Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chocolate Covered Red Velvet Balls

These chocolate-coated red velvet cake balls (what a mouthful!) were the result of a kitchen accident. Honestly. I know cake pops (cakes that are crumbled, rolled into balls, impaled on lollipop sticks and coated in chocolate or candy) are all the rage,  but  personally I don't see the allure of eating cake on a stick. I mean ... won't it be messy? What if, after one bite, the whole ball of cake crumbles, falls off the stick and unto my lap? Embarrassing.

Thing is, that's quite likely to happen to me. I have  earned  quite a reputation for being a klutz. Just last week, I was eating at a restaurant with my husband and a couple of friends and I dropped my knife three times. Three times. I don't know how it happened (my husband has some theories, particularly about how careless I am) but I was so embarrassed, I ended up cutting through my meal with just my fork. 

And then there is the accident with this cake. 

I baked a two-layer red velvet cake for my sister in law last Saturday. The cake turned out well and my frosting work on the cake actually looked pretty decent. I added some sugar hearts on the cake and was about to put it in the fridge to chill. 

So, picture this: I had the cake in one hand and was walking towards the fridge -- just three steps and I would have made it too except I saw a stray heart that had fallen off the cake onto the floor. I decided to bend down and pick the heart up to thrash while still holding on to the cake in one hand.

Mistake? Hell yes! The next thing I knew, the top layer of the cake was on the floor. Splat! All over the flour and over my feet. 

I wept. My husband laughed. Bah. 

Long story short, I cleaned up the mess and transferred what was left of the cake (the bottom half and most of the frosting) into a container to go in the fridge. I then proceeded to make another cake for my sister in law. I was more careful this time and didn' t try to multitask. 

Yesterday, I took out the salvaged cake that was in the fridge to make cake balls.

Cake balls are quite different from cake pops. They may not be as charming as the pops (who isn't tickled by a lollipop cake?) but they are definitely sturdier -- you hold them securely as you bite into them. No chance of anything falling.

Taste-wise, these cake pops are amazing. The slightly bitter dark chocolate coating complements the sweet, rich and creamy cake (imagine the red velvet cake and the icing mixed into one moist ball of heaven) so well.

Texturally, the crunch of the chocolate that has set and is chilled contrasts against the moist and soft cake.

Visually, it's even more stunning. Imagine the dark chocolate against the deep red which is streaked with the white from the cream. Beautiful.

 I certainly don't recommend that anyone destroy a cake on purpose to make these balls but they'd be the perfect solution for leftover cake.

There isn't a recipe for this post but I have some tips on making cake balls. If you want to make this red velvet cake, check out my older post here.

* It only works with cakes that have some kind of icing or ganache as the icing/ganache serves as a binder. The cake should be slightly sticky. 

* The mashed cake has to be chilled before they are rolled. Once rolled, they have to be chilled again (at least 30 mins) before coating. This will keep the balls together. Once coated, they must be chilled again for the chocolate to set.

* For the coating, add some fat (butter/shortening) in with the chocolate when you melt it so the consistency is thin enough to coat the balls nicely. Mine was a little thick and therefore not satiny smooth. The butter also makes the chocolate coating shiny. I melt my chocolate on a double boiler (placing a bowl over a pan of boiling water, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water) but a microwave would work as well. 

* Before coating, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the coated balls on the paper: they will come of easier without the chocolate breaking. 

* Speciality bake shops sell cake pop pans or moulds but seriously, you don't need them. It's ridiculously easy to roll the balls yourself. Just make sure you have enough icing to bind the cake together but not too much that the cake becomes too soggy. Add the icing in gradually and test the consistency. 

* If you want to sprinkle coloured sugar crystals (or any other fancy cake decorations) on the chocolate, do it before it has set. 

Postscript: the popularity of cake pops seem to go bake to Bakerella otherwise known as Angie Dudley, a blogger from Atlanta in the United States. If you are a fan of desserts, particularly novelty desserts that look as pretty as they are good to eat, check out her site  Amazing stuff!

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