After spending three entire evenings and tens of dollars on lollipop sticks, a Styrofoam block, melting chocolate discs, and all manner of sprinkles, and carrying out a failed two-hour search for candy necklaces with white beads on them (HOW ARE THESE SUDDENLY IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND?!), I can say, without reservation, that cake pops suck.
My friends tried to warn me, “they’re really hard to make,” and, “they’re a labor of love. Or insanity.” (I should have listened to you, Betsy). But no, I thought I could avoid the pitfalls, play to my strengths, whatever those are, and do a practice run before making them for a baby shower I’m helping plan.
I spaced out the work over several nights, since that would give the cake wads time to chill and firm up, so I could avoid what sounded like mistake numero uno: having them break off the stick in the chocolate dipping process. That, at least, was a good idea, because from start to finish—and by finish, I mean I’ve made nine cake pops—it took me at least nine hours to make these things.
Baking the cake was the easiest part. I made a peanut butter cake, moist and delicious, and even ended up eating a large chunk of it while waiting for it to cool. That was hands down the best part of the whole experience.
On night two, after spending three hours shopping for the little sprinkles and whatnot of which owl cake pops are comprised, I crumbled the cake and mixed in a tablespoon or so of store-bought buttercream, only because I didn’t feel like dirtying the mixer for a tablespoon of frosting. Yeah, that’s right, cake pops aren’t what I thought, either. It’s not a cute little ball of cake you bake in a tiny pan, it’s an unholy paste of cake all crumbled up and mixed with a little dab of frosting.
The video I watched on YouTube was a big help, and I couldn’t have done it without it. The girl in the video explains that you only want to add a LITTLE frosting to the cake, and work it in until the cake feels like Play-Doh. That part worked nicely. I made the little owl shapes, which looked like Chicken McNuggets, then I let them chill overnight.
On night three, I began the dipping and decorating. For some reason that only God and Satan know for sure, my chocolate wouldn’t cooperate. Like goldilocks and the three bears, the first chocolate was too thick, the second chocolate seized up when I added a little hot milk to thin it out, and the third chocolate was just an A-HOLE.
I ended up having to spread the chocolate on with a butter knife, which wasn’t too bad, but didn’t result in the smooth surface I was hoping for. Then it was just a matter of adding tiny sprinkles and some Reese’s Pieces to the owl to complete the look. I’d recommend using tweezers, because the beak and feet are really too wee for fingers. But then, what sort of maniac uses tweezers to make any confection? EXACTLY. Howard Hughes, maybe. In there, peeing in jars, wearing tissue boxes on his feet and making cake pops with tweezers.
The resulting cake pops were sub par, and not just in looks. It turns out balling up perfectly good cake and mixing it with icing results in a pseudo fudge, fit for neither man nor beast. Well, technically, they’re edible, but then what’s the point? I could sculpt fudge with my hands, avoid the dipping, and cut out a big chunk of the time it takes to make these suckers, and still end up with a tastier treat.
Likely, I did something wrong. Bakerella has built a small empire on the backs of these little cuties, and even Starbucks sells them. Maybe it was the oily peanut butter cake that was my ruin. And certainly had the chocolate been more cooperative, dipping could have been back in the realm of possibility.
I don’t think I’ll be making them again. It’s just a silly amount of work for a little novelty, best left to the Martha Stewarts and Bakerellas of the world. My hat’s off to you, ladies.
Still want to give it a go?
If you crave a challenge and laugh in the face of sound warning, then here's what you'll need. You can save yourself some legwork and get most of it online, or go to Joann Fabric. Check out this YouTube video by OriginalCakePopsLA to see how to assemble. I like the decorations that OriginalCakePopsLA uses, but I like DessertDecorating's explantation of how to actually make the dough better. Plus, her voice is very pleasant, and she's adorable.
- 1 prepared cake
- A tablespoon or so of frosting
- Lollipop sticks
- Wilton Light Cocoa Candy Melts, or your favorite dipping chocolate (or if you really hate yourself, try tempering some real chocolate)
- For the ears: Chocolate chips
- For the eyes: Candy necklaces, preferably ones with white beads
- For the nose: Wilton Brownie Crunch Rainbow Chip Sprinkles
- For the feet: Wilton Flowerful Medley 6-Mix Sprinkle Assortment
- For the wings: M&Ms or Reese's Pieces, just the brown ones
- A Styrofoam block to stick finished pops in
I believe in you. Please relate triumphs (or trials) in the comments.