Hi guys, as some of you may or may not know, I am Tory’s ~mostly terrible in the kitchen~ BFF Atlee. You can go ahead ask her about the time our Moms went to college together and how we’ve been friends since we were 0 years old and how we were born a day apart, etc etc etc, I’m sure she would love to tell a great Tory Story about it. (V. true. I definitely love telling that Tory Story.)
Anyways, although I can barely cook on my own without the help of Blue Apron, I do have a few signature dishes (literally 2). This is one of them. Also, the thing I heard about blogging is you should plan your posts in advance, so if you want to post say, a Thanksgiving dish, you actually make and post it a week early so your followers can prep for their own upcoming Thanksgiving. So, we made and photographed these cake balls LAST July 4th, in preparation for July 4th, 2017, of course.
I guess now I need a funny tidbit about why I started making cake balls.
When I was in school in Dallas, the cupcake store phase came through, and then for some reason a new phase––the cake ball phase––came to town. There was one store where you could get a cake ball made of any kind of cake with any flavor of icing and they were soooo delicious and way easier to eat than a whole cupcake. (Because eating a whole cupcake is hard for Atlee. Fun Tory Story opportunity here – Atlee’s boyfriend Greg and I love going to eat with Atlee because we get all of her leftovers, so it’s like a double meal.) The trend never came to NYC, except the random cake pop you see in Starbucks, which probably isn’t the best. I decided to figure out how to make them myself!
I actually like making these because I am more of an arts ’n’ crafts type person, and doing this requires more ~*~artsy~*~ skills than culinary skills, so they’re super fun to make in my opinion. It basically is just baking a boxed cake, so if you can do that, you’re good.
The other great thing about these ballz is that you can completely customize them. Want to make them for a friends birthday? Ask them their favorite flavor of cake! (And then when they respond “ice cream,” just pick a random flavor you like yourself).
(teehee hi Miles!)
It is a very simple recipe but they are very delicious and, speaking from experience, most people will not believe you made them yourself! You can decorate them for any holiday. I’ve done pumpkins for Tory’s Fall Party, random colors for birthdays, pink and red for Valentine’s, and obviously Red, White, And Blue for the 4th. Sometimes Michael’s is out of the color you want in Candy Melts so you just end up making purple ones. Whatever, they still taste good.
You’re going to want to leave yourself some time to do the whole dipping process, maybe an hour or so if you are making these solo. Obviously, this is apinchofthis.nyc, so we are going to recommend you pour yourself a nice lil pinch of wine to “guide your creativity.” Who cares if you get cake all over your glass?
Fourth of July Cake Balls
(In the regular version they had like a bowl and a baking sheet listed as an “ingredient.” I am assuming you have those things.)
- 18.25-ounce box cake mix & whatever ingredients it calls for (whatever flavor you want!)
- One 16-ounce container ready-made frosting (I like using whipped cream cheese frosting)
- 32 ounces (2 pounds) candy melts – Michaels sells them, or order on Amazon
Instructions: (slightly edited from Epicurious)
- Bake the cake as directed on the box, using whatever size pan you have. The size and shape does not matter, as you will be crumbling the cake.
- Crumble the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl. The texture of the cake causes it to crumble easily. Remove a section from the pan, break it in half, and rub the two pieces together over a large bowl, making sure to crumble any large pieces that fall off. I usually just use my hands to break it down until the entire cake is crumbled into a fine texture, you could use a fork as well. You should not see any large pieces of cake.
- Add three-quarters of the container of frosting. (No need to save the leftover frosting. Just get out a spoon and dig in.) Mix it into the crumbled cake, using a large metal spoon or rubber spatula, until thoroughly combined. If you use the entire container, the cake balls will be too moist.
- The mixture should be moist enough to roll into 1 1/2-inch balls and still hold a round shape. After rolling the cake balls by hand, place them on a wax paper-covered baking sheet.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator, or place in the freezer for about 15 minutes. You want the balls to be firm but not frozen.
- Place the candy coating in a deep bowl. I usually do the double boiler method – aka put super hot water in a big bowl, and then the candy melts in a smaller bowl in the water. Definitely do that when you just do a chocolate coating. You can also follow the instructions on the candy melts package and microwave them. You don’t want to overheat the coating. Add more candy melts as you go if you run out or if it hardens.
- Take a few cake balls at a time out of the refrigerator or freezer to work with. If they’re in the freezer, transfer the rest of the balls to the refrigerator at this point, so they stay firm but do not freeze.
- Place one ball at a time into the bowl of candy coating. Spoon extra coating over any uncoated areas of the cake ball to make sure it is completely covered in candy coating. Then lift out the cake ball with your spoon.
- I usually dunk the cake ball and swirl it around so it’s covered, then wiggle the spoon over the bowl from side to side so the excess comes off. It should be smooth-ish, but honestly when you add some decorations at the end it covers up any imperfections, and unless you really care about the look. A weird shaped cake ball still tastes good.
- Transfer the coated cake ball to another wax paper-covered baking sheet to dry. Let the coated cake ball slide right off the spoon.
- Repeat with the remaining cake balls and let dry completely.
- Pour heated candy coating into a ziploc and then cut off the corner and drizzle it over the tops in a zigzag motion to decorate. It creates a cool look with the same color, but I usually grab another color of candy melts to make them pop. Look on Pinterest for some more decorating ideas, I made little pumpkin looking ones for the fall with green leaves and vines on an orange coated cake ball.
- You can make the cake balls ahead of time and store them in an airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator for several days. I have definitely kept these in the fridge and eaten them for at least a week.
- Tips (from Epicurious)
- The cake balls will be easier to roll if you wash and dry your hands periodically during the rolling process. Dry your hands completely each time
- Make sure you don’t get water in the candy coating, as it can make it unusable.
- You can use a mini ice cream scoop to get uniform-size cake balls. (I haven’t tried this.)
CHOCOLATE COATING (from Hershey’s)
2 cups HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips, HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate (12-oz. pkg.)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Crisco shortening
Sometimes, the candy coating is too sweet and you want chocolate!! So here is the recipe I use for that. It’s basically dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips + Crisco.
- 1. Place chocolate chips and shortening in medium heat-proof bowl. In separate large heat-proof bowl, put very warm water (100° to 110°F.) to 1-inch depth. Carefully place bowl with chocolate into bowl with water; water should come halfway up side of chocolate bowl.
- 2. Stir chocolate and shortening CONSTANTLY with dry rubber scraper until chocolate and shortening are melted and mixture is smooth. *Do NOT get water in bowl with chocolate. (If water cools, replace it with very warm water as directed above; water temperature is important to success). Remove chocolate bowl from inside water bowl.
TIPS: I use the recommended amount of crisco, but if it’s not melting right, I add more. I also add a little crisco to the candy melts if they are not getting the consistency I want.
If you have leftover chocolate, have some fruit handy and dip some in!