I'll start with the recipe I used, which is pretty much exactly the same as every other recipe I've seen for them, including on the Bakerella website, which I'm told is responsible for the phenomenon to begin with.
1 box of cake mix (I used vanilla)
1 tub of buttercream frosting
chocolate to melt for the outside (I used dark chocolate candy melts from the craft store)
that's it. seriously.
I baked the cake according to the directions and let it cool completely.
normally the cake looking like this after flipping it onto the wire cooling rack would be cause for concern, but the next step is to crumble the cake up completely, so I wasn't worried.
I mixed in just about the entire container of frosting and let it chill in the fridge for a while, which makes it much easier to roll into little balls.
And then I rolled. and rolled. and rolled. Be warned you'll need to rinse your hands every 5th cake ball or so, otherwise it all sticks to your hands and the cake won't roll properly and you'll get really frustrated.
Once you have all your little balls, chill again. The picture shows them in the fridge, but I cheated this time and put mine in the freezer. I was getting impatient. But its important for them to be chilled for a couple hours or as long as you can stand, or you'll have problems with the next step.
um... please ignore the really pathetic selection of food in my fridge
Then I stuck popsicle sticks in each one and melted the chocolate, adding a little bit of paraffin wax to smooth it out a little more, and in retrospect I could have used even more than I did.
Here's the stuff I used, candy melts and short popsicle sticks I got at the craft store. Next time, I will probably use regular chocolate chips, I just prefer the flavor.
I used a double boiler to melt the chocolate and this is 100% what I recommend. Candy melts say you can use the microwave and that's true, but unless you're pouring into a mold right away and don't need the chocolate to stay melted for long, the double boiler is really much easier and there's less of a chance of overheating the chocolate.
I dipped each ball into the chocolate, using a spoon in some cases to help get it on the top. Since this was my first try I wasn't overly concerned with how they look, I just wanted to make something that was edible and presentable.
my attempt at an artsy cake pop shot
I put them right back on the wax paper and chilled them quickly to let the chocolate harden back. Again, I'm impatient and I wanted to eat
They were pretty popular! I'll definitely be making them again sometime, perhaps being more ambitious and subbing in a favorite from scratch cake recipe now that I know they'll turn out. I'm also tempted to sub in something else for the frosting that's a little healthier, like pudding, but I don't think its sticky enough to keep the cake together. I'll have to brainstorm!