Hot on the heels of our Q&A with Cake Pops author Angie Dudley, here’s her recipe for Christmas-inspired cake pops (and the basic cake balls that are the very foundation of this amazing culinary invention).
Basic Cake Balls
Cake balls are bite-sized balls made of crumbled cake mixed with frosting and covered in candy coating. They are super easy to make and form the basis of endless variations of decorated cake pops, cupcake pops and cake bites.
One 18.25-ounce box cake mix
One 16-ounce container ready-made frosting
48 ounces (3 pounds) candy coating
One 9-by-13-inch cake pan
Large mixing bowl
Large metal spoon
Two baking sheets
Deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl
Squeeze bottle or resealable plastic bag (optional)
Bake the cake as directed on the box, using a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Let cool completely.
Once the cake is baked, get organized and set aside plenty of time (at least an hour) to crumble, roll, and dip 4 dozen cake balls. Crumble the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl. You should not see any large pieces of cake.
Add three-quarters of the container of frosting. (You will not need the remaining frosting.) Mix it into the crumbled cake, using the back of a large spoon, until thoroughly combined. If you use the entire container, the cake balls will be too moist.
The mixture should be moist enough to roll into 1 1/2-inch balls and still hold a round shape. After rolling the cake balls by hand, place them on a wax paper–covered baking sheet.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator, or place in the freezer for about 15 minutes. You want the balls to be firm but not frozen.
If you’re making a project that calls for uncoated cake balls, stop here and proceed to decorate the cake balls, following the project instructions.
While the cake balls are chilling, melt the candy coating. Place the candy coating in a deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl. These bowls make it easier to cover the cake balls completely with candy coating while holding the bowl without burning your fingers. (I usually work with about 16 ounces of coating at a time.)
Melt the candy coating, following the instructions on the package. Microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a spoon in between. You can also use a double boiler. Either way, make sure you do not overheat the coating. See “Candy Coating Basics,” (below), for more on working with candy coating.
Now you’re ready to coat. Take a few cake balls out of the refrigerator or freezer to work with at a time. If they’re in the freezer, transfer the rest of the balls to the refrigerator at this point, so they stay firm but do not freeze.
Place one ball at a time into the bowl of candy coating. Spoon extra coating over any uncoated areas of the cake ball to make sure it is completely covered in candy coating. Then lift out the cake ball with your spoon. Avoid stirring it in the coating, because cake crumbs can fall off into the coating.
Holding the spoon over the bowl, tap the handle of the spoon several times on the edge of the bowl until the excess coating falls off and back into the bowl. This technique also creates a smooth surface on the outside of the cake ball.
Transfer the coated cake ball to another wax paper–covered baking sheet to dry. Let the coated cake ball slide right off the spoon. Some coating may pool around the base of the ball onto the wax paper. If so, simply take a toothpick and use it to draw a line around the base of the cake ball before the coating sets. Once the coating sets, you can break off any unwanted coating.
Repeat with the remaining cake balls and let dry completely. If you have extra candy coating left over, pour it into a resealable plastic bag with the corner snipped off or into a squeeze bottle and drizzle it over the tops in a zigzag motion to decorate.
Store the cake balls in an airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator for several days.
• The cake balls will be easier to roll if you wash and dry your hands periodically during the rolling process. Dry your hands completely each time, and make sure you don’t get water in the candy coating, as it can make it unusable.
• You can use a mini ice cream scoop to get uniform-sized cake balls.
• If you don’t want to make 48 cake balls, simply divide the cake in half for 24 cake balls or in quarters for 12 and freeze the remaining cake for later use. Remember to reduce the amount of frosting
• Make round-shaped cake balls first, until you’re sure you will end up with the appropriate number. If you start shaping right away, you can end up with pieces that are too big.
• It’s helpful to place the cake balls in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up before reshaping them. Don’t roll the cake balls too tightly. They may try to expand after coating, which can cause the coating to crack.
Cheery Christmas Tree Cake Pops
Use multicolored rainbow chip sprinkles to decorate Christmas tree cake pops. Top them off with jumbo star sprinkles.
48 uncoated Basic Cake Balls (recipe below), formed into cone shapes and chilled
48 ounces (3 pounds) dark green candy coating
Deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl
48 paper lollipop sticks
48 yellow jumbo star sprinkles
Multicolored rainbow chip sprinkles
Have the cone-shaped cake balls chilled and in the refrigerator.
Melt the green candy coating in a microwave-safe plastic bowl, following the instructions on the package. Make sure the bowl is filled deep enough with candy coating so you can submerge the entire cone-shaped cake pop in one dunk.
When you are ready to dip, remove a few cake balls from the refrigerator at a time, keeping the rest chilled.
One at a time, dip about 1/2 inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating, and insert the stick straight into the flat bottom of a cone-shaped cake ball, pushing it no more than halfway through. Dip the cake pop into the melted candy coating, and tap off any excess coating, as described in Basic Cake Pops.
Before the coating sets, use a toothpick to drag gently through the coating, creating branches. Just touch the toothpick on the wet coating and pull it away from the pop several times. You can also use thetoothpick to apply more coating to the cake pop if necessary. Then place a jumbo star sprinkle on top of the tree. Let dry completely in a Styrofoam block.
When the trees are dry, use a toothpick to apply dots of melted green candy coating to the tree in the places you want ornaments, and attach multicolored rainbow chip sprinkles. Let dry completely in the Styrofoam block.
• If you don’t want branches, forget the toothpick and just go ahead and attach the rainbow chip sprinkles to the smooth surface of the tree-shaped cake pops.
Recipe and photo courtesy Angie Dudley a.k.a. Bakerella.