Even though making cake pops from scratch from start to finish is a time-consuming, messy, and sometimes frustrating, process, my first afternoon of official cake pop making and decorating was one of the most fun and creative experiences I’ve ever had. After taking part in yesterday’s Christmas cake pops class at our Le Dolci studio, I was bouncing off the walls with excitement and a newfound creative vigor toward sweets and design and decorating. I knew it would be fun, but I had no idea I would have THIS much fun. Those cake pops at the bottom left on the photo right below are mine! I was completely taken aback in the best way possible and I’m happy that my curiousity and eagerness to learn got the best of me because it gave me a memorable experience to take away.
Although I love cake, I’ll be honest, I’ve been resisting the cake pop movement. I’m a cupcake and cookies girl through and through and cake pops didn’t whip my cream the way those two did. I was extremely defensive and resentful over any statement proclaiming that cupcakes were out and cake pops were in (as if!). I hated any type of discussion that involved the contrived perception of food as trendy and even though I still do, I’ve been able to put aside and ignore those superficial ideas and embrace cake pops for what they really are: baking artistry. I started flipping through beautiful cake pop books and fall asleeping at night with ideas for cake pop colour schemes and cake flavours dancing in my head. Nothing could replace or erase the love of cupcakes and cookies, but cake pops were making its entrance into my realm of creativity and I was happy to let it share the same space as my beloved cupcakes and cookies.
Yesterday’s Christmas cake pops class in the studio was fun, festive, and best of all, warm and welcoming. We had such a great group of ladies attending the class and I felt like we were all learning and experimenting at the same time. The class began with our cake pop teacher, Lisa, (not to be confused with Le Dolci’s icing sugar queen bee, Lisa!) showing all of us the cake crumbling and frosting integration technique. You bake a cake in whatever cake flavour you want, let it cool, crumble the cake in a mixing bowl with your hands until its crumby and fluffy with no major lumps, add and mix tablespoons of frosting into the crumbled cake one tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency (which will depend on how much cake you’re working with), and once you can grab handfuls of cake mixture without it falling it apart, you can start rolling the cake mixture into balls.
After rolling all your cake into balls, poke holes into the bottoms of the balls using cake pop lollipop sticks and freeze them in an airtight container overnight. Cake balls will keep in the freezer for quite some time so you can always do the cake rolling in advance if you know you’re planning a party or something of the sort. Take them out to defrost and your cake balls are ready for dipping, coating, and decorating!
I’ve done the cake crumbling, frosting mixing, and ball rolling before, but it was still great to see the cake in action again. It doesn’t matter what pan you use to bake your cake in – circle, square, rectangle – you’ll end up crumbling the cake anyway. And you can actually use boxed cake mix too if you want! We used vanilla buttercream frosting to use in our cake ball mixture but depending on what flavour combinations you want to use, the sky’s the limit on frosting flavours too.
The coating comes next. The more common way to coat cake balls is to melt chocolate candy melts or wafers over a steam bath or broiler. You would allow a small pot with some water in it to come to a boil, let it continuing simmering, and then place the bowl of candy melts on top. As it’s being heated, you would then consistently stir to make sure it doesn’t stick and to make the mixture smooth. It’s better to let it run a little thinner at first because when the melted candy melts start to cool and harden after it’s been off the heat for awhile, it’ll be harder to dip the cake pops in (can you say thick, gummy mess?) and the melted candy melts won’t coat as evenly. Granted, you don’t want a watery consistency, but the candy melts should be able to drip and drizzle off a fork easily.
I’ve seen these candy melts at Bulk Barn in a rainbow of colours and how much you need will depend on how many cake balls you need to coat, but I think buying a little more than you think you need is always a safe way to go because you’re bound to make mistakes! One thing I learned during the cake pops class was how finicky cake pops and cake balls are! They’re delicious, yes, but you need a great deal of concentration and focus to get it right because otherwise the candy melts will burn or get goopy if they’re overheated, the cake balls can crack if the lollipop stick is pushed too far into the cake, the cake balls can also go straight through the lollipop stick if pushed too far, and then of course, the cake balls can always fall off the stick and into the puddle of melted chocolate.
Everyone has a different dipping and coating technique, but the way we did it in class yesterday was to gently dip the end of our lollipop stick into the melted candy melt mixture and sticking the dipped end into the premade cake ball hole. Then, at about a 45 degree angle, we dunked our cake pop into the candy melt mixture and twisted it until the ball was coated. To coat the bottom, we lifted the cake pop out of the mixture and let the excess drip down. When the excess reached the bottom, I personally tilted the cake pop at a 90 degree angle and started twisting it so the excess would then drip down and coat the bottoms. We also tapped our wrists to get the excess to drip down. IT TAKES PRACTICE.
Then you go you crazy and decorate! The photos up top are just some of the beautiful cake pops that some of the other girls made! Once the cake pop is coated, it hardens pretty quickly so you need to work pretty fast to make sure your candies, sprinkles, and confections stick to the cake pops. I went happy-go-lucky with my sprinkles and chocolate drizzles and had so much fun making Christmas themed cake pops! Everyone was experimenting with Christmas trees, Santa hats, snowmen, reindeer, and lots of other Christmas inspired cutesies. I left the studio thinking, “I want to make these cake pops every day”. I fully embraced the cake pop experience and it was so worth it.
Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West. The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events. For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.