Halloween is coming up so that means candy, treats, and more candy. Some of my favorites are candy corn, crunch bars, Swedish fish, butterfingers, and mini Reese's cup. A recent article highlighted each state’s most popular Halloween candy. For me, the best part of Halloween, besides the costumes, parties, and trick or treating, is the homemade treats. People always seem to go all out and really get creative with baking and decorating. It’s a holiday filled with candy and costumes, so no wonder there are always fun and innovative treats. There are wickedly good brownies, monster popcorn balls, marshmallow ghosts, devilish cupcakes, and spider cookies. The possibility are endless and so is the creativity.
Cake pops bursted onto the scene a few years ago. They had been around a while, but they really started to become a hit when Bakerella came out with the book, Cake Pop. If you haven’t seen or eaten one, they are round cake balls dipped in chocolate or frosting and topped with decorative icing and sprinkles. It's a lollipop meets cake meets truffle. They are bite-sized, festive, and fun to eat. But don’t take that to mean weak. No, these cake pops pack a punch. It’s an explosion of all kinds of sweet - chocolate, buttercream, sprinkles, icing, and cake — in a sizable amount. They are fun to make and fun to eat, which makes these little creatures adult and kid-friendly. The endless flavor and decorative combinations make these sweet treats popular for holidays and parties. They can be personalized, whether it’s coating them in different colors, drawing different facial expressions, or creating festive decorations. And because you never know what flavor you're going to get (if it hasn’t already been advertised), its always an exciting guessing game. Yes, these are fun treats — have I mentioned that already?
To make cake pops, there are two ways: baking cake batter into circular molds, or using leftover cake scraps and frosting to form the cake rounds. I almost always prefer the latter, because this way you’re using leftovers. If you haven’t already eaten the cake scraps, save them, along with the frosting. You can use the cake scraps right away or you can place in an airtight container in the fridge / freezer, until needed. Note: they will dry as they sit.
This is a non recipe, meaning it’s a guideline and will all depend on the texture and moisture of the cake. If you have let the cake trimmings sit in the fridge for a little, they will dry out and more frosting will be needed to create the right consistency. If you make the pops right away with fresh cake, you won’t need as much frosting. I’ve added measurements based on the pumpkin cake I made earlier this week, which was an oil-based cake and so moist that I didn’t need much frosting, but it will all depend on your cake.
To make the pops, add the cake trimmings and some frosting in a bowl, and using your hands (yes this gets a little messy, but it’s a delicious mess - I promise), mix together the two until a thick paste forms. You’ll know it’s done with you press the cake together and it sticks. If when you are forming the cake rounds and they keep breaking apart, add more frosting, or work the mixture more with your hands to ensure everything is thoroughly incorporated.
To decorate, I used Wilton orange candy melts and decorating icing with a #1 Wilton tip. But you could use anything you like. If you do use white chocolate and want to dye it orange, make sure it’s an oil-based gel coloring so it doesn’t affect the texture of the chocolate (regular food color may turn the chocolate grainy). For the decorating icing, you could make your own or buy it store-bought, and I just used the smallest tip I could find. I also thought about using bittersweet chocolate or white chocolate and dying it black to make the faces, but because chocolate dries quickly, I didn’t want to have to rush. With candy melts, they are designed to temper, meaning when you melt them they will dry hard. If the chocolate is not tempered (meaning if it doesn’t have cocoa butter in the ingredients) it won’t dry solid, so you will have to keep the pops refrigerated.
For the pumpkin stem, which is optional, I made it out of tootsie rolls. Although seemingly tough, tootsie rolls can become soft and malleable if you work them between your hands. I cut out a triangle and formed a cone shape. But the decorating options are infinite, just make sure to have fun!
These cake pops are decadent and delicious. The pumpkin spice in the frosting adds warmth and dimension. The chocolate-covered surface locks in the flavor and moisture of the cake while creating an additional layer of sweetness. Once you take a bit, the chocolate, pumpkin, spices, and cream cheese buttercream will all melt in your mouth into a pumpkin delight!
Next time you have cake trimmings, don’t throw them away, instead, make some cake pops and you will be happy that you salvaged the scraps and made a wonderful, fun treat! Happy Halloween Everyone!
Tip: The cake pops will stay in the fridge / freezer for a while, so these can definitely be made ahead if you have a party to host or go to. To present them, you can use a styrofoam to stand them upright or a cake platter to place them down.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, using a fork or your hands, break up the cake into crumbs. Using your hands, add the buttercream and work it into the cake, making sure it’s all incorporated. Add more frosting as needed. You know it’s ready when you press the mixture between your fingers and it sticks together. Using a melon baller (for preciseness) or spoon, form equal-sized cake balls and place onto the baking sheet. Stick a cake stick into the center of each ball. Cover with tray with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for at least an hour, or better yet, a few hours.
Remove the cake pops from the freezer. Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the candy melts until smooth. Dip the pops one at a time into the chocolate, making sure they are completely covered. Remove and let the excess drip off. If the cake sticks don’t hold in the cake pop, add a little of the melted chocolate to the stick to help it adhere. Place the cake pops back onto the baking sheet. If you want them to stand up straight, poke them into a Styrofoam board to dry. Continue with the rest of the cake pops.
To make the stem of the pumpkin, work the tootsie roll in your hands until malleable. Cut a piece and form a cone shape. Place it on the top of the cake pop using some chocolate to help it stick. Let the pops dry at room temperature (this is occur it the chocolate is tempered) or in the fridge. Once hardened, draw on the pumpkin faces on using black decorating icing (#1 Wilton piping tip or the smallest one you can find). Serve and enjoy! Store in the fridge in an airtight container. You can also freeze them and they will last longer.
active time: 20 minutes
total time: 2 hours
makes: about 15 cake pops (depends on size)