Special equipment: a candy thermometer and 12 cake pop sticks
For the cake pop: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 10-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, dust with flour and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix the heavy cream, sour cream, orange zest and scraped vanilla bean in another bowl and set aside.
Add the sugar and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed until the color lightens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until the mixture is smooth. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined, then scrape the bowl. Add half of the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Add another one-third of the dry ingredients followed by the remaining wet ingredients, mixing on low after each addition and scraping the bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely.
For the cranberry compote: Cut the apple into small pieces. In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and juice and apples. Cook over medium heat until the cranberries start to pop open and the mixture thickens slightly. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool.
For the orange buttercream: Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Mix the sugar and 1/2 cup water together in a medium saucepan, place over high heat with a candy thermometer and heat the mixture to 238 to 240 degrees F. While the mixture is boiling, mix the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. When the boiling sugar reaches 240 degrees F, pour it slowly into the egg whites with the mixer on low. Once all the hot sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and whip until thick, glossy and cooled. Reduce the speed and add the butter 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until the buttercream thickens. Whip in the orange zest.
To assemble the pops: Crumble the cooled cakes into small pieces. Mix in enough buttercream to hold the cake pops together. Add the desired amount of cranberry compote; there should be some in every bite. Scoop balls of the cake pop mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Press a cake pop stick into each ball and freeze until firm.
Melt the white chocolate gently over a double boiler. Dip the frozen cake pops into the white chocolate and place on the parchment to set. (If adding toppings, right after you dip the cake pops in the chocolate, dip them in in the desired toppings such as nuts, sprinkles or chocolate chips.)
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Nils Rowland