Start with the basics...
Basic Cake Balls
**You know I normally don't suggest box mixes when it tastes 10 times better and is 100 times more satisfying when you do it from scratch, but if you're nervous about doing these, this is a good way to get used to it!**
- 18.25-ounce box cake mix
- 9-by-13-inch cake pan
- Large mixing bowl
- One 16-ounce container ready-made frosting
- Large metal spoon
- Wax paper
- 2 baking sheets
- Plastic wrap
- 32 ounces (2 pounds) candy coating
- Deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl
- Resealable plastic bag or squeeze bottle (optional)
- Bake the cake as directed on the box, using a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Let cool completely.
- Once the cake is cooled, get organized and set aside plenty of time (at least an hour) to crumble, roll, and dip 4 dozen cake balls.
- Crumble the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl. The texture of the cake causes it to crumble easily. Just cut a baked 9-by-13-inch cake into 4 equal sections. 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. You can also use a fork to break any larger pieces of cake apart. Repeat with each section until the entire cake is crumbled into a fine texture. If you have large pieces mixed in, the cake balls may turn out lumpy and bumpy. You should not see any large pieces of cake.
- Add three-quarters of the container of frosting. (You will not need the remaining frosting.) Mix it into the crumbled cake, using the back of a large metal spoon, 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.
- If you're making a project that calls for uncoated cake balls, stop here and proceed to decorate the cake balls, following the project instructions.
- Place the candy coating in a deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl. These bowls make it easier to cover the cake balls completely with candy coating while holding the bowl without burning your fingers. (I usually work with about 16 ounces of coating at a time.)
- Melt the candy coating, following the instructions on the package. Microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a spoon in between. You can also use a double boiler. Either way, make sure you do not overheat the coating.
- Now you're ready to coat. 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. Avoid stirring it in the coating, because cake crumbs can fall off into the coating.
- Holding the spoon over the bowl, tap the handle of the spoon several times on the edge of the bowl until the excess coating falls off and back into the bowl. This technique also creates a smooth surface on the outside of the cake ball.
- Transfer the coated cake ball to another wax paper–covered baking sheet to dry. Let the coated cake ball slide right off the spoon. Some coating may pool around the base of the ball onto the wax paper. If so, simply take a toothpick and use it to draw a line around the base of the cake ball before the coating sets. Once the coating sets, you can break off any unwanted coating.
- Repeat with the remaining cake balls and let dry completely.
- If you have extra candy coating left over, pour it into a resealable plastic bag (and then snip off the corner) or into a squeeze bottle and drizzle it over the tops in a zigzag motion to decorate.
- 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.
- 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, and 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.
- If you don't need or want to make 48 cake balls, simply divide the cake in half for 24 cake balls or in quarters for 12 and freeze the remaining cake for later use. Remember to reduce the amount of frosting proportionally.
Fun for fall...
Pumpkin Cake Pops
- Unflavored nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup nonfat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 cup pecan halves, for decorating
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 pound confectioners' sugar
- 1 1/2 pounds finely chopped white chocolate (or two 11-ounce bags white chocolate chips)
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- For the cake: Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together. Stir in the milk and vanilla, and then add the oil. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir the batter together, and then switch to a whisk and give the batter a good 3 or 4 beats before pouring it into the prepared baking dish. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the batter and place it in the oven until the cake is golden and springs back to light pressure, 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, place the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a large plate to cool, then transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Place the nuts in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Divide the cake into quarters and crumble it into a large bowl. Once all of the cake is crumbled, drag 2 forks through the cake in opposite directions to crumble it into a very fine crumb (you can also use a food processor to pulse the cake into fine crumbs). Set aside.
- For the frosting: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until airy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir the cream cheese frosting into the cake crumbs and, once the mixture looks like wet graham crackers crumbs, roll it into ping pong-size balls. Place the cake balls on the prepared baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour.
- Place the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50-percent power, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (or melt the chocolate over a double boiler, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted).
- Remove the cake balls from the freezer and insert a lollypop stick or small appetizer-length skewer into the top of each one (stick it in far enough so it is more than halfway through but doesn't puncture the other side of the ball). Dip each ball into the white chocolate, using a spoon to help coat the underside. Tap the stick against the side of the bowl a few times and swirl the stick to encourage the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Dip the top of the ball into the nuts, and then place the cake pop back on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, nut-side down (so the stick points straight up). Repeat with the remaining cake balls. Let the cake pops stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve that day or refrigerate for up to 3 days and then serve.
More than just cake...
Chocolate-Covered Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops
Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), chopped
- 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
- Special equipment: 9-inch glass pie plate; 1 1/2-inch-diameter ice cream scoop, holding about 1 tablespoon; 24 (6- to 8-inch) lollipop sticks (see Cooks' notes)
- Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Oil pie plate.
- Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy and smooth, then beat in egg until combined. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice and mix on low speed until smooth.
- Pour batter into pie plate and bake until edges are set and center is still a little wobbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely. (Cheesecake will set completely as it cools.)
- Cover cheesecake with a round of wax paper or parchment then wrap in plastic and chill until cold, at least 3 hours.
- Scoop out pumpkin cheesecake, packing cheesecake in ice cream scoop each time and leveling it off, then releasing it, flat side down, onto 2 small, wax paper–lined rimmed baking sheets. Freeze until frozen solid, at least 1 hour.
- Melt half of chocolate in a small, deep bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, then remove bowl from pan.
- Working with one pan of cheesecake balls at a time (and keeping the other pan frozen), rest a cheesecake scoop on a fork and lower it into chocolate, then spoon chocolate over it to coat it completely. Let excess chocolate drip off, then scrape bottom of fork against edge of bowl and return coated ball, flat-side down, to wax paper–lined pan. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and push a lollipop stick 3/4 inch through ball. Repeat with remaining balls on first baking sheet. (If cheesecake begins to soften, return to freezer to harden.) Refrigerate finished pops.
- Melt remaining chocolate in another small deep bowl in same manner and coat remaining cheesecake balls.
- Keep pops refrigerated or frozen until serving.
Happy baking! BOO!