Working at a bakery certainly had it’s perks, not to mention the opportunity to learn a few tricks of the trade. One of those tricks was how to make the ever-trendy cake ball, which I happen to be a huge fan of. It takes the mess out of eating a piece of cake or a cupcake (no mess=best party food ever) without compromising any of the classic cake components.
I offered to make a dessert for a Christmas party this weekend and wanted the dessert to not only look, but taste, festive. I found a gingerbread cake recipe on The Joy of Baking that was paired with a lemon icing. Sounded like perfection. The cake came out beautifully, however, that style of icing is not what I am used to. It’s more of a cinnamon roll-type icing and I am much more of a buttercream girl. In my opinion it was also way too sweet. Instead of having a melt-down, I channeled the love-child of Martha Stewart and MacGyver and made some sort of icing-buttercream hybird that turned out pretty well. To the existing icing I threw in a half of stick of butter, a splash (or 4 or 5) of vanilla, and a little milk (for the heck of it!). It made a much creamier frosting that, in the end, blended perfectly with the gingerbread cake. Did I take the time to write any of these changes down? Of course not.
I can, however, show you how to make a pretty awesome cake ball.
This is where the magic happens.
Subtly sweet and a little tart.
I baked mine in two 9" cake pans.
Once the cakes have cooled, dump into a large bowl. How often can a crumbly cake not send you into a fit of rage? Magical.
Combine cake and frosting. I went for it and used my hands. This cake consistency was my best so far for cake balls-- not too gooey, which made for easy and quick mixing.
To make the balls you can use in small scoop, or just eyeball the size you want. I started with a melon-baller but quickly through caution to the wind and free-handed it. Insanity. The balls will need to chill in the refrigerator for several hours (I left mine in overnight, but if you're short on time you can stick them in the freezer for an hour or so.)
Once the balls are chilled, you need to melt your coating. For these I used Wilton's Candy Melts in Vanilla (white chocolate). These come in a ton of colors as well as milk chocolate and, more than likely, dark chocolate. You can melt the candy as is, or if you prefer it a little thinner like I do, add a splash of vegetable oil to the candy prior to melting. I use a glass bowl and the microwave and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. The candy will hold its shape even if it is close to fully melted, so don't let that fool you and risk burning the chocolate.
Once you're ready to dip take no more than a dozen of the cake balls out of the fridge at a time so that your patience-filled hours of chilling weren't in vain. Use a fork to guide your ball through the chocolate and allow any excess to drip off before placing on your dish of choice. I sprayed a plate with cooking spray since I was going to package them for travel after cooling. If you're going to decorate with sprinkles or sugar you will need to do so pretty quickly since the candy melts dry in a couple minutes.
The festive and finished product.