By Rebecca Pliner
(The Nosher via JTA) — Cake pops are such a fun, bite-sized way to serve dessert – particularly for special occasions (Valentine’s Day treat anyone?). And I love this unique twist on the decadent combination of chocolate and halva. For those that might be a little wary of a halva, fear not: You can add as little (or as much) halva as you like.
One of the best parts of this recipe is that you can make it with boxed cake mix! That’s right – a trained pastry chef is encouraging you to cheat on this one. I have made this recipe with homemade mocha cake, but the truth is you cannot tell the difference between scratch-made or boxed, so you might as well save yourself some time.
By substituting a few ingredients for high-quality choices, these treats will taste like you were slaving all day. These cake pops are chocolaty, easy to make and sinfully delicious.
CHOCOLATE HALVA CAKE POPS
1 box of moist chocolate cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines) plus eggs and oil per directions
Optional substitutions: for cake mix, instead of water I used coconut milk. For the oil, I substituted apple sauce.
1 cup halva (any flavor of your choice) plus more for décor
12 ounces good-quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate (for dipping)
Recommended equipment: popsicle sticks, small ice cream or cookie scoop
Prepare boxed cake mix per directions or with optional substitutions. Add crumbled halva into the cake mixture. Bake per directions.
Meanwhile, place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan and make a space in the fridge or freezer to place once cake pops are rolled.
Once cooled, the cake should be moist enough to roll into perfect cake pop consistency. Use a small ice cream or cookie scoop to help you measure them out, and mix in extra halva pieces to your taste. Wear food-safe gloves if possible; this can get messy quickly. Roll into uniform and tight balls and make sure there are no cracks.
Quick tip: Squish the mixture together tightly, then roll between palms for the perfect cake pop.
Place in fridge to chill.
While the cake balls chill, melt and temper the chocolate. Set your microwave on a medium setting (for my microwave that is 5). Break up half the chocolate bar into a Pyrex or microwave-safe bowl. Make sure there is no water in the bowl or any utensils you are using.
Melt the chocolate at 30-second intervals until 90 percent is melted. Stir to speed up the melting process. Chop the remaining half of the chocolate bar into small chunks. Add to melted chocolate. Let sit for 10 seconds and stir until combined.
Take the cake balls out of the fridge, dip the popsicle sticks into chocolate, and insert them into cake pops. Repeat until finished.
Once chocolate has set on sticks (not shiny anymore, matte finish), dip cake pop into chocolate. I recommend to constantly stir the chocolate so it stays a good temperature. If the chocolate becomes thick and hardened, place back into microwave, reheat gently and stir.
Add in extra pieces of room temperature chocolate if you have. It is best to work in a warm kitchen so the chocolate doesn’t harden as quickly.
Decorate cake pops with sprinkles, halva or a drizzle of melted chocolate. Another variation for the pops is to leave out the popsicle sticks and simply dip the cake balls in chocolate and set in mini cupcake liners. These are cute, easy and much faster to prepare.
Store pops in fridge until serving. You can freeze the pops wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, an airtight container, or a sealed plastic bag.
With a background in fashion design, cooking and pastry, Rebecca Pliner brings different aspects of creativity to her recipes from concept to plating. She runs a dessert company in New York City called I want that Dessert, www.iwantthatdessert.com.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.