Lemon Cream Cheese Cake Pops

Oh, the mighty cake pop. In a version that pops even more.
Text And Photo By Bria Helgerson

Lemon Cream Cheese Cake Pops

A cake pop is essentially cake, crumbled and mixed with frosting, formed into a ball, popped on a stick, and dipped in a super-sweet candy coating. I made cake pops for the first time for a friend’s wedding last spring (about 350 of them to be exact) and since then, virtually everyone I know has become obsessed. Certain friends (who shall remain anonymous) have been known to hoard them in their freezer and ration them out until the next batch of leftovers is delivered. It’s madness I tell you.

Here are instructions for some bright colorful pops, perfect for a spring celebration.

Lemon Cream Cheese Cake Pops

4.2 from 5 reviews
Lemon Cream Cheese Cake Pops
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
There are many steps involved in making cake pops, but a large part of the prep time is actually inactive, while you are chilling the pops in between steps.
Author:
Recipe Type: Baking
Serves: makes about 50 cake pops
Ingredients
Cake Pops
  • 1 batch lemon-buttermilk cake, baked and cooled (recipe below)
  • 1 batch cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  • 1-2 packages white vanilla candy melts (if you cannot find candy melts, you can use white chocolate, or almond bark the same way)
  • candy melt coloring (optional, but you cannot use frosting coloring, or liquid coloring unfortunately, the candy melts will seize from the water content)
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • 50 4-inch lollipop sticks
Lemon Buttermilk Cake
  • 3½ cups (349 grams) cake flour
  • 2 cups (383 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, 459 grams) room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk (3,5 dl) room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of one large or two small lemons
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 16 ounces (454 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (230 grams) room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups (325 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
Cake Pops
  1. Crumble the cakes into a large bowl with your fingers until broken up into pea-sized bits. Mix in about ⅔ of the frosting to start with, using either a large wooden spoon, or your hands if you want to get messy. Mix until the frosting is evenly dispersed. Take a small amount of some of the cake mixture (approximately 2 tablespoons or so) and try rolling it into a ball with the palms of your hands. If it stays together, continue to roll the rest of your cake mixture into balls and place them on a parchment or a wax paper lined baking sheet. If they fall apart or do not hold together, add a little more frosting until the mix is moist enough to allow you to roll an intact ball. You may not need to use all your frosting. I like to use the least amount of frosting possible, as it helps keep the texture of the cake pops more cake-like, and less mushy.
  2. Once you have rolled all the cake mix into balls, place in refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes. When the cake balls have been chilled, melt a small amount of the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl according to package directions. Take one of the sticks, dip about ½ inch of the end into the melted candy and stick it about half to three-quarters of the way through the cake ball. Don't go too far into the cake ball, or it will fall apart. The candy melts will help adhere the stick to the cake.
  3. Place the cake pop (we can officially call them pops now since they are now on a stick) back onto the parchment and repeat process with all remaining balls. Place the cake pops in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before coating. This will save you a lot of headache when trying to dip the cake pops into the hot candy melts. If they are mostly nearly frozen, you will have a much easier time getting them to stay on the stick while dipping and tapping the excess coating off, so don't rush this step!
  4. Once the cake pops have been chilled, melt the rest of the package of candy melts according to package directions, and add your candy coloring, if usingdesired. I kept the majority of the cake pops in the freezer and took them out about five5 at a time. This way, the whole pan of cake pops doesn't come up to room temperature while you are dipping the first batch.
  5. One at a time, dip the cake pops into the melted candy coating being making sure to get the coating all the way up over where theon to the stick is attached to really seal it into create a good seal. GENTLY tap off the excess coating on the edge of the bowl while rotating the cake pop, to get a nice even layer all the way around. You will want to do this quickly in order to make sure to reduce any excess of the candy coating off before it starts to set.
  6. At this point you can do one of two things. If you want lollipop-like cake pops, you can stick them in a piece of styrofoam, let them dry pop side up, and serve them just like that. If you do it this way, you may want to reshape the tips of the balls a bit with your fingers before dipping them, as they may have a flattened bottom from sitting and chilling.
  7. I tend prefer to to place them pop side down with the sticks up in the air. They are still just as cute, but easier to make in large quantities. Plus, you don't have to worry about the flattened bottom since you are just putting it back in that same position anyway.
  8. While the candy coating is still wet, feel free to go crazy with sprinkles, edible glitter, or even crushed nuts. If you are piping or dipping another color onto the pops, wait until the base layer is completely dry before doing so. You may need to melt more candy melts depending on how thick your coating ends up. , iIt's always good have a few extra bags on hand.
  9. Let your cake pops dry for at least an hour or two before packaging them up. I placed mine in a paper towel-lined ziploc baggies and put them into the refrigerator. You can leave them at room temp for a day or two, or even freeze them for a few weeks.
Lemon Buttermilk Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, sift or whisk together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add the butter and half the buttermilk. Beat with the paddle attachment on a medium-low speed until combined and smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, with a fork, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, the rest of the buttermilk, and the vanilla and lemon extracts to combine, just until eggs are broken up. Add the egg mixture to the batter in 3 additions, mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes after each addition, being sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl frequently.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans until they are cool to the touch, then turn out of pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter, and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until incorporated. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
46 Comments
  1. Your cake pops are beautiful! I have a feeling that cake pops are here to stay regardless of Starbucks wanting a “piece of the trend”. Mass production almost always (in my opinion) makes an inferior product to bakers and home cooks that make them on a smaller scale. Even without trying them I bet Starbuck’s cake pops can’t hold a candle to yours.

  2. I saw cake pops for the first time at bakerella’s blog. I like the idea of it, it’s decorative and fun to make. I have never made ones before. I like your lemony version, I myself would always choose lemon over chocolate :) These really look elegant ad perfect!

  3. Bria! I’ve been craving some sort of lemony cake for weeks now. I am going to try to make these and let you know how they turn out! (Because I know you care.) xoxo

  4. Look’s delicious- and adorable. Ya gotta give credit to the Starbucks people- they definitely know what they’re doing. But I, too, hate to see something that can be so beautifully handcrafted (yours) turned into a mass-produced quasi-junkfood (theirs); luckily, those of us that matter know the difference!

  5. I lalalalalove this recipe. Will try some time. Thank you so so much?! And for decorations you used edible pearls, correct?
    Anyways, thank you much!? I love this recipe seems not to complicated;)

  6. Cake pops have definitely become a trend. Who originally came up with the idea anyway? The newest trend seems to be anything in a jar

  7. Thanks everyone!

    Aimy – yep, there are all kind of fun sprinkles and edible pearls available these days, I find it’s a fun way to add a little extra something to your pops!

    Lulu – Bakerella, if I remember correctly, does not take credit for inventing the cake pop, but she sure is the one that made them famous. She does use boxed cake and canned frosting though, I like to make them homemade, I think they taste MUCH better. You should check out her site though, she does some pretty amazingly cute things with cake pops.

    It’s nice to feel the cake pop love over here, I seem to have incited a cake pop hate-storm at some other websites when they picked up this article :-)

    1. I found out about cake pops at CafeMom which led me to Bakerella. I have been making them for holidays for the past year and 1/2. I use boxed mixes ( I didn’t know Bakerella does too!) and canned frosting. My son loves the Butter Recipe yellow cake and others love the Red Devils food. Only one customer wasn’t happy. She was expecting them to have the texture and taste of cake. FYI I put the candy melt dipped stick in after I form the ball, which would eliminate one of your cooling steps.. And I do not freeze them as when they are cooling they can expand and crack the candy melts. However, YOUR recipe sounds delicious. I think I will need to give it a try this summer. Thanks for sharing. I have “baseball” cakepops(balls) in my frig right now.

      1. Susan-

        That is a good idea, I like the idea of skipping a step…I don’t know why I haven’t ever tried that! I may have to give it a shot next time. I do get some cracking when they are cooling, but the last time I made them from just being in the refrigerator, I had so many fall off the stick, that a few lost to cracking was worth it! If I had more time between steps, I would just leave them in the ridge for longer, but the freezer does definitely speed up the process! Thanks again for the kind words!

  8. This looks absolutely perfect for my daughter’s high school graduation party…it’s going to be an open house and I think this would work great. I have a question for you though…can you tell me how to freeze them and defrost them correctly? I am hoping to get them started ahead of time and have less to worry about right before the party. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much.

    1. I would say you can definitely bake the cakes and make all the frosting (if you are doing from scratch) as far ahead of time as you would like, wrap them up really well and freeze them. This will get you ahead of the game. As far as storing the finished cake pops, I have friends that are keeping them full dipped and decorated in the freezer for weeks with no detriment to their taste or texture. I have made them and kept them in the refrigerator for up to a week prior to serving in a paper towel-lined plastic ziploc bag and they tasted just the same as they did the day I made them. The candy melt coating protects the insides from drying out which make the shelf life quite long. If you are freezing them whole, I would let them come up to room temperature before serving them (though I must say they are good frozen or cold). I typically let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight, and then let them sit out at room temperature for a few hours before serving. There isn’t really anything in these pops that can’t be at room temperature for extended periods of time, so you can really be flexible about storing them. Hope this helps, please let me know if you have any more questions!

    1. Let Them Eat Cake Pops Company has DIVINE cake pops. Also, overnight shipping is free through the end of August. They’re also on Facebook.

  9. I made the cake this past weekend. I just did it as a two layer frosted cake. Absolutely delicious! I will definitely make this again. To decorate, I candied lemon peel for the top. It was the perfect ending to our BBQ.

  10. Hi from Cape Town, South Africa

    Great recipe and tips, thanks so much.

    I can’t get Candy Melts or anything similar in Cape Town. Do you think I could use thinnish Royal icing to coat cake pops?

    1. i don’t see why not…i like to dip mine in melted chocolate as well…if it doesn’t work, at least you can still eat your mistakes….can u have candy melts shipped in?

    2. Hi Wendy,

      Where did you manage to purchase the Cake Pops trays in Cape Town?
      I’m from CT and would love to get my hands on these trays.
      Tx
      Kim

  11. If starbucks charges what they charge for coffee and their other baked goods…people will start looking elsewhere to get them in the flavors of their choice and possibly even delivered….it may be good exposure for them

  12. I don’t think Starbucks’ intervention will kill off the appeal of cake pops. There are too many exciting options and flavor combinations to keep people interested. Plus I will never give up something that allows me to enjoy one of my main vices (cake) without the guilt of munching a whole piece!

    I have been experimenting with using other binders instead of frosting to form my cake pop dough. For example, I recently made a cake pop version of the classic English dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding, using the toffee sauce instead of frosting. There are so many other ideas I can’t wait to try. I love the creativity cake pops allow you to explore.

  13. These cake pops look delicious. I want to try the lemon buttermilk cake recipe. Where did the recipe originate? Also is it moist? Thanks.
    Kathy

  14. your recipe sounds delicious! cant wait to try it! your decoration is flawless!! couple questions for you, 1. can you color the candy with powder coloring?? i cant find candy coloring here in Honduras (Central America)…the other question, sometimes my pops dont hold on the stick, they fall off…how can I improve that? please help!! :) happy baking!!!

  15. It looks good, it sounds good but your conversion to metric is absolutely wrong sorry to say…
    1 cup butter = 225 gr.
    1 cup Buttermilk = 260 ml or 2.5 dl
    3.5 cup Cake or universal flour is about 450 gr.
    etc.

    Kind regards

    Danuta van den Reijen

  16. I tried to decorate a batch of my cake pops with the lines you have shown above but the candy melts would cool too quickly and clump in the bag. Do you have any suggestions on what I should use instead or a way to keep the melts soft long enough? Thanks!

  17. I started making cake pops about a year and a half ago. When I heard Starbucks was selling them, I was a little bummed. But I have lots and lots and lots of flavors, and I can’t keep up with demand. Most people that eat mine don’t even know Starbucks carries cake pops, or they tell me mine are better. :)

  18. I made this lemon cakepop recipe for my nephew’s grad party, I made two batches and when I ate some cake plain it was not that good, it was not sweet enough and it didn’t rise enough, and it seemed pasty so I was worried since I didn’t want to make another two batches, but I made the frosting and dipped the balls and drizzled white candy melts on them and immediately sprinkled lemonade mix on them and put them away I the fridge for the night, and served them at room temperature next day! Wow it was a huge hit! Everyone raved and wanted to know the recipe! The cakepops were sparkly and tangy on the outside and sweet and subtly lemony on the inside! Thank you

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