Have you jumped on the new cake ball/cake pop band wagon yet? Although, I have heard that pie is the new cupcake? From what I understand, cupcake was the new cake, cake balls/pops were the new cupcake and now pie is the new cupcake…we back tracked a little, but what is reassuring is that there will always be something delicious “in style”!
I have been doing cake balls for about 2-3 years now, and I have two “secrets” to the trade, which I haven’t shared with anyone up until now, mainly because it’s an exhausting amount of information:
1) NEVER use a box cake mix
I’m all for box cake mixes when time is in a crunch, but if you have the time and patience to make your own cake, give it a try! I’m not saying you have to come up with your own recipe or anything, because like I said, almost every cupcake recipe can be turned into a cake – its a matter of switching the size of the pan. I have made Chocolate Cake balls, Coffee Cake Balls, Strawberry Cake Balls, Peanut Butter Cake Balls and now Snickerdoodle (which might be a close second favorite). I also modify recipes I find online.
2) Bind the crumbs…A LOT
I know they have come out with these fancy uni-taskers (as Alton Brown would say) to make cake balls, but for me, a cake ball isn’t a cake ball if it crumbles in your mouth. It’s got be almost gooey and delicious, almost a brownie texture instead (I know, then is it really a cake ball?)…this is where the binding ingredient comes in. If you don’t have a cake ball machine, you generally need something so it will stay in the ball shape. I usually use canned frosting because it comes in all different flavors. You can also use cream cheese. For me, the texture has to stay together if I squeeze it in my hand – that means no crumbs are falling off – almost like play dough.
I got this idea when my friend made Snickerdoodle Cupcakes (from good ol’ Martha) for her daughter’s birthday. Well hell, I thought, cupcakes can be turned into cake and cake means cake balls! Since I don’t make cake balls the boxed cake way I usually need a special occasion to make them. Lucky me…my husband’s family reunion does bake sales! And in his family, it seems like I am the go-to lady of cake balls. So here we are.
You have to figure out what flavors will work well together. This is important because you will have layered flavors. So because I did Snickerdoodle, I decided to have a Vanilla/White Chocolate coating. To add some crunch I added store-bought snickerdoodle cookies and crumbled them on top.
I apologize for the lack of photos with the process – I was home alone and my husband would not be pleased if I got cake/chocolate on the lens.
- Bake your cake – whether that be a cake box or not! No judgement here! For the Snickerdoodle recipe from Martha Stewart (above) I used a 9×13 pan and baked it for about 10 minutes longer.
- Let your cake cool! Preferably overnight and on a cooling rack so the air can circulate under the pan.
- Crumble that cake up in a big bowl! I mean crumble it good! **Another secret: I NEVER use edges in the mix. I find that they are too hard/crusty to use with the crumbs.**
- Mix in your sticky binder. For this recipe I used softened fat-free cream cheese. Now get your hands dirty! Almost like kneading dough – get in there and mix it all together!
- Form your balls (stay with me…no minds in the gutter here!), mine are usually about 1-1.25 inches in diameter. I don’t really use any measuring tool. Once you do 3-4 you can usually tell just by the way it feels in your hand. Place each ball on an edged cookie sheet/pan and stick them in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Just so they’re hard enough to stick together, but not frozen!
- Melt your coating. This is usually chocolate (chips or bars), Almond bark, or the colored vanilla chips found in the baking aisle.
- Dip your balls (haha ok, last one I promise…*sigh* I’m immature sometimes)! You can roll them in the coating and let them drip off while sitting on a cooling rack. I tend to do 4-5 at a time, stick them with the lollipop sticks, dunk and swirl. Once the coating has hardened, which takes about as long as I finish the 5th one, I pull it off the stick, and let it sit to harden more.
8. (Optional) If you have left over coating, or want to add a touch of jazz, you can drizzle over the top of them to give them that fine bakery look. Also you can put them in baggies or cellophane if you’re serving them for a special occasion, like I did with these.
A few dont’s:
- Don’t forget to enjoy you’re hard work and to always taste test your way through the recipe!
- Don’t be afraid to try new flavors
- Don’t count the calories in these
If you stick around, maybe I’ll share my technique to make cake “balls” for the bachelorette party! Use your imagination!
Ok, I’m really done here. Enjoy your weekend!