I know I said I wasn’t going to ever go back to the “dip, tap off excess candy melt and stick in styrofoam block” method of making cake balls…yep, said that 2 days ago, lol. Well, I couldn’t resist giving this a try!
What most folks don’t know is that Spencer’s Tank Cake for his Army-themed 4th birthday party was made with strawberry cake. There was a lot of excess strawberry cake leftover after Rhonda and I shaped out the tank. The hubby and kids devoured it. Spencer blew out the candle on his Tank Cake but was having too much fun at his party to slow down enough to eat any, lol! It’s been a long while since I had made a strawberry cake mix and I was pleasantly surprised by how yummy and moist it was. Then the wheels started turning…hmmmm, this would be awesome in a chocolate cake pop…Eureka! Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake Pops were born!
I would love to tell you I make my cakes from scratch but um, no. Some people have mastered making cakes and who am I to mess with perfection? I am specifically talking about the dough boy himself over there at Pillsbury, and Mr. Hines, you know Duncan Hines, lol.
You need very few things to make these yummy treats:
Strawberry Cake Mix & all ingredients to make the cake per package directions (usually just water, eggs & oil – I used a Pillsbury Cake Mix)
Little more than 1/2 a tub of cream cheese frosting (I used Duncan Hines, it was on sale this week, lol)
2 bags of Wilton light cocoa candy melts
at most 70 lollipop sticks
1 Squeeze bottle filled with melted chocolate (you could use light cocoa, white or green colored candy melts)
Green sugar crystals
Red ribbon (optional)
Bake the strawberry cake in a 9×13″ pan following the package directions. Allow to cool completely.
Some folks will tell you to break up your cake into a large bowl. I personally don’t see the point in messing up another bowl to clean. I instead, crumble the cake in the pan it was baked in. Dollop on top of the crumbles a little over half of the tub of icing.
With gloved hands (this tends to get messy), smash the icing and cake over and over until you have an ooey, gooey ball of cake.
To ensure my cake pops are close to uniform in size, I use a one-inch cookie scoop to make balls of cake. I typically can get between 52-60 cake balls from a box of cake mix. I find the chocolate cake mixes typically make about 4 less than white or yellow cake mixes. Turns out this holds true for the strawberry cake mix, I had slightly less than normal amounts of cake balls. So just expect to make 50 cake balls out of one box and you will probably be happy every time you make them because there will be a few “extra”.
With your still gloved hand, take the scooped cake ball and roll it tightly into a ball. On one side of the ball, I rolled it a little tighter to get a coned shape effect. Gently shape the cone into a strawberry shape. When I get a package of strawberries, they are always a mix of big ones, slightly smaller ones and even way small ones.
No two strawberries are alike and neither were the cake balls I rolled out to look like strawberries. If you ask me, that was part of the charm of it.
Once all the cake balls are rolled out, place the tray in the fridge to help firm up the strawberry shapes. This usually takes only 10-15 minutes. While waiting, I get my candy melts melted down into a smooth, yummy puddle. I love, love, love my Wilton Candy Melter. It has 3 settings: Melt, Warm and Off. Once the candy is melted, you can switch the setting to Warm and it will keep the mini crockpot at the exact temperature needed to keep the candy melt smooth without burning it.
If my candy melt is thick, I combat this with adding a dollop of shortening. Some folks will tell you to add vegetable oil a teaspoon or less at a time. Well, I find that the oil never really blends with the candy melt and can just sit on top of the chocolate once it sets. Kinda yucky if you ask me. At least with shortening, it well become more of a solid and blends very nicely with the candy melts. If using the Wilton Candy Melter, be sure to turn the dial to Warm after you candy melts are all melty. If you leave it on high, you can actually burn the chocolate and it will seize up. Tastes downright yucky when that happens.
Once the candy melts are all smooth, remove the strawberry-shaped cake balls from the fridge. Dip the lollipop sticks about a fourth inch into the chocolate. Insert the lollipop stick into the bottom of the strawberry-shaped cake ball. When you place a cake pop on a cookie sheet, the weight of the cake ball will create a flattened area. This is where you want to insert the lollipop stick. When making rounded cake pops this is important. Inserting the stick on that flat surface ensures the top of the cake pop remains rounded. Of course, if making the cake pops upside down, you will insert the lollipop stick into the rounded top of the cake ball (see HERE).
Allow the candy melt on the lollipop sticks to set (harden).
While waiting for the lollipop sticks to harden, add the second bag of candy melts directly into the melter.
I try to create a deep well of chocolate bliss so that I am able to dip straight down and cover the cake ball all the way to the lollipop stick all in one dip.
Allow the excess chocolate to drizzle and drip off the cake pop for a few seconds. I often will gently swirl the cake pop in a circular motion to get the excess candy melt off. Some folks tell you to gently tap the side of the container to knock off the excess candy melt while also rolling the lollipop stick. Yada, yada, yada…too long and I always end with Cake Pop Down syndrome right into my puddle of chocolate because I knocked the cake ball right off the dang lollipop stick. If you rolled tight enough balls and ensured your chocolate is thinned out enough, they don’t fall off your lollipop stick. Just gently swirl the cake pop directly upside down to get the excess candy melt off.
Once all that will drip off has dripped off, place the lollipop stick upright into the styrofoam block. I should add that you should prepare the styrofoam block before even baking your cake. Leave the plastic on the styrofoam block, this helps to make them reusable for several more cake pop adventures. When candy melt drips down, you can just wipe it off the plastic. Take a lollipop stick and puncture the styrofoam to create “pre-drilled holes” for the cake pops to sit in. Make sure your puncture marks are about 1.25″ apart. This ensures your 1″ cake pops don’t touch each other while setting up and keeping it this distance allows you get as many cake pops on one block of sytrofoam as possible.
Allow the candy melt to completely harden before handling. It probably would have made sense to use the light cocoa candy melts to make the leaves. That way if the green sugar crystals didn’t fully cover the melted chocolate, it wouldn’t be so obvious as the melted chocolate would be the same color as the cake pop itself. Make sense? Probably not, lol. Just nod your head and agree with me. Of course, I am not one to waste. All of my squeeze bottles already had candy melts in them. I had used them in recent baking. When there is leftover in my squeeze bottle, I just let it harden and cover the tip. When I need it again, I just put the squeeze bottle in the microwave and melt down the candy melt. I will do this only a couple of times in a two week period and then I just end up heating up the candy melt and tossing it out for fresh candy melts. Those squeeze bottles are a God-sent. Easy to fill, easy to use and easy to clean. You wouldn’t think so but it really is. To fill, put in the hardened candy melt chips right into the bottle. They fit beautifully into the opening. I will fill it to the brim and microwave it for one minute on high. I give the bottle a couple good squeezes to mix it up and heat a little longer (in 15 second increments) until the candy is melted into a smooth puddle. Just know that although you filled your squeeze bottle to the brim with hard candy melt chips, that the volume when melted will result in a squeeze bottle half full. When using the squeeze bottle, the candy melt does begin to harden up after several minutes. I just pop it in the microwave for 15-25 seconds to make it melty smooth again. When cleaning out the squeeze bottle, I heat up the candy melt again in the microwave. I squeeze it out into something in the trash, either a discarded can or cardboard box. Within minutes it is completely hardened. Then I take my tongs and hold the squeeze bottle. I blast it with super hot water using my kitchen sprayer. You need the tongs because the plastic is thin on the squeeze bottle and you can feel that super hot water being sprayed inside of it. It only takes seconds to blast out all the melted candy from the bottle and the lid. I put a drop of dish soap in and blast that soap around with the hot water. Rinse several times and tadah, clean and ready squeeze bottle. Just know that water and candy melts don’t mix well. Water can make the candy seize and harden in an ugly way. So if using squeeze bottles that were recently cleaned, make sure they are completely dry before trying to melt candy in them.
With the melted candy in the squeeze bottle (I used white), squeeze out a thin leaf design around the lollipop stick.
Quickly sprinkle with green sugar crystrals. The sugar crystals only stick to the melted candy. Place the chocolate strawberry cake pop back into the styrofoam block until the green leaves are hardened and set.
Because I am anal retentive, I also tied red ribbons around the lollipop stick because, well…it looked purdy!
Everyone who has tried my Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake Pops has L-O-V-E-D them! This includes our cutie patootie, Spencer! Need more cake pop ideas? Check out my Graduation Cake Pops, Snowman Cake Pops, Nothing But Net Basketball Cake Pops, Camo Cake Pops and Baseball Cake Pops.