Cake Balls: Easy to Make, Easier to Make Jokes About

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Photos by Brooke Nottingham
All innuendos and dirty jokes duly noted, I prefer my food in compact ball-shape. I like cheese balls, sausage balls, popcorn balls and meatballs. Thanksgiving always has and always will find a Butterball in my oven (sorry, Stephan Pyles.) So for dessert my natural choice is cake balls.

If cupcakes are the washed-up, allegedly drug-addicted B-list star of last year and pie is the 2011's fresh-faced starlet with a freshly inked CoverGirl contract, then cake balls are the kind-hearted girl who did really good in the talent show last fall and will make it, one day. Or at least, that describes the girl who gave me the recipe when I worked with her at Yankee Candle last year.

A cake ball is a nugget of an imploded cake, and they fit right in with my repertoire of recipes that don't contain any actual food. Or cooking.

Certainly a chef more talented than I can refine these treats. Some go-getters even impale these treats on Popsicle sticks and call them "cake pops." How darling. A waste of time and resources, but still. Darling.

Plus, cake balls are an edgy boxed cake dessert. Which means they're a cautious distance away from the edge, tucked safely behind a guard rail behind while being herded toward the gift shop by the sunburned tour guide. But cake balls are sure to have fewer fans than cupcakes or pie, so if you bring in a tray you're sure to get at least a few, "Oh, how cute! How did you get so creative?" comments. Worked for my coworker at Yankee Candle, worked for me this Christmas, and it's going to work for you in 2011.

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To earn your creativity token, all you do is follow the instructions for a boxed cake recipe. After the cake cools, crumble it in a bowl. I cut mine into a checkerboard and broke it down with a hand mixer. Mix the crumbled cake with a container of frosting. For my cake balls, I stick with chocolate cake and vanilla frosting, or white cake and cream cheese frosting. But you're the edgy, creative one, so go wild. Balls to the wall, and all that.

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When the cake and frosting are thoroughly combined, roll out the mixture into one-inch balls. One cake package should yield about two dozen cake balls. Pop the raw balls into the freezer for a couple of hours. I've seen some recipes on the Internet say the balls only need to chill for 15 minutes, but I've had enough warm cake balls crumble to know to err on the side of caution. Freeze the balls for at least an hour.

I'll pause to let you make ball jokes.

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When the cake balls are hardened, melt a few handfuls of white or semi-sweet chocolate chips in a saucepan. Take care to melt the chips over a low heat so they don't burn. Burned chips create a thick, waxy sludge that sticks to the pan, not the balls. And then all you have is lumps of cold cake mix.

Coat the cake balls with a thick layer of chocolate and set on wax paper to cool.

After that step, I wielded a can of Wilton's Ready to Decorate Icing. First, I pretended that I was anything like a talented pastry chef and tried to do abstract streamer designs, which made my cake balls look like they'd already been chewed.

I can't draw, but I am literate. I tried to write "CoA" on my cake balls to promote City of Ate blog spirit. And when I mangled that, I drew a pair of breasts on my last cake ball and called it a night.

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