Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Balls

I don't know if any of you have heard of cake balls before.  If you haven't, you should.  They're amazing.  They taste so rich, and are always impressive.

We had a reception on Sunday to welcome the new pastor at my church, and I wanted to make something a little different from the standard fare.  Of course, I needed to figure out how to give it an Italian flare.  So I decided on red velvet cake balls coated with vanilla almond bark coating with a dab of green on top.

This is another of those recipes that seems like it would be really challenging, but it's surprisingly easy.

The first time I made cake balls, I used leftover cake tops from a baby shower cake I'd made for a coworker, and since the cake tops were frozen, they were very crumbly and much drier than a fresh cake would be.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but working with drier cake is much different from working with fresh cake, so be aware.

You start with a cake, of course.  You can use any flavor cake you want, but I was going for the red, white and green of the Italian flag, so I decided on the red velvet cake.  There are lots of recipes for red velvet cake out there, but I didn't have time (or enough red food coloring) to make a cake from scratch, so I used the Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix.  Just bake it according to package directions in a 9x13 pan, and let it cool completely.

Once the cake is completely cooled, you crumble it into very fine pieces into the largest bowl or soup pot you own.  I used my six-quart soup pot, because it's big enough to hold all the cake and allow room for me to mix without overflowing.  Then you add standard store-bought cream cheese frosting; again I used Duncan Hines.  How much frosting you add completely depends on the moistness of the cake.  This cake was extremely moist, so I only had to add about half the can.

You can mix with a spoon or a fork if you like, but it really works best if you use your hands.  Not only can you incorporate the frosting more evenly, you'll have a better feel for whether or not you need to add more frosting.  Err on the side of caution when adding the frosting, too.  You can always add more if it's too dry, but if it's too moist, you can't take the frosting back out and I don't know a solution to that particular problem.  Anyway, once you've incorporated the frosting, it will seem a little like a cookie dough (except it's completely cooked and therefore safe to eat with a spoon at this point if you just can't help yourself.  The next step is to form the cake balls.  I find using my cookie scoop helps me get very evenly sized cake balls.  You can leave the cake balls the size of the scoop, but I decided to split each one in half so they would go farther.

Rolling the cake balls can get messy, as you can see, especially when using red velvet.  But if you don't roll them, they aren't uniform enough and can fall apart when you dip them.

After the cake balls are rolled, you need to chill them for several hours, if not overnight, to make sure they're firm enough to stand up to the heat of your melted chocolate or candy melts, whatever you decide to use.  This is probably the trickiest step.  I used vanilla almond bark coating, but you could use regular chocolate or any color candy melts you'd like.  Only melt a few pieces of the bark at once, so you don't use more than you need.  Drop each cake ball into the bowl and roll it around with a spoon.  Then use a fork to lift the cake ball out of the bowl, tapping the fork on the rim to shake off the excess.  Then use a toothpick to slide the cake ball onto a sheet of wax paper.  Then let them set.
It didn't take very long for the almond bark coating to set.  I decided to add a little green swirl to the top.  Of course, I used my Wilton gel food coloring to get a more vibrant green, not realizing that it would thicken the melted bark into a paste.  I had to add a little shortening to thin it out.  It wasn't exactly the look I had envisioned, but it still looked pretty good.

I only gave each cake ball a single dip in the almond bark coating, but if you wanted to make sure you had a pure white coating, you definitely would want to do two coats.  Red velvet cake apparently tints the white bark and shows through rather easily.  Still, overall I was pleased, and they definitely made people stop and say, "Ooo, what are these?"

I wish I could take credit for inventing cake balls, but I can't.  I found the directions over at Bakerella's website.  She's got some amazing varieties of cake balls and cake pops.

1 comment:

  1. I heart Bakerella! This is such a fun post :)