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!

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

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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

121 comments

  1. How do you get the chocolate so smooth! Mine always come out lumpy

  2. Can we make these with the red wine ganache instead of frosting? 🙂

  3. Yum, yum, yum! Totally making these for my husband for a Valentine’s treat! He loves them and I haven’t made them in years!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  4. I was thinking about doing your Nutella frosting mixed with the cake batter. Do you know how much frosting should be added to the cake to make the pops?

  5. Adorable! But where did you find those cute heart sprinkles?!

  6. How do you put the cake pops into the fridge without that fridge smell? My fridge has that weird smell.

  7. Is your chocolate coating soft or hard? I kept the pops in the fridge to harden over night but it was still soft enough to make indent if you press it. Because I individually wrapped the pops and when I removed the pops of the wrap, the chocolate coating stuck to the wrap and the stick came off the pops.

  8. Hello Sally,
    I’m Looking through your Candy Addiction book and am wondering where you bought your double boiler? It’s Stainless Steel with white in the inside and gold looking handles? I can’t seem to find it online.

    Thank You,
    Jacquelyn

  9. Hi Sally!

    I’m wondering if you temper chocolate (whether making the cake pops or other truffles), does that mean you can store them at room temperature? I’d like to make my own boxes of chocolates as valentine gifts, but some truffle recipes say to store in the refrigerator. Thanks as always for the wonderful recipes and tips!

    • Hi Ashley! Yep! When you temper chocolate, you can store the treats at room temperature with no worry that the chocolate will soften or melt.

  10. I love cake pops! I’ve never made them and can’t wait to try this challenge. Thank you Sally. 

  11. Great post Sally! Your always so informative and it helps so much. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your actual ‘teaching’ of the recipe instead of just giving it to us. I love cake pops. Once you get the hang of them they really are rather easy and so versatile. Another good tip if I might add is if you want bigger cake pops you can use paper straws instead of the lollipop sticks for stability. They work really well.

  12. Can’t wait to try it for my sister’s spinster party , but not sure I’ll get the pure chocolate in Ghana and can the butter be replaced with margarine?

  13. Thank you Sally!  After many failed attempts at cake pops, your recipe has inspired me to try again.  I appreciate every detail.  

  14. Can you use almond bark for dipping?

  15. Hi Sally — if we plan on freezing these for storage, is it okay to freeze them with the sprinkles on? As much as I’d love to devour 40 cake pops at once, I don’t think I’ll be able to!

  16. I am considering using these as wedding favors for my wedding, but I am wondering how long they can be kept out. Should they generally be stored in the fridge? If so, how long do you think they can be safely left out?

  17. Hi Sally. Your cake pops look gorgeous! I am planning to do the pops but don’t have natural cocoa powder. Can I use a Dutch processed instead ? And substitute baking sofa for baking powder? Thanks 

    • Hi Oksana! You’ll need natural cocoa and baking soda for the cake recipe. If you test anything out with dutch-process and baking powder, let me know!

  18. Hi! These look so amazing! How long will they last being kept out of the fridge? Will the chocolate soften too much?

  19. Hi Sally. I have to tell you I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now (after my daughter requested a funfetti cake for her birthday). Since making that cake, which was wonderful, I’ve made many recipes from your blog, and all were delicious. Last weekend I made the vanilla cake pops which came out great, but I have a question about the chocolate cake pops which I’m going to make this weekend. Do you temper your chocolate? And if not, does the chocolate snap when bitten into? I plan on using milk chocolate requested by my daughter. Thanks for your help and your detailed recipes. The details and pictures help a lot!

    • Hi Paula! I didn’t for these but you can temper pure chocolate for the coating. My full tempering tutorial is in Sally’s Candy Addiction if you have a copy!

  20. Hi Sally- can I use chocolate chips for the coating?

  21. Any reason on why the chocolate on my cake pops kept cracking? I used chocolate wafers.

    • The melted chocolate could have been too hot and the cake pops too cold. Let the melted chocolate sit for 5 minutes before dunking. That usually helps.

  22. I made chocolate cake from a box, I know it’s not as good, how much frosting should I make? Should I double your recipe??

  23. These look so yummy and moist. You’re right. Who doesn’t want a cake pop!!! Perfect for Valentines Day!!

  24. These look awesome!!  But before I start I have a few questions…. can I use store bought frosting, if so, how much would I use? Also, are candy melts easier to use than chocolate? And how much taste difference is there between them? Thanks!!

    • Hi Akanksha!

      1) You can, yes. I’m unsure how much. Maybe about a cup? Just enough to moisten the crumbs.
      2) I find they’re both pretty easy to melt.
      3) Pure chocolate obviously tastes… pure! Candy melts don’t deliver the same rich flavor.

  25. Hi Sally, I made your chocolate cake pops yesterday and they were so moist and delicious!
    Everyone I shared these with enjoyed them very much! I tempered the chocolate and only used
    20 ozs! I was surprised at that amount. There was plenty of chocolate coating on each cake ball
    This recipe is a sure home run ! Thanks Sally

  26. Made the chocolate pops for my fellow teachers. I can hardly wait to give them to them tomorrow! They look so great. I put them in bags that covered the pop and some of the stick them tied them up with various Valentine ribbons. Thanks for the recipe.

  27. If you are freezing the cake pops, what is the best way to wrap/seal them before putting in the freezer?

    • Jerri, I freeze the shaped cake balls before coating/placing on the lollipop stick. I find this to be the best way to freeze them. I place them all in a large Tupperware to freeze.

  28. I shared these with my co-workers and they were really impressed that I had made them myself! I found that the pops got more moist as they sat in the fridge for a day or two. They were delicious when I first made them on Sunday, but they almost tasted like truffles yesterday! Definitely a hit, I’ll have to try the vanilla recipe next.

  29. I finished these chocolate cake pops last night.  My girls immediately inquired about them upon waking this morning.  Both girls LOVED them and my six year old declared them, “ way, way, way better than Starbucks!”  They came out so perfectly and now I need to make the vanilla version so I can try some.  I am one of those weird people who doesn’t like chocolate (gasp!).  Thank you for another great recipe Sally.

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