We get asked sometimes, “What’s the deal with all the 5 stars? Nobody gets that many great reviews.” Truth is, we do. Why? We inspect every product we ship out for quality, and we will not ship it if it wouldn’t look good in my own kitchen. Our Boise-based warehouse is EXTREMELY thorough, which is why we have such high quality recipe binders and very nice recipe boxes.
They look like donut holes dressed up to look like what we used to call petit fours. Now they are “cake balls” (an unappetizing name to be sure), cake bites, cake bon bons, cake drops, cake-sicles or cake truffles.
All I know is that the bite-sized cake ball trend started a few years ago as bakers thought of ways to use the cake trimmings they carved when making specialty-shaped cakes (ala Ace of Cakes). I’ve actually overlooked them for years….thinking they were truffles…not realizing they are something else.
Now Starbuck’s is on the band-wagon and has started selling cake balls on sticks as “cake pops,” another term used for the sweet little darlings. They are the rage at bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, and business functions seemingly coast to coast.
To be sure, the golf-ball sized treats are easier to eat than cupcakes (see my previous blog on cupcake eating).
Basically, to make cake balls you bake a cake of your favorite flavor, crumble it up, and then mush it together with the frosting of choice. Roll the mixture into a ball, then coat it with a hard coat icing. I suppose you could cover them with fondant or marzipan, too.
There are some advantages to cake balls:
- Cake balls are cuter than cupcakes.
- Cake balls are smaller than cupcakes.
- Cake balls are easier to eat than cupcakes.
- Cake balls are less expensive to make or buy than cupcakes.
However, cake balls are probably more time consuming, and therefore, harder to achieve a pleasing outcome, than making cupcakes For example, with cake balls you have to make the cake, crumble the cake, combine it with frosting, form it into balls, cover the balls with icing, and decorate (optional). Six steps, including the decorating.
On the other hand, with cupcakes you make the batter, bake it, then frost and decorate (optional). That’s only four steps — two fewer steps, including the decorating, than cake balls.
Either treat is great to enlist the help of kids (their small hands are the perfect size for rolling up the cake balls, hopefully with their hands safely in plastic baggies.)
Here is a simple how-to-make cake balls recipe for the uninitiated:
1 (18.25-ounce) boxed cake mix plus ingredients called for on box
1 (16-ounce) can prepared frosting
3 ounces Almond Bark Coating or flavored Confectionery Wafer Coating
Prepare the cake according to package directions. When cool enough to handle and while still warm, crumble the cake into a bowl, then use a hand mixer to break up the cake into fine crumbs. Mix in frosting thoroughly to make a paste. Chill the mixture for 2 hours. Form the mixture into golf-sized balls. Place on wax paper and freeze for at least 6 hours. Remove the balls from the freezer a few at a time and dip them into the warm melted coating using toothpicks or forks. Place on wax paper to harden. Decorate as desired. Makes about 36 cake balls.
Some recommended cake ball combinations:
Dark Chocolate over Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Frosting
Milk Chocolate over Strawberry Cake & Strawberry Frosting
Dark Chocolate over Devil’s Food Cake & Fudge Frosting
Orange/Vanilla Coating over Yellow Cake & Buttercream Frosting
Milk Chocolate over White Cake with White Frosting
Milk Chocolate over German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting
White Chocolate over Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
White Chocolate over Lemon Cake with Lemon Frosting
Mint Chocolate over Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting
- An ice cream scoop or 1-1/2 ounce cookie dough scoop are helpful to keep portions even
- Roll freshly-coated cake balls in sprinkles, crushed nuts, or flaked coconut.
- Use chopsticks, fondue forks, or skewers to manipulate the cake balls while coating with chocolate or icing.
- Dipped balls will keep well at a cool room temperature for days; if you refrigerate them, the coating may sweat and become icky.
Can you imagine how someone will look back at our family cookbooks and recipe card boxes and wonder what cake balls were … and why they were listed in the index or table of contents or card list? I hope by then cake balls will have a better name.
Stashing overly-ripe bananas, aka black bananas, in the freezer for safekeeping is a common occurrence at my house. One that happens so often that I now have an over abundance of black bananas. What to do with too many black bananas?
Here are 8 ways with black bananas:
● Black banana nut bread
The darker the ripe banana, the darker the bread.
● Chocolate chip black banana cake
There’s nothing like the flavors of good chocolate and bananas!
● Black banana milkshake or smoothie
Make it with low fat ice cream or yogurt for a healthy version of a classic.
● Black banana muffins
Add some nuts and raisins for more nutritional value.
● Black banana cow
A beverage with banana liqueur, Crème de Cocoa, Gran Marnier, and whipped cream, Yum!
● Black banana pancakes or black banana waffles
Several drops of good vanilla and heaping teaspoons of cinnamon can bring out the full banana essence.
● Black banana mango ice cream
Twist it up with another favorite tropical fruit and top with shredded coconut.
● Black banana pudding
For a more powerful pudding, cook the overripe bananas in a little bourbon and rum before combining with vanilla pudding and vanilla wafers.
Granted, none of the black banana dishes named above has earth-shattering originality, but I’m glad I have a big list to help me use up all my black bananas. This weekend I’ll defrost all of them and see how far down the list I get.
P.S. The black bananas in my freezer got that way because I waited too long to eat them and they started to go black on their own. Once I stashed them in the freezer they went completely black, but did not deteriorate.
Thought I knew how to eat a cupcake. I bet you thought you knew how to eat a cupcake, too. Recently I saw a TV food show about the favorite foods of some of the top chefs in the country. One of them gushed about a local cupcake and catering company in her nearby town.
And then she showed us all how to each a cupcake.
Most people think they know how to eat a cupcake. You take the pleated cupcake liner paper off and toss it away (or chew on it awhile). Then you dig your chops into the middle, biting off an equal amount of cake and frosting, often smudging a bit on your upper lip. Continue reading
We at The Cookbook People like to help Mother Earth whenever possible, so we carry some lovely items for the environment-conscious “green” person on your gift list who likes to receive gift items made from sustainable resources like bamboo. Continue reading
Just back from vacation. It’s nice to sit back and know that my suitcase is unpacked for a long. long while. During my time away, I met with some great chefs, and they shared some interesting ideas for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Some of their Thanksgiving ideas and menu suggestions may be a bit radical for some, but they are fabulous all the same. See which Thanksgiving ideas shared by top chefs will work for you. They might make it into your family cookbook: Continue reading
One of my favorite foods is a bowl of popcorn. I’ll admit it publicly. Popcorn with salt and a buttery flavor is divine in my book. I’ve been known to eat a bowl of popcorn for dinner without any additional nutrients. Continue reading
Recently it was my turn to host the monthly tea gathering and I was in a tizzy over what to make for the ladies. The last time I was in charge, we had finger sandwiches, which were quite delicious, even if I do say so myself. But this time, I wanted to make something different to see if I could be the tea party hostess with the mostest. Continue reading