Friday, 20 April 2012

How to make cake pops

Several people have told me recently that they've tried to make cake pops but that it ended badly, usually with the cake pop and the stick parting company.

Here are my tried and tested instructions for making cake pops AND happy faces:

You will need:

Cake crumbs
Chocolate for dipping eg. Wilton candy melts, Silver Spoon chocolate buttons or Callebaut callets
Cake board or other flat non stick surface
Paper lollipop sticks

To make a dozen cakepops you will need 360g of mixture. Use roughly 280g cake crumbs with 80g buttercream.
  • Mix the cake crumbs and the buttercream until the mixture forms a solid ball like pastry. Keep back some cake crumbs and buttercream so you can add more if the mix is too dry or too wet. 
  • Take a piece weighing about 30g and roll it into a smooth ball, placing it onto the cake board. Repeat until all the mixture is used and you have a dozen or so little balls.
  • You can also cut shapes from the "dough".
  • With a paper lollipop stick, make a hole no more than halfway into the ball. Don't push the stick right through the ball or you have hugely increased its chances of sliding off the stick.
  • Dip the sticks into a little melted chocolate and insert into the holes. Put the balls into the freezer for 20 minutes until very firm but not frozen.
Ready for chillin'
  • When the 20 minutes are nearly up, start melting your chocolate very gently in a small deep plastic bowl in the microwave (30% power for 30 secs at a time, stirring each time). You are tempering the chocolate and you don't want to overheat it, otherwise it will form too many crystals and give you an unattractive bloom. Once it's melted you can add some vegetable oil (one tablespoon of oil to 250g of chocolate) so that it pours in a sheet.

  • Take a cake pop and dip it into the chocolate. Turn it slowly, so that the chocolate covers a centimetre onto the stick, sealing the cake completely. The butter in the cake will fight to get out; by trapping it in completely, you will have it defeated. Tap the stick gently against the bowl so excess chocolate runs off, then leave to dry. 

Stick it right in. RIGHT IN.
  • Stand the cakepops to dry in a polystyrene block and don't allow them to touch each other. I find shouting "no kissing!" helps.
  • Don't touch the chocolate yourself either or you'll get a big fat fingerprint on it. Keep cocktail sticks handy to burst a bubble or cover a missed bit. 
  • The chocolate sets quickly so you need to add sprinkles straight away while the chocolate is still tacky.
Tacky. Possibly in more ways than one
  • You can dip vanilla cake in any colour chocolate, but don't dip chocolate cake in white chocolate if there’s a sharp edge (like the wedding cakes) on the cake pop as it shows through.
  • Sometimes the chocolate dribbles down the stick. Wipe this off while it's still wet or else it will stain the stick
  • For reasons nobody can quite fathom, a hairline crack sometimes appears on the chocolate. You can reseal it with the back of a warm spoon or simply dispose of the evidence by eating it. 
A word on chocolate
  • Wilton's Candy Melts are available in lots of great colours and are ideal for cake pops. However they taste like those white mice you used to get in a 10p mix. I use Callebaut Belgian chocolate because I prefer the taste, but you are more restricted on colour. You can colour white chocolate by mixing in an edible dust. If you use an off-the-shelf chocolate bar, it helps if you grate it finely before melting.
  • Chocolate is an expensive ingredient and you need a bowlful of it for dipping. Put unused chocolate in a plastic bag and once it's set, break it up into small pieces so you can re-use it.

Of course you could just eat it...
Once the cake pop is dry you can decorate it with florist paste, modelling paste, piped royal icing, piped chocolate, dipped chocolate, cocoa butter & edible dusts, or sprinkles. But that's probably a whole other post... Have fun!
Christmas puddings: dipped in white chocolate with florist paste decoration
Sheep: white sprinkles, modelling paste face and legs
Horses: florist paste and cocoa butter mixed with edible dust
Octonauts: modelling paste, dipped chocolate and cocoa butter mixed with edible dust
Wedding cakes: piped royal icing

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