In addition to lying in bed at night dreaming up ice cream flavors, I’ve now been contemplating cake pops as well, how frickin adorable they are, how the woman who popularized them is so ingenious. I’ve never considered myself a “crafty” person in the kitchen, although I did make some penis-shaped cookies for a bris once (they didn’t go over so well). Generally, Martha Stewart’s cutesy holiday-themed cookies and cupcakes and whatnot and Sandra Lee’s nauseating tablescapes have always sort of repulsed me.
And I have to admit, when I first heard about these cake pops, I immediately judged them as precious and lame. What was worse, they were made from (gasp!) boxed cake mix and (double gasp!) canned frosting, items I thought I’d moved beyond. But then, I became curious. I was given the opportunity to test a recipe from the new Cake Pops book for PW and I seized it. When the book arrived and I started flipping through the pages, all my prejudices flew right out the window. There were baby chicks and bunnies with heart-shaped candies for noses. There were clowns (cute, not scary) with sugar cone tips for hats. There were baby cake pops with candy pacifiers, the girl babies topped with pink bows. There were robots. And pirates. There were froggies with little red candy tongues. There were lions and tigers and bears and puppies. And monkeys. And turkeys for Thanksgiving and reindeer for Christmas. And even “Happy Hanukkah” cake pops (arguably the worst in the book, but that’s to be expected and we give her points for including us). There were “Pool Party” cake pops involving Teddy Grahams, you guys! And the girl Teddy Grahams had pink bikinis drawn on them!! Oh my. It was impossible not to be smitten.
With Halloween fast approaching, Jack-o’-lanterns seemed a good place to start (although I could’ve also picked black cats, ghosts, skeletons, witches, monsters, or mummies). The night I made these was hands-down the most fun I’d had in my kitchen since the Pop-Tarts, but less stressful by leaps and bounds. I smiled, I giggled, I shook my head in wonder.
Cake pops are much simpler to make than I ever thought they’d be. You’re thinking yeah, right. You’re also probably thinking, where the hell am I going to find colored candy coating and lollipop sticks and edible-ink pens and a styrofoam block? Well, if you live in New York, there’s a place called N.Y. Cake. You’ll be in and out of there in five minutes with everything you need. If you don’t live in New York, then I can’t help you.
J/k. There are a ton of places to get supplies, and I’ve listed a bunch of them at the bottom of this post, underneath the recipe. If you want to make these cake pops, you will. And trust me, you want to make them.
Once my cake pops were done and I’d drawn eyes, noses, and mouths on all of them, they sat in their Styrofoam block, undisturbed, for at least a day, maybe two. Eating them was secondary to simply staring at their cute little faces. Plus, I figured I already knew what they tasted like. It was just a Duncan Hines (or Betty Crocker, I don’t remember) carrot cake with some Pillsbury (or Duncan Hines) vanilla frosting mixed in. No big deal. I was in no hurry.
So when I finally bit into one, I was overcome. The inside wasn’t like regular cake. Mixed with the frosting, it had become a different texture entirely, smooth, almost wet, not crumbly and therefore not messy. The candy coating acted as a protective layer, trapping in the moisture of the cake. And the coating itself was like white chocolate, sweet but not cloying. I could not believe how good these things were.
And that was when tensions started running high in the house. The cake pops’ days were numbered and they knew it, ohh did they know it. Each time one of their friends was picked up, I swear I detected a communal sigh of relief. But it was short-lived relief and tinged with anxiety, for each Jack-o’-lantern knew that he or she could be next, that it was only a matter of time before every last one of them succumbed to their shared fate. Cake pops, you are remembered fondly! R.I.P.
Jack-o’-Lantern Cake Pops, from Bakerella’s Cake Pops
Notes: This recipe makes 48 cake pops. But for beginners, Bakerella recommends cutting the recipe in fourths and making just 12 cake pops at a time, which I did and highly recommend. Twelve cake pops is totally manageable.
It was a little humid in my apartment, and the Jack-o’-lanterns’ faces started smearing after a couple days. So, it’s probably best to store these in a cool, dry place and try to make them at a time of year when the weather is dry.
I used carrot cake and vanilla frosting for these, but you can use any combination of cake and frosting you like!
- 18-oz. box cake mix
- 16-oz. container ready-made frosting
- 48 oz. (3 lbs) orange candy coating
- 48 paper lollipop sticks
- styrofoam block
- 48 green Tic Tacs or similarly shaped candy
- black edible-ink pen
- Bake the cake as directed on the box, using a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Let cool completely.
- Cut the cake into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time (or one total, for just 12 cake pops), break the quarter in half and rub the two pieces together over a large bowl so that the cake crumbles. Break up any large clumps with your fingers until the cake is finely and evenly crumbled. Repeat with each of the remaining three quarters of cake, if using. If you’re only making 12 cake pops total, freeze the remaining three quarters of cake for later use.
- Add 12 oz. of the frosting (you will not use the rest) to the crumbled cake (or 3 oz. for 12 cake pops). Mix it into the crumbled cake, using the back of a large metal spoon, until thoroughly combined.
- Roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and place them on wax paper-covered baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or in the refrigerator for several hours. The balls should be firm but not frozen.
- Melt the candy coating (12 oz. for 12 cake pops), either in a deep bowl in the microwave or in a double boiler, making sure it doesn’t burn. If you use a microwave, heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. If you’re making the whole recipe, you’ll need to melt the candy coating in 3 or 4 batches because it will harden as it sits out.
- Poke 48 (or 12) holes in your Styrofoam block with one of the lollipop sticks so that it’s ready to receive your cake pops after you dip them.
- Take a few cake balls out of the freezer or refrigerator at a time. If they’re in the freezer, transfer the rest of the balls to the refrigerator at this point so that they stay firm but do not freeze. One at a time, dip about 1/2 inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating, then insert the lollipop stick straight into a cake ball, pushing it no more than halfway through. Holding the lollipop stick with the cake ball attached, dip the entire cake ball into the melted candy coating until it is completely covered, and remove it in one motion. Make sure the coating meets at the base of the lollipop stick. This helps secure the cake ball to the stick when the coating sets. The object is to completely cover the cake ball and remove it without submerging it in coating more than once. When you remove the cake pop from the candy coating, some excess coating may start to drip. Hold the cake pop in one hand and use the other hand to gently tap the wrist holding the cake pop. Rotate the lollipop stick as necessary to allow the excess coating to fall off evenly. Immediately insert a Tic Tac on the very top of the cake pop. Hold in place for a few seconds until set. Stick the cake pop into the prepared Styrofoam block. Repeat with the remaining cake balls and let dry completely in the Styrofoam block. With a black edible-ink pen, draw faces on all of the pumpkins. Let dry.
Store the cake pops in the Styrofoam block on the counter or in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also cover them in small treat bags, tied with a ribbon. Do not store these in the refrigerator because once you take them out, the condensation will cause the candy coating to become wet and sticky and the faces will start to drip off! (I learned this the hard way.)
Some Places to Get Cake Pop Supplies (listed at the back of Cake Pops)
Cake and Candy Making
Craft StoresPrint This Recipe