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Cake Pops Recipe & Video

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One look at a Cake Pop and you know why they are so popular. Small and oh so cute, the mixing of cake crumbs with frosting into rounds, and then covering them with a delightfully crisp outer shell of colorful candy coating, makes for a very sweet confection. What I love about cake pops is how creative you can be. Once dipped, you can cover them with candy sprinkles, sanding or sparkling sugar, edible pearls or glitter, chocolate jimmies, finely chopped nuts, crushed cookies, dried coconut, or even your favorite crushed candy. Kids love them as do adults, and for a party they make a unique centerpiece or a nice party favor.

Cake Pops can be made with just about any type of cake and any flavor of frosting. Although a lot of  recipes use a cake mix and a can of premade frosting, I think if you're going to do all this work to make cake pops, why not use homemade. So for this recipe I decided to make the Vanilla Cake and 1/2 the recipe for the Vanilla Frosting recipe. The great thing about these pops is that you can make them in steps, over several days. For example you can make the cake and frosting the day before you assemble the cake balls. And once made, the cake balls can be refrigerated 3-4 days before dipping in the candy coating. So the steps are - bake the cake, make the frosting, crumble the cake, combine frosting and cake crumbs, roll into balls, refrigerate until firm, melt candy coating, insert sticks and dip cake balls in coating, decorate, let dry.

A few notes on ingredients. Candy coating is also known as candy melts, candy wafers, confectionery coating, compound coating, bark coating, candy chocolate, or summer coating. It's made from a mixture of sugar, milk solids, vegetable oils, flavoring, and coloring, and I think it tastes a lot like sweet white chocolate. You can also get chocolate flavored, peanut butter, and chocolate mint flavored candy coating. You can store the candy coating in a cool dry place, usually up to 18 months. But do not refrigerate. Candy coating is sold at cake decorating, craft stores or online, and the two brands I normally use are Merckens and Wilton. What is so nice about this product is how easy it is to work with, its wide range of colors and flavors, and how it dries to a hard crisp outer shell, similar in texture to tempered chocolate. I normally add a little flavorless oil, shortening, or paramount crystals (made from palm kernel oil, lecithin, and citric acid) to the melted candy coating to make it smooth and fluid, so you get a nice, not too thick, candy coating on the cake balls. For the cake pops you will need about 55 - 4 1/2 inch (11 cm) long cake pop sticks (known as lollipop or sucker sticks) to insert into your cake balls. And you will also need a large thick piece of styrofoam (or florist's foam) for drying the cake balls (also makes a nice centerpiece). It can also be found at cake decorating or craft stores. Once the cake pops have dried and if you want to give them as party flavors, I like to cover each cake pop with a small cellophane party bag and tie the end with a twist tie or ribbon.

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Cake Pops: Bake the Vanilla Cake and let it cool completely. Make the frosting. Then, in a large bowl, crumble the cake into small crumbs (you can do this step by hand or in the food processor). If desired, using a sharp knife, cut the crusts off the cake layers.

Using your hands or a large spoon, stir in just enough frosting (2/3 - 1 cup (160 -240 ml)) to hold the mixture together. If you add too much frosting the cake balls will be soggy. Too little frosting and the cake balls will fall apart, especially when dipped. So add the frosting gradually and really work into into the cake crumbs, as the amount you need totally depends on the type and texture of your cake.

Roll the mixture into golf ball sized rounds (1 1/2 inch (4 cm) or 1 ounce (25 grams)). I find this is a good cake-to-candy-coating ratio. Place the cake balls on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet. After forming the cake balls, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until they are firm, but not frozen (about 1-2 hours). At this point, you can store the cake balls in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before dipping in the candy melts or the unfrosted cake balls can be frozen for a couple of months. Defrost the balls in the refrigerator overnight before dipping in the candy melt, because if the cake balls are frozen and you dip them in the warm candy melts, you may find that the candy coating cracks after it dries. That is because as the frozen cake balls defrost, they expand, causing the coating to crack.

Once the cake balls are cold, it is time melt the candy coating. I like to melt 16 ounces (450 grams) of the candy melts at a time. You can do this in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. If using the microwave, place the candy melts in a microwaveable bowl and heat on medium for about 1 minute. Stir and continue to heat on medium, at 20 second intervals, until the candy melts evenly. If the melted candy is too thick, gradually stir in about 1/2 - 1 tablespoon flavorless oil or shortening or 1 teaspoon paramount crystals into the melted candy coating until smooth and fluid. You want it to flow easily from your spoon. (This prevents the candy coating from being too thick, which makes the cake balls hard to dip and may cause cracking.) At this point you may want to transfer the melted candy coating to a small deep bowl so when dipping the cake pops they can be completely submerged.

Remove the cake balls from the refrigerator and one by one, dip the sticks about 1/2 inch (1 cm) into the melted candy and then insert about halfway into the cold cake balls (the melted candy acts like a glue). Don't insert the sticks all the way through the cake balls or they will crack. Before you starting dipping the cake balls have a large thick block of styrofoam (or florist's foam) on hand to stick the cake pops in for drying.

Then, one by one, dip the cake pops straight down into the melted candy coating. Dip, don't roll, the pops completely into the coating. Rolling can cause crumbs to get into the coating, which we don't want. Then lift the cake pops out of the coating and let the excess coating run off, turning the pop so you get an even coating of candy. You can also very very gently tap the stick on the side of the bowl to help with this. If there are bubbles, burst them gently with the end of a toothpick. At this point you can sprinkle the still wet candy coating with candy sprinkles, sanding or sparkling sugar, edible pearls or glitter, chocolate jimmies, finely chopped nuts, crushed cookies, dried coconut, or even crushed candy. The cake pops need to dry upright, so gently insert the end of the stick into the styrofoam and let dry. If you find some of the candy coating has dripped down the lollipop sticks, use your fingertips to wipe it off. (This can happen if you don't let the excess coating run off the cake pop, if the candy coating was a little too hot for dipping, or if it was a little too thin or too thick.) Once the cake pops are dry, you can use attach edible decorations to the pops. Using a toothpick, dab a little of the melted coating on the decoration and gently attach it to the cake pops. Or, if you like, you can take some of the melted candy coating, place it into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip, and pipe lines or shapes on the cake pops. Once dry, the cake pops can be covered and stored, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, for about 3-4 days.

Makes about 55 - 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) cake pops. Preparation time 1 hour.

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What You Need To Make Cake Pops:

Vanilla Cake (baked and cooled)

1/2 Recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (you will need about 1 cup (240 ml))

Baking Sheet

Parchment or Wax Paper

about 55 - 4 1/2 inch (11 cm) long Lollipop (Sucker) Sticks

2 - 16 ounce (450 grams) bags of Candy Melts (Candy Wafers, Summer Coating, Chocolate Candy, or Confectionery Candy Coating)

1-2 tablespoons Shortening or Flavorless Oil or 1-2 teaspoons Paramount Crystals

Large Block of Styrofoam or Florist Foam (for drying cake pops)

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