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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Chocolate Cake Pops (Recipe + Video)


Learn how to make homemade chocolate cake pops completely from scratch, with no box cake mix or canned frosting. Combine rich chocolate cake with the best chocolate buttercream, and coat in melted chocolate for a treat that will make your tastebuds pop! Watch the video tutorial for all my best tips.

See my vanilla cake pops recipe, too.

I originally published this recipe in 2018 and have since added new photos and a video.

chocolate cake pops dipped in chocolate and white chocolate with rainbow sprinkles.

Chocolate cake + chocolate frosting + colorful sprinkles = the most adorable treat! Today we’re making chocolate cake pops because, after I shared my vanilla cake pops, I received so many requests for a chocolate version! Your wish is my command.

This recipe was a Sally’s Baking Challenge back in 2018, and readers have loved them over the years:

One reader, Sophia, commented: “Such an awesome recipe—these are basically Starbucks dupes and super yummy! I made the cake pops for a friend’s birthday but my family almost ate all of them before I could give any to her, LOL. ★★★★★”

One reader, Jen, commented: “This recipe was great! Made them for my son’s birthday party and had multiple people ask for the recipe! My son even said they were better than Starbucks! ★★★★★”

By the way, if you’ve ever eaten store-bought cake pops—these taste totally different. They’re from scratch. There’s no cake mix, there’s no canned frosting. You can actually TASTE the homemade.

chocolate cake pop with rainbow sprinkles.

I have plenty of step-by-step photos, a video tutorial, and lots of success tips today because I want you to understand every instruction before it’s your turn to make them. After all, the process isn’t difficult—you’re literally just baking a chocolate cake and making frosting and then mixing them together. But things just get a little particular when it comes to rolling, lollipop-sticking, and dunking/dipping. If you can make bread bowls, you can handle cake pops. (They’re more fun to eat too… sprinkles!)


How to Make Chocolate Cake Pops

Since we’re ditching box cake mix and canned frosting, we’ll need to take a little extra time to prep both from scratch. Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. Make a 1-layer chocolate cake and let cool.
  2. Make chocolate frosting.
  3. Crumble cake into frosting and mix.
  4. Roll the mixture into balls.
  5. Dip in melted chocolate.
  6. Top with sprinkles and let dry.
  7. EAT!

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 the next day.

chocolate cake in a baking pan after baking

Make a 1-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 few single-layer chocolate cakes before stopping with this one.

Behind the Scenes: Recipe Testing

The first few began with creamed butter + sugar. My favorite chocolate cakes and cupcakes typically rely on oil for the fat because (1) 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. 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.

By the way, you can totally enjoy this chocolate cake on its own. If you ever need a single-layer chocolate cake—use this recipe. It’s so 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, while too little frosting means there isn’t enough to bind the cake crumbles. After lots of trial and error, I finally found the perfect amount… and it’s not much, because the chocolate cake is already so moist.

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.

hands crumbling up chocolate cake and cake crumbles shown in 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. 😉

chocolate cake mixture in bowl and shown again rolled into balls.

Tips for Homemade Chocolate Cake Pops

Success Tip #1: Make Smaller Cake Pops: If you roll the cake pops too large, they’ll wobble off the lollipop stick because they’re too heavy. You need 1 Tablespoon of the cake pop mixture per ball (about 20g). No more, no less. You’ll end up with 40 of them. Quite a lot—but these freeze beautifully! And you can gift them to anyone and everyone. Who doesn’t love a homemade cake pop?

These cake balls need to chill in the refrigerator before we pop ’em on 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 and coating in chocolate (just like how we make Oreo balls). 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 melted chocolate (white or semi-sweet), which is what I prefer for best taste, but that’s pretty expensive. And you need a good amount for all 40 cake pops. Instead, you can use candy melts/candy coating, and I give both options in the recipe below, along with notes for each choice.

Success Tip #2: To ensure the cake ball stays secure on the lollipop stick, dip one end of the stick into the melted chocolate coating first (just about 1/2 inch down), and then insert the coated end into the center of the cake ball. This helps the cake ball adhere to the lollipop stick.

ball on lollipop stick being dipped in chocolate.ball on lollipop stick being dipped in chocolate.

Success Tip #3:2-cup glass liquid measuring cup is the perfect depth for dipping the cake pops. If I’m using melted 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. Let the melted chocolate cool down for about 5 minutes before you dip the cold cake balls into it. (Otherwise the coating might crack as it dries.)

Success Tip #4: The best way to allow the coating to dry and set—without ruining the perfectly round cake pops—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 little holes into it. Easy and cheap.

vanilla and chocolate cake pops with rainbow sprinkles.vanilla and chocolate cake pops with rainbow sprinkles.

If you’re topping with sprinkles (always recommended!), add them now before the chocolate sets. Cake pops dry/set within an hour or so. Enjoy!

chocolate cake pops dipped in chocolate on white plate.chocolate cake pops dipped in chocolate on white plate.

Print

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chocolate cake pop with rainbow sprinkles.chocolate cake pop with rainbow sprinkles.

Chocolate Cake Pops

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star
4.8 from 66 reviews


  • Author:
    Sally


  • Prep Time:
    2 hours


  • Cook Time:
    26 minutes


  • Total Time:
    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, dunked in melted chocolate and topped with sprinkles! Follow my thorough instructions, tips, and video tutorial for best results.


Chocolate Frosting

Coating


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, and beat on low speed until incorporated. 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 speed and beat the frosting and cake crumbles together until combined.
  6. Measure 1 scant Tablespoon (20g) of moist cake mixture and roll into a ball. Place cake 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!). Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after every 20 seconds until completely melted and smooth. (Or you can use a double boiler and pour a little 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 one end of a lollipop stick about 1/2 inch into the coating, then insert into the center of the cake ball. Push it about halfway to 3/4 of the way 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 drip off. Decorate the top with sprinkles and place upright into a styrofoam block or box (as explained in the blog post above). Repeat with remaining cake balls, only working with a few 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 (affiliate links): 9-inch Round Pan, 9-inch Square Pan, or 9-inch Springform Pan | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Baking Sheet | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Glass Measuring Cup | Double Boiler | Lollipop Sticks
  3. Chocolate: You can use candy coating/candy melts, almond bark, or semi-sweet chocolate (or white chocolate). If using almond bark or chocolate, chop it up before melting. Melt it with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out so it’s easier to use as a coating. 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. Drop the truffle in the chocolate and lift it out with the dipping tool. Quickly flip it upside down onto a lined baking sheet. You can see exactly how I do this in this post (scroll down for video): dark chocolate coconut rum truffles. Go to the 1-minute mark. That’s how I dip and neatly release truffles. So easy!

See Your Chocolate Cake Pops!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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