Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cake Ball Challenge - Success!

After several hours of baking, crumbling, mixing, shaping, 2 cake mixes, 2 frosting cans and levels of hell later, I concluded my first cake ball experiment with what resembled chewed up cake smushed together and topped with a sticky glaze. Normally when a recipe flounders, it takes me several weeks to get over the blow to my ego. (Butternut squash lasagna, it’s still too soon.) However, cake balls are supposed to be simple. Every recipe available online boasts how quick and easy these are to make, and oh so satisfying. If a housewife in the Mid West can pull it off, well damn it, so can I. 

Instead of rushing the process in one night, I took my sweet time this week lovingly gathering all the ingredients together. Here’s what I learned from my second attempt:

1.     If you happen to buy any cake with the word “moist” on it, you’re going to want to over-bake it. Moist cake just does not crumble the way this recipe calls for, and leads to the aforementioned slop. I kept mine in the oven 10 minutes past the instructions, but they probably could have stayed in even longer. 

2.     Most bakers and chefs are probably not as impatient as I am. The main thing I learned through this process is that I need to chill the fuck out when cooking. Let your cake cool completely before crumbling, and then let it sit. As much as it pains me to wait, it’s worth it.

3.     Don’t throw an entire can of frosting in there just because all the recipes say to. My cake, even over baked, was still moist enough after about half the can. I did it in spoonfuls to gauge how soft the mixture would be. It’s called a “binder” for a reason… you just need enough to keep the cake together.

4.      Mix the frosting and crumbs together with your hands, not a stand mixer. The force is too strong and whips it up into a frenzy. Don’t over do it.

5.      Some recipes encouraged me to refrigerate the mixture overnight before rolling it out into bite-sized balls, but putting it in the freezer overnight works much better.

6.     Next time, I’ll probably pick up some lollipop sticks for dipping, but using a plastic fork in a pinch works pretty well. Break off the two middle prongs and rest the balls on the fork, dip and swirl around as best as you can. Keep the remaining balls in the freezer, because the cake bits starts to break off into the melted chocolate if they warm up.

After three days of careful planning, I did it! I defeated and conquered the cake balls. They may not be quite as pretty as Bakerella’s, but they taste like little bites of heaven. I’ll be bringing in some for my coworkers today, as well as saving a little stockpile for my boyfriend to demolish. Feels good to be domestic sometimes. Take that, cake balls!


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