Did everyone have a lovely season of gifting and receiving and driving and flying and celebrating and returning?
I do hope so.
I'm on the very cusp of being back in the swing of things. I've been meaning to share this little How To with you for weeks, but just have not been able to make myself sit down and focus. But it's January 4th, by golly, so it's time to get serious, right?
How much more serious does it get than making cake balls?
This is very serious.
So, in case you are wondering, cake balls have been around for while, but they didn't get all famous and swanky until The Bakerella shared them with the whole wide world two years ago. As it turns out, the possibilities of combinations are deliciously endless.
For example, instead of doing red velvet cake mixed with cream cheese frosting, you could do white cake mixed with raspberry-flavored cocoa and dipped in chocolate OR chocolate cake mixed with peppermint coffee creamer dipped in chocolate OR pumpkin bread mixed with pumpkin spice coffee creamer dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with cinnamon OR, if you aren't eggnog-averse like I am, you could try white cake mixed with eggnog dipped in white chocolate and then sprinkled with gree and red sugar or . . . Really, you are limited only by your imagination.
(And I suppose you are also limited by the boundaries of good taste. White cake mixed with, oh say, canned tuna . . . that's not gonna work. retch)
Anyway, on to the pictoral How To.*
For our Sunday School Christmas party, I decided to make two different kinds of cake balls - one batch was white cake mixed with lemon pie filling and dipped in white chocolate and the second batch was milk chocolate cake mixed with melted peanut butter dipped in semi-sweet chocolate.
First, you just bake up your cake. If your two year old comes along and scrapes up a portion of the cake, shoves it in her mouth, and runs off giggling, have ye no fear! You are just going to take that cooled cake and crumble the mess out of it.
Next, you mix in your mix-in. You want something that is a little liquid-y, but not too-liquid-y. After mixing the cake and mix-in, you want the consistency to be such that you can shape into, well, balls.
I now know that I made these way too big. In my opinion, the smaller you can get them, the better, because for the most part, cake balls are VERY SWEET and VERY RICH. The ones I made were overwhelmingly rich. Anyway, here is how batch one turned out before dipping.
Now, for batch two, I was playing all fast and loose with the mix-in proportions. I slightly melted two cups of peanut butter, but ended up using nearly a cup more.
Once you have formed the balls, pop them in the freezer. They need to be nice and chilled and set before the dipping action takes place.
*** Wanna hear a little secret about Kyle and me? We are polar opposites on the matter of white chocolate. It ranks right up there with eggnog for me on Things That I Will Not Tolerate. White chocolate, as you know, is not even real chocolate. And it is too, too, too sweet for me. My darling husband, however, has been known to sleuth it out and even steal (yes! steal!) when necessary to get his white chocolate fix, as is evidenced by the tampered with and un-full box below. Shameful. ***
Anyway, chop up whatever dipping substance you have chosen. Can you use almond bark? Sure. But I have it on good authority you do NOT want to use Candi-Quick. (Sorry, Sasha!)
Dip and place on waxed paper covered cookie sheets to chill in fridge.
After I took that shot, I wondered if maybe anyone wants to talk more about the dipping. Because I am going to be honest with you, the dipping is the trickiest part of the process.
First of all, definitely use a double-boiler set-up. I do not have a real double boiler, so I put a stainless steel bowl over the top of my big ol' pasta pot and it worked real nice-like.
You do not want to go with the microwave melt here because of how much dipping is about to happen. You need some consistent heat.
So again, chop up your dipper (mmmmmm . . . semi-sweet chocolate . . . so much closer to The Divine).
With batch one, I quickly figured out that actually DIPPING the cake ball into the chocolate is not preferable. Bits of cake fleck off and ruin the consistency and it all gets very miserable.
I devised a dipping system using two soup spoons that worked much better. Cake ball goes on one spoon, second spoon pours chocolate over and then slides cake ball onto waxed paper tray. Much. Better.
And YET. You know how finicky melted chocolate or even almond bark can be, don't you? You get a teensy bit of moisture in there, and it starts coagulating and gets all gunky. I happened to have a block of almond bark as back-up for batch one, and as I read the package, I remembered the best tip for working with the melted chocolate/bark - add Crisco! Truly, a tablespoon of solid Crisco added to the chocolate or bark makes a huge difference in the coating process.
And here are the finished Peanut Butter Cup inspired cake balls:
And the subsequent mess.
All in all, a great little treat that you can make for any occasion - not just the holidays!
1) These are easy but fairly time-consuming. It would be a lot of fun to make them with (older) children or with a couple of girlfriends or even your husband (if you can keep him out of the white chocolate). The ball-making and the coating are particularly tedious, so it would be great to have someone to chitter chatter with while you work.
2) Kyle wants me to note that he thinks if I were to bake a chocolate cake, mix in the peanut butter, then form it into loaves, chill, then not dip, these Peanut Butter Cup loaves would make delicious accompaniments to a cup of coffee.
I'm making a note to try that after I shed the seventy-eleven pounds I've gained in the past month of baking and feasting.
3) For Christmas gifts for my siblings, I actually followed Bakerella's red velvet cake combo and ohmyword. SO GOOD. I didn't eat the ones I dipped in white chocolate, but I had a TON of un-dipped ones left over, and the girls and I really, really enjoyed just eating them straight out of the freezer. You could make those for any kind of event or celebration and I think they would go over well.
4) If you have a fairly immature sense of humor (and/or you are married to someone who does), there will be lots of snickering about the term cake balls. I'm sorry, there just is. For the prim and proper crowd, I give you my permission to refer to yours as Cake Truffles instead.
* My friend Aimee is a food blogger. I am not a food blogger. This is evident. Taking pictures while you prepare food is challenging. Trying to get a great shot of the finished project is not easy. Hats off to all of you food bloggers. May you all get your cookbook deal.
Alright then, let's discuss:
Let's talk. I've been missing you.