For the Cake:
Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
Add the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a bowl and a hand mixer.) Mix on slow just until the ingredients are blended. Raise the speed to low-medium and add the vanilla and continue to mix until batter is smooth about 1-2 minutes. While mixer is on, add one egg at a time, adding each additional egg when the previous one has been absorbed into the batter. Stop to scrape down the edges and bottom of mixer every so often. After all of the eggs are added, mix another minute. With the mixer still on add the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl between additions. Continue to mix another minute until the batter is smooth.
Grease a 9 x 13-inch cake pan with butter and flour.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the sides and the cake is springy.
Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes.
Mix the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter and sea salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir gently until butter melts and mixture begins to bubble. Cook while stirring for about 7-10 minutes, until mixture thickens. Once the sauce coats the back of the spoon, add the vanilla and cook another minute. Turn the heat off and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before adding to the cake pop. Store the remaining sauce in a jar in the refrigerator.
Assemble the Cake Pops:
1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into bowl of stand mixer.
2. Add the caramel frosting, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on stir until frosting is incorporated, but not over-mixing.
3. Form the mixture into quarter-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place the balls in the refrigerator for several hours, or in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.
4. Place the chocolate in a double boiler on medium-low heat to melt. Once melted, add one teaspoon of vegetable shorting at a time until the chocolate is fluid enough to work with. I usually use 1-3 teaspoons per 12 ounces of chocolate. Keep the chocolate melted on low in the double boiler while making the cake pops.
Now it’s time to dip:
Take 4 or 5 cake balls out of the refrigerator at a time to work with. If you put them in the freezer, move rest of them to the refrigerator at this time. Dip about 1/2-inch of the stick into the melted chocolate and insert into the cake ball no more than half way through.
Now, holding the stick, dip the cake ball into the chocolate, trying to submerge it just once and allowing the chocolate to meet at the base of the stick. This will help keep the cake ball on the stick. If you miss some spots on the cake ball you can use a spoon to pour chocolate over the cake ball while holding it over the bowl of the double boiler.
In order to remove the excess chocolate from the cake pop, hold the stick in one hand and tap that wrist with the other hand. Rotate the stick if necessary to allow the chocolate to roll off the cake ball evenly. If the excess chocolate begins to run down the stick and accumulate at the base, simply run your finger around the base of the stick and spin the cake pop allowing the excess chocolate to fall back into the bowl.
Place the coated cake pop into the Styrofoam block using the end of the stick. Allow the chocolate to dry.
Using a small spoon, puddle about one teaspoon of caramel sauce on the top of the cake pop and sprinkle with The Spice House Portuguese Sea Salt.
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