Valentine Cake Pops and My Crazy Journey Learning How to Make Them

 
This is Part II of three posts on Valentine's Day projects. It was just Christmas a minute ago and it's time to start thinking about the next holiday, Valentine's Day. Well, it's not really a holiday, but the stores seem to think it is. I noticed the day after Christmas, the isles at Walmart had already put out all the Valentine paraphernalia. They only have a short time to sell all of the Valentine stuff, so it stands to reason to get it on the shelves as soon as possible.

If you plan on making cake pops or bonbons for Valentine's, please read to the end of this post before you start your project. I was the one that made all the mistakes so that others could make perfect cake pops or bonbons. It was definitely an adventure, but the end results were worth it.

When a holiday is coming up you have to give your readers time to decide if they want to make what I'm posting about. Valentine's Day is a fun one. Like Christmas it is so colorful with the reds, pinks and chocolate colors. You definitely have to add the nonpareils (hearts and sprinkles) to make them special. So cake pops or bonbons are a great way to show off your Valentine cake pop or bonbon expertise. 

My Cake Pop Adventure Begins...
When I first started making cake pops, I thought there's nothing to this. So I jumped right in, like I pretty much do with everything. You would think I would learn. But nope, I always learn the hard way. Well...I was wrong about making cake pops too. My first try was with a cake pop maker (BabyCakes). It's kind of like a waffle iron only you use cake batter instead of waffle batter. At first I thought they turned out perfectly...that is until I tried putting the pop sticks into them. I had froze the cake pops first so the sticks would go in easily. Well, the cake balls had too much air in them like a cake would. I tried dipping the cake pops into the melted candy mixture and literally everyone of them fell off the stick. So much for the "BabyCakes" method.
My second try wasn't much better. You bake a cake and crumble it up and then add frosting to the crumbs and form the mixture into cake balls. Once all the cake mixture is gone, you place in the freezer to firm the cake balls up. So far, so good, right? Well, they worked better until I put the balls into the candy melt pot that I had purchased. Well the difference in temperature between the cake balls and the candy melt mixture was too extreme. The candy melts seized and got very thick. The ones that worked had cracks in them. Second try was also a disaster. At this point I was ready to hang it up. So far I had purchased two tools that didn't work for me and spent about $50. YIKES!
Thank Goodness For The Internet And YouTube...
At this point you would think okay, I'm done! But, because I am a little ADHD, I thought I'm just not going to give up until I can make these little buggers correctly. I needed some knowledge on how to make cake pops and I had to quit experimenting with no knowledge. Thank goodness for the internet and youtube. 

I read everything I could on making cake balls and watched a lot of videos on both making the cake balls and dipping them. After watching and reading a lot, I finally found two videos that changed the game entirely. 
First, the video below shows exactly how to make the cake pop mixture. Basically it was the same as what I had done in my second try except when baking the cake, you don't add any fat (oil or butter). You bake the cake without it. This makes the mixture less oily. You have better control on the crumbs without the oil or butter in the mixture. You then crumble the cake and add about 1/4-1/3 cup of frosting. (I used ready made frosting and froze the rest for making more cake pops at a later date.  I think this video is by far the best one out there and my cake balls turned out beautiful.

   
Candy Melts...
There are many companies now making candy melts. I use all of them. I do not however mix two different brands together. Their colors and textures might conflict with each other. So if I'm using one brand, I stick to that one brand for the project I'm working on. I used Wilton's Candy Melts for this project.
OH NO! The Candy Melts Seized Again...
Now I needed to tackle the issues with the candy melts seizing. The video below is the best I found with the most information on dipping cake pops. There's nothing worse than melting a bunch of chocolate and then by accident you drop just a speck of water into the mixture...and I mean just a speck...it seizes instantly! You can still use the chocolate, but not for dipping. You need to start all over again.

Here is the video on dipping cake pops. I watched a lot of videos and this one by far is the best!
    

Paramount Crystals
There's just one more thing you need to know about melting candy melts. White chocolate and regular chocolate will melt to a nice liquid consistency for dipping. If you are using any other color, they tend to stay a little thicker which makes it harder to dip the cake pops. You can remedy this issue by adding "paramount crystals". You can purchase them at any craft store, Wilton's online, the internet or amazon. Wilton also has a product called EZ Melt. I have never used it so I can't comment on how it works. The paramount crystals thin the candy melt without adding any fat. That was another mistake I made. I had read that you can add a little oil to the candy melts and it will thin the mixture. NOPE! Don't do it...it doesn't work.

This is what I used. But there's lots of different manufacturers of paramount crystals and I would think that all of them work well.
A Few More Instructions for Cake Pops...
After you have formed your cake balls or bonbons, you can either place them in the freezer or in the refrigerator. Bring them out about 15-20 minutes before you plan on dipping them. This gives them time to warm up a bit. They will be a little wet when taking out of the refrigerator of freezer. Remember what I said about water and chocolate. Each ball needs to be wiped down before you start dipping them. We don't want that chocolate to seize up or get too thick. Also, dip the cake ball stick in the candy melt and then insert the stick into the cake ball. This acts as adhesive and makes it a whole lot easier to dip the whole thing.  

Use The Right Tools...
I also got rid of the electric candy melting pot that I had purchased. I now use silicone melting pots (non-electric), also from Wilton that work great. I do all my melting in a microwave.
I like these because they are also silicone and pinchable. I had been using cereal bowls to melt the candy melts after I quit using the electric candy melt pot. But, once you are done with the melted candy in the cereal bowls, it gets hard and if you haven't scrapped out the remaining melted candies into a storage containers right away, you will waste a lot of the chocolate. So I purchased these at Michael's. Very inexpensive. I paid $6.99 for them. They come two to a pack. Well worth the investment. Once you get the hang of making cake pops and bonbons, you'll make them a lot.
We've tackled the cake pop cake mixture and melting the candy melts for dipping. Now it's time to talk about tools. We've talked about the silicone melting pots. They are the best!
For the bonbons you will need a dipping tools. They can also be purchased at any craft store that carries cake decorating products. You can also purchase them online. The prices vary on them. So check out the internet for the best value.

I basically only use one tool for bonbons. It's a curlyQ that works great. The other tools I don't use very often. The prices vary on these tools also . 
You will need scoops for both the bonbons and the cake pops. I use a 1" for bonbons and a 1 1/2" for the cake pops. You can purchase these at most big box stores or anywhere kitchen tools are sold.
When scooping for bonbons or cake pops, just fill and level off the mixture. Place the mixture in your hand and start rolling until you have a nice round ball. I also purchased a cake ball maker from Wilton. I used it once. It was too hard on my hands to compress the mixture in the form. The scoops work the best for me. They always turn out uniform if you follow the leveling process.
I made 18 bonbons and 14 cake balls with one cake mix. Once you've made one batch you will get a better idea of how many bonbons or cake balls you will get out of one cake mix.
Oh Those Dang Cracks...
Make sure your cake balls or bonbons are pretty uniform and they don't have any cracks in them. If you do have cracks in them before you dip them, take a toothpick and fill in the crack with some of the melted candy melt mixture before you completely dip the ball.
If after you have dipped the cake pop and it has dried, and you see some cracks, just fill in with a toothpick and some candy melt. No one will ever see the crack.
You will need cake pop sticks for your cake pops. I purchase mine at Walmart. They have both paper and plastic sticks. I personally like the plastic sticks the best. I purchase the 6" sticks. It makes it easier to stand them up if you have a longer stick.
Last but not least...you will need some kind of form to put the cake pops in while they dry. I just used a piece of styrofoam. I put a little border on it so I can use it if I'm bringing them to a party.
You will also need small bonbon liners (like small cupcake liners). These can be found at Walmart, craft stores or online. I used some Valentine ones that I purchased at Walmart. I believe they were about $2.

So your total investment in your tools, is pretty minimal. One cake mix will make about 24-30 cake pops and about 32-36 bonbons. So for the cost of one cake mix and your time, you can give really fun cake pop favors for just about any event or holiday. My grandchildren and the adults love them.

One Last Thought...
It took me a few disasters, but once I got the knack of it, it's pretty easy. I'll leave the decorating to your imagination if you plan on making any cake pops or bonbons. I learned a lot through this process. I went through the disasters to make it easier for others to create some fun treats for their families and friends. I'm sure they will have big smiles on their faces when they are brought out.

A Valentine's Dessert
Last week I made a Chocolate Raspberry Tart. It's an easy dessert that would be great for Valentine's Day also. Just click on the picture below and you will be redirected to that post. You have to trust me on this one...it's DELICIOUS!
A Preview of Another Valentine Post...
I will also be posting a cute idea for Valentine candy wrappers in my January 31, 2023 post. I thought if I put it in this post it would make it too long. So check back on the 31st for that post. I post every Tuesday. These were a lot of fun making and I think you will love them!






Always remember..."Life's short, eat dessert first!"...words to live by!