Monday, February 7, 2011

Healthy Cake Pops? No Way! (sugar free • gluten free • low carb • dairy free)

Healthy Cake Pops?! Is that even possible? Are they actually any good? I was on a quest to find out... and it turns out that you can, in fact, make cake pops that are not only healthy and nutritious for you, but delicious too!

I initially decided to make these for our superbowl party with my friend Gina's son in mind. He has food allergies and I wanted him to be able to eat the dessert that all of the other kids were eating too. He can't have gluten or dairy and I also wanted to make them sugar free, without the use of any "fake sugars" or highly processed alternatives either. I knew this wasn't going to be easy, but I figured there had to be a way.

My sister makes traditional cake pops often and they are always a huge hit. All she does is make a boxed cake, crumble it up, mix in icing with the already baked cake, roll into balls and coat them with different flavors of candy coating. They are yummy and everyone raves about them. Plus, they are super cute to boot!

I wanted to try to take that idea and make it healthy and safe for my gluten-free, dairy-free little friend. Ofcourse, there are no recipes out there for this, that I could find. So I had to kinda wing it. I might make some adjustments in the future to play around with it a little more, but I was pretty happy with the results and everyone who tried them at the party really like them as well. No one could believe they were actually good for you!

I started by making a chocolate cake with almond flour, some baking soda, sea salt, eggs, vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened apple sauce and a little pure stevia extract powder. I was pretty excited when it came out of the oven actually resembling a chocolate cake! You can see some tiny apple chunks in it. I only had chunky applesauce on hand, which I tried to mash up further but obviously not enough. Next time I would definitely use a more creamy applesauce. It was a last minute decision to add it in, and I had to work with what I had.

After I took the first pic, my camera flaked out on me. It started (sorta) working again the next day. So the rest of the pics are taken with my blackberry. Sorry for the crappiness! I am working on getting a new camera for Valentine's Day. I have been drooling over a particular one and am long overdue.... wish me luck!

After I baked the cake and let it cool completely, I added in some rasberry fruit spread (instead of the icing my sister usually uses) and mashed it all around. I got this idea from a recipe from Elana's Pantry. I also used her chocolate cake recipe for inspiration, but she uses agave nectar, which is actually worse for you then high fructose corn syrup, so I had to change things up quite a bit. If you have been using this in an attempt to be healthy, please do some research and consider another alternative. Agave nectar is really no good for you at all.

I love the Trader Joe brand fruit spreads. They are delicious and are only sweetened with fruit juice. I love them in the morning with breakfast on some toast or a muffin!

Once the fruit spread was mixed throughout, I rolled little 1" balls in my hands and placed them on parchment paper to cool in the freezer for a couple of hours while I ran some errands.

After I got back, I melted down a chocolate baking bar and added a little vanilla and stevia. I used a Sunspire organic unsweetened baking bar that I found at Whole Foods. There was nothing icky added to this bad boy when it was made, nothing but pure unsweetened chocolate. I then stuck the lollipop sticks into the balls and dipped them into the melted chocolate. I stuck each one in a styrofoam block to cool. They didn't take long, as the frozen cake balls cooled the melted chocolate pretty quickly.

Here are the lollipop sticks and treat bags I used to assemble the cake pops.

After they cooled, I pulled a treat bag over the top and tied it with a ribbon. I think strings would work better, but I already had the ribbons on hand.

Here is the full recipe. If you try them out, please let me know!

Healthy Chocolate Cake Pops
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free
Makes about 50 Cake Pops

Special Equipment Needed:

Lollipop Sticks
Styrofoam blocks
Small Treat bags
Ribbon or String

For Chocolate Cake Insides:
  • 4 cups almond flour (not almond meal)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cup applesauce
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder
  • 1 C Raspberry Fruit Spread, no sugar added (for after the cake is baked)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Grease a 13x9-inch cake pan with coconut oil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and stevia with a large whisk.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract with large whisk.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until thoroughly combined.
  6. Pour Batter into cake pan.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool completely before moving on to the next step.
  9. Crumble cake in large bowl and mix/mash in raspberry fruit spread until well combine.
  10. Roll mixture into 1" balls and place on a tray covered in parchment paper.
  11. Set cake balls in Freezer for atleast 1 hour.

Chocolate Candy Coating
  • 2 (4oz) unsweetened 100% Cacao chocolate baking bar
  • pure stevia extract powder, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Melt Chocolate in a small sauce pan over very low heat.
  2. Add in vanilla extract and stevia to taste. Start with a very small amount of stevia, taste, then add more if needed.
  3. Once melted and mixed together, insert lollipop sticks into cake balls and dip into melted chocolate.
  4. Insert into a styrofoam block until cooled.

Final Assembly
Once the cake pops have cooled completely and candy coating has hardened, place a treat bag over each pop and tie with a ribbon. Store them in the refrigerater until ready to serve.


I have added this recipe to the Monday Mania Carnival. You can check out lots of other whole foods recipes there too.


ChickiePea said...

These are sooo beyond perfect. I think I may do these for Valentine's Day, actually! We don't do stevia and rarely do apples, but I think I can work around it!

Thanks so much for posting. I found you through the Monday Mania :)

Brittany Ann said...

So cool! And so sweet to do that for L! I bet he was thrilled!

Gina said...

I am volunteering at my school tonight...can I come pick them up tomorrow on my way home from the gym? ;)

Lisa said...

very clever. I've never heard of cake pops before. I'm intrigued, but what I really want to know is: what did the kids think of them? Thumbs up? Please finish the story for me. :)
You've got me thinking about trying this with my chocolate coconut sourdough cake and using coconut butter instead of fruit spread, sounds good to me- thanks for sharing!

Laura said...

ChickPea, just out of curiousity, why don't you guys do stevia? Have you tried it and didn't like it?

Gina, You can pick them up tomorrow no problem. I should be home. I would love to see you!

Hi Lisa! Thanks for your comment :) The kids LOVED them! They were a big hit. My daughter especially enjoyed them. I think your idea sounds delicious. Please let me know how it goes if you try it out!

Grateful for Grace said...

WOW! This is great. I make cake balls and pops and never thought there could be a recipe for healthy ones. I'm curious as to cost. It would be much more expensive, but I'm willing to try it and at least offer it as an option. I'm so glad you tried this.

Another Q: does the chocolate coating really not melt/soften at room temperature?

Wonderful work!

Laura said...

Grateful for Grace, They really aren't the expensive to make. The almond flour is the most expensive ingredient, which you can buy a 1 lb bag for around $9 at walmart. You can use a 1 lb bag to make a few recipes. Or if you use it in alot of stuff (which I do) you can order it online and find it for closer to $6/lb

The rest of the ingredients are things you only use a little bit of and when you break down the cost per recipe, they are very reasonable.

The chocolate bar I used was solid at room temperature. I just melted it down and added the vanilla and stevia. Once it cooled it returned to room temp and stayed there just fine. It kinda melted a little if you held them in your hands too long though. I store them in the fridge though, and they keep well. I just had one tonight!

CAKE. by Sarah Jane said...

Oh my gosh! I am such a HUGE dummy! This whole time I always felt that throwing my cake scraps away (after leveling and carving cake) was such a waste and I always wanted to save them and make something fun out of all that wasted cake. I forgot all about cake pops until now! I haven't had them since I was a kid! I can't believe it! Now I have something cute to save all my cake scraps for! Instead of trying to force Jay to eat them all, not succeeding and eventually throwing them away. YAY! Though, mine would not be a sugar free healthy version by any means. (But, if someone were to ever request a gluten free or other healthy version cake, I would be happy to create one for them! I just haven't received a request for one yet.) Thanks Laura!

CAKE. by Sarah Jane said...

Oh, and leftover buttercream too....crazy! I am just beyond excited!!!!

Skinny Fat Kid said...

Was just talking to my friend about making these, but needing a healthy version. Will definitely be making these pops soon! They look awesome and are almost overly healthy! Perfect!!!

Anonymous said...

These look great!

On another note, it is VERY difficult to read anything on your site with the bold, printed background and lightly colored font. You should fix this. Try fading your background graphic in Photoshop. Create another layer on top, say white, and drop transparency to 50%.


bonnster said...

This recipe looks fabulous! Would you mind if I used it for a bake sale benifiting the American Diabetes Association?

Laura said...

I don't mind at all... I would be happy for you to use it!

Erway said...

Is this recipe diabetic safe? My mother in-law was recently diagnosed and with the holidays coming I would like to be able to make her sugar free goodies. I am already planning to do different flavored cake balls so I hope this will work for diabetics!!!!

Erway said...

Is this recipe diabetic safe? My mother in-law was recently diagnosed with TypeII and with the holidays approaching I would like to make her something yummy too! I was already planning to make cake balls of different kinds but don't want to leave her out. She's one of my best friends and finding a good sugar free treat for her is important! Thank you!

Laura said...

Erway, I am no doctor and I do not know what all of her dietary restrictions are, but I would assume that they would be perfectly fine for her. There is no sugar and its very low carb. Even the fruit spread that I use has no sugar added. It's actually a very healthy recipe, so I can't imagine it not being safe for your mother-in-law. If you order some of the pure stevia extract powder, that is really great for diabetics and you can use that to make lots of yummy treats for her. Go to my resources link to find a good link to order it from. Just remember to always use a teeny tiny bit... it's soooooo sweet and will not taste very good at all if you use too much.

Jenny said...

You can also use coconut milk to mix into the crumbled cake. It works best if you open a can of coconut milk without shaking it, then use the thick creamy part without stirring in all of the liquid that is at the bottom of the can. You can use the liquid for things like curry, or even for the liquid ingredient in baked goods.

Thanks for this great looking recipe! I'll definitely be making these for my daughter's upcoming birthday party - some with the fruit spread and some with the coconut milk. Yum!!

Kiefer's Mama said...

Hello! My son is EXTREMELY allergic to dairy so I was beyond excited to see this recipe! I was wondering, he also happens to be allergic to most nuts, and though almonds are not on the list, his ped has told us to take anything nutty off the menu...could I use regular flour with this??

Laura said...

I am so glad you found my recipe and can maybe use it. I am not sure how it would work with regular flour, to be honest, as the ingredients are all measured to work together with the almond flour. You can always use your own chocolate cake recipe, along with the fruit spread, then follow the rest of the steps accordingly. Good luck, I would love to hear how it works out for you!

Anonymous said...

I am just curious, I plan to make these in a few days and only have regular Stevia or Splenda in the house, any idea how much to use of those in comparison to the Pure Stevia extract powder?

Laura said...

I really wish I could help you out more with this one, but I don't have alot of experience baking with either. I would definitely choose the regular stevia (although I am not sure exactly what you mean by that) over the splenda. You are going to need alot more, if its Stevia in the Raw or something like that... but I would just go by taste and using your judgement on past recipes. It's hard to say for sure.... but I would go with something that is maybe equal in sweetness to about a cup of sugar?? The applesauce is also added, to make up for the lack of liquids from sugar once it is melted down since I was using the stevia extract. So keep that in mind too, depending on what you decide to substitute with. Hope this helps! Also, you can buy pure stevia extract at Trader Joe's if you happen to have one near you. I have never used their brand and have heard mixed reviews, but that would keep all the measurements the same roughly in my recipe if you went with something like that. Hope this was helpful and not more confusing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I did find a Stevia Conversion Chart at: Since both Stevia in the Raw and Splenda are equal to the serving of sugar: 1 cup sugar=1 cup Splenda/Stevia, it made it easier to figure out! Since Stevia has not yet been proven safe for pregnancy, I chose Splenda which is safe for pregnancy, but not in excessive amounts or not great for long term use. Since I don't bake much with sweeteners, it's a one time thing and should be just fine. I am making them right now, and chose to keep the applesauce in the same amount for flavor. Hoping it turns out!

Laura said...

Pure stevia has been proven safe with the hundreds of years of use in other countries. It hasn't been proven safe here in the states because of money and politics and our government being in bed with the companies that make splenda. It's not a conspiracy theory, just do a little research on the history of stevia. Splenda, on the other hand has definitely been proven not safe. I was actually more relaxed about it slipping into my diet every rare once in a while, but not that I am pregnant, I wouldn't touch the stuff! Check out this article for more info:

Isaac A said...

Not to be a stickler; ok, I'm being a stickler, but even if the raspberry jam has no sugar added, it isn't sugar free, as raspberries have sugar in them naturally. Sugar free implies 0g sugar... I'm making these for my nutrition class though, excellent recipe!

Laura said...

I agree, I guess I should have clarified and put processed sugar free... that is what I usually put on most of my recipes that contain any sugar... :)