In recent years, home bakers have been given the opportunity to create professional-style desserts and confections in their own kitchen. I know the idea of being able to stay home (and potentially save a little money) and still make something delicious holds a lot of appeal for me.

One of the many options available on the market is the cake pop maker. Cake pops began to really take hold three or four years ago as the smaller-portion option to standard cake or cupcakes. Depending on the flavor, decoration, and skill of the baker, either of the aforementioned can be problematic to eat, sometimes even downright messy. Cake pops were the answered prayer to moms everywhere who wanted to control the amount of dessert their kids ate (and maybe themselves as well), and to anyone who had their hands full or was a little too well-dressed to be dealing with gooey icing. They’re little, delicious and on a stick. Not only are they handy, but the decorating options are as limitless as their larger cousins. And the ease of transporting them only added to the mania.

I concede that I had my own curiosity about cake pops, enough that I purchased a machine about a year ago and decided to give it a go. There are many brands and styles available to the consumer, but at the time I made my purchase, the most common machine was from Babycakes, a company that excels in all things sweet and baked. They offer an exceptional variety of baking options; from brownie bakers to dog treat makers, from waffle irons to chocolate-melting crocks, Babycakes has it in the bag. And with prices ranging from $24.99 to $49.99, most home bakers can have tasty, unique baked goods without breaking the bank.

I purchased the standard cake pop maker, which makes twelve pops. It comes with accessories, like a cooling rack/stand for your finished cake pops, a package of cake pop sticks, and a handy pronged fork for retrieval of the pops from the machine. It also (obviously) comes with an instruction manual, and I cannot emphasize the importance of reading through it before proceeding. Being one of those “independent thinkers”, I can sometimes jump the gun and put a little too much faith in my ability to “just figure it out.” This isn’t like putting a bookcase together; this is an electric machine. A high-temperature electric machine. The manual strongly advises close supervision when children are around, and I agree. This machine gets hot. That being said, it is very fast and efficient in the cooking process. The latter portion of the manual is dedicated solely to recipes for various flavors of cake batters and glazes to ensure optimal results with the machine. Let me also say from personal experience that the machine is best used with the cake recipes provided. Being a hobby baker, I experimented with other cake recipes (and even a box mix) and discovered that the resulting texture and density of the pops didn’t stand up to decoration as well as did the recipe provided.

While the cake pops do cook quickly, and the cooling time is about what you would expect, the decorating (depending on how complex) can be the most time-consuming aspect. If someone is not experienced with melting chocolates or candy coatings, there may be a trial-and-error period involved before the desired results are achieved. However, if the instruction manual is followed, it is a fun and relatively easy process.

As mentioned before, there are many other options available to bakers from Babycakes. They offer other machines on their website  (the whoopee pie maker caught my eye), a variety of tools and accessories (Decoration Station, anyone?), and even pre-packaged Dog Treat Mix, cookbooks, and their own blend of dessert coffees. If you’ve been curious about trying out one of these baking options, I encourage you to give them a shot. It will not only expand your horizons as a baker, but you will have delicious, quality baked sweets in the comfort of your own home.

Have you made cake pops or other machine-baked treats? Comment below and let me know about your experience!