LIKE fashion, food goes in and out of style. Prawn cocktails, truffles and tofu burgers have all had their day and now it's the turn of cake pops.
It started with an American mother and blogger who wanted to do something with leftover cake bits and finished this year as the second-most searched for food and drink item on Google's Australian website.
The novelty sweets are balls of cake made from crumbling a cake, combining it with icing and moulding it to shape. They're decorated in different ways: dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, covered in pastillage icing and dressed up as animals or stuck into three-tiered stands as impressive wedding cakes.
Claimed as the ''it'' cake of the 21st century, the reason for the spread of cake pops around the world seems as inane as their existence.
''I think it's really taken off in Australia because it's a cake on a lollipop stick,'' Andrea Pompey of Toongabbie's FabCakes said, rather intuitively. ''I don't know. I guess it's cute, it's different, people don't really understand when they first see them.''
Iman Kanj, 30, a housewife from Sydney's west, started a cake pops business last year after seeing the trend sweep the US and Canada.
They first appeared on the Bakerella blog before spreading across the internet and quickly finding their way into Starbucks coffee shops and celebrity weddings.
''People are obsessed with anything new,'' Ms Kanj, of Guildford West, said. She started My Cakepops with two jobs a week and is now booked out up to three months in advance. Her standard cake pop is dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles or nuts. Others have asked her to decorate them as reindeer, pirates, baby boys, chickens and cartoon characters, paying upwards of $2.50 each for elaborate designs.
Coffee shops have joined in, too, treating them as convenience items to go with takeaway coffees, said Adrianne Katmadas, founder of the Cake Appreciation Society, a group of cakemakers and lovers. So what's next? ''Push-up cake pops,'' Ms Katmadas said. ''They're going to be huge.''
CAKE POPS RECIPE
For the cake (or use packet mix):
1 3/4 cups castor sugar
2 cups of self-raising flour
2/3 cups cocoa
1 cup of milk
1 packet frosting mix
For the decoration:
Any compound chocolate
Sprinkles, nuts, lollies
Put all the cake ingredients, except the frosting, in a mixer and beat for 4 minutes. Pour into an 18cm round tin and bake at 160°C for 1 to 1 hours.
Once cooled, crumble the cake in a bowl and add enough frosting to keep the mixture together. Create balls using the palms of your hands and place on a lined tray. Place tray in a fridge for 5 minutes so the mixture is firm.
Heat the chocolate in a microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted.
Insert the tips of your lollipop sticks into the chocolate and then into the cake ball (this will ensure that the stick and cake ball is secure enough to start the dipping).
Dip the cake pops into the chocolate in one motion and then decorate. Stick them in a styrofoam block to cool.
Recipe adapted by Andrea Pompey from Bakerella and The Australian Women's Weekly.