How to Make Cake Balls and Cake Pops Like a Pro: Part 1 of The Ultimate Guide to Cake Poppery

Hey friends! Have you heard of this thing called a “cake pop”? If not, I’m not sure where you have been living…
The infamous cake pop is one of the biggest trends to hit dessert-making history since boxed cake mix hit the shelves and for good reason. They are perfect for any occasion whether it be a baby shower, a Halloween party or even a wedding plus they are freakin’ tasty! The trick is that most bakeries don’t offer cake pops on the menu and if they do, they are around $3 each! That is EXPENSIVE!

But alas! There is hope for you yet. You can make your own, easy peasy, for mere cents on the dollar. Keep reading to find the exact tools and techniques you need to use to get those perfect looking globes of culinary deliciousness. I’ve made thousands of cake pops in my time and have developed some skillz in this sector so I want to share them with you.

To go along with my cake ball making tutorial, I have a gift for you. A recipe that is a huge hit. One that people always ask for. My Chocolate Fudge Cake Pops.

Doesn’t that just sound like a comfort treat? Well, you’re right. It is.

Click the link below to print out the recipe.

Chocolate Cake and Frosting Recipe

Shhhh…. Secret: The key to a cake pop with an amazing cakey texture is the “crumb” of the cake. “Crumb” describes the structure and texture of the cake. The best cake pops come from a cake with a sturdy crumb actually. Really soft cakes, such as boxed cake mixes, create a very mushy cake ball that has a texture similar to a truffle and that is not what we want. We want a cake ball that has the texture of cake but is held together with frosting. If the crumb can’t hold up to the frosting then it will just turn to mush. More on this later but this concept will help you choose what cake recipe to use.

So I am going to assume you have followed the above recipe and baked your cake and made your frosting.
Here are a couple of notes to that process that are not in the recipe card.

  1. When baking a cake for cake pops, you actually want the cake to have a crumb on the dry side and not be too moist or soft so a bit of overbaking is actually ok but don’t let it burn.
  2. Buttercreams should be beat with a paddle attachment for a good couple of minutes to lighten them up and make the sugar not have such a grainy texture in the buttercream. Here is a little short-cut. Buy Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Frosting and use that for cake pops. Store bought frostings are stickier than homemade and make great cake pop glue!

On to the cake pop making!

Wash your hands and remove your finger adornment and other jewelry. Allow the cake to cool, dump into a very large bowl and break apart a bit to cool the rest of the way. When completely cool, crumble cake into small crumbs. It is ok if they are not the same size, a large clump here and there won’t hurt.

Add a few spoonfuls of frosting to the crumbs and mix with your hands (easiest) or a large spoon. Do NOT squish the frosting and the cake together. You almost want to just fold the frosting into the cake crumbs lightly. Mix until completely uniform. We are going for a heterogeneous cake/frosting ‘suspension’ not a homogenous cake paste. Add just enough frosting so the cake holds together in a small ball. Adding too much frosting will destroy the integrity of the cake and will cause it to go mushy. If this does happen accidentally, don’t worry…. Just call them truffles instead. 😉 But don’t do it!

Using a small 1” cookie scoop, scoop out 1 inch balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Once done, roll all the balls until they are smooth and round. To do this, I lightly smash the cake mixture in my hand 7 times alternating hands. This sounds dumb and particular but it works great. Ie: Left hand smash slightly, then pass the cake to the right hand and smash, back to the left hand, smash and so on for 7 smashes. This works the cake a little bit more to prevent the ball from cracking or falling apart. Once your smashing is complete, roll them into balls. If they start crumbling while you are rolling you either need a couple more smashes or you did not add enough frosting and need to add a bit more to the batch. Roll all of the cake into balls if you are making plain cake balls. If you are making cake pops, you will roll about 5 or so at a time and then stick the sticks in, then repeat. If you roll all of them and then go back and stick all the sticks in, the cake balls will have dried on the outside enough that when you insert the stick, the cake ball may crack. Trust me. See below for the proper technique for inserting the stick. If you want to get fancy you can smash the cake into the bottom of a pan and then use a cookie cutter to cut specific shapes out of the cake. I have done this many times and it works great. You do have to smash the cake into the bottom of a cake pan pretty well because you won’t be smashing it any more after you have your shape cut out.

If you are making cake balls, you are ready to dip. If you are making cake pops, keep reading. Before the outside of the newly formed cake ball starts to dry, melt a small amount of melting chocolate and dip the edge of a 4 inch paper sucker stick into the melt a small amount and then into the center of the ball pushing straight down until you just meet resistance. Do not push too hard at the end or the stick will go straight through your cake ball. This chocolate melt will cement the cake ball to the stick so it doesn’t slide off while you are dipping or while someone is eating it. Complete for all the balls. Cake pops are much easier to dip than cake balls because you have a built in dipping tool. No fuff.

Stick the cake balls in the fridge until they firm up just a little bit. 5 minutes or so should do. (You may also freeze them at this point if you are making them ahead but make sure you give them ample time to defrost before dipping them.)

Meanwhile, you will start melting your chocolate…

That is it for Part 1 of The Ultimate Guide to Cake Poppery!

So let’s reiterate.
The key to making the best cake balls and cake pops is:
) Have a cake recipe that produces a sturdy crumb.
2) Don’t add too much frosting.
3) Don’t smash the cake mixture too much. Use my special technique.
4) If making cake pops, use melt to cement your cake and stick together.

These are the techniques you need to employ while making your cake pops so they have a one-of-a-kind texture. You’ve got this! You’re a pro now!

If you have any comments or questions about this process I would love to answer them so please leave your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Cake Poppery!