½cupcocoa powder, unsweetened natural or dutch-process
2 to 3tspheavy cream or milk
½tsppure vanilla extract
for the chocolate coating
5cupschocolate, dark or semi-sweet, preferably tempered, see Recipe Notes
decorations, cocoa nibs, sprinkles, etc
Make the cake: It's best to bake and cool the cake the day before you want to make the pops. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the hot water, and whisk again until everything is well combined, making sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer the pans to a wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely.
Make the frosting: Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed to really help get the butter well creamed.
With the mixer running on low, add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of heavy cream or milk, and vanilla extract. Increase the speed to high and beat for 3 minutes until the frosting comes together. Add another teaspoon of cream or milk if the frosting looks a little too thick.
Assemble the cake balls: Crumble the cooled cake into the mixture bowl with the frosting, making sure there are no large cake lumps. Turn the mixer to low and mix the frosting and cake crumbles together until everything is combined.
Chill the balls for 2 hours or freeze for 1 hour. Transfer the cake balls to a plate and keep in the refrigerator until you're ready to dip in the chocolate. You'll need the sheet pan for the dipped cake pops.
Coat the cake balls: Melt the chocolate or coating in a microwave-safe bowl or in the top of a double boiler. If you're using pure chocolate, temper the chocolate for best results. If you're using candy coating, let it cool down for a few minutes before you begin dipping (if it's too hot when you dip, the coating will crack).
Remove 2 to 3 cake balls from the refrigerator at a time, keeping the rest cold. One at a time, dip the cake ball in the chocolate using a dipping tool to remove it from the bowl. Gently tap the ball on the side of the bowl to allow excess chocolate to drip off.
Transfer the cake pop to the baking pan, turning it upside down and gently swirling the cake pop off the dipping tool. Periodically clean the dipping tools so the cake balls release easily.
Repeat the dipping process with the remaining cake balls, only working with 2 to 3 at a time. The cake balls must be very cold when dipping. The candy coating will set within an hour, and chocolate sooner than that.
Store the cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For the cake, you can use also use a 9-inch square cake pan or 9-inch round springform pan if that's what you have on hand.You can use candy coating, candy melts, almond bark, or pure chocolate for dipping. If you're using almond bark or pure chocolate, chop it up before melting.It's best to temper pure chocolate for the coating to get that nice "snap". For a quicker process, you can melt it down with ½ teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out so it's easier to use as a coating. Use dark, semisweet, milk, or white chocolate to coat the cake balls.Make ahead tips:
Make the cake 1 day ahead of time. Cover and keep at room temperature.
You can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 6 weeks. Allow them to thaw in the refrigerator then continue with dipping them.
You can also freeze the finished cake pops for up to 6 weeks once the coating has fully set. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
For making cake pops on a stick:
Use a 2-cup measuring cup to hold the melted chocolate. It's best for dipping with a popsicle stick.
Dip a lollipop stick about ½-inch into the coating, then insert into the center or the cake ball. Only push it about ½ to ¾ through the cake ball.
Dip the cake ball into the coating until it is completely covered. Make sure the coating covers the base of the cake ball where it meets the lollipop stick. Very gently tap the stick against the edge of the measuring cup to allow excess coating to drop off. Decorate the top with sprinkles.
The best way to allow the coating to dry and set (without ruining the perfectly round cake pop) is to place them right side up in a large styrofoam block or even a box. Sally used a box poked with super tiny holes. Easy and cheap.