Chocolate cake is crumbled up and mixed with frosting before being rolled into balls and dunked into melted chocolate. Chocolate cake pops require some assembly, but they’re more than worth the extra effort!
Homemade cake pops require some assembly, but they’re incredibly easy to make and taste so much better than the ones you might find at your local coffee shop.
For this recipe, I baked my favorite chocolate cake and then crumbled it up into small pieces. The cake crumbles are then mixed with a decadent chocolate buttercream and shaped into balls.
After the balls of cake have firmed up in the freezer, they get dunked in melted chocolate and topped with sprinkles.
These chocolate cake pops are perfect for birthdays and holidays, and they can be made and frozen weeks in advance. Make a batch of cake pops to keep in your freezer for a rainy day, or enjoy them all right away!
These chocolate cake pops have three components: the chocolate cake that’s baked and crumbled up, the chocolate buttercream used to bind everything together, and the chocolate coating the cake pops are dunked into.
Here’s an overview of a few important ingredients you will need to make the cake pops:
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: Makes for a rich, chocolatey cake. I recommend using unsweetened natural cocoa powder for the cake base, so that it rises properly.
- Buttermilk: If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can always make your own substitute in about five minutes.
- Espresso Powder: This ingredient is optional, so feel free to leave it out if you prefer. I promise your cake won’t taste like coffee it just enhances the flavor of the chocolate. If you do omit the espresso powder, you will still need to use the boiling water.
- Chocolate: I recommend using chocolate bars, like Baker’s or Ghirardelli, for the chocolate coating. I used semi-sweet chocolate here, but feel free to use dark chocolate or white chocolate if you prefer!
- Coconut oil: Just a tablespoon of coconut oil keeps the chocolate coating a little softer and easier to bite into. If you don’t have any on hand, it’s fine to omit it from the recipe.
- Sprinkles: These are optional, but I love to use them because they make the cake pops prettier. You can leave them off or swap them out for chopped nuts.
How to Make Chocolate Cake Pops
For this recipe, I used my chocolate cupcake recipe and baked it into a one layer cake. Here’s how to make the cake layer:
- Mix the dry ingredients together: In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then, whisk in the granulated sugar and brown sugar.
- Add the wet ingredients: To the dry ingredients, mix in some buttermilk, oil, an egg, and vanilla extract. The batter will be thick, similar to a fudgy brownie batter. Once that’s mixed together, add the boiling water and espresso powder.
- Bake the cake: Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Cool completely: The cake layer will need to cool completely before you make the frosting and assemble the cake pops.
Once the cake is cool, you can start on the chocolate frosting for the cake pops:
- Mix together the butter and powdered sugar: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until fully combined.
- Add the remaining ingredients: Add a little cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix in the milk and vanilla extract.
Once the frosting is done and the cake has cooled completely, you’re ready to assemble the cake pops:
- Crumble the chocolate cake: Crumble the cake into small pieces in a mixing bowl.
- Mix together the cake and frosting: Add ½ cup of the buttercream frosting to the bowl and mix until fully combined. At this stage, the mixture should resemble cookie dough.
- Roll the cake pops: Roll the cake pop mixture into 1-tablespoon sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour.
- Make the chocolate coating: Add the chopped semi-sweet chocolate and coconut oil to a large bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until completely melted and smooth, stirring the chocolate every 30 seconds to prevent burning.
- Assemble your dipping station: Transfer some of the melted chocolate into a tall cup that is wide enough to dunk a cake pop into.
- Dip the cake balls in chocolate: Remove 4 to 5 cake balls from the freezer. Do not remove them all at once, otherwise they’ll defrost prior to being dipped in the chocolate. Dip the end of the stick into the chocolate, then insert the stick about 3/4 into the cake ball, and dunk the ball into the melted chocolate mixture. Tap the stick a few times to remove excess chocolate. Stick into a styrofoam block and allow to set.
- Add sprinkles or nuts: Add right after the cake pop is dunked in the chocolate + excess chocolate is tapped off.
- Repeat with remaining cake pops: Slowly take more cake balls out of the freezer as needed until they’ve all been dunked in chocolate.
- Let the cake pops set: Allow chocolate-covered cake pops to set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you need to make cake pops?
Besides the ingredients listed in the recipe card below, you’ll need the following:
- Short paper sticks (often labeled as “cake pop sticks” on Amazon) for holding up the cake pops
- A tablespoon measuring spoon or a tablespoon cookie scoop
- Tall cup
- Styrofoam block (or a box with holes punched in it)
How to store cake pops
Seal the chocolate-coated cake pops in a Ziploc bag or another airtight container and store in the fridge. When ready to eat the chocolate cake pops, set them out on the counter for a few minutes to warm up slightly.
Can you freeze them?
Yes, the cake pops can be frozen for up to three months. To thaw them, place them in the refrigerator overnight.
How long do cake pops last?
They’ll last up to one week in the fridge and up to three months (with or without the chocolate coating) in the freezer.
- I used a homemade chocolate cake layer for the cake base in this recipe. Feel free to use a box mix if you prefer, but keep in mind that you will only need one 9-inch cake layer.
- Unliked my vanilla cake pops, there’s no need to peel off the edges or outside of the chocolate cake prior to crumbling it. I’ve tested this recipe skipping this step and you couldn’t tell a difference.
- The chocolate frosting will make a little too much, so once you prepare it be sure to measure out 1/2 cup. You can freeze the rest and save it for another use in the future!
- To ensure that the cake pops stay upright while the chocolate coating is hardening, I recommend placing them into a piece of styrofoam. If you don’t have one, a box with some holes pierced into it will work as well.
More Chocolate Desserts to Try!
- Chocolate Truffles
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
- Oreo Balls
- Mint Chocolate Truffles
- Salted Caramel Almond Turtles
Homemade Chocolate Cake Pops
For the chocolate cake:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour spooned & leveled (125 grams)
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder (30 grams)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar (100 grams)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- ⅓ cup canola or vegetable oil (80 ml)
- ½ cup buttermilk (120 ml)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup boiling water (120 ml)
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder optional but recommended
For the chocolate frosting:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened (½ stick; 60 grams)
- ¾ cup powdered sugar (90 grams)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder sifted (10 grams)
- 1 tablespoon milk (15 ml)
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the chocolate coating:
- 16 ounces semi sweet chocolate (I used 4, 4oz Ghiradelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Bars)
- 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil (14 grams)
- Optional: sprinkles or chopped nuts as decoration
- To make the chocolate cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined. Then, add the oil, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
- Add the instant espresso powder to the ½ cup of boiling water and mix until fully dissolved. Add to the mixing bowl and mix until everything is just combined. The batter will be thin.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly touched.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of the cake, then carefully remove the cake from the pan, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the chocolate frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed at first, then increase to medium speed and continue mixing for 1 to 2 minutes or until fully combined.
- Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix in the milk and vanilla extract on medium speed until everything is fully combined.
- To make and assemble the cake pops: Crumble the cake into small pieces into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add ½ cup of the chocolate frosting to the bowl (freeze the rest for another use!), and mix until fully combined, the mixture should resemble cookie dough.
- Roll the cake-pop mixture into 1-tablespoon sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour.
- Add the chopped semi-sweet chocolate and coconut oil to a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well between each one, until completely melted and smooth.
- Transfer some of the melted chocolate into a tall cup that is wide enough to dunk a cake pop into. You will refill this cup with chocolate as you work. Allow the melted chocolate to cool slightly, about 10 minutes, before proceeding.
- Remove 4 to 5 cake balls from the freezer at a time, to prevent them from defrosting before dipping in the chocolate.
- Dip the end of a lollipop stick about ½-inch into the melted chocolate (I used 4-inch sticks), then into the center of a cake ball so it’s ¾ of the way in. Then, dip the cake pop into the melted chocolate, so the entire cake pop is covered in chocolate (not the stick). Gently tap the stick a few times and rotate it to remove excess chocolate. If adding sprinkles, add right after the cake pop is dunked in the chocolate and the excess chocolate is tapped off. Stick into a styrofoam block and allow to set.
- Repeat with the remaining 3 to 4 cake balls that are out of the freezer. Then slowly take out more cake balls as needed until all of the cake pop balls are coated in chocolate.
- Allow chocolate-covered cake pops to set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.