I just followed the directions on the box and baked two 8" round cakes to save a little time. Once they were done and cooled, I trimmed off the sides and bottoms and crumbled what was left into my bowl.
Then I made my own buttercream frosting. I loosely followed a recipe and combined 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup Crisco, about 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk and a dash of vanilla extract. I ended up adding more milk to get the consistency that I wanted.
Then I made my first mistake. :( I added frosting to the cake crumbs - what I approximated to be about the same amount as the can of store-bought frosting I had used last time. I mixed it all together well and it was super mushy. So mushy, in fact, that trying to form balls was not working well. Ugh. I went ahead and continued, hoping that the freezing process would help firm up the balls. No such luck. After the 15 minutes in the freezer was up they were still mushy. Too mushy to try coating. Unfortunately, I had already started preparing my coating. This time I wanted to try using some yummy Ghirardelli white chocolate instead of the candy chips.
I used a double boiler technique and put water in a big pan, cranked the heat and allowed it to start steaming. In the pan on top, I broke the chocolate into small pieces and allowed the steam to melt the chocolate.
Everything was going great and the chocolate was a nice, smooth consistency. It happened quite quickly too - it melted completely in maybe 5 minutes? I wanted to add some almond flavoring to kick it up a notch, so I did this, and I fear (after a bit of googling) that by doing that and also allowing the chocolate to get too warm, it started to seize up. :( Ugh. Fail number two! So, I added some vegetable oil (at the recommendation of a few websites) and took it off the heat and this helped. Shortly after this was when I discovered that my balls weren't firming up as I had hoped, so I had to give up for the night. Major bummer.
The next day I made a trip to the store and bought another box of Betty Crocker white cake mix. Same as before I baked a couple 8" rounds and added this cake to the mix I already had. I had kept it cool in the fridge in the meantime, so it was still usable. Success!! This appeared to be the correct cake to frosting ratio that I needed. I sampled it and it tasted just like Starbucks' cake pops! Awesome! I formed the cake balls and stuck them in the freezer. Then it was time to tackle the coating. The chocolate had hardened completely overnight so I decided to just try heating it back up again, using the same double boiler technique. Fortunately, this worked great. I kept the heat very low so as not to overheat it. Then I started assembling the cake pops. The chocolate was working fairly well to coat the balls but the only issue was that the chocolate was not setting up/hardening as quickly/easily as the candy coating had. As a stroke of luck, I happened to be doing all of this in the middle of getting dinner ready, so I had to take a break for dinner. I left the cake balls in the freezer, so they ended up having at least an hour in there before I got back to them to start coating again. I say that I was lucky because this ended up being just what they needed! The balls were nice and firm and by being extra cold, the chocolate hardened very shortly after coating them this time! Yay!! Perfection!!
I think the thickness of the coating was perfect on these and the consistency and taste of the cake (nice and moist) was spot on with Starbucks' version! Woo hoo! This picture is of one of the first ones I made that wasn't really hardened completely. The rest looked/tasted even better than this one.
So, I think I have found a winner for a recipe for these using the boxed cake mix (with that familiar cake batter flavor) with the better flavored homemade buttercream frosting (instead of yucky canned frosting). I think either coating (the candy chips or chocolate) is good, but using the double boiler technique for melting is the key to this working properly. Whew! I hope you have enjoyed this cake pop journey with me. Let me know if you try making some of your own! :)