Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Balls

All your cake and frosting in one little bite- Yum! Plus- Starting to Simmer's first giveaway!

Guess what- I'm alive and blogging again! Earlier this month I was really freaking busy abducted by aliens so I couldn't blog. I'm back with some cake balls for everyone. Cake balls and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship going on right now. I love the idea of them. Compact and cute, very portable, and more durable with a longer lifespan than cupcakes. Ok that was the love part. I hate dipping the little suckers! I cannot figure out how to do it right. The chocolate was really too thick to pour (I tried) and without making up a huge vat, it would be tough to actually completely submerge them in chocolate, and I would hate to waste chocolate! The best method I could come up with was to dip half the ball, and let it harden, then flip, and dip the other half. Simple right? No. This involved much swearing and the kitchen looked like some sort of chocolate grenade had gone off inside it. It also caused me to stay up much later than intended. So I need help. Does anyone have tips for dipping cake balls?? At the point its just such a labor intensive process that its not something I would do regularly. If I found a better way to do it I would be much happier and much more inclined make more cake balls!

The first step to making cake balls is to make your cake, icing, and filling. Once you have all the components ready you can start making the cake balls. In addition to the cake, frosting, and filling you will need candy or chocolate melts to dip the cake balls in, so be sure to pick up a few bags of those. You can use any cake and frosting combo, and you don't have to fill them if you don't want. I used chocolate cake, chocolate frosting and a peanut butter filling. I dipped some of the balls in chocolate and some in peanut butter candy  melts. 

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
adapted from: allrecipes.com
yield: one 13x9 cake

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch cake pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water. Batter will be very thin. Pour into cake pan

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

printable recipe

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
adapted from: allrecipies.com
yield: enough frosting for one cake

1/2 cup butter
4 oz  unsweetened chocolate
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl combine sugar vanilla and 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend in the chocolate mixture. Whip on medium high setting of mixer with whisk attachment.  Add remaining milk a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

Peanut Butter Filling
adapted from joyofbaking.com

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter at room temp
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 - 1 cup powdered sugar

Place the peanut butter, butter and salt in a microwaveable bowl. Heat for about 1 minute, stirring every 20 seconds until warm and soft, but not hot. Stir in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and mix until it has reached the consistency of cookie dough, adding more sugar if necessary.

Cake Ball assembly instructions

Ok now that you have all the cake ball elements its assembly time. Break the cake into large pieces and pulse in a food processor to make crumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add frosting one scoop at a time, mixing until the dough will hold together.(Kneading with clean hands may be helpful.) Keep testing by trying to make a ball, if its crumbly you need more frosting. At this point you can form the cake/frosting dough into 1 inch balls. If you want filled cake balls use your knuckle to press a dent into the ball. (Don't be shy, you want the dent to go down half way into the cake) Take a pinch of the peanut butter and roll it into a ball the size of a marble. Push the peanut butter ball into the dent and pinch the cake closed over it. Assemble all cake balls and pop into the fridge to chill for at least 10 minutes.

While cake balls are chilling melt chocolate, following the instructions on the bag. Remove cake balls from fridge, and dip one side into the chocolate. Let set in fridge for about 5 minutes. Dip other side in chocolate using a small spatula to fill in any gaps. Add any sprinkles or decorations while the chocolate is still soft.

I've done a little research on my problem with dipping the cake balls. People suggest adding vegetable oil or shortening, but caution that it can cause the chocolate to taste funny, or not set up. So I'm stuck. I really hope people have some suggestions!! The good thing was even though they were a bit frustrating to make, these tasted great! I was afraid when I was baking the cake since the batter was so so thin, but it tasted great. This frosting was much more fudgy and decadent than cocoa based chocolate buttercreams. I'm completely in favor of using melted chocolate in frosting instead of cocoa powder now. To get the chocolate drizzle on top of the cake balls I melted a contrasting color of chocolate, and put it in a frosting bag, snipped off the end and then drizzled across the cake balls. Another tip is that you can skip the cake all together and just dip the peanut butter filling if you want!


I was inspired by the comment from Galexi Cupcakes and have decided to do an impromptu giveaway!

Here's how it works:

1. Leave a comment on this post

2. "Like" Starting to Simmer on facebook (use the link on the right side of the blog)

Next Monday August 1st a winner will be randomly selected and I will send them some Cake Balls!

To participate you must live in the continental USA. One entry per person. Only comments left before 11:59pm 7/31/11 will be entered in the drawing. Family members who I have already mailed cake balls to are ineligible. Make sure to leave a link to your blog, or a way for me to get in contact with you if you win!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Red Hott Cupcakes!

Recipe Review: Red Hots Cupcakes. Are you ready to rock?? These cupcakes are!

Some of our good friends play in an 80's cover band called Hott Thing. They describe their music as "80's rock decadence". I was commissioned to make some rocking cupcakes for their  band members birthday. At first I was a bit stumped as to how I was going to make cupcakes that would fit the occasion, but then I came up the the idea of doing a cupcake with pieces of red hots candy in them. Red Hots for Hott Thing- Perfect!! There weren't many recipes online, a few involved adding red pepper and cinnamon to cupcakes, but I wanted that lovely sugary sweet but spicy flavor from Red Hots candy. Also I wasn't digging the effort it would take to melt down the candies into a syrup. What I decided to do was just to put Red Hots into the cupcake batter, and hope for the best. I used a basic vanilla cake recipe, smashed up Red Hots and threw them into the batter. The candy melted and made lovely little bursts of cinnamon spiciness when you took a bite.

Red Hott Cupcakes
adapted from recipe by Amy Sedaris
Makes 24 cupcakes

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk 
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup red hots candy, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla, salt, and baking powder.

Add flour in three batches, alternating with the milk & sour cream. Mix until batter is smooth with no lumps, but do not over beat. Fold in crushed red hots.

Divide batter evenly among cups, and bake for 18- 20 minutes or until tops are just golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on rack to room temperature before frosting.

The best way that I found to crush the red hots was to put them in a plastic bag and to smash them with a rolling pin. You have to use a thick plastic bag (like a freezer one) so the bag doesn't bust apart. The candy still ends up ripping though a little bit but its manageable. I tried putting them in a mini food processor that I have but that smashed them too much and they ended up a powder.
**PS: Ok So I've been assuming that everyone knows what I'm talking about when I talk about Red Hots) I'm talking about these:

You should be able to find them at any grocery store. I used one box and had enough candy for the cupcakes and extra to decorate the frosting with. 

OH and in case you were wondering... 

This is  Hott Thing!

***EXCITING NEWS*** I am now taking orders for cupcakes!! If you live in the San Diego area and would like me to bake cupcakes for your next event please check out my Cupcake Portfolio !!