Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DIY Hard Hat Cake Pops

One of my dear friends makes amazing desserts for her kids' parties. Her creativity in cooking and baking always makes me feel like I need to go back to housewife school because I must have missed a class. When she made cake pops for her son's baptism about 2 years ago now, I filed the idea away because Hubby-Man and I loved them so much.

After our sweet little Bam Bam's dino-themed first birthday party this summer, I asked Boogie what kind of cake he wanted. Without hesitation, he told me he wanted an excavator cake for his birday.

Yes, my child can pronounce excavator with great clarity, but adorably cannot pronounce birthday.

Thank goodness for the internet. I do not know how mothers mustered up the energy to create fancy cakes for their kids without any kind of guide when my generation was little and before that. I pinned away construction cakes with reckless abandon. Boogie's Lightning McQueen second birthday cake and Bam Bam's dino cake were cute, but I didn't want to use another mold. They stress me out because no matter how much Crisco and cooking spray I use, I always lose the pattern and do it by hand and it never turns out like I want. An icing artist, I am not. While I was searching, I remember cake pops, which brings me back to this post. The light bulb went off and I knew that, along with his excavator cake, I wanted to make hard hat cake pops.

I was surprised that there wasn't already a tutorial for such a thing since there were so many construction parties on Pinterest. I saw hard hat cake pops for sale, but no how to's. So here I am to fill in that blank with my own imperfect but delicious instructions for how I made Boogie's.

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I am going to include a lot of pictures and links back to the sites that helped me get through the process. It is time-consuming but not hard if you do all the steps. I followed most of the directions at Sweet April's blog, but missed the shortening tip the first time. More on that, later.

The picture you see above, the ones for the party, were my second attempt. They are not perfect but they are a million times better than the first time!

Here is what you need to make these adorable treats for your little one.

If you are making any other dessert, one cake mix will make plenty. If you are only making cake pops for dessert, you should probably make 2 boxes. They go fast! I forgot to include two things in this picture, I just realized. I also used a cake pop stand (and Styrofoam but you don't need both) and decorative icing in a tube for the details. Sorry!

First thing you need to do is bake a cake mix according to the directions.

Mmmm. I love yellow cake. My single cake pan was dirty and I was too lazy to clean it. That's okay, because the next step is, after the cake(s) cool, take them out of the pan and toss them in your mixer. Add anywhere from 1/2 a can to a whole can of icing. I chose vanilla icing and used about 3/4 of a can but I have used more and less with similar results. I suggest using half a can and testing the stickiness as you add more to taste. You want the cake and icing mix to be cookie dough consistency.

Next step is to scoop out the cake and roll it into a ball. You can use a melon baller or a tablespoon to help you. I did it by hand. This picture is from the first time I did it and they were TOO BIG. You should be able to easily fit 2 dozen onto a cookie sheet, not one dozen. This was partly why my first attempt failed. The balls were too heavy. I am sure some people have success with larger-sized cake balls, but the ones I made successfully were probably rounded tablespoon-sized.

Once you have all the balls rolled, you need to freeze them for at least a half hour. You can skip this step, but it will make the next step harder. I only had room for one cookie sheet at a time in my freezer, so I made the balls in shifts, and put the rest in tupperware in the fridge. I had to reshape them later but not a big deal.

When the half hour is almost over, prepare your candy melts. Think about how many cake pops you need or want to make, then take out half as many candy melts and cut them in half. These will be the hat brims. I got that brilliant idea from this post on KC Bakes.

Next, find a microwaveable dish with a lid and dump the rest of your candy melts inside. I didn't do this, but I would suggest using a container that is higher than it is wide so you can maximize the dipping. You want to be able to dunk the whole cake pop. If your dish is wide, you will need more candy melts to do this than if the dish is tall.

Now, here is the awesome step that I found out about in time for Boogie's party, and that made all the difference in the world. Add shortening to the candy melts. This will make the liquid thinner, which means a smoother coating and less chance that the cake pops will get stuck in the candy melts and fall off. Thank you, Homemaker Chic, for that bit of wisdom! Like I said, Sweet April's, did mention shortening, but Homemaker Chic suggested adding a lot more, so I did, and that made a huge difference.

Once you have your candy melted, and your cake pops frozen, get your sticks ready. This is another tip from Homemaker Chic that made all the difference to how my second batch turned out.

Dip your sticks into the candy melt. Make a hole in the cake pop and drizzle some candy melt inside the hole you just made. Dip your stick into the candy melt liquid again, then put the stick into the cake pop hole you already made. Lay the cake pop back on your cookie sheet and let it harden without any pressure on the "glue" or the cake pop. That "double glue" as she calls it makes all the difference. Even if your cake pops are not 100% frozen, that step will prevent you from losing any cake pops.

After 5 minutes or so, the candy should have set. You will probably want to re-heat the candy melt liquid you were using, just to make sure it is soupy and ready to go.

Then, the moment of truth. It is time to dip your cake pops. If your cake pops were not too big, were frozen and you did the double glue, there is no reason why any should fall off. The second time I made them, I did not lose a single one! All you have to do is dip your cake pop in the candy melt and pull it out, quickly.

The coating was beautiful and smooth with the addition of shortening! Next, add your hat brim, before the coating hardens. Just stick the half candy melt where you want it on the cake pop.

Then, dip the whole thing again. When you take it out, you can do a little tap or spin it around a little to make sure there is no dripping, then put your pop either in Styrofoam or a cake pop stand to harden.

Just for comparison, here is the first set I made, frozen before dipping, but without shortening, and without the "double glue."

Huge difference, right?? Don't let your cake pops look like that. Friends don't let friends serve mangled hard hats at parties.

When they are cool and set, use your decorative icing to make those 3 lines on top that make them look like hard hats.

A few sidenotes.

These would also make cute ducks if you used orange candy melts for the beaks (instead of brims), and used icing or candy for the eyes. Perfect for a baby shower, as my BFF pointed out!

A cooler way to contain these and display them then in a cheap cardboard cake pop stand would be like the mom did at Project Nursery (those came from a bakery, and there was no how to, but I worked from that picture once I got the idea). I would have loved to put them in a bucket or in the back of a dump truck with dirt cake, but I ran out of time and forgot.

Just in case you were wondering, Boogie and Bam Bam loved these, with and without shortening :)

Look terrible, still taste delicious, Mama!

Silly boy BEGGED to sit in his brother's high chair.

May be linking up to these great parties!


  1. How cute are these? Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing at the Pomp Party! Hope to see you back next week!

  2. These turned out fantastic!!! Thanks for all the tips!

  3. Adorable! Fabulous idea! Thanks for joining the party at Keep Calm and Link Up! Come back again this Thursday night!
    Barbara at Chase the Star
    chasethestar dot net

  4. These cake pops are adorable! What a perfect addition to a construction party. I love how you made the hat brim from half a candy melt! So creative! Thanks so much for sharing them at the link party on my blog this week!

  5. These are SO cute! What a creative idea for a cake pop!

    Thanks for linking up to TGIF! I so look forward to seeing everyone's creativity. I hope you link up again tomorrow =-)

  6. Very cute!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!! Sorry I'm visiting/commenting so late!

  7. This would be great for a Bob the Builder birthday! My Little Mister loves that show. I would love for you to add this, and more of your amazing activities, to my weekly Mom's Library Link-Up.

    Thanks and be blessed,

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