Cake balls are not exactly a new thing, but with their introduction to Starbucks and regular bakeries in the past year or so, they’ve become pretty mainstream. And pretty pricey.
But there’s no need for you to pay an arm and a leg for them. You can make them yourself! The concept is simple. The process is time consuming. But oh, so worth it!
You can make just about any flavor combination you like. But the most popular around here is Red Velvet.
First, make a Red Velvet cake. I didn’t get any photos of the cake being made, but I did get a shot of these two watching with bated breath as it baked.
If you’ve read my baking tutorials before, you know I have an irrational fear of overbaking things. It’s actually ok if you overbake this just a teensy bit. Not that you should try to. But if it happens, it’s ok.
Next, cool the cake completely. And I do mean completely.
Then comes the fun part. Or not, depending on how you look at it.
Get yourself a big bowl. Crumble the cake into the finest crumbs possible. (I cut it into pieces first so it’s easier to handle.)
I sometimes discard (aka eat) the outside edges of the cake because they just don’t crumble well.
Honor and Caedmon were willing to help me with that task.
This is what your cake should look like when you’re finished crumbling.
Then, pop your can o’ store bought cream cheese frosting (a sacrilege, I know) into the microwave for about 30 seconds. (I will just pause here to say that while I am not a brand loyalist, there are definite differences in the flavor of the different brands of frosting. I always use Betty Crocker for cream cheese flavor. Always.)
(Also? I choose to use the canned frosting for this because this process is already long and involved enough. If I tried to make real frosting for this too, I might never, ever, make cake balls. And that would make some people around here very sad. So we deal with the canned frosting.)
After your frosting comes out of the microwave, give it a good stir. And pour it over the cake crumbs.
Using big spoon, mix the frosting and crumbs together until they resemble a red, sticky, delicious mess, with no streaks of white frosting visible.
Choose a scoop. I use a small scoop – it’s just small enough for a big bite or big enough for two small bites. The size you choose is completely up to you. Obviously, the larger the scoop, the fewer cake balls you’ll get out of a batch. With my small scoop, I usually get about six dozen.
Scoop all of your cake mixture into what are slowly becoming magical little pieces of goodness and set them on a piece of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet or other pan that fits in your fridge/freezer.
Next, wet your hands and roll the balls so there are no crumbs sticking out. You can skip this step if you want, but I find it makes things so much nicer and prettier. And you don’t end up with as many crumbs in your dipping chocolate. You do, however, end up with red hands. It’s a sacrifice.
I don’t actually make them completely round – I like to leave the flat bottom. But that’s just me.
Place the cake balls into the fridge or freezer. Whether you want them refrigerated or frozen is up to you, really. It doesn’t change the flavor or texture of the final product, but I think they dip better if they’re slightly frozen.
This is where you could also call it “done” and freeze some for a later time. You may not need all six dozen right now. Just make sure they aren’t touching each other when you freeze them. They’re like siblings in the back seat of a car – they need their own space.
When you’re ready to dip the cake balls, melt your coating of choice in a double boiler. You can use almond bark, candy melts, chocolate chips, or Baker’s chocolate. For Red Velvet cake balls, I use vanilla almond bark coating. You can also melt your coating in the microwave, but unless you are super fast, you’ll end up having to re-heat and worry about overheating the coating. A double boiler is much easier. I also only melt about 1/3 of the coating at a time. That way the quantity isn’t unmanageable and if I end up with crumbs in it, they’re easier to fish out. Just be careful not to get any steam/water in your chocolate – it will cause it to seize up.
There are as many ways to dip things as there are coatings. I’ve done a little bit of everything. But my favorite (and possibly the easiest) way is to dip the bottom and let them set up in the fridge for a little while, then dip the tops.
I was making these around Independence Day, so I added some red, white, and blue sprinkles.
Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect – no one will notice, I promise!
The best part about cake balls is that you can make any flavor combination you like! And if you want cake pops? Just poke a stick in them before freezing/refrigerating, and you’re good to go.
Red Velvet Cake Balls
1 Red Velvet cake mix, made and baked according to package directions.
1 can Cream Cheese frosting.
1 1/2 packages Almond Bark coating.
Bake cake according to package directions and cool completely.
Crumble cake into fine crumbs.
Microwave frosting for 30 seconds, stir, and pour over crumbs. Incorporate into cake crumbs completely.
Scoop into balls, place on parchment-lined pan. If desired, roll with your hands to reduce crumbs.
Refrigerate or freeze to desired firmness.
Melt 1/3-1/2 of Almond Bark coating at a time in a double boiler.
Dip cake balls in Almond Bark, place on parchment-lined pan, and refrigerate to harden.
Store in refrigerator.