Update: This giveaway is closed. Winner has been announced.

For my daughter’s first birthday, I am planning a party with a pink and brown polka dot theme. I came to the conclusion that I should make cake pops. What is more perfect for a polka dot themed party than a little (pink and brown) polka dot of cake on top of a stick?

Problem: I’ve never made them before and I don’t want to screw them up for her party. Not that she’ll care, but I will.

Solution: Practice! I’ll have to make sure they look, and more importantly, taste amazing!

I thought about this and decided that I should consult the expert on all things cake pops, Bakerella. She’s got serious skills in this department, if you remember from my cake round-up. And since I’m addicted to buying cookbooks…and I have free shipping on Amazon thanks to all the baby-related stuff I buy, I went ahead and bought her book.

(photo from Amazon.com)

And then I accidentally purposely bought another. For you! So we can learn together. More about that in a minute.

Since I had some bananas on my counter nearing death, I decided to save them from taking the plunge into the trash can and make banana cake. My mom makes this cake all the time and it is the most delicious, moist cake. Unbelievable, really, for a health food (because it is obviously a health food: banana cake!).

Oh, and I should tell you: I’m glad I practiced making cake pops because it was a huge learning experience.

I should also tell you that I made these before the book actually arrived in the mail. So it was kind of a guessing game. Either that or extremely poor planning–but the bananas wouldn’t wait for the book.

One last confession: I’ll be practicing one more time before my daughter’s birthday. My confidence level isn’t where it should be and I want to practice with a boxed cake mix. Less variables. This banana cake is seriously moist (typically a very good thing!) and I think it was the root of some of my difficulties.

Oh, and please don’t judge my photos too harshly. I was tired after battling cake pops and cake balls that wouldn’t stay on sticks. Let’s just say I didn’t try hard enough for a good picture of these. I’m not losing any sleep over it. This was my practice round!

Banana Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 medium-sized bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (make your own by adding 1 Tbsp white vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk)
1/2 cup shortening
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add rest of ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat on low-speed until combined.
4. Increased to medium speed and blend for 3 minutes.
5. Spread into a greased 9″x13″ baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
6. Cool completely.

Okay so the cake is amazing on its own but here is how to make the cake pops:

You’ll need: A Styrofoam block, at least 48 lollipop sticks and probably 2-3 bags of candy melts.

1. Crumble (completely cooled) cake in a large bowl.
2. Add up to one tub of cream cheese frosting and mix until combined.
3. Form into balls (I used a cookie scoop) and place on sheet pan.
4. Cool in refrigerator for several hours or in freezer for about 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, melt a bag of candy melts in bowl according to directions on package (30 seconds at 50% power, then 15 second intervals at 50% power).
6. Dip a lollipop stick into candy melts and then about halfway into chilled cake ball.
7. Dip cake pop straight down into candy melts and pull straight back out (I used a spoon to help me get full coverage).
8. Tap off any extra candy coating.
9. If desired, add sprinkles.
10. Poke into a foam block to harden.

For more detailed tips, check out Bakerella’s blog. Also, I’m sure I’ll be posting again with the final birthday cake pops.

In the meantime, here is what I learned from my practice round:

1. I’d like my candy coating to be thinner next time.
2. I think my cake balls were too soft/moist. This caused some difficulty and issues with them not staying on the sticks when I dipped (I was forced to eat those). Next time I am going to use a boxed mix. If you use this recipe, I’d recommend only adding about half of the can of frosting.
3. I’m going to have to give myself a lot of time to accomplish this.
4. Next time, I’m going to read the book before making the cake pops…crazy idea, right?

So now to the fun part! Giveaway time! I am giving away one copy of Cake Pops by Bakerella. I’m hoping to throw a couple extra goodies in there too, but that will be a surprise for the winner of this book.  Sorry, only open to US residents. Because I’m cheap in regards to shipping.

Here’s what you have to do:

Comment on this post! Tell me what event you would make these for. Or tell me what flavor cake you would use. Sprinkles?  Or you can just say hi!

To earn extra entries (make sure to leave a separate comment for each):

1. Follow @not_rachaelray on Twitter
2. “Like” Not Rachael Ray on Facebook 
3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or add your name to my email list.
4. Tweet about this giveaway! You can use this if you want: “@not_rachaelray is giving away Cake Pops by @bakerella with some other cake pop goodies! https://www.rachelcooks.com/2011/08/15/cake-pops-and-a-giveaway”
5. Share this giveaway on your Facebook page.
6. Follow Bakerella on Facebook.

That’s up to seven chances to win! Enter by Tuesday night (8/23) and I’ll choose a winner using random.org on Wednesday morning (8/24). Good luck!

PS: This isn’t a sponsored giveaway. Just felt like buying a book and giving it to you guys because I love ya. Like a fat kid loves cake (pops). I happened to be in a cake pop phase of my life which is how I chose Bakerella’s book. Plus, it’s awesome!

Update: This giveaway is closed. Winner has been announced.