by Kelly Davis
Oh, cake balls. You complete me.
Cake balls are perfect for every occasion, so why not invite them into your Valentine's Day equation? I know I'd rather get a heap of cake balls on Valentine's Day over a box of mystery chocolates any day. Half of those chocolate are just nasty. But cake balls are delightful each and every time you take a bite.
But, (and here's the only downfall of the cake ball) they take a long time to make. You have to keep in mind that they're oh so worth it. Also, you can make them in several stages if you don't have one stretch of time.
If you find yourself with not a lot of time, make the cake first, then cover it so it doesn't dry out. I prefer Pyrex dishes with sealing lids. Go ahead and make the icing if you have time, transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate. When you have more time, crumble the cake in a big bowl, add the icing, and shape into balls. If you won't be able to finish the cake balls for a day or so, when you place them in the fridge, cover tightly with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out. Then finish the cake balls when you have more time.
RED VELVET CAKE BALLS
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 .25 ounce vial of red food coloring (see notes)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (see notes)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1 lb. box powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 .25 ounce vial of red food coloring (see notes)
CAKE BALL COATING
5 6 oz. boxes baking white chocolate
1/4 .25 ounce vial of red food coloring (see notes)
Beat together sugar and butter. Add eggs and mix well. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl: flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Make a paste with the cocoa and food coloring. Add dry ingredients to sugar and butter and stir to combine. Add in buttermilk and vinegar and mix again. Lastly, add in the food coloring and cocoa powder and mix well to combine.
Pour into a 9 x 13 inch rectangular cake pan and cook for 40 minutes on 325 degrees or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Beat together all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate if not used immediately.
CAKE BALL DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, crumble cake with fingers until completely broken up. Pour icing directly into the crumbled cake. Stir until icing is completely mixed throughout the cake mixture. Place wax paper over large baking sheets. With damp hands form the cake/icing mixture into ping-pong size balls. Dampen hands again if cake balls begin to be difficult to shape. Place cake balls into the refrigerator for at least one to two hours.
When cake balls are ready to be dipped in the chocolate, break apart chocolate bars and place in a large sauce pan over low heat. Stir continuously until chocolate is completely melted. Add 10 - 20 drops of red food coloring until you reach the desired shake of pink.
Place long strips of wax paper on your counter top and create an assembly line so you can easily move from one section to the next. Pick up each cake ball and place one at a time in the pot of melted chocolate. Spoon chocolate over the cake ball and turn until chocolate thoroughly coats the cake ball. Pick up cake ball with a spoon and place on the wax paper. Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired. Repeat until all cake balls are coated. If chocolate begins to thicken, place the pot back on a low heat and stir until chocolate has melted and proceed dipping cake balls into the chocolate. Allow cake balls to set for several hours until hard to the touch.
You need just shy of 2.25 ounces of red food coloring. The .25 ounce vials are the most common size of food coloring. Usually they come in a pack of four colors (red, blue, green, yellow). One vial is about 100 drops. You can also use the gel food coloring and it's an equivalent amount (1 whole tube for the cake, 3/4 tube for the icing, and just a bit of the icing).
I never use buttermilk, but it is in the ingredients of my grandmother's red velvet cake recipe, which I used to make these cake balls. An easy substitute is to pour 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup, then fill the cup the rest of the way with milk. If you do this, you'll be using 2 tablespoons total of vinegar and about 1 cup of milk in the recipe.
Kelly Davis is a blogger, freelance writer, food enthusiast, and native North Carolinian. When she's not training for a race or cooking something delicious in the kitchen, she's writing, reading, snuggling her dachshund, or plotting her next project. You can keep up with Kelly's antics and recipes on her blog, Foodie Fresh.