So I was at Goodwill the other day looking for more pretty teacups for my mismatched tea set when I saw this: a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker for just $4.99. While I have absolutely no need for yet another small kitchen appliance (and no room), I picked it up anyway. I just can’t resist the idea of making adorable little spheres of food! Plus (I rationalized to myself), my daughter will think they’re awesome.
While I’m fully capable of making my own blueberry muffin batter from scratch, the fact remains that fresh blueberries are not only relatively expensive, but also pretty big compared to these 1.5″ balls. I didn’t feel like having to buy fresh blueberries just for an experiment, plus I didn’t want the muffin balls to fall apart from the juiciness of the berries. So I bought two different kinds of blueberry muffin mix and set to work.
The first mix was Pillsbury, which supposedly makes 6 full-sized muffins, and is chock-full of “artificial blueberry bits.” That’s right, no real blueberries were harmed in the making of these muffins. I was a bit concerned over this, but figured it was worth a try anyway. This mix had the benefit of only needing to add milk– no eggs or oil. I stirred up the batter, which was nice and thick, and used my mini ice cream scoop (a level scoop is 1.5 tsp) to portion it out into the wells of the cake pop maker after spraying them with cooking spray. A heaping scoopful was just enough to fill the well comfortably– probably about 2 tsp of batter.
I will note that for this first trial I followed some of the advice online and did not heat up the cake pop maker before putting the batter in. Apparently the pops cook more evenly that way, since it does take some time to portion things out. Once I closed the top I plugged the device in and sat down to wait. After about 4 minutes, I opened the top and here’s what I had:
They looked perfect, really. Nice and brown and the batter had risen enough to make a nice ball shape. They stuck a little to the pan, but some careful prodding with a fork made things easier. I removed them to a cooling rack and, perhaps foolishly, immediately put in more batter without turning off the device or spraying it again.
The next batch didn’t fare so well. I think I opened the lid a little too soon, and the not-quite-done insides weren’t sturdy enough to keep the halves of the balls together. I closed it again and let them cook a little longer, but the end result was a batch of slightly mangled pops that stuck severely and had overflowed their wells. I decided to make sure I used cooking spray each and every time for muffins (oddly, my mini donut maker only needs an initial spray to let the donuts slip out easily every time).
As for flavor, the Pillsbury mix is actually pretty good. A bit too sweet, of course, but that’s to be expected. Surprisingly, the artificial blueberry bits tasted a lot like blueberries, with even a hint of tartness to them. I’d rate these blueberry balls at 4/5 stars.
Emboldened by my success, I turned to my next box of mix– Jiffy. Significantly cheaper than the Pillsbury (less than half the price), it also lacks real blueberries, but instead of just milk it requires an extra egg to finish the batter. Despite allegedly making 5-8 muffins in comparison to Pillsbury’s 6, it made only 16 pops compared to Pillsbury’s 20. Unlike the first mix the Jiffy batter stuck to the pan if I put the batter into the unheated wells, and released just fine for the heated wells. I’m not sure what the difference is here, but I think for future tries I’ll preheat, spray things really well, and hope for the best.
The texture on the Jiffy muffins was nice– slightly denser than the previous version, with a well-browned outside– but the flavor was much more artificial. I’d give these 3/5 stars.
As all muffins tend to do, both versions of these blueberry balls failed maintain their nicely crisp outsides for long– the ones that I left uncovered got stale, and the ones that I put in a plastic bag got soft. But my 3-year-old thinks they’re great, and they’re still adorable (which is what I was going for). Overall, I’d call this experiment a success!
1. The machine has a little spring-loaded latch in the front that keeps the lid down during cooking. However, it gets really hot as the machine does, so trying to unlatch it was difficult when it was time to remove the pops. I was actually happy when my latch broke entirely (which can’t really be blamed on the product, I did get it secondhand) and the lid just lay flat without any closure. Much easier to use now.
2. I’ve read that to use cake mix in this machine you should do all you can to make the batter thicker– many people recommend reducing the liquid by a few tablespoons or adding extra flour or pudding mix. I didn’t have any issue at all with these muffin mixes– perhaps because muffin batter is usually pretty thick. Honestly, I think what you’re looking for is a batter thick enough to mound over the top of the well so it’ll expand to a full sphere. If you can only fill it level it may not get high enough.
3. For what it’s worth, after I finished the blueberry experiment I made some banana muffin batter from scratch and it worked just as well in the cake pop maker (and tasted much better). Just be sure to spray your machine between each batch so the finished pops release easily.
3 thoughts on “The Cake Pop Chronicles, Part I: Blueberry Muffin Balls”
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