This post was written in partnership with America’s milk brands and farm families.
Skeleton cake pops are one of those popular treats that are not only fun to eat but even more fun to make! These spooky Halloween-inspired cake pops are great because they don’t require using dyes or advanced decorating skills.
In fact, the more imperfect the coating and the more wonky the decoration, the more creepy and cute the final product will be!
What's the Best Chocolate to Use?
For a less sweet cake pop, use a darker bittersweet chocolate for the chocolate ganache frosting. Keep in mind the white chocolate is pretty sweet, so the darker bittersweet center is a nice balance.
For a sweeter, more kid-approved cake pop, try using semi-sweet chocolate or even milk chocolate! If you want, you can also substitute chocolate chips for the chopped chocolate.
Make Ahead Steps
Because it’s a multi-step process, you can pause at any point or break up the cake pop project into several days. Here's what works for me:
- Day 1: Make the cake layer, cover it, and let it sit out on the counter overnight.
- Day 2: The next day, crumble the cake into a bowl, add a chocolate ganache, form the balls, and place them in the fridge overnight.
- Day 3: The third day you can decorate! Place the lollipop sticks into the chilled cake balls, coat them, allow them to dry. Then decorate with the skeleton faces.
Or make it all in one go, in one day. It’s not as hard as it seems.
Tips for Decorating the Cake Pops
It may seem daunting to decorate your own cake pops but don’t worry! Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Practice drawing faces on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper first. That will give you a sense of how much pressure to use when squeezing your frosting bag as well as how you want to “draw” the faces.
- Place each cake pop on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Drawing on the cake pop while they're flat on the table is easier than trying to draw on them while they are standing vertical.
- Don’t be afraid to make asymmetrical faces! One small eye and one big eye and lopsided smiles are always goofy fun and creepy cute.
- Finally, if you make a lot of cake pops, it might be worth making a custom cake pop holder to help with decorating. To do this, just take a couple of small pieces of 2 x 4 wood (about 16 inches long) and just drill holes into it, in a grid pattern, about 2 inches apart from each other. Then you can place the cake pops in the holes as you dip and decorate, so the cake pops can dry. If you aren’t invested in making cake pops too often, just find a cardboard box, and punch a bunch of holes in it with a nail and use that to hold the cake pops as you decorate!
Storing Your Cake Pops
Cake pops can be stored in the fridge, covered in an airtight container, for up to five days. You can also freeze the cake pops! Just place them on a large sheet pan, decorated face up, and let them freeze for 1 hour. Then place them in an airtight container or resealable gallon bag for up to 6 weeks in the freezer.
A Shortcut for Easier Cake Pops
If you don’t want to make the cake from scratch, you can use a box mix designed to yield one layer of a 9-inch cake. Replace the water in the cake mix batter with the same amount of chocolate milk to give the cake a richer chocolate flavor.
Skeleton Cake Pops
- For the cake layer:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the chocolate ganache frosting:
- 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped, about 1 1/3 cups
- 1/2 cup chocolate milk
- For the coating:
- 24 ounces white chocolate chips
- 2 ounces coconut oil, melted, about 4 tablespoons
- For the decoration:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- Black food coloring
- Stand mixer
- Small pastry bag
- Small pastry tip
- Lollipop sticks
Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking oil, then line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper.
Mix together the ingredients:
Place the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir together with a balloon whisk until the ingredients are evenly distributed and uniform in color.
Place the chocolate milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla in a small bowl and beat together.
Make the batter:
Pour into the dry ingredients and fold and stir with a large spatula until all the dry ingredients are absorbed and there are no dry pockets.
Bake the cake:
Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Crumble the cake:
Let cool in the pan, then invert cake into a large bowl. Peel away the parchment paper. Using your hands, break the cake apart into small little crumbs.
Make the chocolate ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate into a large bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each cook time, until the chocolate is melted. Usually it takes about 90 seconds.
Add the chocolate milk, then stir until the mixture is smooth.
Mix ganache and cake:
Pour half the ganache into the bowl with the cake crumbs. Stir together with a spatula, until the ganache is absorbed then scrape the remaining ganache into the bowl.
Stir with the spatula until most of the crumbs are sticking to each other, then use your clean hands to get in there and massage the mixture until all the crumbs are incorporated and are sticking together.
Form cake balls:
Form 1-inch balls by rolling some of the mixture between your hands, squeezing to make it stick together. Place on a small sheet pan, then repeat with the remaining mixture. Refrigerate the balls for 10 minutes while you prep the white coating.
Make the white coating:
Place the white chocolate in a large bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each cook time, until the chocolate is melted. Usually it takes about 60 to 90 seconds. Do not overheat the white chocolate. Just stir and let the residual heat of the bowl melt any chunks.
Once the white chocolate is melted, pour the melted coconut oil into the bowl, and stir it in. This will thin the chocolate down and make it easier to coat the cake pops.
Dip the cake balls:
When the cake balls are chilled, pull them out and dip one end of the lollipop stick about 1/2-inch into the white chocolate, then stick it into one of the balls. This will help keep the lollipop stick in the ball.
Once the lollipop stick is in the ball, dip the ball into the white chocolate coating, and then tap it gently on the side of the bowl to let any extra coating run off. Place the coated cake ball in a wooden 2 x 4 that has hole drilled in it or in a cardboard box with holes punched in it. Repeat with the remaining cake balls.
Let the white chocolate coating dry and harden while you make the decorations.
Prepare the black piping frosting:
Place the butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together on medium speed until creamy, scraping down the sides once or twice to make sure it's completely blended together.
Add the black food coloring until the frosting is black. Scrape the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip.
Once the cake balls are hardened and dry (the coating will look dull not shiny) you can decorate them! Try drawing fun faces on a piece of parchment or wax paper first, before attempting to draw on the cake pops. Repeat until all the cake pops are done.