Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Chocolate Cake Pops

Chocolate cake pops from scratch! Homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This time last year I introduced you to Sally’s Baking Challenge. Can you believe it? A whole year? That means 12 challenge recipes including the very first one, which also landed a spot on the 2017 most popular recipe list: chocolate lava cakes!! (Here are the top 10 recipes of 2017 if you missed that.)

Chocolate HAD to be included in February’s Baking Challenge again. I decided on chocolate cake pops because many of you request them, especially after I shared my favorite vanilla version. Your wish is my command.

What I love most, however, is that you have creative control. You can decorate these cake pops in your own unique way, which makes the challenge 100x more fun.

 

Chocolate cake pops from scratch! Homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I have plenty of step-by-step photos and lots of tips/tricks. I want you to understand every instruction so you can follow along and know what the heck you’re doing. The process isn’t difficult– you’re literally just baking a chocolate cake and making frosting then mixing them together. Things just get a little particular when it comes to rolling, lollipop-sticking, and dunking/dipping. If you can make bread bowls, you can totally handle cake pops! (They’re more fun to eat too… sprinkles!)

By the way, if you’ve ever eaten store-bought cake pops– these taste totally different. They’re from scratch. No cake mix. No canned frosting. No preservatives or other crap-o-la. You can actually TASTE the homemade. ♥

CAKE POPPING PROCESS

  1. Make single layer chocolate cake
  2. Make just enough homemade chocolate frosting
  3. Crumble the cake
  4. Mix the two together
  5. Form into cake balls
  6. Dip the cake balls in chocolate

Quick tip: Whenever I make cake pops from scratch, I always begin the night before. I make the cake, cover it, and let it sit out at room temperature overnight. I also prepare the frosting, cover, and refrigerate. This way everything’s ready to go.

Ok let’s do this thing!

Chocolate cake pops from scratch! Homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SINGLE LAYER CHOCOLATE CAKE

It might seem like the switch from vanilla cake pops to chocolate cake pops is easy. Replace some flour with cocoa powder, right? And vanilla frosting with chocolate frosting? I wish! Chocolate is a complicated soul and requires a little finesse. I baked a couple single layer chocolate cakes before stopping at this one. The first few began with creamed butter + sugar. My favorite chocolate cakes and cupcakes typically rely on oil for the fat because (1) HELLO MOISTURE and (2) the flavor of butter really isn’t necessary because chocolate overpowers it anyway. My initial thought with cake pops, however, was that I needed a slightly drier cake to get the best texture for cake pops (because it will be mixed with frosting). Well this was just a huge mess from the start because dry cake is gross.

That being said, you’ll need oil for the cake. And a few other basics like cocoa powder, sugar, flour, and eggs. Hot water is also a must. Remember why? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve. When I make chocolate cake, I usually reach for hot coffee (instead of hot water) because coffee accentuates the chocolate favor– but that’s not as crucial here. Because we’re just crumbling the cake and mixing with chocolate frosting!

Homemade chocolate cake for chocolate cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

By the way, you can totally enjoy this chocolate cake on its own. If you ever need a single layer chocolate cake, use this guy. It’s so good. Like, italicize and bold good. Deep and dark chocolate flavor. Super moist. Super rich. Top with chocolate buttercream, peanut butter frosting, or red wine chocolate ganache. (!!!) I use my 9-inch springform pan, but the batter can fit into a regular 9-inch pan too– round or square, doesn’t matter.

What was a little more difficult than testing the perfect single layer chocolate cake was figuring out how much frosting I needed. Too much frosting and the cake pops are wet and greasy. Too little frosting and you won’t have enough to bind the cake crumbs. I have the perfect amount of frosting you’ll need. It’s not much because the chocolate cake is already so moist.

Chocolate frosting for chocolate cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Crumble the cake into the bowl of frosting and yes, you’ll feel very weird doing this. You just made this beautiful chocolate cake and will now break it up into a bowl of frosting. Because that’s what cake pops are– cake crumbs and frosting. Weird.

Crumble up and use your mixer to combine the frosting + crumbs:

How to make chocolate cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make chocolate cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Once the two are mixed together, it’s time to roll the mixture into balls. This part is EASY. I found the chocolate cake pops much easier to roll into balls than my vanilla version. This mixture is just sooo smooth! Your hands will get a little sticky, but just roll with it. Hahahaha get it? get it?

DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE

Smaller wins. If you roll the cake pops too large, they’ll wobble off the lollipop stick. They’re too heavy. You need 1 Tablespoon of the cake pop mixture per ball. No more, no less. You’ll end up with 40 of them. Quite a lot– but these babies freeze beautifully! And you can gift them to anyone and everyone. Who doesn’t love a homemade cake pop? Seriously WHO.

How to make chocolate cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These cake balls need to chill in the refrigerator before we pop ’em with a lollipop stick. Why? They’re much too delicate right now; they’ll completely fall apart. Which reminds me… you do NOT have to make these as pops. You can make them truffle style by simply rolling them up and coating in chocolate. Either way you enjoy them, chill the cake balls before coating. I just place them on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate them for a couple hours.

Speaking of chocolate, you can dunk the cake balls into pure chocolate, which is what I prefer for best taste, but that’s pretty expensive. You need a good amount for all 40 cake pops! You can use candy melts/candy coating instead. I give both options in the recipe below along with notes for each choice.

How to make chocolate cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

3 EASY TRICKS

  1. To ensure the cake ball stays secure on the lollipop stick, dip it slightly into the coating first. Then stick in the center of the cake ball. See photo above.
  2. 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup is the perfect depth for dipping the cake pops. If I’m using pure chocolate, like I did in these photos, I melt it in a double boiler then spoon a little at a time into the measuring cup. I don’t like dipping right into the whole pot of melted chocolate.
  3. 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. I used a box, as pictured below, for this batch. I just poked super tiny holes into it. Easy and cheap.

Cake pops will be dry within an hour. (This is my vanilla version.)

Homemade cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Contrary to my wordy post (sorry!!!) and 1 million photos, I promise chocolate cake pops are simple. As long as you follow my tips in this post and get started the night before per my suggestion, it’s simple. And if you’re interested, I filmed a Facebook LIVE on my regular cake pops last year. 🙂

Chocolate cake pops from scratch! Homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate February Baking Challenge:

After you make the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or Twitter, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. Or email it to me! (You can also message me your photo on Instagram if your account is private.) By doing so, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway!!

Chocolate Cake Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons (31g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120mll) canola, vegetable, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water

Chocolate Frosting

  • 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coating

  • 32 ounces candy melts or coating (or pure chocolate)*
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch pan (round or square) or 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water, and whisk everything together until combined. Make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients hiding.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  4. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. This isn't a lot of butter and it will get stuck on the sides of the bowl, so you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to really help get it creamed. Add confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons of heavy cream/milk, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until it really comes together. Add another teaspoon of milk/cream if it looks a little too thick.
  5. Crumble the cooled cake into the bowl on top of the frosting. Make sure there are no large lumps. Turn the mixer on low and beat the frosting and cake crumbles together until combined.
  6. Measure 1 scant Tablespoon of moist cake mixture and roll into a ball. Place balls on a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 1 hour.
  7. Melt the coating in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (best for dunking!). Use a microwave or you can use a double boiler and pour some at a time into the liquid measuring cup. Let the coating cool down for a few minutes before you begin dipping. If it's too hot when you dip, the coating will crack.
  8. Coat the cake balls: Remove only 2-3 cake balls from the refrigerator at a time. (Keep the rest cold!) Dip a lollipop stick about 1/2 inch into the coating, then insert into the center or the cake ball. Only push it about halfway - 3/4 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 and place upright into a styrofoam block or box (as explained above). Repeat with remaining cake balls, only working with some out of the refrigerator at a time. The cake balls must be very cold when dipping!
  9. Coating will set within an hour. Store cake pops in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make ahead tip: I always 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 to thaw in the refrigerator then continue with step 7. You can also freeze the finished cake pops for up to 6 weeks once the coating has fully set. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

*You can use candy coating/candy melts, almond bark, or pure semi-sweet chocolate. If using almond bark or pure chocolate, chop it up before melting. Melt it down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out so it's easier to use as a coating. Bittersweet, white chocolate, or milk chocolate work as well. Coarsely chop and melt down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out. Keep warm over a double boiler. You can also temper pure chocolate for the coating. My full tempering tutorial is in Sally's Candy Addiction if you have a copy.

Want to skip the lollipop stick? Go for it. Just dip the cake balls in melted or tempered chocolate to make delicious chocolate cake truffles. Whenever I dip truffles, I always use this spiral dipping tool. Place the truffle in the chocolate and lift it out with the dipping tool. Quickly flip it upside down on a lined baking sheet. You can see exactly how I do this in this video (scroll down for video): dark chocolate chocolate rum truffles. Go to the 1 minute mark. That’s how I dip and neatly release truffles. So easy!

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Chocolate cake pops from scratch! Homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Measuring Cup | Springform Pan | Silpat Baking Mat | Half Sheet Baking Pan | Lollipop Sticks

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Chocolate cake pops from scratch! Homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

124 comments

  1. Here we go, Sally! I’ll be honest. I was a little disappointed that it was cake pops. But once I let it sink in, I’m getting excited about the making them. My kids will love them! And I’ve never made cake pops or even American Buttercream. This will be a real challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it once I get through Chinese New Year baking.

  2. This not within my comfort zone but I like the challenge. Thanks Sally 🙂

  3. I love cake pops! This is such a fun idea for dessert 🙂 These look delicious and perfect for Valentine’s day ♥

  4. When I read “cake popping” I thought it was a typo at first, like popcorn. Baby brain. On second read, I caught the play on words. With 2 kids’ birthdays coming up in a month, I see chocolate and vanilla cake pops on the horizon…

  5. Hi, Sally. Would you recommend/not recommend trying out cake pops with the cake from your Homemade Strawberry Cake recipe? With perhaps a coating of melted white chocolate and fine-blended freeze-dried strawberries? Just curious about your thoughts on this since you’ve spent a good amount of time formulating recipes for vanilla and chocolate cake pops. Thank you!

  6. Omg!!!!!!!!!! They look awfully tastey Sally and tomorrow is my dads bday and I want to surprise him so my sisters suggested making a cake and I said I wanted sth special and I want sth which will be harsh on my teeth since my braces docter appointment is on Sunday and after I put braces I won’t be able to eat properly so my braces don’t brake so… I wanted to make sth good and I searched ur website since I actually tried it once and I made ur favorite Ginger bread cookies and they tasted wonderful though not too good since I forgot to add salt =| so.. Anyways I decided to make cream cheese cookies with nutella glaze and chocolate hazelnut crunch truffles and these cake pops so… I didn’t want to make cake cuz I thought it would be tooooo plain so thank u sooooo much Sally I rlly love this website!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  7. I’m so excited to make this! If I use the Trader rader Joe’s pound plus chocolate, do I sill thin it out with the oil? Thank you!

    • I use Trader Joe’s pound plus chocolate for so many recipes. It is so inexpensive and the dark chocolate is really great.  I don’t hesitate to make recipes that call for melted chocolate. I often purchase a couple of bars, divide them into 2 oz sections…5 little squares equals 2 oz…. and then freeze it. If I am using it for dipping, I chop it into small pieces and add a bit of  shortening. I melt at 30 second intervals at half power. I always hold back a bit of the chocolate and stir  it in to melt once most of the chocolate has been  melted in the microwave. I adjust the amount of shortening as I go for just the right consistency

    • I would still thin it out with a little oil, yes.

  8. These look so delicious, especially for Valentine’s day! I am really looking forward to making this recipe. Thanks…

  9. UGH I have made cake pops so many times and some were successful but others were a fail. It’s always with the coating that I have issues. I basically divorced them. Does that mean I can’t do the giveaway?

    • The giveaway is for anyone who participates. It’s a little pricey, but I always have the best luck with pure chocolate. Trader Joes “pound plus” bar is on the cheaper side though!

  10. Literally drooling over these photos!  And can’t wait to try them!

  11. How lovely that your February challenge coincides with Bakerella’s 10th birthday of creating the cake pop!! I love your site, Sally!! Thanks and God bless!!

  12. Can this recipe be halved? Thanks!

    • Unsure what size pan would be good for the cake if you halved it– or the bake time. But I’m sure you could make it work. Let me know how it goes!

  13. These look so delicious! I’ll definitely be making them this month…perhaps even today! Thanks for sharing another awesome recipe.

  14. Hi! When I saw your post yesterday, i got so excited… can’t wait to makes these tonight! 

    If we’re in a bit more of a time crunch, is there any substitution to letting the cake sit at room temp over night? Eg anything to speed up that process or would sitting for just a few hours do the trick? 

    Thanks so much!!

  15. I feel like I have to have a party now to celebrate these cake pops! So fancy!

  16. Valentine’s Day is a great occasion for these delicious chocolaty cake pops!!!. I’m sure my boys will have fun helping me with this one. As usual with all of your wonderful recipes, I’m excited and can’t wait to try it!

  17. I can’t wait to make these!! Also I need to tell you I laughed much harder at your “just roll with it” comment that I probably should have! 🙂

  18. EEEK! So excited to make these this weekend with my little ones! And we’re going to have to try a vanilla and strawberry variety with your ideas above. They are gonna LOVE THESE! Thanks Sally!

  19. I was all IN on these but then under it is a link to your Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles which…OMG…YUM! 🙂 I need to get some sprinkles…all I have is a red/green mix. Or just go with it and be quirky…. 🙂 Thanks for the very detailed instructions (including the recycled box) – super helpful!!!

  20. I love those cake pops you get from Starbucks, but I always KNOW homemade is so much better. You can’t have Valentine’s Day without chocolate, and this would be such a fun treat to make for Valentine’s Day dessert with kids! BUT I’m still going to make them for myself even though I don’t have any 😉

  21. Hi Sally, Thanks for this recipe…the truffle style will be great for me to send to my daughter for her bday later this month. My questions are about the cocoa powder for the cake…you call for natural cocoa powder on the recipe. I have Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder…will that work? I’m unsure if it’s natural or Dutch process. I also recently bought King Arthur Flour Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa powder…would you use that for a darker chocolate flavor? I know you’ve addressed the difference between natural & Dutch process in your blog…why is natural necessary for the cake? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Tammy! I’m pretty sure that TJs powder is natural and OK to use in the cake recipe. (I’ve used it as natural cocoa powder before and my baked goods have been fine.) Natural, an acid, is necessary to react with the baking soda which enables the cake to properly rise.

  22. Sally,
    These look lovely. I will actually be making cake pop when I got back to my parents for 2 weeks. It’s my mom’s 80th birthday and the woman loves my cake pops! I promise to take pictures of the ones I make. I cannot find the things to make them here and it’s a bit spendy to have them shipped. 
    To everyone else, Sally’s directions are wonderful and I love that she suggests to use two days. Cake pops are fun to make puts a smile on everyone’s face.

  23. Sally-perfect challenge they are not hard if you follow steps an tips!! Hugs

  24. Hi Sally, do you think I could form these into a football shape instead of a ball? I’m looking for a Super Bowl themed dessert!

    • Oh YES! What a fun suggestion! Not sure how sturdy they will be on a lollipop stick, but they will work as football shaped cake truffles for sure.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing! I’m pretty sure I’ll be making either Super Bowl or Olympics themed pops….excited to make them. 🙂

  25. Making these for my kids bake sale next week. Can’t wait!! Thanks Sally, I love your site!!

  26. Can’t wait to try this month’s challenge – I love making your vanilla cake pops, so I can’t wait to try making chocolate ones! 

    Question – do you know approximately  how many cups of crumbled cake this makes? I’m already making a chocolate layer cake today and I’d love to be efficient and use the trimmings for these cake pops. I’m just not sure how much frosting I’d need to add. Thanks Sally!!

    • I don’t– I’m so sorry!

      • No worries Sally!! I figured it was a long shot. 🙂 I’ve made cake pops enough now that I think I know the cake/frosting ratio that I’m looking for, so I’ll play around with the cake trimmings and see what happens. Thanks so much for replying anyway!! 

  27. Cant’t wait to make your cake pops.. i enjoy all your recipes especially your cookies recipes.
    May i ask doh,is this challenge world wide??

  28. Hi Sally, I’m excited to try your cake pops but I have a question before I begin. Whenever I’ve made cake pops in the past I cannot seem to get a nice round even “pop” and they just aren’t pretty. Do you have tips on making such beautiful round pops? Do you actually measure each dollop of cake “dough” before rolling? Thank you!

    • Hi Cyndie! Yes, I use my Tablespoon to measure out each pop. This “dough” is very easy to work with. It’s smooth (assuming you didn’t overtake the cake!). You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

  29. I just ordered some fun, colorful sticks and can’t wait to make these with my girls!

    • So much fun! Happy baking!

      • I made them!!! I’m not easily intimidated in the kitchen but whoa those were hard! AND Delicious! I’ll post my pic soon. One thing I struggled with was my chocolate cracked some on the pops when they were drying and some sprinkle worked better than others so I had a counter full of different colors and variations. 🙂

      • YAY!!! So glad you tried the cake pops.

  30. You saved the day!  I have to make something for an event and this fits the bill perfectly!   If I’m going to double the recipe can I bake in a 10×13 pan or is it better to cook in 2 pans?  Thanks Sally!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *