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 (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
  • 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

351 Comments

  1. Hi! I was thinking I might try this recipe for my son’s wedding to go with the cupcakes for a fun, varied display, but with everything going on I was thinking I might freeze them for about a few weeks… How does freezing them affect the cake mixture? I know your notes say freezing them with the coating makes the coating not very tasty but if I freeze just the balls/pops to coat later, will they taste as good as the ones made fresh?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tab, These make such a fun wedding treat! Yes, the undipped cake balls freeze well for up to 6 weeks. Just thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before dipping and they will still be wonderful 🙂

  2. Hyy. Thank you so much for these.
    I’m wondering if I can use Nutella or chocolate syrup for dipping the cake pops? Like Hershey’s chocolate syrup? If I can, do I need to heat them or I can use them as they are?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Twinkles, I don’t recommend either as they won’t stick to the cake pops or dry hard. It’s best to stick with candy coating/candy melts, almond bark, or pure chocolate. See the recipe notes for details on each.

  3. I plan on making these for my sons 7th birthday. I am making about a week ahead and freezing them.. once thawed how long are they good for?

    1. For up to 1 week.

  4. Hi! I’ve already made these once and love this recipe, they didn’t last very long in my house. I used almond bark the first time but I don’t have any right now, would Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips work?

    1. Hey Kayla! High quality chocolate chips such as ghirardelli are typically ok to use. I recommend melting with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to help thin out.

  5. Could semi-sweet chocolate chips be used as coating?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sharon, We don’t recommend most chocolate chips as they contain stabilizers that help them to maintain their shape. Perfect for cookies but it prevents them from melting evenly. However, high quality chocolate chips such as Ghirardelli are typically ok to use. I recommend melting with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to help thin out.

      1. Thank you!

  6. I have leftover sponge cake from a previous cake I made. If I weighed my sponge cake, how much sponge cake would I need to have if I used your frosting recipe?

  7. Hii! How can we reuse this thinned chocolate dip for other recipes?

  8. This recipe is amazing and super easy to follow! I ended up only using about 10oz of Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Baking Bars to coat all of my pops (your tip to you use a 2 cup glass measuring cup was spot on!). I used Rainbow Sanding Sprinkles and Rainbow Shimmer Pearls to decorate. I had to let the chocolate coating set a bit before sprinkling them because the sugar sprinkles were melting into the chocolate coating at first! Coating/decorating the pops definitely took the most time, but I am so pleased with how the cake pops turned out. Thank you Sally for the awesome recipe!! 🙂

  9. Hi can i use vanilla frosting with the chocolate cake as i already have both made for a baby shower
    Thanks

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can!

  10. Anne Phillips says:

    Can I use butter in the cake recipe instead of oil? Thank you, Anne

  11. Best cake pops ever. The flavour is just out of this world. Made them vegan replacing some ingredients and they were just perfect.

    1. Can I reduce the amount of sugar?

  12. Hi there. If I temper pure chocolate, should I still add vegetable oil to thin out the consistency?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sadaf, No need for oil if you temper the chocolate. We have a full tempering tutorial in the book Sally’s Candy Addiction if you have a copy!

  13. Hi Sally! I made your vanilla cake pops and they were a huge success in my house, so I want to try these now! Can I make the frosting a chocolate orange flavour by adding in orange flavouring rather than vanilla and some orange zest? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes you can – that sounds delicious!

  14. Easy and fun. I made the chocolate cake pops. Thanks!

  15. Hi there, I want to make peppermint flavoured cake pops using extract. Do I add it to the cake mix or frosting or both and how much do I add? Thanks in advance!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, you can simply add peppermint extract to your frosting – we recommend starting with no more than 1/4 tsp and tasting it…a little goes a long way!

  16. I made these and they turned out amazing. I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chip as the coating and I mixed a little bit of oil to thin it out like I had read in many other reviews!

  17. These turned out so delicious! I used semisweet chocolate with a little oil for half the batch and the same with white chocolate on the other half. I definitely recommend this recipe! Cake pops taste so much better from scratch.

  18. Was wondering how much chocolate I would need to coat the cake pops in rather than candy melts? And would a smaller batch of your chocolate cream cheese frosting work here? Can’t wait to make these, thanks in advance!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria, you’ll need the same amount of pure chocolate. See recipe notes for details. You should be able to use 1 cup of cream cheese frosting, though we haven’t tested it. Would love to hear how they go!

  19. This is amazing! I made these cake pops yesterday and they were a huge sucess! They are soo chocolaty so if youre not a big chocolate fan this might not be the best recipe for you, but if you are then you should absolutely make these bc they truly are amazing! And if anyone is wondering if you can use butter instead of vetegable oil you can!

  20. Ok, these are fabulous! But I think the addition of rum or bourbon would make them an adult favorite! So do I just sub in the alcohol for the heavy cream?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sky! We haven’t tested it but don’t see why that wouldn’t work. Would love to hear how it goes for you.

  21. I made the cake pops using your vanilla recipe and it was DELICIOUS!
    My questions for the chocolate cake pop recipe is…Can you put a half cup or so of mini chocolate chips in the batter right before you start rolling them into balls? Getting some kind of crunch when biting into them?
    Do you spray your springform pan prior to baking the cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, you can definitely add some mini chocolate chips! We recommend spraying your pan with non stick baking spray.

  22. Someone above referred to a loss of taste in the coating if the dipped pops are frozen before eating…how much of a change is there? very noticeable?

    Also, does freezing the coated pops increase the risk of the coating cracking?

    Thanks..my sample tastes sublime,waiting to serve them!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Martha! We haven’t had any issues freezing coated cake pops. See make ahead instructions after the recipe. Hope you love them!

  23. Hey! Not sure if you already wrote this in the instructions (I cant find it) but where do we let the cake pops dry right after coating? Do we let it dry at room temperature? Or we still have to refrigerate or freeze it? If you reply then thank youuu!!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joanna, you can do either, but it will take longer to let them dry at room temperature. We usually let them dry in the fridge to speed up the process a bit. Hope this helps!

  24. This looks amazing! If I’m going to be dipping these in tempered chocolate, would it still be fine to roll them in sprinkles after?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, that will be fine. Enjoy!

  25. Love this recipe. Can I make only the cake ahead and freeze it? For how long?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria, absolutely. You can make the cake layer ahead of time and freeze it for up to three months.

  26. Hi Sally, I have a question for you! After the cake pops have been dipped how long can they stay out in room temperature before you need to refrigerate? And how long are the cake pops good for after dipped in chocolate?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anna, we usually like to put our cake pops right in the fridge to help the chocolate coating set. They’ll be fine at room temperature for a few hours at a party or for serving purposes, but it’s best to store them in the fridge. They’ll be good there for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to six weeks.

  27. I made the vanilla cake pop recipe last week, so decided to try for chocolate this week. I found the cake pops much easier to shape with this recipe, as they are more moist, but they break apart when I insert the stick and won’t stay on the sticks while dipping. Are the cake pops too moist? Is my coating too thick?
    I followed the recipe for the cake pops, let the cake cool several hours before mixing with frosting, and refrigerated the rolled cake pop balls overnight. My coating is Ghirardelli chocolate chips melted with vegetable oil to thin out.

  28. Do I need to cover the rolled cake pops in the fridge overnight if they aren’t dipped yet?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie! Yes, we would cover them or store them in an air tight container overnight in the fridge. Enjoy!

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