They're cute, they're fun and they're light and tasty, but some local bakers say the best thing about cake pops is their versatility.
Krystal Turner of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., owner of Krystal's Cakes & Confections started making the treat about two years ago.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Find what you need in our Weekend Entertainment Guide newsletter.
"My mom saw them at a party and told me about them. So I did some research and started making them," she said.
Perfecting them for herself took some trial and error, she said, and noted that she makes hers "by feel," and adds "a little bit more moisture," than the traditional recipe calls for.
Cheri Belton of Hagerstown agreed with Turner about the versatility of the confection. She has been making cake pops for about a year. She is proprietor of Potter's Daughter Catering and Confections and is a vendor at Hagers-town City Farmers Market in downtown Hagerstown.
Cake pop are cake crumbs rolled into a ball, placed onto a stick, iced and decorated. After cupcakes became a mega-popular dessert in the past decade, cake pops became the next most-requested mini-treat for parties and other special occasions (cupcakes are first). Turner said for her 4-year-old business, cake pops reached their peak of popularity nearly two years ago.
"Some people don't want a whole slice of cake, they just want a bite or two," Belton said. And a bite-size cake pop can be the perfect sweet treat to satisfy those tastes.
"They're a great little dessert," Turner said. "They are light and sweet for dinner parties, cookouts and barbecues. I even had a request for an order for a bachelorette party."
Kristi Schetrompf, bakery manager at Cindy's Sweets and Supplies, said cake pops are the most-requested treat at the Williamsport-based business for children's birthday parties. The bakery also gets many requests for cake pops at wedding receptions. The business offers cake pops in about 15 flavors, including red velvet, creamsicle, Death by Chocolate and Raspberry Delight.
Like Turner, Belton said she prefers to alter the traditional recipe, which calls for icing to be combined with cake crumbs, which can be made from scratch or from a boxed mix.
"They're one of the easier things to do," Belton said, although both she and Turner noted that they can take a long time to make.
To speed up the process, Belton uses a cake-pop maker, which she said she would recommend as a useful kitchen gadget. The device, which she said cost her about $70, can also be used to make meatballs, doughnut holes and biscuit balls. "It's great," she said.
Turner, however, prefers to manually roll the cake batter. "It is very time-consuming, but it's worth it," she said.
Schetrompf also said it takes a long time to make the dessert. "You have to form the cake batter into a dough, and roll them into individual balls that are all the same size," she said.
Another time-consuming aspect is melting chocolate to cover the cake, which then must also be applied to each pop, and then decorate each dessert. In addition, while a standard cake mix will serve 15 people, the same mix makes just 15 pops. "A lot of people think they will be less costly because they are so small," she said, but that is a misconception because of the amount of ingredients and time needed to make the cake pops.
When the baking is complete, Belton said decorating the small treat is the best part of the process.
"You can even make them look like little people," she said.
Belton said she has found adults will often request a dessert that is more like a cake truffle, filled with ganache. These same customers might request the regular pop for their children.
Still, Belton is a fan of the aesthetics of the finished product.