There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles.
Recipe source: Bakerella / Pioneer Woman
Go ahead. Snicker. It’s what I would have done if I had thought of it. I told my friend I was making cake balls, and she said, “you’re making cake WHAT?!” I was only embarrassed I hadn’t thought of it first.
So, cake balls, cake truffles, it’s up to you. Think of your audience. Classy? Not?
I first came across these little pups on Pioneer Woman’s blog, and was intrigued to try them for a long time. Then I hosted a birthday party, and I had a bride-to-be friend contemplating what to serve as favors for her reception. Both occasions seemed worthy of trying this out.
It looks easier than it is.
I made three batches of these, each getting slightly better than the last, though none turned out as good looking as they are on the blogs. The valuable lesson I learned with this was how to melt chocolate like a pro. (Dipping cake into it is another story.)
MAKE THE CAKE
To start out, you make a box mix cake in a 9×13 sheet pan. Just follow the directions on the box, nothing special here. You can use any flavor you like; Bakerella uses red velvet, and I also tried it with spice cake.
Once the cake has cooled completely, turn it out of the pan and crumble it finely in a large bowl. You can use your hands for this, a dough cutter, a potato masher, a fork, whatever. Not your teeth, or you won’t be able to proceed to the next steps…
Next step, mix in some storebought canned frosting. The original recipe calls for a whole can, but I think that’s way too much. I used 1/2 – 3/4 of cream cheese frosting for both flavors of cake. I liked the cream cheese because it’s not as sweet as white frosting would be. You’ll want to keep in mind how all these flavors are going to work together.
Cover a cookie sheet or cutting board with wax paper. Once the cake and frosting are well incorporated, roll the cake into balls about 1 or 1 1/2″ diameter, then drop on wax paper and freeze at least 1 hour. Freeze, do not refrigerate.
Next, melt chocolate over a double boiler. Here is what I learned about melting chocolate: you don’t want to get it too hot too fast, or horrible things will happen. The method that’s working for me now is to fill a small saucepan about half-way with water and bring it to a boil. Then I turn the heat down to medium-low and place a metal mixing bowl filled with chocolate on top, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Then I hold the bowl with a ridiculously large oven mitt and stir the chocolate slowly-and-patiently with a spatula until it has all melted.
This is the perfect consistency (you will know it when you see it yourself):
CHOOSING A CHOCOLATE
As for the type of chocolate you use, there are a few options out there. Chocolate bark is usually recommended for making candy, but in May, I couldn’t find it anywhere. A man at Trader Joe’s told me they carry it seasonally. When I finally did find it at WalMart, I had moved on to other things. If you try it, report back to me.
I was worried about my chocolate melting well, so I first used “expert” candy-making chocolate from Wilton.
I have very bad memories of this stuff from my mother’s candy-making days. I’ve tasted many colored varieties, and none of them taste anything like chocolate. But since this claimed to be dark cocoa and I hadn’t seen it before, I thought I’d give it a try. It melted fine and tasted fine, but while melting it made my kitchen smell like a boy’s sweaty socks after a soccer game. Not appetizing.
So then I tried Trader Joe’s Pound Plus dark chocolate.
This also melted beautifully and tasted great. In the end, it was a toss-up as to which was better – with the Wilton chocolate, I could taste the cake more. With TJ’s, I tasted the chocolate more.
DIPPING THE CAKE BALLS
Prepare a plate or large board with wax paper. Then take your cake balls out of the freezer, one at a time, to dip. My method eventually became dropping a ball into the chocolate and rolling it with a spoon in my left hand to coat both sides while simultaneously pushing it onto a large slotted spoon in my right hand. Then I’d tap the slotted spoon several times against the edge of the bowl to shake off any extra chocolate. (Pioneer Woman recommends using a fork, but the cake ball rolls off a fork for me. Maybe she has magical cake-ball-balancing powers.)
Then I gently push the coated truffle with the first spoon onto wax paper.
You want to be very careful with the spoons, as they will easily remove the chocolate and expose cake. Perhaps ironically, the cake part of these cake truffles is what gave me the most grief. For example, let me show you why you want to dip these one at a time out of the freezer:
See that? Cake bits in the chocolate. This is what happens when the cake gets too warm, and it’s not good. It can result in dipping disasters, like this:
Clumpy chocolate will also occur if the chocolate is heated too high:
I got slightly better with some of the truffles on the right here, dipped in dark chocolate. I think this was about as good as I got, sadly.
So good luck with all of that. If you’re scared, this is another cute option.
CAKE TRUFFLE CUPCAKES
Pick up some peanut butter cup molds and colored melting chocolate. You can find both in a candy supply store and I think Micheal’s carries them as well.
Melt the dark chocolate in the same way as described above, and fill each mold half-way with it. Then dip in a cake ball about half-way, to bring the chocolate to the top of the mold.
Let these sit to firm up, about 20 minutes, or place them in the freezer. Then melt colored chocolate. You can use any color you like; I just used white this time.
Pop the truffles out of their molds and invert, dipping the exposed cake in the colored chocolate. The color should meet the bottom. It’s best to have a deep puddle of chocolate to dip in, so I recommend using a small bowl. Lastly, you can decorate your mini cupcakes with sprinkles, nuts, M&Ms, etc.
These didn’t turn out as cute as Bakerella’s, either. And frankly, I don’t like them as much as the regular truffles. The solid chocolate bottom makes them a bit awkward to eat, as it breaks when you bite into it. Hard chocolate, soft cake. But if you’re throwing a party, these do make a nice presentation.
While you still have some colored chocolate melted, you can put it in a pastry bag with a fine tip to decorate your earlier, disastrous cake truffle attempts. These are terribly ugly. I was terribly tired and apathetic by this point. But… ehhh… you get the idea?
The good thing I have to say about these truffles is they are fun, different, and people really love them. I served them at David’s birthday party, and unadorned and sweating as they were, my guests practically inhaled them, then gushed at how good they were while licking melty chocolate off their fingers. So if you’re not a perfectionist, or if you are, and if you have some free time on your hands, try these out. And good luck to you.