Oh my goodness, did I learn a lot about cake balls last week. I have actually been waiting anxiously all week long to blog about this because there are so many things I want to share!
It all started with a article I came across on Paula Deen's favorite ways to make cake balls. The recipe for cake balls is so easy, I walked away feeling so confident that I was going to make the greatest cake balls ever and they were going to LOOK good too! I had all these flavors in mind and color combinations with fun toppings. HA! Little did I know I had a disaster in store...
For those of you who don't know, a basic cake ball is made of a box of pre-made cake mix (baked and then crumbled into a bowl) mixed with cream cheese or cream cheese frosting. Then you roll the ball in melted chocolate. Simple. Then I had read you can use sugar cookie batter as well. So immediately my mind started racing. What combination did I want to make? I first settled on Red Velvet cake balls because I knew my husband and sister would love those. Then I wanted to make something different for myself. I love lemony desserts so I thought why not use sugar cookie batter with a little lemon/lime zest and juice to make Key Lime cake balls. I then played with what colors and toppings I would give them. I wanted the Red Velvet to have a fun color on the outside so I thought I would color the white chocolate "Tiffany Blue" for those and then for the Key Lime Pie ones I would just use white chocolate with a yellow icing drizzle. Ok, so that was settled.
Then began the process of making the cake balls. It is really simple, yet a little time consuming. After you bake the cake, you allow it to cool at room temperature, crumble into a bowl, and then add a can of cream cheese frosting. Mix it all together and then you have to refrigerate for 3-4 hours. I did the same for the sugar cookie batter. I baked it in a baking dish and then crumbled it into a bowl. I added the zest (shavings from the skin) and juice of one lemon and one lime as well as the cream cheese frosting and mixed it all together. It also then went into the fridge.
Ok so the "easy" part was over. I waited til the next day to finish the cake balls. I removed the mixes from the fridge and used a small ice cream scoop to make little 2" balls. I rolled them in my hands to get a more round ball and then placed them on parchment/wax paper, on a cookie sheet. After that I put them back in the fridge while I went to melt my chocolate.
This is where it all went to crap! I began by melting the bag of Hershey's white chocolate chips I already had in the pantry. I put my glass bowl of chips over a pot of simmering water and waited for it to melt. When it was ready, I used a few drops of blue food coloring to get the color "Tiffany Blue". As I began to stir, the chocolate was getting harder and harder and after a few minutes it started to curdle. It was so gross and I had no idea what I did wrong! So I thought "ok Jennifer, try it again". I started over and this time used some heavy cream (I had done this before when melting chocolate), thinking it would make the mixture creamier. I waited until it was melted and added a few drops of food coloring, started to stir, and AGAIN it curdled into a blue chunky mess!!! At this point I was pissed and started shouting curse words in the kitchen while my husband looked at me like I was crazy. LOL.
This is when I got online and used trusty 'ol Google! I typed in, 'why does my white chocolate curdle when I add food coloring?' And you wouldn't believe how many responses from frantic, pissed, and confused women came up!! Guess I wasn't the only one! I soon found out that when coloring chocolate you have to use an OIL based food coloring. I immediately checked the box of cheap food coloring I had...first ingredient...WATER! There was my problem!
I thought OK, I will just go to the store and buy OIL based food coloring...no biggie...right?!
WRONG! I went to 3 grocery stores and looked at over 10 different brands of food coloring only to find that every box and bottle in those stores had a WATER base! You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! I ended up leaving the store with a brick of white chocolate melting candy (found in the baking isle) so I could at least finish my cake balls with plain WHITE chocolate. I felt so defeated.
I even got online when I got home to find out where the heck this OIL based food coloring was sold. So many websites had it for sale. And it was cheap too! $4 a box! But I couldn't wait for an order to be shipped to me. So I continued on with my plain white chocolate.
By the way, the white chocolate melting candy melts WAY better than Hershey's chocolate so I recommend using that instead. Needless to say this simple dessert turned out to be a big headache, but I learned so much in the process and I hope by sharing this today it will save all of you the same heartache.
I finished by rolling my cake balls in the chocolate, adding some icing and sprinkles and voila! They tasted great and I guess that's the most important part. The Key Lime cake balls turned out AMAZING! It made me even more curious about how many other cake ball flavors I could come up with, but I think I'll take a break from cake balls for a while. This was a little traumatic!