February 12, 2009

sweetness overkill: cake balls!

Please know that yes, I giggled the entire time I made, and wrote about, these cake balls, because sometimes I get stuck in eighth grade all over again (and so do you). I emailed this to my parents before blogging, and my mom suggested calling them "Red Velvet Truffles;" my dad suggested "Cake Spheres" or "Earth-like Cakes." I like both suggestions very much, but to humor my inner 13-year-old, I will call them BALLS. Sorry 'rents. Love ya both. My friend suggested calling them "Red Velvet Cajones" and getting it over with. Still laughing from that.

The stars aligned this week when Valentine’s day recipes, my friend Nicki’s birthday, and an urge to bake a new recipe collided into the perfect circumstance for: Chocolate Covered Red Velvet Cake Balls.

Yes. You read that correctly. In the last week or so, I’d been seeing more and more recipes for these pop up. Nicki happens to love red velvet cupcakes, and I (until last night) had never made red velvet cake before. Opportunity, don’t you think?

I scoured the web for the best red velvet recipe. The idea of using a box mix was in the back of my mind; but then I saw that the cost for one box (not including all the pantry staples needed for it) was almost $7. Not to mention, the box was full of preservatives, partially hydrogenated oils, and even the dreaded high fructose corn syrup. Nicki’s worth the $7, for sure, but why give her chemical-laden sweets when I could whip it up from scratch? (Ok, ok—there’s Red No. 5 in my recipe...but c'mon.) This is the Sustainable Diet blog, after all. So Nicki’s recipe was treated with unbleached organic flour, organic butter, local farm-fresh eggs, and even all-natural organic cocoa. Mmmm. I finally settled on this recipe, which was adapted from the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. Of course, I FURTHER adapted it by leaving out, either by accident or by purposefully omitting, the orange zest. Though I think next time I’ll include the zest, because the flavor would likely compliment the icing AND the chocolate.

For the icing, I followed the Joy of Cooking’s “fastest method” for cream cheese frosting. Into the food processor went:
  • 8 oz. Neufchatel (some sense of "healthy")
  • 6 Tbls. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 tsp. Mexican vanilla
  • Approx. 2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar

This took literally 30 seconds to come together into a beautiful, rich, creamy frosting. Then came the fun part. After the cakes cooled, I cut them into chunks and, lacking another large mixing bowl, tossed them into my stock pot. I busted out the potato masher, spatula’d in the frosting, and went to town mashing. Once the icing was incorporated, I shaped the cake balls, making about 30-40 two-biters, and stuck ‘em in the freezer. I like to call these the naked balls. Teehee! You know you giggled. They look a little like meatballs, don't they?I prepped my chocolate-covering area with a brown paper bag and parchment (having learned something from my caramel incident). The spheres, after freezing for about 30 minutes, were nicely set and were very easy to dip in chocolate. I found that using two forks is the BEST way to do this--no special equipment needed. Two-thirds of my batch went into dark chocolate chips, and the other third were dipped in white chocolate chips. I drizzled them with the remaining chocolate, and... Voila! Chocolate-covered red velvet cake balls!! Are you blushing? Stop it! My mom's right--they do look like truffles... This took about 3 hours from start to finish, and dirtied literally an entire dishwasher full of dishes, and then some. Something I’d maybe do next time on a Sunday, and not after having a couple of beers at my cousin Callie's birthday party. :)But they were well worth the effort, albeit I’m only able to eat one in a sitting. Talk about sweet overkill. Mmmmm.... The best part? Thinking I’d been so original in my planning, another colleague had brought Nicki the SAME THING for her b-day. The same morning. Unveiling her chocolate-covered delights only moments before I had.

Apparently we run in the same blog circles. :)


Lindsey said...

Ambs, I'm totally trying these some weekend. Thanks for the warning about the time and the beer :)