I had a love-hate relationship with cake pops until now (I hope after reading these tips and tricks… it’s more love than hate). They are so cute and delicious to eat but making them look pretty is a challenging and frustrating process. I’ve experienced pretty much all of the fails you could experience while making cake pops. Fails such as cake balls falling off the stick, cake balls getting stuck in the melted candy coating, candy coating becoming too lumpy and thick, and candy coating cracking after drying have all happened to my poor cake pops. That was why I took a looooong break from making cake pops.
As much as I was afraid of making cake pops, I had to do something with the frozen cupcakes in my freezer. After researching on what to do with leftover cake, making cake pops was one of the best ways to repurpose frozen cupcakes. So I’ve decided to take another stab at this. Finally after my previous fails and making cake pops two weekends in a row, I think I’ve finally got it! You can use any cake flavour and frosting combination you desire for cake pops. Red velvet cake + chocolate frosting, chocolate cake + raspberry frosting, or pumpkin cake + cream cheese frosting! That’s another reason why cake pops are awesome. For these cake pops I used about 18 homemade coconut cupcakes with store bought vanilla buttercream frosting. I also made these with a mix of red velvet and chocolate cupcakes with store bought chocolate frosting the weekend before, check out the picture of them on my instagram. Both were super delish!
The general recipe for cake pops are everywhere on the internet. I followed the steps listed in this tutorial here. But I thought I’d add some of my own cake pop tips and tricks I’ve learned from previous fails and the past two weekends:
Make them upside down:
Yes I know cake pops should look like lollipops but upside down cake pops taste just the same and it is so much easier to make. You don’t have to worry about shaping them into a perfect ball (hide the imperfections at the bottom!). You also don’t need to worry about cake balls falling off the stick while it is drying. Speaking of drying, you don’t need any special prop to dry your cake pops. When you make them upside down, you can just dry them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Just make sure you scrap off the excess candy melt at the bottom before you leave them drying. Finally, you don’t need any special display for your finished upside down cake pops. Any pretty plate or cake stand will do!
It doesn’t have to be a one-day project:
Making cake pops is a long process if you are planning to bake the cake, cool it, shape it, coat it, and decorate it all in one day. It is a less daunting task if you can spread it out over a few days. You can bake the cake way ahead of time and freeze it with proper cake freezing technique. I tightly wrapped the cupcakes or cake with plastic wrap, put them inside a freezer bag, and then put them inside a food storage container. You don’t want your cupcakes to dry out or get freezer burn. Frozen cupcakes can last 2-4 months!
Once you are ready to make cake pops, just defrost them by unwrapping them and let them sit at room temperature. It is key to unwrap the cupcakes from plastic wrap while defrosting. You don’t want to end up with soggy cupcakes. Once defrosted, add the frosting and shape them into balls and leave them in the fridge to firm up overnight (fridge not freezer!). The next day you can add the lollipop sticks, coat and decorate! You can also leave them in the fridge overnight after inserting the melted-candy-dipped lollipop sticks, the lollipop stick needs to dry too!
Don’t add too much frosting!
The amount of frosting you add to the cake really depends on how moist your cake is. For the red velvet and chocolate cake pops I made last week, I’ve used way less frosting compared to the coconut cake pops. If too much frosting is added the cake pops will be too dense and heavy. It won’t stay on your lollipop stick when you turn it upside down to dip it. If not enough frosting is added, you won’t be able to roll your cake into a ball, it will just crumble in your hands. So add just enough for the cake to form a ball. It should be around 1/4 of canned icing for moist cakes and 1/2 can for less moist cakes.
Don’t make your cake balls too big!
Big cake balls = heavy cake balls = cake balls falling into the melted candy = disaster. Use about 1 + 1/2 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons of cake.
Dip the lollipop stick and let it dry.
Dipping the lollipop stick in melted candy coating will help the cake ball stay on the stick. Please wait about 10 minutes before you proceed with dipping or else the cake ball will fall into the melted candy. At this stage you can also put it back into the fridge and dip the cake balls next day.
Use white confectionery coating:
I’ve had much better luck coating my cake pops with white confectionery coating than white chocolate flavoured molding wafers. Both ingredients are found at Bulk Barn. Every time I’ve tried using white chocolate molding wafers it just turned into a lumpy mess. I did figure out a way to fix the thickness by adding vegetable shortening to the mixture. Don’t ever try adding milk or water…it will just become a solid mess. But I wanted a solution where I didn’t have vegetable shortening on hand. White confectionary coating is so much easier to use. I just had to microwave it at 20-30 second intervals and it melted so nicely. To get a different colour, just add a few pieces of the coloured molding wafer. To get this nice pastel green colour, I used about 200 grams of white confectionery coating and about 15 pieces of the green coloured molding wafer.
Use a tall and narrow cup for dipping:
The melted candy coating should be deep enough to submerge the cake ball completely. A tall and narrow cup will achieve this without using too much candy melt. This prevents you from twirling your cake pop in the cup to coat all sides. Twirling is bad!!! Once you twirl…the cake ball will fall of the stick. There should be only one direction when you dip your cake pop and that’s down! You may turn the cake pop after it’s dipped to get rid of the excess melt. BUT NEVER TWIRL THE CAKE POP IN THE MELTED CANDY COATING!
Don’t coat frozen cake pops:
If you dip cake pops from the freezer into warm melted candy coating, the coating will crack once dried :(.
Decorate right away:
Candy coating dries very fast, so if you want those sprinkles to stick, add them right away!
I hope these tips and tricks will make your cake pop making session less frustrating. Please read through them and follow the step by step tutorial in the link below. You can use any combination of cake flavour and frosting – as long as they sound yummy to you! The coconut cake base I used for this cake pop is written below. You also don’t have to use cake made from scratch, a lot of cake pops are make with cake mixes!
Link to a great step-by-step cake pop tutorial.
Coconut cake pop base
(Recipe from Taste and Tell)
1½ cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the oil and the sugar. Mix on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping down the bowl once or twice. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk, another one third of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk, then ending the the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Fold the coconut in with a spatula.
- Fill the cupcake liners ¾ full with the batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.