The best part about cake pops is that I can bake a cake and not really have to worry about how it turns/comes out because the first step towards the world of cake pops after baking it is massacre-ing it!
After the cake is baked and cooled, I transfer the cake in chunks into a big bowl and use a fork to decimate it. I've heard some people use their mixers or processors, but a fork and my hands work just fine for me. One less thing to wash is always a good thing in my (aka the lazy baker's) book! Basically you want to get the cake as...bread-crumb-like as possible.
Once you're satisfied with that, take any flavor buttercream you like. This also goes for the cake which I believe I failed to mention earlier. You can choose any flavor cake you like. As I've already mentioned, when it comes to cake pops, I can be more known as the Lazy Baker, so I don't really get too fancy with it. All the times I've made cake pops, I've used pre-made frosting, my favourite being Duncan Hines' French Vanilla flavor.
I also don't have any actual measurements, either. (*LOL* Instead of the Lazy Baker, you can also refer to me as the Unhelpful Baker, too, if you like!) I usually start with a couple spoonfuls of icing and go from there. I start by mixing the cake crumbs and the icing together with the spoon, but usually I end up going in with (clean) hands. It's easier to make sure everything's incorporated and to get a feel of how they're sticking together. You don't want it to be TOO icing-y, but you want to make sure that they hold up together when you start forming them into balls. Like so:
If you're Canadian, you're going to aim for slightly smaller than a Timbit. I mean, it's up to you, you can have Timbit-sized cake pops, if you like. If you're not Canadian and have no idea what I mean by a Timbit...let's say a rather large-sized marble or a gumball. Or how about I just say, have fun with it. *LOL*
Alrighty! Once you've formed all your cake balls, you'll want to toss these into the freezer for 5 - 10 minutes to give them a chance to hang out while you melt some candy melts.
Now for candy melts, I personally, use Merckens. I get them in bulk at the Bulk Barn. I've also read that some people use Wiltons' candy melts, but from what I've read, more people seem to have problems with them than not. I haven't actually tried them, so I can't say too much, so if you've also had any experience with them, positive or negative, please let me know!
The first time I made cake pops, I popped come candy melts into a bowl and nuked them at 30-second intervals until they were melty. Then I swirled my cake pop into it and tried to get it all covered and more than 50% of the time it plopped into bowl.
Now I've learned the power of a small blob of Crisco...and the painful realization that I have to use a LOT of candy melts. Before, I was trying to be a little on the stingy side and only melt a bit, but for a successful cake pop session, I suggest using enough candy melts that when dipped once, the cake pop is completely submerged so that swirling and swirling and stirring the cake pop is unnecessary. But I'm getting ahead of myself!
Another thing I didn't measure, but with my bowl of candy melts, I put in 1 - 2 tsps of Crisco (or any other shortening) so that when it melted down, it was more thinned out and smoother and silkier. You can play around with this to some extent. If you find that 1 - 2 tsps isn't the desired consistency, depending on the amount of candy melts you had in your bowl, go ahead and increase by small amounts and test often to make sure you don't have a bowl of shotening tasting candy.
First things first, dip a lollipop stick into the candy melts and carefully insert the stick about halfway into the cake ball. Repeat with all the cake balls. After this, I would put the cake pops (they are now cake pops and no longer cake balls since the stick is now incorporated!) in the freezer to solidify the candy and thus greatly adhering the stick to the cake. Bwahaha, sorry, I've been watching too much Big Bang Theory. Is it getting alarming that this is the LONGEST tutorial EVER?!
Tip: As I've done here, you can also decorate the sticks too! I used curling ribbon here.
Okay! So after they've hung out in the freezer for a bit. This part doesn't have to be too long since I once tried to cover frozen cake pops in candy and it was totally unsuccessful. At first, I thought it was awesome since the candy was hardening quickly, but as science then showed me, things that are warming tend to expand. Once the cake pops began to thaw and warm up, they expanded and TOTALLY cracked the candy. *insert sad face here* So, note: you can freeze cake pops. I would freeze them separately before moving them into a ziplock bag so that they don't stick together. Just make sure to thoroughly thaw them.
Once the cake pop is dipped, let the candy go right up to the dipped stick. If the candy doesn't cover everything entirely, resist the urge to swirl the stick and the cake pop all over the bowl unless you want to eat the cake ball that plops into the candy. *GUILTY* Instead, rock the stick left, right, up and down until the entire cake is covered.
Lift the cake pop straight up and allow the candy to drip. I usually like to swirl the cake pop now to allow for extra drip-age. I wait until all the excess candy has dripped off and then I use a fake cake form ie. styrofoam square to hold the cake pop until the candy hardens. And by this time, the candy is all nice and smooth. YAY PERFECT CAKE POP!