Here’s the bottom line: I’m obsessed with baking.
I first encountered cake balls a few years ago at a friend’s party. Here were these adorable spheres of cake that were just enough sweet to satisfy a sweet tooth craving. Perfect! Now I don’t have to worry about stuffing my face with a whole piece of cake. Works out nicely.
When I first started experimenting with cake balls, the whole experience was more of a mess than anything else. My first mistake was adding frosting to the cake before forming the balls. The second was that I was stupidly heating the chocolate over the stove. And finally, my third mistake was that I was sticking a knife into the cake ball and dipping it (rather unsuccessfully) into the chocolate burning on the stove.
So when I visited the Lake Austin Spa this winter break and walked past the cooking class room where they just happened to have a lesson about making cake balls, it was like divine intervention.
The chef corrected my previous notions:
1) do NOT include frosting into the cake ball itself, just crumble the cake
2) do NOT heat chocolate on the stove, heat it in the microwave
- another great tip was to not add water based food coloring to white chocolate for color, rather add an oil based food coloring so it does not dry out the chocolate. water and chocolate hate each other!
3) do NOT use a fork, use a spoon for goodness sake!
After receiving this formal training, I am working up to become a cake ball guru.
Here’s my process:
1) bake a cake
- I would start out with something standard, like chocolate or vanilla. here is a lovely recipe from Magnolia Bakery: http://www.food.com/recipe/magnolia-bakerys-vanilla-birthday-cake-and-frosting-139518?scaleto=.5&mode=null&st=true
- don’t be afraid to add extra oil or apple sauce to the cake to make it moist!
2) after letting the cake cool, crumble the cake in a medium sized bowl until the cake is in fine pieces (pictured below is a pumpkin cake, just before it is going to be fully crumbled)
3) put on gloves and form balls with your hands, simply by grabbing a handful of cake and compressing it
- if the cake is not staying intact, try adding some milk
4) set cake balls on cookie sheet and put them in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or so, until they are somewhat hardened/not looking like they will cave in after adding pressure with your finger
5) a few minutes before taking the cake balls out of the refrigerator, pour chocolate (white or dark) chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. timing is so important here! take the bowl out of the microwave and stir. place it back in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- optional: add a few drops of oil based food coloring
6) place a cake ball into the melted chocolate, using a spoon to move it around so that it is covered on all sides with chocolate. Now, pick up the cake ball with the spoon and tap the spoon against the bowl to make sure that you get as much dripping chocolate off as possible. then, gently touch the spoon to the cookie sheet and shake it gently until the cake ball gracefully rolls off of the spoon.
- if you want to add decorations (like sprinkles), put them on within 20 seconds of “frosting” the cake ball, otherwise the chocolate will dry and the decs won’t stick!
7) the drying process depends on the chocolate. i’d say it takes about 30 minutes for all of them to be completely dry and ready to serve.
There are so many flavor options with cake balls! Not only are they visually appealing, but they are the perfect bite size treat to take to a party or to enjoy yourself. xoxo