09 Oct Spooky Jack-o’-lantern Cake Pops
‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin patches, and pumpkin catapulting contests (if that isn’t a thing, it needs to be). The best part of all is the resurfacing of the pumpkin dessert, which is what prompted my newest project. I decided to tackle two new things at the same time: a pumpkin cake recipe and some cake pops.
First things first, I need to discuss a very common misconception about cake pops. OK, it might not be common, but I was certainly clueless. I was always under the impression that in order to make cake pops, you literally baked perfectly round circle of dough, dipped them in icing and then you were done. I suppose I had been led to believe this by those gimmicky cake pop makers that I always saw at Bed Bath and Beyond. Little did I realize that the most common way to make cake pops is actually 10 trillion times easier without those machines (that’s a ballpark figure) and 10 trillion times more fun (that’s an exact number).
The first step in making these cute little desserts is to bake a cake. I chose a pumpkin recipe to go along with the jack-o’-lantern theme; a strawberry jack-o’-lantern just wouldn’t seem right. I used the below recipe and baked the cake in a 9×13 in. pan.
Here’s where things get awesome. After your cake has completely cooled you SMASH IT TO SMITHERINES. Sorry, I’ve had too much caffeine today. You actually cut your cake into quarters and rub the pieces together over a bowl in order to break them down into crumbs. Since my crumbs didn’t look small enough, I used a hand mixer to pummel them into smaller bits. Then I returned to my Simple Cream Cheese Frosting but I halved the recipe. I began mixing in the frosting (still using my hand mixer on low) a little bit at a time. It’s important to make sure that you don’t add too much or your cake balls won’t hold their shape. I ended up using at 3/4ths of the frosting. I knew it was ready to be balled up when the crumbs could hold a shape without crumbling.
A cookie scoop much like this one was very handy for the next part. I used my scooper to portion out evenly sized blobs of cake and then used my hands to roll them into balls. I plopped them down onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and threw them into the freezer. In total, I had made about 35 cake balls. You want the cake to stay in the freezer for at least 15 to help them hold their shape when being dipped into chocolate.
For the coating, I used an entire bag of white, vanilla flavored Make’n Mold Candy Wafers. Hobby Lobby didn’t have any orange ones so I had to dye the candy myself. When dying chocolate or candy wafers, you have to make sure to use an oil-based dye rather than the normal water-based gel dyes. If you introduce a water-based dye to your chocolate, it will seize up and ruin the batch. For my dye, I used Make’n Mold’s brand.
I tried something new for melting my candy wafers this time. I hate struggling with a double boiler for melting chocolate and recently I read somewhere that you can use a slow cooker to melt it instead. There are differing opinions as to the best method for doing this, but I just decided to wing it and hope for the best by dumping all of my chocolate straight into the ceramic bowl. 15 minutes later and voilà, perfectly melted chocolate. With my orange dye added, I was ready to dip the cake.
So apparently all of the tutorials really mean it when they say that you need to dip your lollipop stick into the chocolate first. What they want you to do is get a little bit of melted chocolate on the stick (about 3/4 of a inch covered), stab your cake ball, and then put it back into the fridge for a little bit until the chocolate hardens. This is to help keep the ball from sliding off of the stick when you’re dipping it. I thought “to heck with that” and proceeded to skip this step entirely for my first one. I promptly lost the cake in a sea of orange chocolate. Obviously I was devastated when I had to eat the defective cake pop. Needless to say, I actually did what I was supposed to for the remainder of the pops.
When rolling the cake pop in the melted chocolate, make sure that the entire ball is coated, then gently shake off any excess chocolate. Stab the cake pops into some Styrofoam to keep them upright while they’re drying. It took my cake pops about an hour to be completely dry but I let them sit overnight before beginning the decorating process.
I used AmeriColor Gourmet Writers to draw the faces on the cake pops with mixed results. Towards the end, the pen didn’t want to seem to write on the pop and instead decided to explode all over my hand. The leftover icing from the first step of the process is great for the Jack-o’-lantern detailing. The stem was with a #16 Wilton tip and the vines were a #2 Wilton tip.
I feel like these cake pops were worth my time and effort and I’m already thinking up designs for my next batch. They were a frightening success!