Last week I had to bake carrot cake for both a wedding cake as well as some cupcakes I was giving away as a gift. I also had company coming over for dinner and needed a dessert. My first thought was to make them carrot cake too, since I had plenty of extra batter, but then I decided that I was tired of making carrot cakes and wanted to try something different. What could I possibly do with my extra cake batter and cream cheese icing? Make carrot cake pops of course.
Cake pops and cake balls are a great way to use up leftover cake and icing. They have become quite popular over the last few years thanks to creative people, like Angie Dudley of Bakerella, who have come up with endless design ideas. In all honesty, though, cake pops/balls are sort of a hit or miss project for me. The first few times I ever did them I had some luck and they turned our quite well, but recently it seems like I have been having more problems than not. (Fortunately they taste good, no matter how they turn out.) Well, this time I started off with them turning out so bad that I was about to give up, but then I found a solution. Read on to find out more.
My inspiration for the design of these cake pops came from the cupcakes I had made for my friend. Here are her cupcakes; carrot cake with cream cheese icing topped with carrots sculpted from modeling chocolate and wrapped in a coating of chopped pecans.
I loved the look of the cupcakes so I decided to do something similar with the cake pops. Oh, and just so there is no confusion, the only difference in a cake ball and a cake pop is that a pop is on a stick. I should also note that I make my balls/pops the original way, I don’t use the Babycakes appliances that are available now.
To start with, you need some leftover baked cake and prepared icing. If you want to use my cake and icing recipes you can find a printable version of them here. Make sure the cake is baked before you start because it won’t work with unbaked batter.
Once the cake is completely cooled, crumble it up and place in a bowl or a plastic Ziploc bag along with some icing. It is hard to really give you an exact amount here because it all depends on the how moist your cake is. My carrot cake is such a moist cake that it really didn’t even need the icing but I still added some because I like the additional flavor it gives. I think I read somewhere that for most cakes you will need about a ½ cup of icing per 9”x13” cake. You want enough icing that the cake will stick together but not so much that it gets too soft to hold together in a ball shape.
Mix the cake and icing together (or smash it in the bag) until it is thoroughly combined.
Next you are going to roll the mixture into balls and place them on a waxed paper lined baking sheet. The easiest way to keep them all the same size is to use a scoop like the one I have in the picture. Scoop them out then use your hands to roll them into perfect balls.
Now you are going to add the lollipop sticks . You can use full sized sticks or, if you want them smaller like I did, you can use sturdy wire cutters to cut them in half. I used 6 inch sticks so my final sticks were each 3 inches long.
Dip the ends of the sticks into some melted chocolate (I used candy melts but I will be referring to it as chocolate) and insert them into the balls. Place the whole sheet in the refrigerator or freezer until they are very firm. I left mine in the freezer for about 2 hours.
Now here is where things started to go wrong for me.
I melted the candy melts in my melting pot and poured some of the melted chocolate into a small paper cup. I like to use small cups for dipping small things because you have much less wasted chocolate that way.
I took the pops out of the freezer and immediately started dipping them in the chocolate. This is what they looked like.
This was the worse my pops have ever looked! I was so frustrated and about to give up but then decided that I owed it to my readers to keep going and try to find a solution. I did some research online and, boy, am I glad I did because I came across this fabulous troubleshooting guide on Crickpop.com. I have had the majority of the listed problems happen to me at one time or another so I was so excited to finally understand why and find some solutions.
I immediately realized that my pops were way too cold, since they had just come out of the freezer, and that my chocolate was way too hot (almost 30 degrees too hot!) I allowed the pops to set out for a while and warm up while I added some more chocolate disks to my melted chocolate and forced the temperature to cool, as per the recommendation.
Then I dipped another pop….
And low and behold, look what happened….
Beautiful cake pops!
I also found that dipping the pops a second time, after they completely set up from the first dip, creates an even smoother, rounder pop. I was even able to salvage my first two ugly pops by dipping them a second time.
Once you have dipped all the pops you can stick them in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes, if needed, to make sure they set completely.
Now it’s time to decorate them. There are several ways to add carrots to the pops. I used some modeling chocolate and rolled out little pieces between my fingers then used a toothpick to form indentions in them. I then pressed some green modeling chocolate through a clay gun (you could also use a garlic press) to form the tops. I used a toothpick to make a hole in the carrot, added a dab of piping gel in it and inserted the tops into the hole. You could use this same technique with marzipan or fondant. If you don’t want that much additional dimension on the pop you could also use some orange and green colored melted chocolate and pipe out carrots on them.
To add the nuts, you will need a clean paint brush (only used for food), some piping gel or corn syrup, and some chopped pecans. I found these pecan cookie pieces at Walmart and really liked them because they are already chopped and all the pieces are the same size, which happens to be a perfect size for cake pops.
Use the brush to “paint” on some piping gel, or corn syrup, around the bottom sides of the pop. Don’t add it underneath the pop or it won’t set down evenly.
Roll the pop in the chopped pecans.
That’s all there is to it.
And here is what it looks like once it is bitten into. It is kind of like a little truffle.
For my company, I lined them up like a row of soldiers, on a serving platter.
That’s an army I would quickly surrender to.
I thought the cake pops represented the cupcakes quite well. What do you think?
Until next time, God bless and Sweet Dreams.