I’m a sucker for vintage arcade games, and no game keeps me as entertained (and frustrated. Curse you, Pinky!) as Pac-Man.
Pac-Man celebrates it’s 36th birthday this year, very close to my own birthday. I was going to put this recipe up in late May, but I couldn’t wait. These cute little guys were just begging to be shown off!
I started fiddling with Pac-Man cake pops for a charity event I was attending. The tables were themed, and my group had chosen Pac-Man. I looked all over the internet for instructions on how to make these cake pops. While there were plenty of pictures from people who had successfully made them, there weren’t a lot of step-by-steps.
I’ve only made cake pops a couple of times, and made them into fun shapes even fewer times, so I’m happy to report these are fairly easy to make. Warning, though, they are time consuming. I would imagine that the more detailed your cake pop character, the more time consuming they would be. I spread the work on these babies over the course of two days, and it went very well.
I was surprised at how many little ghosts and Pac-Men one 9-inch cake round made. I got about 20 cake pops from the one round, which went a long way at the charity event. The ones I made were also a little on the heavy side, and I probably could have gotten more cake pops from the round if I had scaled back a little.
I used a dense cake with a very moist crumb because I was nervous about how well they would keep considering I started making them days before the event. I think I worried needlessly–they kept fresh sitting out on my counter for nearly a week!
Without further ado, here are the step-by-steps for Pac-Man cake pops!
1. Bake a cake using any recipe or flavor you would like. Let the cake cool completely before removing from pan, and then let it refrigerate for at least 1 hour before continuing.
2. In a large bowl, take chilled cake and crumble completely with fingers. Make sure to break up any large bits. Putting the cake in a food processor would also work, but it makes an unnecessary mess of dirty dishes.
3. Several factors determine how much icing you use (crumb moisture, amount of cake, type of frosting, etc.). Pick your favorite flavor icing and begin by adding 1/2 cup to the crumbed cake. Mix well with fingers, making sure the cake comes together without being too sticky. If the cake is too dry and won’t stick together, add a little more frosting until it retains shape without crumbling apart or melting.
4. Let the mixture chill in the fridge for about 2o minutes.
5. Remove mixture and portion out 1-2 tablespoons worth of mixture. Roll into smooth balls and set on a lined cookie sheet. Return to the fridge for 2 hours.
6. To make Pac-Men, press down lightly on the ball to flatten Pac-Man and turn him into a fat disk. Make sure he retains his roundness–these are just slightly flattened sides. Using a knife, cut a triangle out to create his mouth. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes.
To make ghosts, place balls inside an oval-shaped cookie cutter, like this one here, and shape the ball to cookie cutter. Be sure not to flatten them too much–the thicker the cake pop, the better it will hold on the stick. To make the non-rounded end of the cake straighter, use a knife to cut away excess.
Take one of the sticks that will be used to hold the cake pops and push it against the flattened end to create the three wiggly ‘legs’ of the ghost. Pat down any parts where the dough bubbles up around the legs. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes.
7. Choose your candy melts. These can be melted over the stove in a double boiler, in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between, or in a fondue pot. I prefer melting in the microwave when making cake pops because fondue pots and double-boilers are very stout. I have to use a lot of chocolate to reach the depth I need to cover the pops. When microwaving, I toss my candies in a glass cup and don’t have to use very many.
Often times, candy melts turn out thick, clumpy, and sometimes the color is a little dull. If this happens to you, simply add a little bit of vegetable shortening to the melt and mix it in very well. This will make your melts runnier, which provides a smoother, shinier coat. (If you accidentally add too much shortening, add more candy melts to thicken it back up).
During this step, it would also be wise to set up the drip tray for the cake pops. Cake pops need to dry vertically. To do this, take any size and shape of styrofoam and use a spare cake pop stick to punch several holes in the styrofoam. Go crazy. There’s nothing worse than holding a fragile, wet cake pop and realizing you have no where to set it down.
8. Dip a cake pop stick into the melted candy and insert into a cake pop. Allow it to set for 5 minutes. Then dip the entire cake pop into the melted candy, making sure to get all sides. Lift the cake pop straight up and allow excess candy to drip away. Place in styrofoam drip tray and repeat with next cake pop.
9. Once the cake pops have fully dried, melt some white, dark blue and dark brown candy melts inside plastic piping bags. I do this in the microwave by setting the bag of candy inside a tall drinking glass and microwaving it for 30 seconds at a time, making sure to massage the bag between each zap.
When fully melted, cut the smallest little hole in the tip of the bag. Working quickly and on a flattened surface, pipe round white circles for eyes with little blue pupils (preferably looking left and right). For Pac-Man, make small brown dots for his eyes on both sides of the pop.
And that’s it! It seems like a lot, I know, but the work went by quickly and they came together so beautifully. I would think any amateur baker could make these little guys without any trouble. And have a blast doing it, too!