So after baking up the six layers of my galaxy rainbow cake (and seeing how short they were) I was unaccountably struck with the fear that there might not be enough cake for all of the guests. (Spoiler: there was tons of cake left over) I decided to make some extra treats for the party, just in case– cake pops. I hadn’t made them in a while, but a little internet research turned up some new techniques for making them look fantastic, so I thought I’d give them a shot, using an extra box of cake mix and some leftover buttercream, plus candy melts.
Step 1: making perfectly smooth, round balls for dipping.
In the past I’ve crumbled up my cake and mixed it with cream cheese or frosting by hand, just because it was easier. However, the results have been somewhat lumpy, probably because the crumbs weren’t quite fine enough and the mixing was uneven. I think I’ve been trying to avoid making the mixture too gooey from overmixing, but it really wasn’t a problem. Solution: use the stand mixer to completely mix the cake and frosting into a smooth, homogenous dough. Add frosting sparingly to avoid your mixture being too soft.
Once you’ve got the dough set, portion it into balls and hand-roll them to a generally round shape. If you want them to be even more perfectly round, you can do this:
(though 14 seconds is way longer than you need)
When they’re shaped, stick them in the freezer for a few minutes while you prep your candy melts.
Step 2: Melting the coating
I’ve always had trouble with my candy melts– I use the Wilton ones because they’re all I can get around here— because they never seemed to melt down thin enough. They were always too thick, even after adding tons of shortening or paramount crystals, to make a nice smooth coating on my cake pops. But now I’ve figured out the trick!
If you’re using the microwave (which I do) you need to melt them *very slowly*. Like on 50% power in 30-second increments. Because if they get too hot they thicken up too much to dip smoothly, even if there are still unmelted pieces in there and even if you cool them down afterwards. Once your candy is mostly melted, stir in a spoonful of shortening and let the residual heat melt it in. Presto, smooth coating!
Step 3: Securing the sticks
Once your balls have frozen for a few minutes, take them out of the freezer, dip the ends of your sticks into the melted candy, and push the sticks into the balls. The candy will help the stick stay in the ball, which is important for the next step. Return to the freezer for a few more minutes to set.
Step 4: Marbling!
So here’s the really cool part. To get a fabulous marbled/swirled effect on your coating, here’s what you do: Pick one base color and fill your dipping vessel with it, making sure it’s deep enough to dip your entire cake pop in. Then take one or two additional colors and drizzle them generously on the surface of the melted base candy.
(Note: I find that it’s a good idea to use a darker shade as your base color, because then it won’t matter as much if your marbling colors start to mix in to the base and change its shade)
Dip your pop straight down, then up, giving it a little twirl on the way out. Be sure to dip it all the way up to the stick to seal it tightly and avoid leakage of moisture later on. (I forgot to do this on some of mine above)
Tap the excess off into a separate cup. This helps keep the coating from being too thick and/or puddling when you put it down, and using a separate cup keeps your coating colors from getting muddied in the dipping vessel.
I will note that when you start to get low on coating, you can tilt your dipping cup and move your pop around to get the edges covered– however, the longer the pop is in the coating, the higher the chances of it falling off the stick, so beware!
Step 5: Setting
If you’re going to let these set upright, with the sticks set in a foam block, then go ahead and do that. However, if you don’t have a foam block and will instead be putting these pop-side-down, I’ve heard that one trick is to set the freshly-dipped pop directly on top of an unmelted candy melt. You could also just pipe/smear little blobs of coating onto parchment or foil and let them harden before setting your fresh pops on top. This will give the pop a nice firm base to sit on and will prevent the coating on the bottom from getting so thin that moisture can leak out later.
I put the dipped pops in the refrigerator or freezer to set, and I’ve kept them in the fridge for days without any adverse effects. Just keep in mind that over time they may leak if you don’t seal them completely.