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

177 Comments

  1. Leah Rosenberg says:

    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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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!

    1. 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!

  3. Kathryn Diday says:

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

    1. I like to use Baker’s or Ghirardelli chocolate bars. They melt super smooth!

  4. Catherine Smith says:

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

    1. Sadly, the ganache is a little too wet for the cake pops.

  5. Jennifer Wallace says:

    Can you use almond bark for dipping?

    1. Sure can!

  6. 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!

    1. Hey Anna! I freeze/thaw these with sprinkles on them all the time. They’re just fine!

  7. 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?

    1. Fridge is best. But I’ve kept them out for a couple days and they’re just fine.

  8. 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 

    1. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. 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!

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

    1. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Hi Sally,
    I really love the 9 inch single layer cake. I never got to making the pops since the cake was so delish. I am wondering if I can make your single layer cake recipe in a small cake by using two 4x 2 inch pans. I am not sure of the baking times. Could you help me out with that.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Sania! You definitely can, but I’m not sure of the bake time. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Hope you love the little layer cake!

  17. Hi Sally, can these be made and dipped two days before serving?
    Thanks in advance,
    Natalie

    1. Hi Natalie! Yes, 2 days ahead of time is just fine.

  18. Hi sally,

    Cake pops are my LEAST favorite treat to make. The reason why is because they always end up cracking. I have read through so many blogs and I can’t seem to figure it out. Any tips?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jenn! The melted chocolate may be too hot and the cake pops too cold. Let the melted chocolate sit for 5 minutes before dunking. That usually helps.

  19. Ingrid Fuentealba says:

    I love these!!! I swear I make them at least once a month, my friends love them and I love baking for them so it’s a beautiful balance. Thank you so much for this recipe!! It’s fun to make, fun to eat (in every step)!

  20. My 11 year old daughter made cake pops tonight following your recipe and they are absolutely amazing. She made everything all by herself so great job on the easy to follow instructions. For the coating, she used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips melted in the microwave and she added a little coconut oil. The coating is thick and most of the pops aren’t as smooth as your pictures, but they are smooth enough and they taste crazy good!

    We are newcomers to your site but I think you have two new regulars. I have already found a lot of recipes that I want to try.

    1. Hi Penny! I’m so happy that your daughter made these and that you both loved them! Let me know what she bakes next! 🙂

  21. Hi Sally!

    I made your German Chocolate Cake, but my cakes were stuck to the pans, so now I’m left with 3 broken layers of that delicious cake. I was thinking I would use it for these cake pops. Do you know how much frosting I should use for that amount of cake? Can I double the frosting recipe here?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Shawn! That’s a great idea to save crumbled cakes. I would double the frosting, then add it little by little until the crumbs are just moistened.

  22. Hi sally!
    How do you melt your chocolate in the double boiler without it getting thick and crumbly?

    1. Hi Amanda! Constantly stirring helps. Make sure you’re using pure chocolate like the chocolate baking bars from the baking aisle (Bakers, Ghirardelli, Lindt)

  23. Hi Sally!
    I love and have had success with all your recipes so far, including your vanilla cake pops! But when I made these, the cake was almost like a brownie dough when I rolled the balls and wasn’t dense enough to hold shape well. So when I dipped it in the melted chocolate, they broke apart. Any idea what might have happened? Thank you!

    1. Hi Steph! It sounds like there may have been too much frosting. Perhaps your baked cake was under-baked so it was extra moist? And therefore you didn’t need as much frosting. If you make it again, be extra careful when adding that frosting and only add as much as you need to make a somewhat moist and solid “dough.”

      1. Hi Sally! The strange thing is that I used only half the frosting, since that worked out well with the vanilla cake recipe. Maybe it was just that my cake was too moist?
        Thank you for the fast reply! I’ll try it again and hopefully it’ll work out better 🙂

  24. Hi Sally! I’m in a pinch and need to make chocolate cupcakes, I don’t have any milk. Can I use this cake recipe for the cupcakes?

    1. Sure can! They may not be as moist since this is a *somewhat* dryer cake to use in cake pops. 🙂

  25. I made these for a party and they came out great! Just one thing I noticed was my chocolate coating was probably a bit thicker than it should be. I used semi sweet chocolate chips, any idea how I can get the coating to be thinner and more fluid than it was? Would adding some olive oil or butter help?

    1. Hi Lakshmi! I recommend using baking chocolate; it’s ideal for coating. I don’t recommend butter to thin out– olive or canola oil is best.

  26. Hi Sally! These look amazing. I’m hoping to make them for a holiday party I’m attending soon and going to make them in fun Christmas shapes. Do you think I could substitute the frosting in this recipe for your chocolate cream cheese frosting? Thanks:)

    1. Hi Maddie! Sounds so cute! The chocolate cream cheese frosting is too thin for cake pops. I recommend following this recipe. 🙂

  27. These are THE BEST cake pops I’ve ever made! A little extra work to do them from scratch, but 100% worth the effort! Delicious!!! Thanks so much!

  28. Hi Sally
    We are all peanut butter lovers in my family so I’d like to make peanut butter cake pops .. would I be able to substitute the chocolate frosting for your peanut butter frosting?

    1. Yes, absolutely! That sounds delicious!

  29. I just made these last night and i absolutely love your cake recipe! My cake pops came out so tasty. Thank you for all these wonderful recipes you create!!!

  30. Hi Sally! I don’t have a 9×9 pan, but I have a cupcake pan. Could I bake the cake as cupcakes? If so, how would I change the baking time?

    1. Hi Kerry! That shouldn’t be a problem at all. The bake time will be shorter. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.

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