Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cake balls

Tis the season for sweets, and I recently tried my hand at cake balls for a holiday party (also known as cake pops if you add a stick).  I don't think I would have ever attempted them had I known what I was getting myself into (I am not a baker.  not even a little bit), but after a little a lot of trial and error, I think I've gotten the hang of it well enough to do it again with out quite so many tears.

So, in case you were interested in trying your hand at a little balling this holiday season, here's the cake ball recipe I used with tips/tricks I've thrown in for the baking-challenged.

1 box cake mix (including oil, water, eggs, and anything else necessary to make the cake)
1 jar frosting
1 package bark (candy coating that I found hiding out by the chocolate chips on the baking isle)
  • Mix up the cake mix and bake according to package directions.
  • While the cake is still hot (or at least warm), dump it back into the mixer, and turn it on 'low' (essentially destroying the cake you just baked).
  • Spoon anywhere from half a jar of frosting to a whole jar depending on how 'cakey' you like your balls (I used about 2/3 - 3/4 of a jar).  
  • Let the mixer go until your cake/frosting mix is the consistency of crumbly play-doh (you should see a big ball of dough forming at this point in the bowl).
  • Turn the mixer off, form the dough into a big ball (any residual dough on the outside of the bowl will be hard to work with and essentially wasted if you don't scrape it off and let it join the big party ball happening in the middle).  
  • Cover and chill (I popped it in the freezer for an hour, and that seemed to work fine, but if ice crystals freak you out, try the fridge for a few hours)
  • Using a melon baller or a 2Tbs cookie scoop, make all your dough balls.  I used the cookie scoop to get a consistent sized ball, but would also hand roll each ball to get a nice shape.
  • You want to work pretty quickly because I found the dough harder to work with as it warmed up.  If things get too impossible, toss it back in the fridge or freezer for a while and then return to balling.
  • Once all your dough is balled, freeze the balls over night (4 hours minimum).  I put all my balls into a big tupperware container and separated the layers with wax paper since I don't have room for a cookie sheet in my freezer.
The next part was my biggest challenge since I'd never worked with candy coating before, and you may have your own method, but after ruining TWO entire batches of bark and at least a half dozen cake balls, this is what worked best for me.
  • Working with a half of a package at a time, I would heat the candy coating in a small sauce pan over low heat until melted, then turn the heat off but leave the pot on the warm burner.
  • One dough ball at a time, I'd plop it into the melted bark then use a silicon spatula to spoon the coating over the top two or three times until the ball was completely coated.
  • I used a plastic fork, that I broke the middle two tines off of, to scoop the ball out and move it over to a sheet of wax paper to dry.
  • To get the wet coated ball off the fork with minimal damage, I would set the ball and fork down on the wax paper, place my finger behind the ball (where the tines were broken off), then pull the fork back, while my finger held the ball in place on the wax paper.  That probably makes no sense, but seeing as I'm the only one that will read this, I'll hold off on the youtube video for now and just let you use your imagination.
  • I had a bunch of bark left over, so I drizzled it on top for decoration, and to help hide how lopsided and unevenly coated a few of the balls were.
  • All done with beautiful cake balls that looked a LITTLE like this....
 and this...

(images courtesy of bakerella and the cereal baker)
The combinations are pretty endless with cake mix, frosting and bark, but here are the ones I made:
Lemon: Duncan hines lemon supreme mix, lemon supreme frosting, white bark
Red Velvet: Duncan hines red velvet mix, creme cheese frosting, chocolate bark

And the ones I want to try next...
Carrot Cake: Carrot cake, creme cheese frosting, white bark
German Chocolate: German chocolate cake, coconut pecan frosting, chocolate bark

I have a mom-friend who bakes professionally and her cake ball combinations are insane...french toast with bacon (yes bacon!), churro, candy cane red velvet, margarita, strawberry lime, mexican chocolate and bacardi coconut to name a few.  Yea....I'll stick with my beginner combos for now, but if you live in the Houston area and want to try the real thing, you can check out Word of Mouth cakes in Spring, TX.