I rarely make cake. I don't know about you, but I'd feel guilty making a cake just for myself and my family without a special occasion. For that same reason I don't often make a lot of "intense" desserts... usually I stick to chocolate chip cookies, which are pretty much my ultimate favorite dessert. But, since it was my sister's birthday a couple weeks ago, we got to make some special goodies for her party. So... I took my first stab at making cake pops!
I was really excited to make these, because it was something new to try and because, with desserts, I feel like you get more into the "presentation" factor, of making it look pretty. That's where my desire for perfection comes in. I so wanted to make these look perfect! I had only tried cake pops twice before... once was the Starbucks kind, and the other was one that my sister had made with store-bought cake mix and frosting. I knew I wanted to make ours from scratch though; I wasn't raised to bake with mixes! I also noticed that there are very, very few cake pop recipes on the internet made completely from scratch, so now I get to share one with all of you :)
We used a family recipe for the chocolate cake, a cream-cheese frosting made from scratch to keep the cake pops together, and mouth-watering melted chocolate for the coating. With some sugar sprinkles on top, they came out so cute and were a huge hit at the party. What I love about them is the moistness of the chocolate cake, the solid chocolate on the outside, and the sugary crunch of the sprinkles on top. These pops aren't hard to make, just a bit time-consuming. BUT, they're also a lot of fun to make, especially if you get someone to do it with you!
Chocolate Chocolate Cake Pops
(makes 40 cake pops)
Note: This recipe does make a lot of cake pops, so if you want less, I would split the recipe in half. That way, you'll end up making one round pan of cake rather than two, and you can half the frosting and chocolate coating as well. Also, these cake pops freeze well, so if you have extra, keep them in the freezer and just pull one out when you're ready to eat it. You can eat it really cold or wait a few minutes for it to soften a bit.
For the Cake (we call this Crazy Cake, because it's made without butter or eggs):
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cocoa (preferably dark, dutch-processed)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons white vinegar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups water
Oven Temperature: 350 F
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the vanilla, white vinegar, oil, and water. Fold into dry ingredients until just combined.
3. Pour the batter into two greased, 9-inch round cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Make sure that a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean when the baking cycle has finished.
4. Once the cakes are finished baking, cover them with saran wrap and put them in the fridge to cool completely. Once they are almost ready, you can start making the frosting to help shape the cake into balls.
For the frosting:
(from The Kitchn)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (you can just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds)
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened (½ stick)
1 tablespoon milk
small pinch salt
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together all of the ingredients on high speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
To put together the cake pops:
4 cups chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)
40 lollipop sticks (you can find these at craft stores, like Joanne)
large block of Styrofoam, or preferably, a cake pop stand, also sold at Joanne
colorful sugar crystal sprinkles (optional)
1. Once the cakes have cooled and the frosting is ready, remove the cakes from the round pans and place them in a large bowl. Mash the cake up with a fork or spatula until it is crumbly and no large chunks of cake remain. The cake is very moist, so don't worry if it still seems to stick together a bit. Add the frosting to the bowl and stir until well incorporated into the cake.
2. Using your hands, shape the cake into balls, about the size of a golf ball. Place on a plate covered in saran wrap (to prevent sticking). Once all of the cake has been made into balls, cover the balls with more saran wrap and place in the fridge to cool (we let ours cool overnight, so that we could finish the cake pops fresh on the day of the party). If you're in a rush, you can just pop them in the freezer for 10-20 minutes. You're goal is to make the balls set.
3. If using Styrofoam rather than a cake pop stand to hold the cake pops, use a lollipop stick to poke holes in your styrofoam, making sure to leave ample space between holes so the cakes pops won't touch. I recommend doing this before you've made the cake balls into cake pops because this way, you can easily place each cake pop into a hole when it's ready. Once the cake balls are firm from chilling, microwave the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted. Once melted, take the cake balls out of the freezer/fridge . One by one, dip each lollipop stick about an inch into the melted chocolate and gently stick into the cake pops still resting on the plate. Make sure the whole chocolate-covered part of the stick makes it into the cake pop, so the pop has enough support. When finished with this step, place the plate of cake pops, which should be upside down on the plate (stick side up) back into the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the melted chocolate on the stick has hardened and the sticks are stuck in the pops.
This is what your plate should look like before you stick it in the freezer:
4. If need be, stick the melted chocolate back into the microwave for a few seconds to melt more. Then, dip each cake pop into the melted chocolate at an angle, tipping the bowl if necessary to cover the cake pop completely, and gently tapping and rolling the cake pop in order to remove the excess chocolate. Then, sprinkle the cake pop with the sugar crystals and stick into the Styrofoam or cake pop stand to set. If one ball falls off of its stick, don't worry about it! It can be a sample to taste! Once all of the cake pops have been coated, place the styrofoam/cake pop stand with the cake pops in the freezer to solidify. After the chocolate coating has hardened, you can put the cakes pops on a plate or in a ziploc; they'll pretty much be resistant to breakage at that point.
Enjoy these cuties!