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Monday, May 31, 2010

Cake Ball/Pops tips

I wanted to post a few tips about cake balls/pops. People have been asking me how I get them so smooth, you know, cause I'm good. So I thought I'd share my wealth of knowledge with the world.

If you don't know how to make cake balls, I feel your pain. I too was oblivious to the cake ball phenomenon until I attended a baby shower that fateful June or Julyish day last year. My confectionary life has never been the same.

So...if you do know how, bear with me for a minute.

First, you have to bake a cake. This is the hardest part for people to understand. Get a box, follow the directions, bake the cake, let it cool. You cook the cake first. Trust me. I've done it once or twice.

After the cake is all nice and cooled, I cover it with plastic wrap for an hour or so to let the moisture redistribute itself. It gets rid of most of the dry crusty parts from the oven. I still cut around the very edge, just to make sure I don't get any chunky stuff in the mixture.

So its all nice and cooked and cooled and moist. At that point, you grab a big ole' bowl and dump your cake in (after vigorously sanitizing your hands for the 5th time since you started baking), throw in a cup or so of frosting (you can make your own, or grab a can from the store), I like the cream cheese kind, and then you smoosh it all together. Mix it really well, you don't want globs of icing or dry cake. If you try to roll a ball and it falls apart, you need more frosting. If you roll the ball and its a gooshy mess, you put in too much frosting and you're pretty much screwed. Cause you can't take any out. Soooo.

You roll the mixture into balls, I use a cookie scoop to get it a consistent size, put them on waxed paper on a sheet pan and then throw them, (or place them carefully) into the freezer. Not for days, not for hours, I wouldn't let them sit in there longer than half an hourish. If they get too cold, they'll crack the chocolate after they thaw out.

When they've firmed up a little, I do a lot of walking. I leave the pan in the freezer and take out one cake ball at a time. Wait, let me back up a little. You need to melt some chocolate or almond bark. I would definitely start out with almond bark, you don't need to temper it, its harder to burn it, its just easier all around. You can get chocolate or vanilla almond bark and most grocery stores next to the chocolate chips. So you need to melt it in a cup or something that is just wide enough for your hand, but not too wide, because you want the chocolate to be as deep as possible, not spread out, like it would be in a bowl. I put it in the microwave for 20 or 30 seconds at a time. Stir it between each time to make sure you're not heating it more than needed. I also throw in about a tablespoon of shortening to thin it out a little. It goes further and when I bite into a cake ball, I like my teeth to sink into it, not get stuck in an inch thick chocolate coating.

When your chocolate is melted, go back to the freezer and get your cake ball. This is where you need to make a choice. If you want to do cake balls, grab a toothpick, if you want to make cake pops, grab a lollipop stick. Dip the very end of your stick of choice into the melted almond bark. This will help keep the ball on the stick, because the ball is cold, it freezes the chocolate into the ball. If you skip this step, you'll likely end up with a cup full of cake balls, they like to fall off.

Once you've securely stuck your ball, dip it into the cup of chocolate/almond bark. You want to make sure you've covered every tiny bit of cake. If you don't, all sort of stuff will start dripping out. Gross, I know, but it needs to be contained. I sort of shake/spin the ball until it looks like I can turn it right side up without the stuff dripping everywhere. This is time consuming, but they're pretty, so its worth it. :) I have a piece of foam in the fridge already, I just forgot to tell you about it. So I take the newly dipped ball right to the fridge and pop the stick in the foam so it sets up before it can get all drippy. Then I move onto the next ball. Once you get the hang of things, it goes pretty quickly

After they're set up, you're good to go with the cake pops. Put them in something cute, like a flower pot or a fancy takeout box. I just smash a piece of foam into whatever and stick in bits of tissue paper to cover up what's ugly.

For cake balls, you have to do a little more. The toothpicks will be pretty hard to get out without destroying the ball. Its kind of a lesser of two evils situation. If you don't dip the toothpick in chocolate first, the ball will likely fly off and destroy your chocolate and itself. If you do dip the toothpick in chocolate, it glues itself to the inside of the ball. After cracking several, I think I got the technique down. I go around the base of the toothpick with a knife or another toothpick to make sure the toothpick isn't going to stick there. At that point you can kind of twist the toothpick out. Just little twists, be careful! Once the toothpick is out, you'll have a little hole, I just put some of the melted chocolate into a bag with a small round tip, and fill in the hole. Then you can put them on a plate or whatever you want to serve them on.

And now you're a cake ballin' pro. I'll do another post on decorating them when I'm not tire of typing anymore, but Bakerella has a cake pop book coming out soon with TONS of CUTE! ideas.
http://www.bakerella.com/an-update/

2 comments:

  1. This has helped me alot, thanks! This idea has helped me with so many things! Like, my sons and daughters birthday party, and my older daughters 21st. It is a great food and i cant wait to make it more in the future :)

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