What could be cuter for a winter-themed party than these little penguin and snowmen cake pops. Laced with advocaat and with eggnog-flavoured icing, you might even argue that any leftovers make a perfect morning-after treat.
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4.
Place the softened butter and the sugar in a medium mixing bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Then, beat in the egg whites with all the remaining sponge ingredients to make a smooth batter.
Spread the batter in the prepared traybake tin and bake for 13–15 minutes, until pale golden and just firm to the touch. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While the sponge is cooling, make the icing. Place the butter and the mascarpone cheese in a small bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Beat in the icing sugar and nutmeg, then gradually add the advocaat, mixing to a smooth, thick consistency.
Crumble the cooled cake into a food processor and blitz to fine crumbs. Add icing, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the cake forms a moist dough and will roll into a ball.
Divide the dough into 24 equal portions (each about 25g). Roll 12 portions into pear-shaped penguins and 12 into snowmen (roll a small ball for the snowman head and a larger ball for the body from each portion). Transfer to the lined baking sheet and place in fridge for 15 minutes, or until set.
To make the penguins, place the white candy melts into a large mug or a small, deep bowl (something deep enough to roll the cake pops in easily) and microwave in 30-second bursts on the defrost setting, until melted and smooth.
One by one, dip 12 lollipop sticks into the melted candy and insert them into the bases of the pear-shaped cake pops. Insert the cake pops into the stand or polystyrene block and place in the fridge for 3 minutes or so, until set.
Dip each cake pop into the white candy and roll until coated, shaking off any excess. Then return to the cake-pop stand and allow to set.
Melt the black candy melts as in Step 7. Dip each cake pop on one side, rolling the pop from the pointed end to create a curved upside-down V at the front – you’re aiming to give the penguin a ‘coat’.
Cut the liquorice sweets into pieces, making tiny orange or yellow beaks, orange or brown triangle-shaped feet, black triangle-shaped wings and little black eyes. Attach them to the cake pops before the coating has completely set, or using blobs of the remaining white candy melt (re-melt if necessary). Return each decorated penguin to the stand.
To make the snowmen, attach the cake heads to the bodies, ‘gluing’ them together with a little of the white candy melt. Leave to set in the fridge for 10 minutes.
One by one, dip 12 lollipop sticks into the melted candy and insert them into the bases of the snowman cake pops. Insert the cake pops into the stand or polystyrene block and place in the fridge to set for 3 minutes.
Dip the snowmen into the melted white candy as before. Cut the liquorice sweets into pieces, using tiny triangles of orange to make noses, tiny pieces of black for the eyes and pebbly mouths, and cut pieces of black for the tops and bases of the hats. Attach all these to the snowmen before the coating sets, or use some of the remaining candy melt as glue.
Finally, break up the pretzels into small pieces and push these into the snowmen to make arms. Return the snowmen to the stand and leave to set.