Every year my best friend and I exchange cakes for our birthdays. Katie’s is the 4th of July, mine the 4th of August. We’ve never done presents and I absolutely love the zero amount of pressure that’s involved in trying to find a new present each year. Although this, of course, translates into trying to find new and different things to bake each year! We started with standard cakes; vanilla, chocolate, coffee, all with various different icings, buttercreams, fillings and decorations. Occasionally branching out to cupcakes and muffins, this year it hit me that I should probably up my game. Not that it’s a competition WHATSOEVER (:P) but since I do write a baking and cooking blog after all, I suppose I should think outside the box a little.
And then came the box.
My Mom has a special box hidden under her bed full of goodies she’s accumulated over the years, which she has never had a chance to give to anyone in particular. It’s great for last minute presents or forgotten birthdays.
Inside this special box, was another box.
I have this weird obsession with cute boxes, which usually get filled with mini goodies and given as presents in themselves (stay with me!). For example, Gavin’s 21st birthday a few years ago called for something different and special. So I went out and bought a big box and filled it with loads of things I knew he’d love; he’s never forgotten it and still uses the box to this day.
So inside Mom’s special present box was a cute little box, just sitting there waiting to be used.
Thought one: let’s use the box.
Thought two: how is this in any way related to cakes and baking?
Thought three: I can’t fit many cakes inside the box
Thought four: let’s make cake pops and stick the cakes on top of the box
Thought five: why do I get myself into these crazy situations and weird ideas?
Thought six: I need to try and not stab myself with these scissors when making holes in the box to stand the cake pops in….
And so the mission began, to make some cake pops, all in a days work right?!
For starters I’d never made cake pops before and didn’t have any candy melts in the cupboard. I did a little research and just went for it. After baking vanilla and chocolate sponge cakes, I then destroyed these (scarily satisfying) and created an almost truffle like mixture, with sponge cake crumbs and vanilla frosting.
Using an ice-cream scoop (to make sure all the balls were the same size) I created loads of mini balls and popped them in the fridge for a few hours to harden.
Next came the tricky bit; using melted chocolate is not what most people recommend for covering cake pops with, however to help the melted chocolate remain thin and set around the dough ball easily, I added a little rapeseed oil – this did the job perfectly. I was so surprised at how easy it was, once you’ve done the first few and got the hang of it.
Helpful little tips: 1. dipping your lollipop stick into the melted chocolate or candy melt before pushing through into the dough ball. This acts like a glue and holds the stick in place. 2. Make sure you push the stick far enough into the ball so it is not flimsy and likely to fall out – but don’t make the mistake of pushing it right through the other side! 3. Make sure you have all the equipment you need to hand – it’s very fiddly work – having a stand to put the cake pops on to set once coated is VERY IMPORTANT! I used egg boxes but other suggestions could be a colander, Styrofoam, or a deep bowl full of sugar.
Dip, swirl, tap.
Everyone will have their own way of doing it and it’s so satisfying once you get into a rhythm. Decoration is a piece of cake (yeah I went there) I love cute sprinkles and glitter.
And there you have it…. Some incredibly yummy cake pops, stood in a pretty box.
Happy Birthday Katie! I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me 😉
Cake Pops (vanilla & chocolate sponge with white & dark chocolate coating, makes around 20)
175g unsalted butter, softened,
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
(for the chocolate sponge – 40g cocoa powder and a splash of milk)
For the vanilla frosting:
225g icing sugar
75g unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the candy coating:
Packet of candy melts or cheap everyday chocolate and around 1 tbsp oil
- To make the sponge cakes: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease your cake tins and place to one side
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract
- Add one egg at a time, with a spoonful of flour, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the remaining flour and mix until completely combined
- Split the mixture in half and add the cocoa powder and splash of milk to one half, making the chocolate sponge
- Pour the mixtures into your prepared tins and bake for around 20-25 minutes
- Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack
- To make the frosting: Beat the icing sugar and butter together until completely combined. Add the milk and vanilla slowly and continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy
- To make the dough balls: Now the cakes have cooled, using your hands, crumble the cakes (keeping the sponges separate at all times) until they resemble fine crumbs. Split the frosting in half and mix with the two sponges until completely combined and you now have a soft dough like consistency
- Create your desired sized balls (not too big!) and place on a baking tray in the fridge to cool and harden for around 1-2 hours
- To coat the dough balls: Melt your chocolate and mix in a few splashes of oil to thin the mixture (if you have candy melts follow the instructions on the packet). Using a deep glass or jar, place your melted coating in this and get ready to create your masterpieces!
- Dip your lollipop sticks into your coating (to act like a glue) and slowly place into your dough balls (about ¾ of the way through). Now dip and swirl your dough balls in the melted coating, ensuring that they are fully coated. Tap gently until all excess coating drips off
- Decorate as desired and place to completely set – for around 30 minutes just to be safe!