I made some cake pops for upcoming Chanukah parties. The standard recipe calls for cake mix and store bought frosting, but I just didn’t want to go that route.
Making the cake and frosting is actual trivial compared to the task of shaping, dipping and decorating. An additional bonus of homemade cake and frosting is that you can control the ingredients and eliminate trans-fats or make it dairy-free (or even vegan).
For the cake, I went with a vegan chocolate cake that is intensely chocolate, but tends to crumbly dryness, which is an advantage in this case. For the frosting, I went with a super dairy mix of powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese. It would be very easy to make this vegan/dairy-free/pareve, though, with margarine and Tofutti cream cheese.
Vegan Chocolate Cake for Cake Pops
Adapted from Laurie Colwin’s friend Karen Edward’s adaption of Marion Cunningham’s Buttermilk Chocolate Cake.
7.5 ounces flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 ounces Dutch process cocoa powder (3/4 cup)
7.5 ounces sugar (1 cup)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 ounces coffee (1 cup)
4 ounces vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
2 tsp vanilla
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar) in a mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients well to evenly incorporate the cocoa powder (look out for and break up lumps).
Add the liquid ingredients (coffee, vanilla, and oil). Mix together the wet and dry ingredients until evenly combined.
Put batter into a greased 9″ round pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done (firm in the center and toothpick or cake tester stuck in center comes out clean). Cool before removing from pan.
Frosting for Cake Balls
This makes 16 ounces of frosting. This may be more frosting than you need. You have to add just as much as you need to get the right texture. For guidance on this, this post and this tutorial by Pioneer Woman have useful pictures. Bakerella, of course is the main go-to person. If you want to go to YouTube, the most helpful of all is this video tutorial from Bakerella.You can see in the YouTube video exactly what the mixture should look like.
I found that the cake mixture came together with as little as 10 ounces of frosting, but I added the full amount and that was fine, too. If you only want to make 10 ounces of frosting, use 5 ounces of powdered sugar (1 1/4 cups), 2.5 ounces butter (5 Tbl.) and 2.5 ounces cream cheese (5 Tbl.). The ratio for this frosting is 2 Tbl. of cream cheese and 2 Tbl. of butter for every cup of powdered sugar.
8 ounces powdered sugar (2 cups)
4 ounces butter or dairy-free margarine, room temperature (1/2 cup)
4 ounce cream cheese or Tofutti “Better Than Cream Cheese”, room temperature (1/2 cup)
Combine everything to make a smooth frosting. If you want to stretch out the frosting for a larger amount of cake, you can use 8 ounces of cream cheese instead of 4 ounces. (I actually made the recipe with 8 ounces of cream cheese and used the whole amount of frosting for the cake balls. The mixture was a bit on the soft side, though. It needed to chill in the fridge before being shaped into balls, and the balls needed to be semi-frozen to be dipped easily.)
Update, with Alternate Pareve Frosting:
For pareve cake pops, I used a combination of ganache and vanilla frosting with the above vegan chocolate cake recipe. For the ganache, melt 3 ounces of bittersweet chocolate with 2 ounces of coconut milk. Stir well until the chocolate and coconut milk are combined into a smooth chocolate sauce. Let this chocolate mixture cool until it starts to thicken (it must be completely cool). For the frosting, mix 5 ounces powdered sugar (1 1/4 cups)with 2.5 ounces shortening or margarine (5 Tbl.), 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 Tbl. coconut milk. Mix the cooled ganache and the frosting into the cake crumbs as in the directions below.
First, take a look at the YouTube video. Now, line up what you will need:
candy melts or chocolate bark in color(s) desired (you will need at least a pound just to cover the balls, plus more for drizzling with a contrasting color–I ended up using about 28 ounces of chocolate in three different colors) (Update: when I made these pareve, dipped in just dark chocolate with no contrasting color drizzled over, I only needed 12-14 ounces of pareve chocolate bark; I think the pareve coats a little thinner than the dairy chocolate bark)
lollipop sticks (6″ are okay, but you will need the longer ones if you want the pops to stand tall in a large container.)
cake (see above)
frosting (see above)
To make cake balls, crumble the cake into bowl. You want to turn the whole cake into fine crumbs.
Add frosting in batches, stirring to combine. Add just enough frosting to make the mixture cohere. Add 10 ounces first and add more as needed.
If your mixture is too soft after you have added frosting, you have two choices: add more crumbled cake (you will have to make or buy more cake) OR chill the mixture to see if it firms up.
Shape the mixture into balls about the diameter of a quarter. You should get about 3 1/2 – 4 dozen. (Update: you can get about 60 if you make the balls 15-20 g., or a little more than a 1/2 ounce each, which is the size I used for football cake pops.)
Chill the balls in the freezer for 15 minutes, then put them in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to make your cake pops, melt chocolate bark or candy melts (from the craft store). Take out your tray of cake balls from the refrigerator. Dip each lollipop stick in the melted chocolate to cover about 1/2″ of the end of the stick. Take the chocolate dipped end of the lollipop stick and push it into the cake ball (don’t go more than halfway into the ball). Dip the cakeball into the melted chocolate. Let the excess drip off. (Note: Bakerella dips the stick into the ball and then immediately dips the cake ball into the chocolate. I let the chocolate on the stick harden before I dipped the balls in the chocolate).
If you are adding sprinkles or some other garnish, add them now, while the chocolate coating is still wet. If you want to drizzle over another color chocolate, you can let the base color harden first. You need to have something set up to hold the pop stick in place while the chocolate coating on the cake pop hardens. Bakerella recommends a Styrofoam block, but I carefully placed the pops in coffee mugs (about 6-7 pops per mug), which worked fine.
For an extra touch, or for transport, cover the cake balls with plastic candy bags and tie on the bags with pretty ribbons. I used silver, blue and white ribbons.