Pumpkin spice is undoubtedly the favorite flavor of the fall season. And while there are many ways to get your pumpkin spice fix, these pumpkin bread cake pops could very well be the ultimate, most perfect mouthful of pumpkin goodness imaginable. Shaped like miniature pumpkins, they're filled with an irresistible mixture of pumpkin bread and cream cheese frosting. And instead of standard treat sticks, we're using pretzel sticks to complement the sweetness with a salty snap. These cake pops will change your life. You're welcome.
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Step 1: Bake Pumpkin Bread
Using your own recipe or a box mix, bake a loaf of pumpkin bread. There are so many mixes available during the fall season, you won't have trouble finding one. I used a mix in which I had to add a can of pumpkin, so it felt like I was cooking from scratch.
Step 2: Crumble the Bread
With your hands, crumble the pumpkin bread into a fine texture. I recommend donning rubber gloves, not only for sanitation reasons, but also because the color of the pumpkin can stain your hands.
Step 3: Add Cream Cheese Frosting
Add cream cheese frosting to the crumbled pumpkin bread. Start with three heaping tablespoons to moisten the bread. Now, should you choose homemade or store-bought frosting? I prefer store-bought frosting because it's shelf stable. As the cake pops will be left unrefrigerated, I did not want to use real cream cheese in the frosting.
Step 4: Knead the Mixture
Knead the pumpkin bread and frosting mixture with your hands, and keep adding frosting until it becomes the consistency of cookie dough. I used six tablespoons of frosting in total. The exact amount you use will depend on how moist your pumpkin bread is.
Step 5: Form Balls
Form uniform amounts of the pumpkin bread mixture using a 1.5-inch diameter cookie scoop.
Roll the mixture between the palms of your hands to create a ball.
Step 6: Make a Pumpkin Shape
Using a wood skewer, make four to five vertical indentations in the pumpkin ball to mimic the ridges of a pumpkin.
Flatten the top and bottom of the sphere to make it more pumpkin-like.
Line up the little pumpkins on a parchment-lined tray, and place in a freezer for 15 minutes.
Step 7: Prepare the Candy Melts
Place orange-colored candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat them at 20-second intervals. Keep heating and stirring until the candy melts are creamy without any lumps.
If your candy melts feel stiff even when completely melted, add a teaspoon of vegetable shortening. It will smooth out the consistency.
Step 8: Insert the Pretzel Stick
Dip the tip of the pretzel stick in the candy melts, going about a half-inch deep.
Remove the pumpkins from the freezer. Insert the candy-dipped pretzel sticks halfway into the pumpkins. The candy will harden and lock the pretzel sticks in place. The pretzel sticks look like pumpkin stems, don't they?
Step 9: Dip the Pumpkins
Holding the pretzel sticks as handles, dip the pumpkins in the candy melts, turning them as you immerse them until they are entirely covered. It helps if your container of candy melts is deep. If it's not, tip the bowl so one end has a deeper reservoir.
Place the cake pops on a parchment-lined tray. Because they have been in the freezer, the candy will harden quickly. You'll notice that the deep grooves you created on the pumpkins have largely been filled in by the candy melts. However, the general pumpkin shape remains.
Step 10: Top With Sprinkles
Drizzle a bit of green cookie icing around the top of the pumpkin.
While the cookie icing is still wet, add some autumn leaf sprinkles on top of it. When the icing dries and hardens, it will secure the sprinkles in place. Plus, any green cookie icing that still shows through will look like more leaves, or even the vine of the pumpkin.
What a way to kick off the fall season. If there ever was a Great Pumpkin, this is it.