Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cake Balls.

In addition to bread and cheese on the patio, my fourth of July weekend in Colorado also involved a foray into the world of weird dessert baking, when my sister Anne and I undertook the blogtastic "cake ball" recipe that has been sweeping the Internet this year. Cake balls are odd little things, but strange in a tasty way. They are essentially the amalgamation of a good bite of cake, but all squished up into a bite sized package. In fact, cake balls are so ball-y that in a way it is almost as thought the cake has been pre-chewed for you. Yeah, I know that is not appetizing, but that is what I mean when I say that the cake balls are both odd and tasty. The little desserts were almost too moist, but at the same time they are full of frosting and covered in chocolate, so they can't be that weird. Also, they remind me of something a 1960's stay at home housewife would make to bide her time before her cocktail-hour martini, in anticipation of guests. It just has that casserole-and-jello-salad-era nostalgia to it. But maybe that's just me.

Most cake ball recipes you will find on the Internet call for a boxed cake mix and a can of frosting from the grocery aisle. To that I say, don't go there people. Don't even think about going there. Cake is simple, frosting is even easier, so do it from scratch. I put two good recipes below for your ease of baking.

And once the cake and frosting is out of the way, making the cake ball is, well, a piece of cake. Just bake a cake and let it cool. Whip up a batch of frosting. Then use a fork and break the sheet cake into crumbs and large chunks. Stir into frosting until combined. Using your hands or a cookie dough scoop, portion bite sized balls of cake mixture onto a baking sheet or plate and refrigerate or freeze until firm. The next step is where you can get creative. Dip the cake balls in melted chocolate or white chocolate. If you are fancy and experienced in candy-dipping, you might consider adding a bit of food-safe wax or shortening to help the chocolate coating dry smoothly like a truffle. You can top with sprinkles, nuts, candies, confectioners sugar, and even lollipop sticks.

When dipped, cool, arrange gracefully on a tray, put on your best string of pearls and your crisp hand-sewn apron, and serve. Preferably to yourself, bon-bon style. Enjoy.

One-bowl Chocolate Cake
from a Martha Stewart cupcake recipe

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

1 comment:

Nicknamed...Annie said...

Thanks for the good press Kate!

I'd add that I think the cake balls were superior when eaten frozen. In addition, they are a bit addictive in the sense that the more cake balls you eat, the better you like to eat cake balls.

For the coating I would STRONGLY reccoment a simple ganache. When frozen the ganache tastes like chocolate but has the consistancy of a really good caramel.

Finally, when Kate and I undertook the cake ball challenge, there was debate over whether or not to add sprinkles. My opinion, post-cake ball expiriment, is that I will never again eat a cake ball without sprinkles. They're fundamental to the recipe's success.