My cake pop journey: lessons in making cake pops
I’ve always wanted to make cake pops. Aside from being cute, making cake pops is the best way to utilize cake scraps and leftover cakes. However, I’ve been baking and decorating cakes for 4 years now, but I’ve just started out making cake pops. Why? Because it took me this long to finally succeed in the process of making it.
When I first tried cake pops about three years ago, I had extreme difficulty in melting the chocolate. I’ve wasted several bars of chocolates already, but I still wasn’t successful. When I finally figured out what I was doing wrong and I finally got to melt the chocolates, I found that the chocolate cracked after I dipped the cake ball into it. Then sometimes, the chocolate would harden too fast, and sometimes the chocolate would just drip, drip, and drip off the stick! After about several pathetic tries, I gave up on cake pops. No, I didn’t want anything to do with it. They aren’t just my thing.
So I moved on with my baking and cake decorating life without ever attempting to make cake pops ever again. When a client would ask for them, I would always refer them to other cake artists in our city. I always told people that “I’m sorry, but I don’t make cake pops. I haven’t mastered them yet.”
However, that excuse has gotten old over time. I no longer want to say it to the growing amount of clients that I had to turn down. I didn’t like the feeling of just giving up on it. It made me feel like loser, and I hated it. Deep inside my heart, I knew that I just had to keep on trying to make those damn cake pops. Plus all those cute cake pop designs that I see on Instagram just made my hands itch.
So, I started to read up on the subject so that I could figure out what I did wrong those first few times. I began some experiments to test my theories on what went wrong and what I should have done. Then I started accepting orders to try my hand at making customized designs. If you are on a cake pop discovery journey, I’d like to share some of the lessons that I have learned.
Finding the right type of chocolate to use
When I first started, I bought those locally made chocolate bars (at around 100 pesos per block way back in 2012) that had no brand stamped on their packaging. They came in different colors, which attracted me and prompted me to buy lots of them. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize at that time that they were really hard, and therefore difficult to melt. I can no longer remember who told me this, but somebody explained to me that these “chocolates” were mostly composed of sugar and had little “real chocolate” content (that is, cocoa butter), which made them harder to melt. So I searched the internet for more appropriate types of chocolate to use. I found that candy melts or candy wafers were specifically made for cake pops, but they weren’t readily available in my area. I found that chocolate compound is easier to melt and more affordable than real chocolate, and it is readily available at our local baking store. So I experimented with Beryl’s compound chocolate, and I realized that it is my new baking best friend.
(For more information on chocolates, go to http://www.chocoley.com/resources/categories-of-chocolate).
Melting the chocolate properly
The number one thing that you should remember when you melt chocolate is this: there should be no moisture in the chocolate! The bowl that will hold your chocolate should be really dry. Also, don’t store your chocolate inside the fridge as it will “sweat” once you take it out. You can use a microwave oven or a double boiler when melting chocolates. If you use a double boiler, make sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water inside the pan. If you use a microwave oven, heat the chocolate at short intervals and stir in between. In using either methods, you can’t let the chocolate get too hot because it might split up or seize. When this happens, you can no longer use the chocolate to cover your cake pops.
Here are two instructional articles that you might want to check out before you get started:
There are many options available in order to have colored coating for your cake pops. First is to use colored candy melts. However, they are not readily available in the country. Another solution would be to use colored chocolate bars. In the past, I’ve tried a local brand (as I’ve mentioned above), but I didn’t have much success with melting it. Luckily these days, colored and flavored Elmer’s chocolate bars are available in the Philippines. I’ve already tried using Elmer’s chocolate, and so far I haven’t encountered any problems.
Another way to color chocolate is to use oil-based candy colors. I believe that the brands of candy color that are easy to find in the Philippines are Chefmaster and Wilton. Be aware that you cannot directly use the gel colors that you use for your fondant or sugarpaste since water-based colors will destroy your chocolate (remember, there shouldn’t be any moisture in your chocolate). You have to use Americolor Flo-coat, a substance that will turn water to oil and make it suitable for coloring with Americolor gel paste.
You may also want to use powdered food coloring or petal dust/luster dust to color chocolate.
Here are more tips on how to color chocolate: http://www.chocoley.com/resources/how-to-color-chocolate
Avoiding cracks in your cake pops
Cracking is one of the most common problems when making cake pops. So why do some of your cake pops develop cracks? I’ve been wondering too, so I did some research. According to what I’ve read, temperature is key. The cake can’t be too cold when you dip it in your chocolate. If the cake is too cold, it will help the chocolate harden faster; however, as the cake stays out of the refrigerator longer, it becomes warmer. As the cake becomes warmer, it slowly expands inside the hardened chocolate shell, which causes the crack. For a more comprehensive explanation, be sure to read this blog post by Honeycomb Events & Designs.
Alternative to covering cake pops with chocolate
Chocolate is tricky to work with, and so I looked for other ways to make not-so-complicated cake pops. I’ve seen buttercream used to make flower cake pops, and I thought to myself, “Yeah why not?” Anyway, my buttercream is pretty stable.
I decided to place the cupcakes upside down so as to prevent any disaster just in case my buttercream would melt. I brought these cake pops to my friend’s daughter’s birthday party held in an outdoor pool. My cake pops survived! Not a single one melted. Maybe next time, I’ll try it on cake pops that are standing up.
For this Valentines Day, I’m going to try to make floral cake pops using modeling chocolate. I’m also going to see if I can possibly use royal icing for it. I wonder how it would taste like. I’ll surely post an update once I get to do it.
I am still a novice when it comes to cake pops. I still have a lot of experiment and research to do. Do you have any suggestions or questions? Let me know!