Makes 20 to 25 lollipops
XIAOLU'S NOTES: It's fastest and easiest to use your hands to work with the cake mixture, so wash up and dig in! If you've never tried cake pops before, be prepared for a creamy, truffle-like consistency inside rather than a texture just like regular cake.
Chocolate Cake (Recipe below or use your favorite)
14 Oreo or other chocolate cream-filled cookies, chopped
1 lb. (about 454 g) candy melts OR white chocolate chips/bark
1 to 2 Tbsp trans fat-free shortening
About 20 to 25 paper lollipop sticks (I use 4-inch/10-cm sticks)
Oil-based candy coloring or powder food coloring, optional
After cake has cooled completely, crumble it into a large bowl, removing any overcooked/crusty pieces. Add in the chopped cookies, and mix them into the cake crumbs thoroughly using your clean fingers. Most of the white filling from the cookies should be absorbed into the cake so that very little is still visible. This will provide the cake pop mixture enough moisture to hold together.
Line 2 large baking pans with non-stick silicone mats or parchment paper. Roll/press the cake cookie mixture into balls 1 to 1 1/2-inch (2.5 to 3.5-cm) wide and weighing and about 32 grams each. Repeat until the remaining cake mixture has been used up (you should have between 20 and 25 balls), setting all the balls on one of the lined pans.
Place candy melts and 1 tablespoon of shortening into a heatproof bowl and microwave at for 1 minute on medium heat. Stir well, then continue microwaving at 30-second intervals on medium heat, stirring between each, until the mixture is mostly melted and smooth. Continue stirring (but without beating which will add unwanted air bubbles to your coating) until the mixture becomes completely smooth. Dip the tip of each lollipop stick into a little melted chocolate and insert halfway (not more!) into the middle of each cake ball. Place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up so they won't melt when dipped later.
Meanwhile, pour your melted coating into a clean and dry cup that’s about 2 1/2 inches (7 cm) wide until the cup is filled to 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the top. Once cake balls are firm, dip an entire cake ball straight down into the melted candy coating until it is completely covered, and remove it in one motion straight up. (If you stir it around, it is very likely that the ball will fall off the stick and you’ll be very upset, trust me =p.) Make sure the coating meets at the base of the lollipop stick. This helps secure the cake ball to the stick when the coating sets. Once you lift the cake pop out of the coating, immediately turn the pop so that its stick is almost vertical with the cake ball pointing upwards.
There will be extra coating still on the cake ball that you can remove. Hold the cake pop in one hand and use the other hand to gently tap the first wrist. Rotate the lollipop to allow the excess coating to drip evenly back into the cup of coating, but never let the stick tilt too far down or the ball may fall off. If too much coating collects at the base of the lollipop stick, you can wipe the excess off with your finger. And if the coating seems too thick, stir in more shortening 1/2 a tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency. When most of the extra coating has fallen off and it is no longer dripping, turn the cake pop over again so that the ball is down and the stick is up. Place the pop with the cake ball side down onto the second lined pan, making sure to set the pop down so that the stick points as straight up as possible. Repeat with the remaining cake balls. If the coating in the cup gets so low that you cannot easily submerge the whole cake ball, add more coating to the cup. Let all cake pops dry completely at room temperature or in the freezer.
If desired, you can then add coloring to the remaining coating, transfer it to a parchment cone OR piping bag fitted with a small round tip, and pipe decorations onto the surface of each cake pop. After piping, you will need to let the pops dry completely again.
1 cup minus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water (or 1/2 cup black coffee)
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar PLUS milk to equal 1/2 cup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and grease a 9-inch (22-cm) round cake pan with butter.
In large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg, milk, coffee (or reconstituted coffee mixture), oil, and vanilla extract. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined.
Pour the batter, which will be thin, into the greased cake pan. Tap the pan firmly against the counter one time to remove any air bubbles. Bake for about 30 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out mostly clean. (When making cake pops, I like to underbake my cake slightly so that it will be more moist and require less frosting or other add-ins to make it stick together in a ball.). Let cool completely in pan.