I Can’t Make Cake Balls

I first tried cake balls while judging a baking contest. My fellow judge, or to be more precise, the person teaching me how to judge because I didn’t have much experience, was Jacquy Pfeiffer. If you recognize the name chances are you’ve seen Kings of Pastry. And if you have seen Kings of Pastry, then you can surely recognize the absurdity of Cookie Madness and co-founder of the Chicago Pastry School discussing cake balls, most of which tasted like they’d been made with cake mix. Despite their flavor, the cake balls were very pretty — unlike the ones I’ve tried to make. In fact, I’m about to give up. I’ve tried four different brands of dipping chocolate, using tooth picks to dip, freezing the balls before dipping, double dipping, spooning the chocolate on top, and I still can’t get my cake balls to look good.

Here’s a picture of the ones from today. Putting them on ice cream cones and topping them with softened chocolate icing makes them passable, but still….

cake-ball cones

I’m about to throw in the towel and stick with regular cake. Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a good recipes to eat or to smash into cake balls and dip in chocolate, Glazed Chocolate Cake with Sprinkles is a good one.

chocolate cake

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  1. Kim Bouchard says

    Hey Anna,

    The bakery here makes cake “bites”. What she does is whenever she has left over pieces from cakes that she decorates, she adds a little butter cream to the cake crumbs to bind. She then puts in the freezer to harden and then dips them in chocolate. They are to die far and she can never keep them in the shop.

    Just a thought.


  2. Louise says

    Anna, Maybe you take great photos because the cake balls on the cones look fine to me. Perhaps you just aren’t ready to make decorated cake pops. 🙂

  3. says

    Well I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who can’t get their cake balls coated nicely in chocolate! I think I’d rather have a slice of cake vs a few cake balls. There’s something about eating cake with a fork that makes me feel like I’m eating more of it. Maybe I eat it slower?

    Anyhow, I think the ones in the cones look great though! The one on the left in particular really looks like scooped ice cream.

  4. says

    I can’t make cake balls look nice either, but I’m also not in love with them. Though I did make them once with homemade cake and frosting and like them a lot more than the cake mix ones.
    How DOES Bakerella do it? Her’s are so perfectly cute in all shapes and sizes.
    The ice cream cones do look great though!

  5. stephanie says

    I think yours look adorable! I was just going to say to check out bakerella’s site. I have made them using a cake mix & pre-packaged/made frosting. Total success there. I have never tried it with homemade cake & frosting though. I think Bakerella does have some recipes on her site for homemade versions that work for her. YOu might want to try that. She also gives you suggestions on what type of chocolate coating works for her. For me, I used MErckens chocolate & Wilton. I am able to purchase both of those without difficulty at my local cake & candy making store & wilton is availble at Joanns & Michaels. I prefer the taste of Merckens better than wiltons though. Peters is good also, not as easy to find.

    I did find it a bit challenging to dip them, as well. I froze mine into simple balls & stuck a fork in them to dip. What I found helpful though, was adding a touch of shortening to the melted chocolate. This helped it coat better. For 1 pound of chocolate disks, I added 1 T of transfat- free shortening (you can use regular shortening or paraffin). Once I added the shortening, it covered the balls much easier. It took a bit longer to set up, but still was much smoother in coverage.

    I don’t know how she does the intricate designs she does, because they are amazing. Keep trying, I think you did a great job, especially for your first attempt.

  6. Kenni says

    Canned icing makes a nice coating. All you have to do is melt it in the microwave just like chocolate, you can even melt and dip in the container.

  7. says

    Don’t give up yet! I love making cake balls–they are so much fun. It took me awhile to get it right but adding a little shortening to the coating makes a it SO much eaiser.

  8. says

    I think your cones look perfectly adorable, so in part it might be that you’re tired of looking at them. Another factor might be that you know the location of every little thing that you perceive to be a bobble, and that is what your eye, or your mind’s eye sees instead of seeing the bigger, ‘cuter’ picture.
    I admire your persistence in getting this to work for you. I’m sure it takes a lot of patience. I’m also thinking that other people who do it have practiced a lot, or spent their time doing similar tasks and you too could get that good at it if that’s how you wanted to spend your time, but the reality is there are a lot of good recipes out there to test and invent and I think that is more where your passion lies.

  9. says

    Wow, thanks for all these great tips!! I really appreciate it.

    Kim, thanks for the link to Aly Cakes. I am going to go on Facebook and look at her photos.

    Louise, thanks! I think I might have more luck if I use lollipop sticks. There was one cake ball that looked pretty nice and it was the one I put on a lollipop stick. The stick gave me an instant handle. I only had one stick, though….one I’d saved from another cake pop.

    Mrs. Block, Katrina, MEP and Dawn, thanks for the empathy. I was feeling down today because I am the only one in the world who can’t make nice cake balls ;).

    Stephanie, I should have gone straight to Angie’s site for help. Instead, I used old cake ball tips from 2004 or 2005 on a cake decorating site. Duh. Anyway, I’ve tried Wilton Candy Melts (they harden up a little too fast and would be better in a warming tray of some sort), Almond Bark (thick and chalky), the new Baker’s Dipping chocolate (worked the best of all!) and some one called Choco-Melt o something like that, which was okay but seemed a little *too* thin and required double dipping. I haven’t seen Mercken’s in any of my stores.

    MacKenzie, thanks for the shortening tip. I’ve been trying to avoid adding it, but I think it may be necessary.

    Kenni, I forgot about canned icing. Thanks!

    Sue, I think you’re right that I just get tired of looking at them (and taste testing). They always looks better the next day after I’ve cleaned up my mess. Sometimes they even taste better, but I’m still trying to nail down the proper ratio of frosting to cake. I’m starting to think there isn’t one since all cake is different.

  10. JoanS says

    Don’t know if you read Pioneer Woman or not – she had Bakerella at the ranch a couple of years ago to do a demo on cake balls. If you go to this URL

    and put “cake balls” in the upper right search block, it’ll come up with three demos on cake balls. They’re beautiful to look at, but I can’t do any that fiddley! There’s not a thing wrong with yours – I agree with the commenter that said you could see what you think is wrong with them – but we don’t!

  11. Dee says

    My 14 year old daughter & I made cake balls for a school project. I deemed them an epic fail for their looks but apparently the kids at school thought they were great…asked her to bring more the next day! Ours came out lumpy and unattractive. We used Wilton discs and it was too thick, in my opinion. I MIGHT try again…if I can get over what a mess we made the first time!! Good luck if you try again 😉

  12. Carlyn says

    I walked by those mini ice cream cones at the grocery store and couldn’t help but grab a package! But now that I’ve read how difficult cake balls are I don’t know if I even want to attempt them! I wonder what other cute dessert ideas I could do with mini ice cream cones?
    By the way, your cake cones look great, it’s hard to get them perfect!

  13. says

    I’m so glad you posted that. I haven’t tried cake balls (yet) but cheesecake balls drove me nuts.

    The only top I have … when I’ve melted chocolate wafers and want it a little thinner, I’ve used a little smidge of canola oil — I think it works as well as shortening.

  14. Holly says

    Hey Anna,
    A friend of mine swears by Ambrosia Chocolate (Delicious, but expensive. Apparently you can get it for about 75% off after the holidays). She also uses little silicone molds and says they pop right out. They aren’t “balls” per se, almost a mini-cupcake size…but, for her, easier to work with. May be worth keeping an eye out for it to see if it’s a product you like working with?

    Personally, I eat cake balls so fast, I really don’t care what they look like!

  15. Meredith says

    How timely! I’d never had a cake pop until this past Thursday night, when I was lured by the display case at Starbucks and succumbed to a rocky road pop.. I decided then and there that I had to make my own, and came home and surfed the web for recipes and tips. Even watched Bakerella on YouTube. Maybe I’ll rethink the idea of making them!

  16. Daisy Doodles says

    Hey Anna,
    I made the mistake of making cake balls one year for Christmas and now EVERY SINGLE HOLIDAY my family asks for them 😛 I’ve had luck with adding abit of shortening to the melted chocolate (I use Spectrum shortening) and it works pretty well. I always freeze the balls before dipping and it helps with the crumbling issue when dipping.

    Heather 🙂

  17. Sandra says

    Yours look like scooped up ice-cream and that’s pretty good. Making cake pops is a royal pain in the hiney until you get the hang of it. At least you can eat your mistakes!

  18. Polly says

    I make a lot of cake balls and I now use the Wilton chocolate, which seems to give then a thinner coating of chocolate. I have also purchased a chocolate warmer( by Wilton) which keeps the chocolate at an even temp. I wore out my microwave door last year! I take the cake balls out with a small long-handled spoon and let them drop off onto my parchment paper and then fill in any imperfections.

  19. says

    Try using CANDIQUIK- when melted it is perfect for coating cake balls/bites/truffles – whatever you wish to call them 🙂 dip them in the coating with a spoon, use another spoon to quickly coat the rest of the cake ball, let the excess chocolate drip off, pull out of chocolate and set on wax paper.

    If I can do it, anyone can 😉 trust me, lol.

  20. says

    Hi Anna,
    I made those for Austin Bakes for Japan a few weekends ago! Yours looks great! I can’t wait to try out a few recipes on your site, I’m desperately looking for a really tasty, moist chocolate cake.

  21. says

    I made cake balls for my son’s birthday. They were supposed to be decorated with an edible marker to look like Lego Men, however, I couldn’t get my chocolate to look smooth like everyone else in the baking/blogging world. I gave up on trying to make them look like Lego men and just swirled the chocolate on the cake ball. They looked funky and textured and they tasted great. Not exactly what I set out to do, but I didn’t expect a massive hole in the middle of my cake when I flipped it out of the pan either. I emailed Bakerella after my quasi-cake ball disaster and she said she thinks my issues lie in the freezer portion of the recipe. Apparently, I left them in the freezer too long and the chocolate froze onto the cake balls to quickly. She said they should only be in there for a few minutes tops. I left mine in for about 45 mins. Oops. Good luck with all the tips. Hopefully, these will help me as well. And the cones look great by the way!

  22. Melissa says

    How did you dip the cake ball into the chocolate with out it falling out of the cone? I think these are so much cuter than just plain cake balls that I usually make!

  23. Marfu says

    Paramount crystals also work in
    lieu of crisco. 1Tbsp per pound of wafers. Great stuff for thinning out thick Wiltons chocolate!

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