Give Your Cake Pops A Flavor Boost! (Tutorial)

I wish I had invented cake pops. Sadly, I didn’t, but Bakerella did and she got a book deal and a whole lotta publicity in the blogosphere for it. Cake pops, if you’ve been hiding under a pillow for the past two years, are essentially cake on a stick. Cake lollipops if you will. And Bakerella does them beautifully, morphing them into adorable forms like turkeys, cupcakes and even Sesame Street characters.

I love her work, but wanted to do a super simple version of cake pops that wouldn’t require cookie cutters or other fancy tools. Basically, something I could crank out during naptime….which meant hello, cake mix. Also, I’ve tasted a few cake pops lately that taste like cardboard — super bland and coated way too heavily with that waxy candy melt. There’s nothing I hate more than cake pops that look amazing but taste disgusting. It’s so easy to boost the flavor, even if you’re using a cake mix. In this version, I added a little liquid courage, but there are zillions of options. Behold all that stands between you and super-delicious cake pops:

Follow the directions on your cake mix box, except substitute 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid flavoring for the same amount of water (I used 4 tbsp. of Starbucks coffee liqueur but you could use any liqueur — rum, amaretto, frangelico –, strong coffee, a flavored juice — cherry and pomegranate are delicious — etc.)

You can also stir in 1 teaspoon of flavored extract (I used vanilla but peppermint, almond, lemon, rum would work) and 1 teaspoon of any ground spice if desired (chipotle, cinnamon, allspice etc.). The moral of the story? Make sure you add some combination of flavor! Bake in a 9×13 pan according to package directions.

Once cake is baked and cooled completely divide it into four parts.

Pick up one of the parts with your hands and break in half. Use your hands to crumble the cake into a large bowl.

When you’re finished crumbling all four parts, you should have a nice big bowl of cake crumbs.

Dump a whole container (16 ounces) of frosting right on top. I used a Dark Chocolate flavor here.

Stir it up well ’til the mixture is nice and mushy. Then use a spoon to help you roll these into 1 to 1 1/2 inch size balls. Be pretty vigilant about keeping the size in check or your pops will be too heavy once you drench them in coating; they will fall off the stick and you will be forced to eat them before anyone notices. Place your cake balls on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet.

Once you’ve rolled all the cake balls (usually about 40-50), stick ’em in the freezer for 15 minutes. You don’t want them to freeze, just to chill a bit.

Get out your candy melts (about 2 pounds) and melt according to package directions. I bought these from my local craft store. (I thought they melted a little too thick so may try the cheaper candy coating from the grocery store. If you happen to try, leave a comment and let us know how it worked.)

Set up your kitchen kind of like this so you can work quickly. Chilled cake balls on the right (keep the ones you’re not working with in the refrigerator), then lollipop sticks, candy melt, sprinkles or other garnishes, and a piece of styrofoam to put the completed pops in.

Dip one lollipop stick in the candy melt about 1/2-inch.

Place the stick in a cake ball, inserting about halfway in.

Gently dip the cake ball into the candy melt. Do not swirl or move around too much or you may lose the cake ball. We call these “cake ball casualties” in our house, and the kids hover around me praying for this to happen.

Remove from chocolate and swirl gently to remove excess coating. I’ll be totally honest here and say that sometimes I can get it perfectly smooth; sometimes I can’t. Either way is delicious.

Garnish with whatever you’d like. We got into Halloween early here with the sprinkles. On the grown-up ones I just sprinkled a few coffee beans over the top.

Poke the lollipop stick into some styrofoam to allow it to set. Repeat with remaining cake balls.

Some finished products:

These make for great chocolate mustaches:

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