Chocolate Cake Pops

chocolate cake pop

Chocolate cake + chocolate frosting + cute heart sprinkles = the most adorable treat! Today we’re making chocolate cake pops because many of you request them, especially after I shared my vanilla cake pops. 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 this recipe 100x more fun.

chocolate cake pops on a purple plate

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. 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 with heart sprinkles

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, that’s why my vanilla cake and chocolate cake recipes are so different! 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!

chocolate cake in a baking pan after baking

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, whipped cream, peanut butter frosting, or red wine chocolate ganache.

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 crumbles. I have the perfect amount of frosting you’ll need. It’s not much because the chocolate cake is already so moist.

chocolate frosting in a glass stand mixer bowl

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:

chocolate cake crumbs in glass stand mixer bowl

chocolate cake and chocolate frosting mixture in a glass bowl

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.

2 images of chocolate cake pops rolled into balls before dipping on baking sheets

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.

2 images of dipping cake pop stick into chocolate coating and dipping cake pop into chocolate coating

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.)

vanilla cake pops stuck into a cardboard box to dry

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!

chocolate cake pops

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chocolate cake pop

Chocolate Cake Pops

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 26 minutes
  • Total Time: 6-7 hours
  • Yield: 40 cake pops
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Chocolate cake pops from scratch- made with homemade chocolate cake and chocolate frosting with sprinkles!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons (32g) 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
  • 23 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coating

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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Measuring Cup | Springform Pan | Silpat Baking Mat | Half Sheet Baking Pan | Lollipop Sticks
  3. Chocolate: 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.
  4. Cake Balls: 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!

chocolate cake pops standing up in a glass jar full of sprinkles

175 Comments

  1. I love this recipe so much! Is it ok if we use dark chocolate for coating them though?

  2. The cake pops worked out amazingly! They were easy to roll into balls and put onto the sticks. It was way easier to coat them in the chocolate once they were really cold. After the cake pops were completed, I put them in the fridge overnight. They were absolutely delicious the next day! Definitely a 10/10.
    (I recommend this recipe very much!)

  3. I’m going to make these for a graduation party. What size lolli stick do you use. The 6″ almost seems too long but then the 4″ seems too short.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joy! We used 4 inch lollipop sticks, but you can really use whichever you prefer.

  4. This recipe is amazing. They were absolutely delicious!!! Thank you very much.

  5. I’ve made them twice now, they are so delicious! Thank you for your wonderful recipes. Just love your website!

  6. I loved these, so delicious. I will say I found real melted chocolate a little hard to work with vs. candy melts, as they pops became very heavy and sometimes fell off the stick, both while dipping and eating. They certainly tasted great. I have not tried chocolate melts but expect the quality is pretty inferior.

  7. I have a question. Your recipe says to keep the cake balls very cold when dipping. I have seen other bakers that say to have them at room temperature or at least not so much colder than the chocolate you are dipping them in. If the temperatures between the two vary too much, it causes the coating to crack. So what is your reasoning for having them so cold when dipping? Just trying to understand. I am in the process of making my first two batches of your chocolate and vanilla cake pops. I appreciate your detailed post.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ann, We recommend keeping them cold so that they stay intact and stay on the stick when you coat them in chocolate. If you notice the chocolate begin to crack as you work, let them sit at room temperature for a bit before coating.

  8. This recipe was so easy to follow and yielded great results in texture and taste – thank you so much for it.

    Quick question – due to user error on my part, my cake pops turned out a little soggy, kind of like chewed up cake texture. I’m wondering if either my butter in the frosting was too warm when I added it, or if I added too much heavy cream to the frosting (~3 tsp), or if it’s something else?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nikkei, it could certainly be either of those things you mention. For next time, make sure the frosting is a thicker consistency before adding to the crumbled cake — be sure that the butter is not too warm, and feel free to add more confectioners’ sugar / less heavy cream to achieve the desired texture. We’re glad you still enjoyed these cake pops!

  9. Hi Sally! Could I sub the 1/2 C hot water for hot coffee still? Or will it affect the way the cake turns out?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Destiny, yes, you can use hot coffee in place of the hot water. Enjoy!

  10. Hi! I already tried this recipe once and it is totally delicious, but the coating for my cake pops didn’t turn out very smooth. There are all these swirls and a few lumps in the coating and I don’t know how to fix this.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Eden, What type of chocolate are you using? We always use Bakers or Ghirardelli and add a little oil to thin it out. When it’s thin, it usually dries and sets pretty smooth.

  11. Hello!
    What did you use to make the holes in the box that held the cake pops? I made the vanilla ones, but they ended up being cake balls instead of pops because I couldn’t find the right tool to make them stand up in the box. Thanks!

  12. If making this as a single layer cake, will the amount of frosting used for the cake pop mixture be enough to frost the whole cake? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jess, this makes about a cup of frosting, which should be just right for frosting one layer. Enjoy!

  13. I had an issue with my cake coming out with a layer on top that was oilier than the majority below it which had cooked fairly well. I dont know if it was just this part or the rest of the cake as a whole that I had difficulty getting to crumb well, but the end result of that phase was the cake amooshibg together into larger lumps that I ended up pulling apart. Any idea where I went astray?

    Despite this failing on my part, everything else came together beautifully. Thanks for another great recipe

  14. Janice Preuss says:

    I want to make a marble cake pop. Cake I just combine the vanilla and chocolate together r slightly ?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janice, we haven’t tested a marble cake pop but let us know if you give it a try!

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