.” 🙂
I must say I liked decorating and trying stuff out here, but I still need a lot of practice. And I also noticed that I need more patience. 😉 But a few of them turned out quite well, and they tasted really good, so I’m very likely to try cake pop making again…
As I said, it’s really not that hard, it just takes a little practice… And some neat ideas, of course. 🙂