Are you riding the Cake Ball craze? Or maybe you’ve seen them on lollypop sticks and called them Cake Pops? I had never heard of such a thing until three years ago when I was tasked with throwing a 100-year anniversary party for the company I work for. 100 years! That calls for some serious treats! Through a friend, I discovered dianne’s Delights, Seattle’s resident Cake Ball Queen. She made something like 1000 cake balls for the big night – and not a single one was left over. Dianne is as sweet and adorable as her treats, and the only reason you might not instantly fall in love with her is your (justified) fear of tight jeans.
Check out some of her bea-u-ti-ful designs:
And if you tell me this isn’t the most adorable kid’s cake you’ve ever seen, you are just plain lying:
The great thing about cake balls is that they really are quite easy to make, and they’re very hands-on (read: messy) so super fun to make with kiddos. You can use little tiny cookie cutters to make shaped pops, or just roll them in your hands and rekindle your good old play-doh days. The simplest of cake balls use a box of cake mix, a container of frosting, and some chocolate. You don’t even have to bake the cake from scratch! And believe me, they are addictive in this most generic rendition. But any fluffy, light cake recipe will work.
The first time I tried my hand at rolling and dipping, I was shocked that they didn’t look quite like Dianne’s. Huh? (I love how I’m always appalled when the food I make doesn’t look like the pictures in Bon Appetite.) No amount of sprinkles could disguise my wrinkly cake balls. Don’t feel too bad though, they were yummy enough that I’m not sure anyone even noticed they looked like little chocolate-covered tumors.
And then, the cake pop fairy answered my cake pop prayers, and Dianne started teaching Cake Pop Classes! And really, I can’t imagine a better way to spend a few hours – delicious treats, professional execution, super fun people, AND mimosas! Cha-ching!
Dianne made it seem so simple to make perfect looking cake balls and cake pops (pops have a stick – either ball up or ball down, and balls are just plain bon-bons). But I guess if you’d rolled like 100,000 cake balls a year, you’d make it look like a cinch, too.
Here are a few tips:
After crumbing your cake completely, add in the frosting, and really (really) work it in. It should feel exactly like play-doh. The recipe calls for a half of a tub of frosting, but start with about a quarter, and add as needed. Once they have too much frosting in them, they’re hard to rescue without adding more cake.
Then use a cookie-scoop to portion out the balls. (above photo, right side are portioned out, left side are rolled.) Roll them in the palm of your hands until they’re round and smooth.
If you are going to make cake pops, dip the stick in the melted chocolate about 1/2 inch, then insert it into the rolled ball. This will help keep the ball on the stick when it’s inverted, and more importantly, when you take a bite. Let the chocolate harden before dipping the balls.
Once you have your cake pops prepped with sticks, it’s time to start dunking. Warm the chocolate in a double boiler, and try not to move the ball around in the chocolate much. It’ll crumb, and you’ll also end up with bubbles. You can also smoosh the ball into a tiny cookie cutter to make fun shapes – like the heart one above.
Stick the pops in a block of styrofoam to harden, or ball-down on a sheet of parchment. For plain balls, just dunk and gently place on a sheet of parchment to harden. And most importantly – decorate away any imperfections or bubbles.
I actually made these cake balls (!!!) and was pretty impressed with myself. Having someone who knows what they’re doing show you makes all the difference, and if you have the chance, sign up for one of Dianne’s classes. I can’t wait to make cake balls with my cousin’s daughters at Easter. I think we’ll decorate them like easter eggs and chicks. Enjoy!
Click here to print this recipe.
Time to prepare: 1 hour, starting with a baked cake
Yields: 1 box cake yields about 24 balls
1 box cake, baked. Trim off any burned or really crunchy edges. Light, fluffy cakes work best.
1 container frosting, any flavor.
Baking sheets, lined with parchment
A double-boiler setup (alternatively, you can use a microwave to melt the chocolate)
Lollypop sticks for cake pops
Mini cookie cutters to make shaped cake pops
Start by crumbling your cake with your hands. You want it completely uniform in crumby-ness, and remove any crunchy or burned chunks. You want the consistency to be perfectly smooth inside the cake pop.
Thoroughly mix in about 1/4 of the container of frosting – again, hands work best here. Add more frosting as needed, but if you add too much the pops will fall off the sticks, and they won’t hold their perfect round shape.
Heat the chocolate over a double boiler to melt it completely. Make sure you have enough in the bowl so you don’t have to roll the balls around to coat them – this will lead to bubbles and crumbs. Drop the balls in, one by one, and gently lift them out with a fork or spoon. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment to harden, or decorate immediately with sprinkles. If you’d like to make the fun swizzly decorations, put some of the melted chocolate in a zip top baggie and trim the corner off. Decorate the pops with the drizzling chocolate.
The cake pops wil keep in fridge for a week, or in a sealed tupperware for a few days. Don’t freeze them though, the chocolate’s consistency gets funny when it’s frozen and thawed.
Want to take a Cake Pop Class with Dianne? Check out her website for upcoming class schedules.
For some more decorating inspiration, check out Bakerella’s website.