Makes about 20 to 23 lollipops
XIAOLU'S NOTES: I strongly recommend making your own cake and frosting from scratch as it allows you to control the sweetness of the pops much more. You may even want to reduce the amount of sugar from your usual cake since the candy coating will be quite sweet. Please don't be intimidated by my recipe. Its long length is mostly due to the inclusion of detailed notes/tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Store-bought fondant can be substituted for the marshmallow fondant, but marshmallow fondant tastes much much better (pretty much like what you'd imagine from its ingredients).
Marshmallow Fondant (Recipe below)
Powdered sugar, for rolling fondant
Round cookie cutter (1 1/2-inches wide)
8 or 9-inch cake layer [in a flavor of your choosing]
1/4 to 3/4 cups frosting [in a flavor of your choosing]
1 lb. 2 oz. candy melts OR white chocolate chips/bark
1 1/2 Tbsp trans fat-free shortening [such as Spectrum or Earth Balance]
Canola or vegetable oil, as needed to thin candy coating
About 21 to 24 paper lollipop sticks (I use 4-inch/10-cm sticks)
Oil-based candy coloring or powder food coloring, optional
Generously dust a large flat surface with powdered sugar. Roll out marshmallow fondant to a thickness of about 1/10-inch. Dust top of fondant and rolling pin lightly with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. Dip cookie cutter in powdered sugar and cut out as many 1 1/2-inch wide fondant circles as possible. Rub circles lightly with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Repeat with additional fondant until you have twice as many fondant circles as cake pops. Make holes in the middle of half the fondant circles using a lollipop stick. First press the stick firmly into the middle of a fondant circle, then slide the circle up the stick while rotating the stick to slightly enlarge the circle. Leave all fondant circles out to air dry while preparing the cake pops.
Line 2 large baking pans with non-stick silicone mats or parchment paper. Crumble cooled cake into a large bowl, removing any overcooked/crusty pieces. Add in 1/4 cup of frosting and mix into the cake crumbs thoroughly using clean fingers. Test the mixture by attempting to press and roll into a 1 1/2-inch diameter ball. If the mixture crumbles instead of holding together as a ball, add more frosting 2 tablespoons at a time -- mixing thoroughly and testing for consistency after each addition -- just until mixture is moist enough to hold its shape.
Now roll/press the cake cookie mixture into balls 1 1/2-inches wide. Repeat until the cake mixture has been used up (you should have between 20 and 23 balls), and set the balls at least 1-inch apart from each other on a lined pan. Place cake balls in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove cake balls from freezer and use both hands to press and shape into cylinders roughly 1 1/2-inches tall and 1-inch wide. I do this by first rolling the ball between both palms of my hands to elongate it slightly. Then I place the cake ball in the middle of my left palm and bring my fingers together around it as if making a fist WHILE at the same time flattening the ends of the cake cylinder by pressing the open ends using the fingers of my right hand. Finally, I pinch the edges of both ends to create a more defined cylinder shape. Return pan of cake cylinders to freezer for 10 minutes.
Place candy melts and 1 1/2 tablespoons of shortening into a heatproof bowl and microwave 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 -- to avoid air bubbles in your coating) until the mixture becomes completely smooth. Dip the tip of each lollipop stick into a little melted coating and insert halfway (not more!) into the middle of each cake cylinder. Place in the fridge [NOT the freezer] for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up so the cake won't fall off the stick when coated.
Meanwhile, color your coating with oil-based or powdered food coloring (NOT liquid or gel) in whatever shade you want your "thread" to be. (You can see from the photos that I didn't color the coating until after the base coat, which was okay but resulted in me piping on extra "thread" to cover up the white base. If you color your base coat, you won't have to worry about that!) Now pour your melted coating into a clean and dry cup that’s about 2 1/2 inches wide until the cup is very close to full.
Remove cake pops from the fridge and let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature (dipping the pops while cold will result in cracking of the coating because the cake will expand as it warms up). Dip an entire pop straight down into the melted candy coating until it is completely covered, and immediately remove it in one straight upward motion. (If you stir it around, the cake will fall off and it'll be very hard to salvage!) Once you lift the cake pop out of the coating, immediately turn the pop so that its stick is almost vertical with the cake pop pointing upwards. 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.
There will be extra coating still on the cake pop that you can remove. Hold the pop in one hand and use the other hand to gently tap the first wrist. Rotate the pop 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 cake may fall off. If too much coating collects at the base of the lollipop stick, you can wipe the excess off with a finger while rotating the stick. And if the coating seems too thick, stir in vegetable oil 1 teaspoon at a time until you get the desired consistency.
When most of the extra coating has fallen off and no longer drips, turn the cake pop over again so that the cake is down and the stick is up and place onto the second lined pan, making sure to set it down so that the stick points as straight up as possible. Repeat with the remaining cake pops. If the coating in the cup gets so low that you cannot easily submerge the whole cake pop, add more coating to the cup. If the coating in the cup hardens, transfer it back to the heatproof bowl and microwave for 20 seconds at a time on medium power, stirring well in between, JUST until the coating is fluid enough to dip again. Once all cake pops have been dipped in coating, let them set (harden) completely at room temperature or in the freezer (about 8 minutes).
Spoon about 2/3 cup of the leftover melted candy coating into a small zipper sandwich bag. Push as much air out of the bag as possible and seal the top. Cut a very small opening (about 1/10-inch wide) in one corner of the bag. Hold one cake pop near the base of its stick and over top of the empty baking pan (the one used to hold the uncoated cake balls earlier). Make sure to hold the cake pop sideways so that all parts are the same distance from the pan under it. Pick up the bag with candy coating using your other hand. Squeeze the bag steadily while moving the opening back and forth quickly across the cake pop to create lines of "thread." Pipe the coating very wide so that it goes beyond the sides of the cake pop. This will result in a lot of the coating falling onto the pan underneath but will create more realistic looking "thread." Pipe the "thread" on all sides to cover the base coat. Set the pop back down where it came from with the stick pointing up. Repeat with remaining cake pops. If the coating in the bag hardens, place bag on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 20 seconds on medium power. If the coating in the bag runs out, spoon more leftover coating into the bag or reheat/reuse coating that's dripped onto the pan if necessary. Let all cake pops set (harden) completely at room temperature or in the freezer (about 8 minutes).
Again using the sandwich bag with melted coating, pipe a small dollop of coating on the bottom of a fondant circle (one without a hole).
Spread the coating slightly with a small spoon, then immediately center a cake pop above the circle and press down lightly. Repeat with the remaining cake pops.
Now pipe a ring of candy coating around the outer edge at the top of each cake pop and let set (harden) completely at room temperature or in the freezer (about 5 minutes). The purpose of this is to create a more level top surface for the remaining fondant circles to stick to.
Next, pipe a small amount of coating on the bottom of a fondant circle (with hole).
Carefully turn the circle upside-down while holding it by the edges, then slide the circle down the cake pop stick. Gently press down on the fondant with your fingers to make sure it sticks to the cake pop. Finally, lift the edges of the upper fondant circle slightly so that the it is as flat as possible to resemble a spool. Repeat with remaining cake pops. Let cake pops set completely then enjoy!
XIAOLU'S NOTES: You will only need about 1/3 to 1/2 of this recipe for the spools of thread cake pops, but this fondant keeps well in an airtight container and can be used just as other fondant is used.
2 Tbsp trans fat-free shortening
8 oz. miniature marshmallows
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 lb. powdered sugar, divided
Place the shortening in a shallow bowl that’s easy to reach your hand into; set aside.
Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds to 1 minute to start melting the marshmallows. Carefully stir the water and vanilla extract into the hot marshmallows until the mixture is smooth. If not yet smooth, continue microwaving at 20-second intervals and stirring thoroughly in between until smooth. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Reserve 2 cups of powdered sugar for kneading.
Rub your hands thoroughly with shortening, and begin kneading the sticky dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a working surface well-dusted with powdered sugar and continue kneading and adding powdered sugar. You may not need all of the powdered sugar. Knead just until until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes.
Form the fondant into a ball, rub a light film of shortening over the outside, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. To use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature, and roll it out on a flat surface dusted with powdered sugar. To make fondant more pliable, rub your fingers with more shortening and knead into the fondant.