Cake can take on many forms: There are traditional birthday cakes, cute little cupcakes, and even massive cake sculptures. But this month, we’re looking into the latest cake craze: cake pops. To make the mini mouthfuls, you must first bake a full cake (any flavor will do). The next step, says Justine Boone of Cakes by Justine, is to “let it cool, and just destroy it.” Then you mix the crumbs with icing, “roll it into balls, put that on a stick, dip in chocolate, freeze for 10 minutes, and pray to God it doesn’t fall off.” They can serve as perfect party favors, or just as a great snack. Although they can be found at most bakeries, we’ve corralled five of our favorite Valley varieties (and yes, we tasted them all).
Jennifer Occhicone runs Tailored Treats out of her home in Carmel, and only began offering cake pops last year. “The first ones I made were for my best friend’s birthday,” she recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘Let me try it on her first and see how it works out.’ ” It did indeed go well; orders for the mini treats have been increasing. Although her customers usually prefer chocolate and vanilla, she often receives requests for varieties with other ingredients — such as nuts and Oreo cookies — included in them, which she enjoys preparing as it presents more of a challenge. The pops cost $2.25 apiece, and must be ordered by the dozen. 914-906-4482; www.tailoredtreatsny.com
Justine Boone always had a passion for decorating desserts, but she didn’t pursue it until she took a cake decorating class a few years back. After more classes and some research, she launched Cakes by Justine, which serves Rockland County. Most of her cake-pop orders are for use at large events like weddings. The pops often masquerade as something endearing that is related to the party theme; she’s created cake pop frogs, bumblebees, and baseballs. Prices range from $1.50-$3 per pop, depending on the amount of decoration required. www.cakesbyjustine.us
“Our cake pops are not usually anything standard,” says Bridget Hurd, manager of Poughkeepsie’s Pastry Garden, right before firing off a litany of flavors that can be turned into these sweets on a stick. The bakery has been known to shape the balls to look like wedding dresses, or to mimic a customer’s specific design from a photo. Customers usually buy in bulk — the biggest order Hurd recalls was 250 pops — to serve as party favors for baby showers or sweet 16 celebrations. Each costs $3.95 and there is no minimum or maximum order. 845-473-5220; www.thepastrygarden.com
Worried about the little balls plopping off their sticks and making a mess? Go for push-up pops instead. Michelle Worob — who owns and operates Sugar Shayne’s, a sister operation to Luigi O’Grady’s Deli in Pearl River — put them on the menu back in 2011 after she saw one on a Web site. Sugar Shayne’s uses its customary recipes to make miniature cupcakes and stack them in a tube between layers of buttercream. When it’s time for eating, the bottom of the tube pushes the layers up, out, and into hungry mouths. “It’s very versatile,” says Worob. “It goes anywhere from a high-end thing, like a party we did for Mercedes, to a throw-it-in-the-bag-for-lunch thing.” Pops cost $3 each, or $2.50-$2.75 on orders of a dozen or more. 845-735-9110; www.luigiogradys.com
In 2012, Sarah Alvarenga started Cake-A-Lotta in Middletown after spending four years baking solely for family and friends — especially her younger siblings. “I used to see cake pops all over the place, so I decided to give it a try one day,” she remembers. “The kids really loved it — it was so cute.” Available in a multitude of flavors ranging from fudgy chocolate to nut-and-marshmallow-filled Rocky Road, the pops are priced by the dozen based on the type of decoration: $20 for a milk or white chocolate dip; $25 for a custom color chocolate like purple or pink; and $36 for a custom shape like a cupcake. 917-438-9204; www.cakealotta.com