Step aside decadently decorated cupcakes, cake pops are the new sweet treat in town! And many are finding fascinating ways to embellish this latest sugary sensation, including LN readers! The winner of our Cake Pops Recipe Contest, determined by our panel of judges that included LN food writer Matt Sorrell and LN Cooks columnist Chef John Johnson, received a $50 gift certificate to the Cakery!
First Place—Vanilla Bean Cake Pops
Vanilla Bean Cake:
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 c flour, plus more for pans
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 1/2 c sugar
3 large eggs
1 T vanilla bean paste
1 c low-fat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13- by 9-inch sheet pan, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until combined.
Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 t salt
1/4 c milk
1 t vanilla
1/3 c butter, softened
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer or with a heavy spoon until smooth and creamy, scraping bowl often.
After combining the crumbled cake and icing, form balls with your hands. Dip them into a mixture of dark blue, green and a bit of white candy melts (Merkens Candy Coating). To make the starfish, use a tiny cookie cutter and colored fondant, then paint the fondant with a little rum and sprinkle them with yellow sugar. (The alcohol evaporates, leaving behind the sugar.) To make the flip flops, use a stencil and a knife with the fondant. Pipe on royal icing for the straps. The sand is brown sugar adhered with a bit of the candy melt. Then the decorations are ‘glued’ on with candy melt.
Second Place—Flower Power Cake Pops
1 2/3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
zest of one lemon
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 c plain yogurt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch or 8-inch square cake pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the lemon zest and add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in the yogurt. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes and then turn onto rack to cool. Makes 20 cake balls.
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
2 c powdered sugar
zest of one lemon
1 T milk
Cream butter until soft.
Gradually add the sugar and continue to cream until light and fluffy. Mix in zest, then milk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove crust with a sharp knife to avoid lumps and then crumble cake thoroughly in a large bowl. Use your hands or a food processor to crumble as finely as possible. Combine the cake crumbs and frosting with your hands, a heaping tablespoon at a time until you have a moist fudge-like texture. (You may not need all of the frosting.) Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour, until firm but not too hard. Roll the mixture into a ball using the palms of your hands and place on a tray lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm again.
20 cake balls
12 oz. bags of candy melts in colors of your choice
1 to 2 T vegetable oil
20 lollipop sticks
Melt about half a bag of the first color of candy melts in a bowl in the microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes until smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Add vegetable oil to achieve a silky smooth consistency. Take a lollipop stick and dip 3/4 inch deep into the melted candy. Then insert it into the center of each hardened cake ball about halfway through. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper to set (1 to 2 minutes). Melt about a quarter of a bag of the second color of candy melts and, using a tablespoon, add a little of the second color to the first color. Use a toothpick to create swirls in the melted candy, taking care not to over mix. Holding the end of the stick, dip the cake pops to completely cover with mixture. As you dip, twirl the pop so the colors swirl. this creates the marble effect. Gently shake the pop to remove excess candy. Decorate with sprinkles on top while the coating is still wet. Place stick securely in a polystyrene block to set. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to a week or two days at room temperature.
Third Place—Apple Cake Pops
1 box white cake mix
1 tub of white frosting
miniature chocolate chips
red candy melts
pretzel rods, broken in small pieces for stems
green licorice, cut into small triangles
cake pop sticks
Make cake according to instructions on box. Let cool. Crumble up the cake in a large bowl until it resembles fine crumbs. Mix in most of the tub of frosting. Mixture will be sticky. Shape your pops—roll about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cake mixture into balls. Push in about 3 to 5 mini chocolate chips and roll some more until you can’t see them. Slightly pinch the bottom so it’s smaller than the top and make a little indent with your finger for the top of the apple. Put in the freezer about 2 hours to firm up.
Melt red candy. Make sure bowl is deep enough to dip. Dip end of a stick in the candy and insert in the bottom of the pop. Let set. Now dip the entire cake pop. Tap stick on the edge of the bowl to let excess candy drip off. Insert small piece of pretzel in the top of the pop for the stem and add a licorice ‘leaf’ while the candy is still wet. Stick in Styrofoam block to set. Enjoy!
Honorable Mention—Baby Cake Pops
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 bag miniature-size peanut butter cups
1 lb. vanilla almond bark
3/4 c pink candy coating
3/4 c blue candy coating candy eyes
1 candy necklace
1 red Easy Writer food decorator pen (by Betty Crocker)
candy or cookie sticks
Prepare cake mix. Using a cake pop maker (by Baby Cakes), fill each basin with about 3/4 of a teaspoon of the batter. Press in a peanut butter cup and top with 1/4 of a teaspoon of batter. When finished baking, remove and let cake balls cool before placing in the freezer. Makes 20-plus cake pops.
Melt vanilla almond bark and dip the end of each stick into the almond bark. Insert each stick into a frozen cake ball and then dip them into the melted almond bark. Shake off the excess coating and place upright to harden. After cake balls have hardened, melt separately the pink and blue candy coatings and dip the tops with one of the colors. Place upright to harden. When hardened, use a small paint brush to dab the back of the eyes with melted almond bark and press lightly onto the cake pops. Using the Easy Writer, draw a large mouth. With the small paint brush, dab almond bark on one candy bead from the necklace and press in the center of the mouth. Let eyes and binky set. Enjoy!
Honorable Mention—Spring Cake Pops
Bake the cake of your choice and let cool completely. Crumble cake in a large bowl and add 1 cup of icing. Mix well. Roll into balls, cover and chill in refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours. Remove cake balls from refrigerator and melt chocolate or chocolate candy melts. Dip one end of lollipop stick in the melted chocolate and then insert that end into cake ball. This keeps the cake from falling off the stick while dipping. Dip the cake pops into the melted chocolate, twist to remove excess chocolate and place sticks into Styrofoam to let the pops dry. If you are using sprinkles, add to cake pops before the chocolate dries. Once dry, add drizzles with other colors and decorate with other candies.
Dip cake pops into yellow candy melts, twist to remove excess chocolate and let the cake pops completely dry. Use an edible ink pen to draw on the eyes. For the beak and wings, use candy-coated chips. Using a toothpick, dip one end of the toothpick into the yellow candy melts and place a small amount on the end of the candy-coated chip. The chocolate candy melts act like glue. Then, place the candy-coated chip where you want it on the cake pop. Use small flower sprinkles for the feet. Let these dry.
Make cake pops as instructed above, but instead of rolling them into cake balls, use a mini flower cookie cutter. Dip flower cake pops into any color of candy melts you want. Let flower cake pops dry. Using a toothpick, dip one end of the toothpick into the pink candy melts and place a small amount on the back side of an M&M. The chocolate candy melts act like glue. Place the M&M in the center of the flower and continue with the petals. Let dry.
Honorable Mention—Cardinals Cake Pops
1 red velvet cake mix
3 large eggs
1 1/4 c water
1/3 c vegetable oil
Make cake according to directions. Cool thoroughly. While cake is cooling, make Cream Cheese Frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. On low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla.
To make the cake pops:
cardboard cake/cookie-pop sticks
Brach’s Peanut Butter Poppins
white almond bark or white Wilton candy melts
red Wilton candy melts
Crumble one-half of cake into a large bowl. Add several spoonfuls frosting and mix together with fingers (wear rubber gloves) until the texture is smooth and moldable. Form cake into a 1 1/2-inch ball around a Brach’s Peanut Butter Poppins and push onto stick. Chill until firm. While pops chill, prepare the coating by following instructions on candy melts package. Coat each ball by drizzling coating with a spoon as smoothly as possible. Sit upright and chill again to set coating.
To decorate, put softened red melts in a plastic sandwich bag and cut a very small piece off the corner. Twist and squeeze the bag for a then steady stream of red and apply baseball-lace pattern or the Cardinals logo. Chill and serve during the game!