Monday, October 31, 2011

Recipe: Cake Balls! (Or pops)

Cake Pops have become insanely popular. I finally tasted my very first ones at a bridal shower this past July and fell immediately in love. They are delicious! And adorable. There are so many combinations and varieties to make. The flavor and decorating possibilities are endless.  So finally, for no occasion what-so-ever, I decided to make some. My husband was more than pleased to hear this. He loves when I bake. I pretty much always have cake mix and icing on hand, just in case, and have plenty of almond bark and chocolate chips usually as well. But I assumed I would need some additional, fancier ingredients. I called up my girlfriend who had made them for the aforementioned bridal shower to find out just how difficult this was going to be. I was amazed when I found out how incredibly EASY they are to make. They are just too pretty and delicious to be so EASY! I was more excited than ever to begin.

1 box cake mix (and ingredients needed to bake it: 3 eggs, margarine, water.)
1 16 oz. jar of prepared frosting
almond bark, chocolate chips, or coating of your choice
toothpicks (or sucker sticks if you want to make cake pops instead of balls.)
sprinkles, optional
other decorative materials (ie: cellophane, ribbons, mini-muffin cups, etc.)

I am going to use Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix and Rich & Creamy Rainbow Chip frosting, but you can use whichever flavors you like best.

We're going to prepare our cake according to the package directions. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Mix ingredients until smooth, approximately 2 1/2 - 3min.

Pour the batter into a greased pan. Any size will do just make sure you follow the timing instructions for your size pan.

Bake your cake according to the box. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Next, crumble the cake into a large bowl. Mix with a fork (or one of the beaters from your mixer, like I did) until crumbled into tiny little pieces. I cheated a bit and did this while the cake was still warm. However, it is important to let it cool completely before moving on to the next step or you may end up with a gooey mess.

When the cake is crumbled as fine as you can get it, add about half of your 16oz jar of frosting. Stir with a spatula until there are no dry crumbles left.

A good way to see if you have the right texture is to form your cake and icing mixture into a ball in the bowl. If it forms easily with no loose crumbles then you're good to go. Otherwise, add a bit more frosting and mix well until the right consistency. Keep in mind you don't want too much frosting either, because if it's too goopy it will be hard to from into balls. If you somehow use a little too much frosting, just place your mixture in the 'fridge for an hour or so to harden it up some before forming your balls.

Now the "fun" part! Pick up chunks of icing and roll between your hands to form balls of desired size. I used about 1-1 1/2 tbsp sized globs to form my balls. I was able to make 57 balls exactly, but could have probably gotten 60 if I had not made a few too large.

Set them on a baking sheet (I covered mine with waxed paper) and place in the refrigerator for several hours to harden up. If you're on a time crunch you can also stick them in the freezer for about an hour. Be careful not to freeze them for too long though, if they are too frozen it may cause your chocolate to crack after dipping.

Melt your chocolate (or choice of coating) using a double broiler or the microwave. I don't have a double broiler so I made my own by putting a small amount of water in a pot and placing another pot on top. Place the chips in the top pot and turn on low heat. Stir while it melts.

If you are making cake pops, now is the time to insert your sticks into the cake balls. Dip the tip of each stick into the chocolate and insert into the ball about halfway through. Dip the balls into the melted chocolate and shake off the excess. If you are just making cake balls, like me, use a toothpick to do the dipping. Lay your dipped balls on a lined cookie sheet to set. (For cake pops, you can use an old shoe box with small holes cut in the top to insert your sticks and allow the pops to set upright.)

After removing the toothpick you will have a small hole where it was removed. Dip the tip of the toothpick into the melted chocolate and dab it over the hole to cover it. I sprinkled the cake balls with sugar crystals while the chocolate was still wet. After you have dipped all of your cake balls, place the tray back into the refrigerator until the chocolate is hardened. Once the chocolate is solid they are ready to serve!

For serving, I placed my finished cake balls in colored mini-muffin liners and viola! :)

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