Game of Thrones Premiere Day is “one of the five best things in life” (thank you, less-hot-Khal-Drogo, Khal Moro). Last year, I celebrated with Ned Stark head cake pops, but in honor of the big season six question, “is Jon Snow really dead?”, I decided to go for something new and see if I could create dead Jon Snow cake pop heads.
Disclaimer: Jon Snow isn’t dead. But for the purposes of this recipe, we’ll call him “dead.” As of the time of this publication, he is stabbed and appears to be a corpse, but not yet confirmed totally irreversibly dead. I have hope. PLEASE.
I didn’t go exactly off of a recipe, but I did use Not Your Mamma’s Cookie Ned Stark cake pop recipe for inspiration. I’m not going to lie – this will take a few hours, just because of the number of steps and the amount of detail that goes into painting each of these cake pops. But it’s worth it, as long as you don’t get too down on yourself if you make a few mistakes along the way. Trust me, I did.
Red velvet cake (I made one from a box)
16 ounces cream cheese frosting (one container)
Cake pop sticks
1 bag each of white, yellow and pink candy melts for the skin
1 bag black candy melts for the hair and eyes
Red icing for the blood
*optional: if you want this process to go about a half an hour faster, invest in a black food writer pen for the eyes and mouth.
First, you need to bake the cake according the instructions on the box, and let it cool completely so it doesn’t get mushy when you mix it with the icing. You can stick it in the freezer if you’re doing same day prep.
Next, crumble up the cake, add the icing, and mix it together until you have a soft doughy cake mixture to work with. I’ve seen a few different instructions on how much of the 16oz container of icing to use, but I’ve always used the entire container and haven’t had complaints about my cake balls being too moist.
You can mix it together using a spatula, or your hands if you’re feeling frisky.
Then, shape the dough into small balls to create the cake pop heads. I always accidentally make them too big, and they get too heavy and fall off the stick when I dip them. Mistake number one. Keep them small!
I live in California, and it was very warm in my apartment when I made these, so keeping them cool enough to hold their shape was a challenge. They ended up being pretty lumpy and lopsided. But it starts to even out when you dip them in the candy coating. Once you’re done rolling, stick them in the fridge for a few hours, or, if you’re short on time, put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes so they get cold enough to hold their shape, but not frozen.
It’s time to melt your candy coating to create the skin. Melt the pink, yellow and white candy melts 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, so it doesn’t get too hot. I discovered much too late that I accidentally bought white candy melts with colored sprinkles in them (you might have noticed in the photos above). I tried to do just yellow and pink, but his skin would have turned out orange. So, I decided his corpse’s body can be in the first stages of mold and I mixed in my sprinkled white candy melts. (See? Mistake number two.)
Just pretend those sprinkles aren’t there when you make your own. Now that your cake balls have cooled, dip a little bit of your cake pop stick into the candy, and stick it in the cake pop balls about halfway through. The candy will harden and keep it inside the cake ball.
Time to get dipping! This was the scary part for me, because I have a hard time keeping the cake balls cool enough to keep their form, but not so cold that the temperature difference between the melted candy and the cake causes cracks. Try to submerge the cake ball into the melted candy only one time, and swirl the left over candy around so it drips off and smooths out. I usually add a tiny bit of vegetable oil to my candy coating so it’s a bit thinner and less heavy. You CANNOT add water – this will seize your candy coating. You may only add oil based substances to your candy coating.
Dip down to the stick, too, so the candy helps the cake stay on. You’ll figure it out. I had three or four fall of my sticks in the swirling process.
Not too bad! No one will even see the sprinkles once I put the hair and face on.
Now, I made mistake number three. – I didn’t know where to put these dipped cake pops to harden. Last year I had a block of wood with holes drilled into them, but I had since thrown that away. Luckily, my roommate found a solution after a quick Google search – stick them in a strainer!
Since this recipe makes about 30-50, depending on how big they are, and I was moving fast, I had to get creative and start putting them in coffee cups and in egg cartons, too.
Now, it’s time to make these flesh heads into Jon Snows! Melt your black candy melts the same way as the other colors. I used a clean paintbrush to dab on the hair, but I’m sure you could experiment with other tools you have in your kitchen. Using the paintbrush helped the candy coating form little natural swirls and added texture so it looks like hair. I based the shape of his hair and face off the cute character figurines:
I used a sharp kabob stick to draw on the X’s for his eyes and his mouth, but I would suggest investing in one of the edible markers they sell at craft stores to make this process a lot faster. The face was the most tedious part of the process, so the $4 it costs for those markers is probably worth it.
Then, add the blood to his face to make sure everyone knows exactly which dead character this is. If he has too much of a double chin from the candy coating on the bottom, you can chip it off with a knife. I chose to ignore it. I realized in hindsight I should have added his little beard. There’s always next year!
Once you bite in, you’ll see the inside of his head is the moist red velvet cake which adds to the drama of biting into a character’s head! One of mine cracked open on the right side of the picture above and you can see the inside. Good luck!
P.S. Here are photos of last year’s Ned Stark cake pop heads!