Long promised and finally delivered.

My tips for making clean cake pops. 

And now comes the confessions…

Dirty Secrets for Clean Cake Pops

A few weeks ago, I made cake pops for a friend’s baby shower and…..

I didn’t make them from scratch!

Yes, it’s true. I bought a mix.

Before you judge, here my case: I had to make them gluten-free and vegan and while I am confident in my vegan baking skills, gluten-free baking is still beyond me. So, I broke down and turned to Bob for some caking mixes that were as clean as you can get.

I would highly recommend these mixes. The ingredient list contains all real food and they always have instructions for vegan-izing them. Gluten-free and gluten-friendly people LOVED the cakes.

Cake pops or cake balls are generally made by making a cake and then mashing it together with frosting. I happen to find these versions way too sweet and I was super excited to find a pan that would eliminate the frosting step, because that is way too much sugar and way too much work for this Badger Girl. Enter the Bake Pop Pan and yes, you have seen it on TV. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

So, while I can’t give you a recipe for cake pops, I can give you some tips that I learned in my trial runs making the cake pops for the shower.

Cake Pop Steps

There are three major steps to making cake pops.

1) Bake the cake pops.

2) Secure the stick in the cake pops. 

3) Decorate the cake pops.

Cake Pop Baking Tips

In addition to using the pan above, the instructions told me to add an extra egg (or flax egg), replace any water in the mix with milk (or almond milk), and to half the milk amount. It resulted in much fluffier cakes…or at least that’s what Badger Girl, the non-baking expert thought. What that actually does scientifically, I am not totally sure.

cake pops after baking

Remember to grease the pan thoroughly and to grease the top of the opening of the cake pop pan. Excess cake will come out the top. This excess cake makes great snacks and previews to the real thing. Not that I purposefully over-poured my pans or anything….

It was easier for me to bake the cake pops the night before I constructed and decorated them. I knew decorating them would be time consuming so I baked the cakes the night before and then I didn’t have to sit around waiting for them to cool.

Cake Pop Creation Tips

It took me awhile to nail the whole put-the-stick-in-the-cake aspect of this project. Then I realized I was making it too difficult. Originally I tried to set the round cakes on a flat plate and struggled to keep the sticks up right until the chocolate cooled.

Then I realized the answer was in front of my face…

Cake Pops: Inserting the Stick into the Pop

Use the cake pop pans to hold the in-process cake pops. Let’s say you have too many cake pops and not enough pans?

Mini muffin or regular muffin pans work just as well. 

You can put them in the fridge for a long time, but I preferred cooling them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Cake Pop Decorating Tips

When I did my trial run, we made it through the first two steps with ease and then came the learning curve.

Chocolate Coating

For our chocolate coating, we used chocolate chips and canola oil. We used both vegan chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. Essentially, we melted 1/3 to 1/4 cup chocolate chips by microwaving them for 10-15 seconds and then stirring. It’s slow but it guarantees you won’t overcook the chocolate and cause the fat to separate. After the chocolate chips were melted, we added canola oil to thin out the mixture. Don’t shoot me, but I didn’t measure. I would start with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. As you keep decorating, you will develop a feel for it.

We wanted to make some green cake pops so we also added green food coloring to the white chocolate. When we added coloring, we needed more oil to thin it.  We also learned a little dab of color will do you. We added way too much yellow and ended up with egg yolk cake pops.

Once the oil and melted chocolate are mixed, let it sit for 10-15 seconds.  I found that if I gave it a little time, it was easier to work with and the sprinkles didn’t ooze down the stick.

Sprinkles

During our trial run, my mother and I tried all kinds of decorations from sanding sugar to rock salt to just about any size of sprinkle you can imagine.

The salt was nasty and I loved salted chocolate things so just trust me on this.

We learned that it was important to contrast the colors and the bigger the sprinkle, the better it looked. 

See those nice brown chocolate jimmies? Perfect size.

See the white balls? Perfect size AND they come in many colors.

See the colored balls on the white pop behind it? Those are chocolate chips and they are all kinds of awesome for cake pops.

Cooling the Cake Pops

Imagine this:

You have just decorated your first cake pop.

Melted chocolate is starting to ooze down your hand as you look around frantically and realize you have no idea what to do with it.

Not that this happened to me during the trial run or anything…

After some brainstorming….okay…me talking loudly and frantically waving around the oozing cake pop and generally making a big mess, and my mother keeping her cool and fixing the problem, but hey, isn’t that how every mother-daughter relationship goes? After some brainstorming, we (my mother) decided that securing them in a sturdy block of styrofoam would be the way to go. We MacGyver-ed it that night with random pieces of styrofoam that my mother found, but when it came time for the show, I listened to my mother and went to Michael’s craft store. There I  bought a big, flat piece of styrofoam because you can find ANYTHING at Michael’s.

Cake Pops Setting in Styrofoam

I am happy to report that it worked like a charm.

Testing Cake Pops

Don’t forget to make sure that they taste okay.

Cake Pop Test

I mean, you don’t want to give your guests a less than perfect cake pop, do you?

Cake Pop Displays

To be honest, if I would have been hosting the party, I would have left them in the styrofoam, because I thought it looked really cool.

Cake Pops Cooling and Setting in Styrofoam

Unfortunately, I had to transport them and so I needed another display venue. I decided to use mason jars of candy. I found the shorter jars worked best and didn’t require as much candy. I would also recommend candies like M&M’s or Skittle, something hard but flexible. I tried gum drops and they were too hard to manipulate with the cake pop sticks. The sticks would get stuck in the gum drop and it was a bit of a mess. Wrapped hard candy was a little awkward too but better than the gum drops.

And the best part, once you run out of cake pops, you have a jar full of candy to eat!

Cake Pop Packing

For the few of you who may be transporting the cake pops. This required another call to my mother. It may or may not have been frantic. Are you also noticing a pattern here?

How am I going to get them to the shower?

We decided…okay, so my mom calmly suggested, to put the pops in the jars and then securely pack them with the other materials.

packing cake pops

The key was to make sure the jars of cake pops didn’t touch each other or the sides of the box. This prevented premature sprinkle release, aka a tragic calamity.

There you have it folks, that is my cake pop brain dump. It may not have been a recipe, but I hope it’s helpful.

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Do you have any cake pop creation tips? How about some good resources for gluten-free baking? And more importantly, who (else) wants a cake pop?


 

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