What Are Cake Pops?

Cake mix for making cake pops.
A jelly roll pan, which can be used to make cake pops.
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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 June 2014
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Cake pops are small desserts on a stick made from crumbly cake mixed with frosting that is shaped, baked, and decorated. Basic cake pops typically come in the form of candy-coated bite-sized balls, but sophisticated bakers can create complex shapes with more elaborate decoration. Pops are usually coated with thinned icing or melted candy coating and can be decorated with all kinds of candy and sprinkles. In addition to cake pops, cookie, brownie, and rice cereal treats can also be baked on a stick as pops.

A basic cake pop recipe begins with making bite-sized cake balls. A boxed cake mix is made according to directions and cooled and crumbled into a bowl. The crumbles are then mixed with frosting until moist and malleable. Once shaped into small balls by hand, the pops should be refrigerated for several hours on a baking sheet. When they are firm, the cake balls can be pierced with a cookie stick dipped in melted candy coating and decorated.

Bakers may make their own frostings and cakes rather than rely on commercial products and mixes. Melted candy coating can be substituted for thinned frosting or other decoration like powdered or colored sugar. Rather than go through the process of making cake balls, it is also possible to use donut holes.


In addition to the basic cake ball, pops can be shaped and decorated in myriad ways limited only by the baker’s imagination and skills. Snowmen, robots, and animals are just some of the possibilities. Cake pops can be made to look like cupcakes or even boxes of popcorn. Decorations vary from sprinkles to embellishments made with moldable or chewy candy.

More sophisticated shapes may require the use of a mold or a cookie cutter. Some molds include an indentation that allows for the baker to bake the pop with the stick already in place. Cookie cutters are used to cut shapes from cake pre-baked in a sheet or jelly roll pan. A plastic dowel rod is a cylindrical tool that molds a cake pop mixture into a rounded shape similar to a candle or a crayon.

In the United States, cake pops gained national prominence after being featured on various baking blogs, websites, and on the shows of personalities like Martha Stewart. The international chain Starbucks began offering cake pops in 2011. These little desserts are commonly served at weddings, birthday parties, and other celebrations. The pop appeal is rooted in the dessert’s portability, whimsy, and fewer calories than a large slice of cake.

In addition to cake pops, other desserts can be baked on a stick in pop form. Molds are available for baking dome-shaped brownies that are easier to decorate with candy coating than the traditional square. Cookie pops are made by baking cookies with the sticks inserted and decorating once cool. Sticks can also be inserted into cooled and cut rice cereal treats that can then be decorated with candy coating or frosting.


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