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How to Make Cake Pops

Cake pops are all the rage these days…or am I thinking of cupcakes? Or is it macarons?? I can’t keep up. But, you can find cake pop recipes and ideas all over the internet and magazine covers these days. Starbucks even carries these sweet treats right next to the muffins and dessert bars. They’re insanely cute and super fun to eat. The best part is that there are a million possible flavor and design combinations.

Once you’ve got the basic idea, you can have a lot of fun customizing these little goodies with different flavors of cake, frosting, and candy coating! Then, get creative with the decorating! I’m already planning on making bloody eyeball cake pops for Halloween, turkeys for Thanksgiving, and snowmen and trees for Christmas!

For my little guy’s third birthday (and my first attempt at cake-popping), I made a batch of decadent triple chocolate cake pops. It’s a simple, but somewhat time-consuming process, so plan ahead. Here’s how it’s done.

You will need:

  • 1 13×9 inch cake
  • Cake frosting (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Candy Melts (approximately 4 cups)*
  • Sprinkles or other decorating candies (optional)

*If your grocery store doesn’t carry the candy melts, check your local craft store. They come in all sorts of colors and flavors!

Bake a 13 x 9 inch cake. Use your favorite homemade recipe or one box of any flavor cake mix. (You can bake the cake a day ahead of time, if desired.)

Once cool, crumble the cake into fine crumbs. This is a perfect job for little helpers.

You’ll end up with a big bowl of fine cake crumbs.

Combine the cake crumbs with any flavor frosting. A container of prepared frosting works fine or use your favorite homemade. Depending on how moist the cake is, you probably will not need the whole container of frosting. About 3/4 of a 16-ounce container should do the trick. You want the mixture to be moist enough to mold, but not too mushy. Mushy cakes will have a harder time staying on the sticks…lesson learned the hard way.

Refrigerate for about 30-45 minutes (or longer) to help firm up the mixture.

Roll the mixture into balls, just over an inch in diameter.

Melt a small quantity of the candy melts according to package directions. Dip the end of each lollipop stick into the melted candy, then insert the stick a little more than halfway through each cake ball. Place each pop upside down on a baking sheet and refrigerate until quite firm.

Once firm, warm the candy melts according to package directions. Use a container that is tall and narrow enough to fully submerge each cake pop into. A 2-cup pyrex measuring cup worked well.

Dip each pop into the melted candy. Gently swirl the pop to remove excess candy. (Skipping the swirl step will result in a candy coated stick. Trust me on that one.)

Decorate with sprinkles or candies, if desired. Then, place each pop into a piece of styrofoam to dry upright at room temperature. (Refrigeration will cause condensation on the surface of your pops. Another lesson learned the hard way.) The candy exterior will harden at room temperature.

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28 responses »

  1. Great post – you beat us to it! ;)

    The kids have been begging me to make them cake pops, but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I said maybe for Halloween! They found some infomercial that offers a mold, but that’s kind of cheating, eh? ;)

    Happy eating – they look awesome!

    Reply
  2. I tried these once. I had a few issues… “room temperature” in my heat-of-the day un-airconditioned house didn’t help anything. And I must have missed this step in my process: “Melt a small quantity of the candy melts….Dip the end of each lollipop stick into the melted candy, then insert the stick a little more than halfway through each cake ball….” My cake balls kept falling off the stick. After reading your instructions I think I’d like to try it again. I also like the idea of making the cake one day and fixing it up the next. Too much time in the kitchen in one day doesn’t make me a happy person.

    THANKS for the post. Love your blog and the dishes you prepare. I’d say pretty much all the recipes that I’ve tried have turned out great… saying a lot as I’m not a great cook.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments! This was the first time I made cake pops and I also dealt with a few “cake balls falling off the stick” issues! I’m hoping the tips I provided help others avoid that sad fate! I think the big keys to success are not adding too much frosting, not making them too big, “glueing” the balls to the sticks with the melted candy, and allowing them to get very firm (freezing) before dipping. The first time I tried dipping, they were too soft and kept coming off the sticks. Once frozen, the dipping step was a cinch. Store them upright and the candy “glue” should prevent them from sliding down the stick. Good luck with your next attempt!!

      Reply
  3. My 3.5 yr old saw the Halloween cover on the Family Circle magazine at the doctor’s office and was smitten. THANKS for posting how to do this; she can’t wait!

    By the way, where do you get lollipop sticks for this?

    Reply
    • Hi Stacy! You’ll have a lot of fun making these with your 3 year old. My newly 3 year old was my little helper! I bought the lollipop sticks at my grocery store, but my grocery store (Wegmans) is unusually well-stocked compared to most grocery stores. If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, check a craft store, like a Michaels. They tend to have a candy/cake-making sections which will carry the sticks and the candy melts.
      Have fun!

      Reply
  4. Awesome job! Your photography is so great! Much easier to follow for novice poppers :)

    I love the picture of your little helper’s hands. I just made cake pops with the kiddos I babysit, they love crumbling up the cake.

    - Kim
    KC Bakes
    Handmade Custom Cake Pop Stands

    Reply
  5. I am NOT a baker…how do i get the chocolat melts to melt!!! they get warm but after a few min of stirring and microwaving for 20-3- sec intervals it isnt runny enough to dip! arrrrghhhhhhh!

    Reply
    • Hmmm… I was able to melt my candy melts in the microwave. I did 30 second at 50% power, then stirred. Then another 30 seconds and stirred. By that point, they were starting to melt, but not completely, so I gave it another 20 seconds at 50% power. After that I was able to stir until the rest melted. But, different candy melts or different microwaves may respond differently. Another option to try, since the microwave method didn’t work, is to set up a double boiler – Put a little bit of water (about and inch or two) into a saucepan. Place a metal bowl above the pot, so that the bowl sits on the rim of the pot, but doesn’t touch the water. Pour the candy melts in the metal bowl. Bring the water to a simmer. Stir until all of the candy melts. The double boiler setup should help the candies to melt slow and gentle.
      Good luck! Let me know how it works out!

      Reply
  6. wow! they look so good, I’ve always thought you needed a special pan and being 15 i can’t afford that, but I’m so happy I’ve found the actual way, thank you so much! xx

    Reply
  7. I’m going to attempt to make this for my daughter’s 2nd birthday this weekend. How many does one box make?

    Reply
    • Hi Janice,
      I lost a few to the learning process (and taste-testing) but you should get about 3 dozen or so. These were a huge hit amongst the kids AND adults at my 3-year-old’s party! Happy birthday to your daughter!

      Reply
  8. You a life saver with these great directions! I am inspired to at least give it a whirl. I need for several things next week. Thanks for taking the time with great instructions and directions!

    Reply
  9. How do you suggest storing the completed pop’s until use..say a day or two latest? Could you freeze the balls till you need them, thaw enough for the sticks, refreeze and then decorate them? looking for suggestions on ideas I have :) These could be dangerous in the freezer thou :)

    Reply
    • Hi Melissa,
      The cake balls (without the candy coating) seem to freeze and defrost pretty well. You can definitely prepare the balls, with or without the sticks and keep them frozen for a while before you plan to use them. When you’re ready to use them, then you can dip them and decorate. I made these pops the day before I served them. I stuck them in the refrigerator after I’d dipped them and had some issues with condensation on the candy…nothing too major, but it was there. I didn’t have a chance to see how long they’d keep (dipped and decorated) at room temperature, since they got gobbled up too fast. Next time I make them, I think I’ll experiment with a few different storage options! Hope that helps for now though!
      Amy

      Reply
  10. A true rookie when it comes to making cake pops, cooking, you name it..thanks for making it look less scary. I’m going to try it this weekend for my family.

    Reply
  11. I melted my candy melts on a double boiler but still could not get it dippabel… help…..

    Reply
    • Hi Renee! Sorry to hear about your problem with the candy melts. Another reader also commented that she had difficulty melting hers in the microwave. There could be several variables, depending on the specific candy melts, microwave wattage, etc. which may impact how the candies melt. I found this little guide to candy melts, which may have some helpful tips for you: http://www.wilton.com/candy/melting-candy/ways-to-melt-candy.cfm The big things I noticed are to be careful with overcooking, which can ruin the consistency. Also, the presence of any liquid can impact the consistency, so make sure all of your equipment is dry. Finally, they recommend adding a bit of solid vegetable shortening if your coating is too thick.
      I hope those tips help a bit!
      Amy

      Reply
  12. Mine always come out funny. Yours look so professional

    Reply
  13. Thank you for the pics for this visual learner! They are in the fridge, and I am now going to transfer them to the freezer after reading comments. Cannot wait to be creative for my baby shower on Saturday the 15th!

    Reply
  14. Good tip about leaving the pop’s to harden at room temperature after the candy melts has been added, as i made the same mistake by placing them in the fridge. They came out patchy, so my lesson was learned :)
    Great post, thanks.

    Reply
  15. Words We Women Write

    These are bing-bang awesome! Now, to display these spit-and-polish perfect pops….what do you do? that is, if there any left to display :)
    Toni

    Reply
  16. How should you store the cake pops? If I make them the day before should I keep them in the refrigerator?

    Reply
    • Hi there! The cake pops do best stored at room temperature for a couple days (as long as it’s not too warm). When put in the fridge, they tend to develop condensation on the surface. Make sure that when you dip them, you dip all the way up to and a little bit onto the stick. That will help the cake balls stay adhered to the sticks. Have fun!

      Reply
  17. B. J. Walters

    My daughter’s wedding is July 14…..we had planned to dip the cake balls 1 week prior to the wedding and then re-freeze for about 5 days – bringing them out of the freezer on Friday in prep for the wedding on Saturday. Am I in for trouble/?

    Reply
    • Hi there! Congrats on your daughter’s upcoming wedding. I’m still experimenting and learning the best way to make and store the cake pops ahead of time. They are a bit finicky with temperature changes, but I recently made a large batch ahead of time for a friend’s bridal shower, with great success. What I learned is that if you dip them in a refrigerated state, instead of straight out of the freezer, they have less issues with cracking or condensation. After they are dipped and the candy coating has hardened, they can be wrapped (if desired) and then stored in the refrigerator for several days without any problems at all. I think that will probably be your best bet. Skip the freezer altogether. Just make sure they’re well refrigerated when you dip them (so they don’t become too soft and fall off the sticks). Do them in batches, so the undipped ones aren’t sitting out for too long. And make sure you dip them all the way to the stick to help them stay in place once the candy hardens. Then, store them in the fridge until the wedding. That should work out fine for you! Good luck!!

      Reply

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