Imagine a bride walking down the aisle — not with a bouquet of fresh flowers, but holding a colorful cluster of cake pops. Don’t think anyone would ever dream of it? Think again.

Cake pops are popping up all over — at weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, graduations and much more — to the happiness of some and the deep chagrin of others.

Boutique bakeries such as New York Cake Pops are transforming this trend into high-end art with wedding cake pops designed and decorated in all sorts of floral patterns, lace and even the groom’s tuxedo. Prices start at $33 per dozen, not including signature extras like gold and silver disco dust, airbrush colors, swirls and sprinkles, or personalized with guest names.

Whether your customers are willing to pay exorbitant prices for decorative flair, depends on where your bakery does business.

The Bagel Bakery & Cupcake Shoppe in the Denver suburb of Thornton, CO, features Lollicakes from The Lollicake Bakeshop in Denver. A recent satisfied customer ordered a dozen Valentine’s Lollicakes for their Girl Scout troop’s Valentine’s Day party. They were delivered in a pink mini-bucket and arranged like a floral arrangement, with ribbon and a decorative pink accent.

But not every baker loves the cake pop trend. Consider the food costs involved in putting elaborate decorations on a tiny treat, and veteran bakers recognize that cake pops must command a super premium in order to be a profitable item. That’s why they may be best served as a high-end dessert treat for premium events like weddings or produced in wholesale quantities and shipped frozen. Remember that a lollipop costs pennies to produce at a large candy factory and sells for less than $1 apiece. Make sure your customers understand the costs involved in producing such a premium item as cake pops.

According to Martha White baking expert Linda Carman, cake pops are popular these days and are especially easy to make, starting with baked muffins. Simply crumble the muffins and mix with canned frosting, then roll into small balls. Dip in candy coating and decorate. Chocolate Covered Banana Muffin Pops are a creative example of how to mix fun flavors together on a stick.

New entries

One thing is certain: The cake pop phenomenon is attracting new bakeries to the business. Glass of Milk Cake Company opened its doors in Kansas City, MO, in May 2011. A 29-year-old Army wife and mother of five young boys, Amanda Phillips decided to put her love for baking together with her passion and talent of art, and Glass of Milk Cake Company was born.

“I was just tired of the normal grocery store cakes, and wanted to make cakes that my boys would love,” Phillips says. “Once I made my first few cakes and cupcakes, people just kept asking for more and more, and I couldn’t keep making them out of the house. When we got transferred to the Kansas City area as our final duty station, I decided to open my own shop, so I could make people smile every day.”

To make her cake pops, the Kansas City baker starts with a fully baked made-from-scratch cake and crumbles it up. Then she mixes it with homemade frosting. Once fully mixed, she rolls the mixture into little balls, places them on sticks and dips them in chocolate. Once cooled, she decorates the cake pops in an unlimited amount of creative ways, to match any theme.

Glass of Milk Cake Company also focuses on being a green and local company. Glass of Milk Cake Company uses plates made from sugar cane, and biodegradable cups, boxes and napkins. They also use local milk, eggs, coffee and “anything else green or local we can get our hands on.”

In other markets, cake pops are gaining such notoriety that the mini treats now come in gluten-free versions.

In January, retail/wholesaler 3 Fellers Bakery announced it will soon have gluten-free desserts available in the bakery section of Whole Foods Market supermarkets. Seven varieties of individually packaged specialty treats will be available in select Mid-Atlantic stores starting in February.

According to 3 Fellers, a family-owned gluten-free bakery based in Goochland, VA, gluten-free cake pops are elegant and delicious at the same time. These sophisticated treats are baked and decorated with the utmost care and taste even better than they look. The bakery’s gluten-free cake pops come in three flavors: chocolate, chocolate peanut butter and chocolate coconut.

“Our products are all-natural,” says Mike Feller, president of 3 Fellers. “We like to use the finest ingredients that we can find. We try to make the highest quality products possible, and that is in keeping with the philosophy of Whole Foods stores and the products that they carry.”

The 3 Fellers gluten-free desserts to debut in the Whole Foods bakery section include two types of brownies, two types of mini pies and three varieties of specialty cupcakes.