Update: If you read my original post below, you'll see that I really thought the cake balls made with boxed cake mix and a tub of frosting were disgustingly sweet. But I also said that I was pretty sure they would taste much better if you at least made your cake from scratch.
Well, it's true. Today I made a chocolate cake from scratch and then used a Cabernet Chocolate Frosting from The Frosting Queens, a local frosting company. These cake balls were sooooo much better! I could eat see how cake ball addiction could be formed with this batch. I definitely recommend making cake from scratch since it will be less mushy and sweet than a cake mix.
Original Post 6/30/10:
I had read on another blog about the growing trend of cake balls. Funny how trends can creep up on you. Anyway, it made me curious because, as a cake snob, they really sounded pretty gross to me. But they are so simple that I had to give them a try, say I did them, and unleash them on my always willing coworker tasters.
All you need to do is bake a box of cake mix. While the cake is still warm from the oven, you crumble it into a mixing bowl. Then you add a can of frosting and mix this whole mess together. Now roll small spoonfuls in your hands to make balls. The last step is to dip them in chocolate and then let them sit to harden.
The possibilities are endless. You just mix and match cake flavors and frostings. Then you can roll them in nuts, coconut, candy bits, etc.
I chose yellow cake mix because it was on sale. I added a bit of almond extract to the batter to give it a little nutty flavor. I also chose the cream cheese frosting. You can always make your own frosting as well. Since this was an experiment and I was taking the easiest route to end product, I just bought a can of the stuff, again, on sale.
The only difficulties I had was that the cake balls are pretty soft and so my fork left marks in the ball and chocolate as I dipped them. Then they tended to stick to the wax paper so that when I lifted cooled ones the bottom bit of chocolate would break off. So I ended up with bottomless balls. (Sounds a little kinky.)
Just as I thought, they are pretty sickly sweet and gross. But I can see how they could suit my taste if I just work from scratch and tweak it. The other day I had a rather disappointing cake recipe that was really dense and flavorless due to low amounts of sugar. I could use that cake, basically sugarless, and then use a little bit of homemade icing to "glue" the balls, then dip in chocolate. That would cut down on the sugar overkill of the mix/canned frosting version. I can also see this working really well with a gluten-free cake since they tend to be crumbly. So if you mix the cake with the frosting, you'd get a nice GF cakey treat.
What did the coworkers think?
Rocio said, "Thank you for the treats. They are really good!! I like that the cake balls look like truffles but when you bite into them you get a very moist cake. I don’t know if they are different on the inside, or if they all have the same cake inside, but the one I had was good!. I also like the fact that there’s no mess associated with the frosting. I’m the kind of person that has to wait until a center piece of a cake is available because I don’t like that much frosting. The cake balls get rid of that all together, plus they give the illusion of eating less calories. One or two cake balls seem better than a slice of cake (at least to me it does – but I’m sure its not). I’ve never had one before, but I like the idea, and love the ones you made."
Certainly none of my coworkers ever complain about treats. Not many took the time to comment to me though. Rob ate three of them. Nancy said that she thought they were rich but didn't mind the sweetness. I guess it's just a matter of what kind of a diner you are and what you are used to eating. I'll let you know if I try again with my tweaked, less sugar version.