Recently over lunch, one of our guests from Northern Carolina brought up cake balls. Apparently, these ingenious confections became a huge craze that spread across the South like kudzu, only tastier. Our interest piqued, my darling bride and I wasted no time reading up about them on the internet. After studious research, we decided to try our hands at making our own. Mind you, this endeavor was purely to lend us credence should the topic ever arise again in polite conversation. If obtaining such credibility involved stuffing our faces with chocolate-dipped wads of cake and frosting, so be it.
Foremost in our deliberations: which flavor to try? Or, at the very least, which flavor to try first? Faster than you can say “bipartisanship”, we reached an accord: strawberry. But what to dip it in? White or chocolate? We shelved that discussion until we at least had the filling baked, mixed, and in the fridge.
All of the ingredients are easily obtained from your friendly neighborhood Walmart, though their melon ballers, at 2″ across, are far too large. We found that a half-tablespoon brought us closest to the 1.25″ recommended by The Cake Ball Company. Speaking of which, who would have imagined that Texas–land of the big and the brash–would be home to such a dainty and whimsical party treat? All I know is, if I lived within a hundred miles of The Cake Ball Company’s Dallas headquarters, I would most assuredly be bigger, though in the wrong dimension. Hollywood got it wrong; Satan is not a high-powered Manhattan lawyer trying to corrupt Keanu Reeves. Rather, the prince of darkness runs a Texas bakery peddling $3 cake balls in the Neiman Marcus catalog, preying upon hapless 30-something physicians trying to keep their waistlines within Air Force regulations. But I digress…
The ratio of frosting to cake mix can be adjusted as desired. We went the easy route and combined a full 16-oz. tub with the finished product of an 18.25-oz. cake mix box. (“What,” reasoned my wife, “would we do with any leftover frosting?”) The result certainly shapes easily, though at the expense of the cake’s airy lightness. It’s almost too rich and sweet. My advice: start with just 3/4 of a tub and gradually add more as needed.
The instructions say to freeze the balls for 6 hours, but warned that over-freezing would subsequently cause the coating to crack. At this point, we faced a dilemma because the 6 hour mark fell somewhere between midnight and half-past-don’t-wake-me-up. So we avoided the freezer and plunked ‘em in the fridge.
The next afternoon, we pulled the tray from the refrigerator. Toothpicks proved useful for skewering and dipping. Yes, they leave a pinhole defect in the dome, but spare us from having to drop $4.50 on a two-tine candy-dipping fork. Speaking of drop, an entire 24-oz. package of almond bark proved insufficient and left us with half-a-dozen unglazed cake balls. Perhaps adding a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the melted bark would have stretched it. Oh well, c’est la vie.
This blog is about making dinner more delightful, and these fun little cake balls can certainly do just that.
Informative link: http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/food/latest-recipes/20100614-bite-size-cake-balls-are-popular-new-treat-with-home-cooks-bakeries.ece
Cake mix, 18.25 oz box
Frosting, 16 oz tub
Almond bark, 24 oz package
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Prepare cake mix per instructions and bake in a 9×13″ pan. While warm, crumble into a bowel and mix in the frosting. (Tip: start with 3/4 of the frosting and add more as desired). Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours. Shape into balls, about 1.25″ in diameter, and either freeze for 6 hours or refrigerate overnight.
Melt almond bark in a double boiler. (Alternatively, melt in microwave, stirring every 15 seconds.) Dip balls into melted bark and set on waxed paper to cool. Leftovers (if any) should be kept in the refrigerator.
Update: We read the instructions of the almond bark and it said to use a tablespoon of vegetable shortening (not oil) to thin for dipping. The difference is amazing; the shell of almond bark is thinner and crunchier.