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I am sort of addicted to cake pops. It's weird, because I don't really even like cake. But there's just something about a cake pop that is simply delicious. And let's face it, cake pops are trendy. I mean, they sell them at Starbucks, so they must be cool.
I made my first batch of cake pops about a month ago for my youngest daughter’s second birthday. They were fun for the little kids to eat and not nearly as messy as the traditional cupcake.

Not long after that first batch of cake pops, I noticed that Starbucks has a special holiday peppermint brownie pop. And then it hit me. I could make those!  And I could make those a lot cheaper than what you'd pay for one at Starbucks.

So I decided to do a little experiment, and the taste-testers in my house deemed my experiment a huge success (keep in mind, they've never had the Starbucks version, but bless their little preteen hearts, they always think my cooking is better anyway).

I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I did a quick search of my local grocery store's website to get a general idea of how much each ingredient costs. Of course, you would be "krazy" to pay full price for any of these ingredients… so as you read on, keep in mind, you'll likely be able to make these "Starbucks" cake pops for even less.

INGREDIENTS:

Cake mix – $0.96 (That's generic. I think they taste just as good as Betty Crocker.)
3 Eggs – $0.99/dozen
1/3 Cup Vegetable oil – $3.29 for the whole bottle
8 ounces cream cheese  -$1.69 (That's Philadelphia brand.)
Almond bark – 20 ounces for $2.59
Peppermint extract – $4.45 for one ounce (That's a name brand. I use generic and you only need a splash.)
Candy canes – $0.99 (We used the whole box.)
Sucker sticks – package of 50 for $2.00

DIRECTIONS:

  • Bake cake according to directions. Allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, crumble cake into a bowl containing the softened cream cheese. Stir with your hands until cake is completely crumbled and mixed with the cream cheese (no big chunks of cream cheese).
  • Form cake into small balls. (I usually get 25 from one cake mix. Of course, this depends on how big or small you make the balls.)
  • Place cake balls on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper (so they don't stick) and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  • While cake balls are chilling, melt almond bark over low heat (they make special candy melt appliances to do this, but I just use a small saucepan and low heat).
  • If you're a really good multi-tasker, you can crush the candy canes while the almond bark is melting. This is fun! We used a rolling pin to smash the candy canes while they were still in the wrapper. I know you can buy candy melts with peppermint chunks already in it, and I'm sure you can buy the candy canes already smashed, but what fun is that? My kids, ages 2-12, were fighting over whose turn it was!
  • When almond bark is melted, add a splash of peppermint extract.
  • Take a small number of cake balls from the fridge. I suggest five at a time. Leave the others in the fridge so they stay chilled and will be easier to work with. Dip the sucker stick in the almond bark, then poke the stick into the cake ball, and then dip the cake ball into the almond bark.
  • Tap gently on the side of the pan to get the excess off the cake ball. If you're stingy, and do a good job of tapping, you should only need half a package of almond bark per cake mix.
  • Quickly, before the almond bark sets, sprinkle the peppermint candies on the cake pop.
  • I put the finished cake pops into a piece of Styrofoam so they sit nicely and look like they belong in Starbucks. If you're not so picky about appearances, just set the cake pops on a plate or back on the parchment paper to set up (but know that doing this will make them look less than perfect – your cake pops will have a flat side).

I left this batch of cake pops in the fridge overnight, then moved them to a container. My oldest quickly asked to take some to school for a potluck, and the rest went to a family dinner. They were quickly gobbled up and were the talk of both events.
There are lots of blogs and websites dedicated to cakes and even cake pops. If you're curious, just Google "how to make cake pops." You'll be surprised and instantly sucked into the world of cake pops. Trust me.

The best part about this particular batch of cake pops? The price!  Starbucks sells their peppermint brownie cake pops for $1.50 for one cake pop, $2.50 for two, and $5.00 for four. I made 25 cake pops for around $7.00. At that price, I may even be able to splurge on a cup of Stabucks coffee once in awhile. And, of course, I'll bring my own cake pop.

This has been a guest post by Jody from Bismarck, ND
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