Friday, December 24, 2010

Cake Balls - the experiment!

I'd like to tell you that I came up with this brilliant idea for (yet) another holiday treat, but that wouldn't be the truth. I'd also like to tell you that I decided to make this dessert because we needed it... but that wouldn't be the truth, either.

The truth is ...
... wait ...
Can you handle the truth?

I cleaned my cabinets. Long story there, but that's for another post. While I cleaned, I noticed that a few of the items on my shelf had passed their expiration dates. Out they went. I also noticed a couple of my cake mixes were just on the edge. Rather than toss them out, I decided to use them. My middle daughter had heard about cake balls and suggested these were just the thing for my soon-to-be-out-of-date mixes.

So we ran with it.

There are a number of cake ball recipes online and most follow the same instructions using cake mix, store-bought frosting, and almond bark.

The thing is - no one in my family likes store-bought frosting. Not even the "tastes like homemade" kind. So we used our family's favorite homemade cream cheese frosting instead. That means, of course, that these balls need to stay in the fridge when they're not being consumed, but the cream cheese makes that extra effort worth it.

Super easy, kind of fun, and versatile, this is a recipe I will turn to again.

Think about it - you can change the dough, the bark color, the decor. These could be made for almost any holiday, or bridal and baby showers with just a tweak or two.

Here goes:


1 cake mix, your choice of flavor, prepared according to package directions. While it's cooling...

Make frosting:
(I got this recipe from my mother in law years ago. Best frosting ever!)

1 8oz package cream cheese
1 stick butter (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Beat it.

Combine finished cake (still slightly warm is okay) with frosting. I like to start by tearing the finished cake up and crumbling it into a separate bowl. Then add the frosting. You can begin with a spoon, but you'll eventually want to use your hands. Messy!

Once it's all fully combined, roll into 1-inch (or so) balls and place on wax/parchment paper on cookie sheets. Cool in refrigerator to set. While they're cooling...

Melt almond bark. Hard to give you an amount here. Just eyeball it. I used six rectangles of milk chocolate and six squares of vanilla-flavored. Two different manufacturers so the unit sizes varied. Like I said - just eyeball it.

I started by dunking the balls in the melted milk chocolate, but they seemed too heavy and the chocolate was used up too quickly. I switched gears and decided to pour spoonfuls of melted bark over the balls instead. I like that much better.

If you're going to use sprinkles, add them right away. The bark hardens quickly!

Once it is hardened, you can use a contrasting bark for decoration (as I've done here) or mix up a little powdered sugar and water, and decorate with that. With the addition of sticks, these can become cake pops. Maybe add a face, ears, nose.... I probably could have made mini Rudolphs.

With a little creativity they can be almost anything....
The possibilities are endless!

Happy Christmas Eve today
and tomorrow...
Merry Christmas!

Warm hugs,


  1. Julie, these look fabulous!!! And what fun. A project for the whole family.

    Yes, with creativity...the possibilities are endless. What a good thought to hold for the next year and years to come.


  2. There's no way that this recipe can go wrong with a package of cream cheese in it! Great recipe and thanks for sharing. :)

  3. These look delicious. Now I'm wondering if I can fit a batch in to today's baking schedule.

    Beverly aka Bookwoman

  4. Thanks, Avery!

    Merry Christmas, Dru!

    Merry Christmas, Dave!

  5. Elizabeth - you know it! Cream cheese makes everything great, doesn't it?

    Beverly - they really don't take very long at all. Pretty simple, too. Let me know if you give it a whirl!

  6. Julie - Fantastic! I have been wondering about cake balls for some time. They are really all the rage and I'm thrilled that you forged ahead as a pioneer for the Kitchen! Thank you for all of your tips - especially the frosting recipe. I'm much less apprehensive about trying these now! :)

    Warmest wishes to you and your family for a happy holiday and a great 2011! Counting down the days to Jan 1 AND your new WHC mystery, Buffalo West Wing!

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. How fun! and how pretty! Thanks, Julie.

    Happiest of Holidays to you all!

  8. This is a fun fun fun recipe and a great way to clear out the cupboard!!! Thanks for taking the time to experiment and share during this busy time of year!! I'm going to try to add these to our Christmas Day baking!!! Snowmen perhaps???
    Wishing you and your family a blessed and joyous Christmas, Julie!!

  9. Thanks, Cleo! Have fun with them - I know you'll love 'em!

    Kaye - And our best to you! Big hugs!

    Nanc - Snowmen! Great idea!! Thank you! Merry Christmas!

  10. Julie, these are beautiful! Thank you for the idea & the tips! I'll definitely be trying them in the future.

    Last week I also found in my pantry some soon-to-expire cake mixes. Though not nearly as clever as your cake balls, but with a nod to Krista for reminding us of Christmas *chocolate* I made some scrumptious cookies from the recipe on the side of the box. Turned out to be a new family favorite, and they're almost all gone now. Here's the link to the recipe, if anyone's interested:

    Wishing everyone the Happiest of Holidays, with visions of cake balls dancing in our heads! ;)

  11. Oops, posted the wrong link, but those fudge cookies look great too! Here's the corrected one:

    BTW, these cookies taste similar to brownies.

  12. How cute! They sell these at my Farmer's Market, and I'd wondered about them. It would never have occurred to me to mix the frosting in with the cake! Very clever!

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

    ~ Krista

  13. Thanks, Lynn!! I'll check out both links. I love the idea of making cookies from cake mixes - sounds like a fabulous use. And I happen to have one more cake mix that's nearing its due date... Much appreciated!

    Krista - the best thing about this is how super easy they are. Oh, and how delicious, too!

    ***Happy, sparkling, wonderful holidays to everyone!!***

  14. Julie, I made cake balls and found them hard to coat. I put them in the freezer not knowing how to finish them. Thanks to your post, I now have finished cake balls to serve for Christmas guests.

  15. I tried the cake balls recipe yesterday evening for a party today. Worked a treat and they look so pretty and are just the right size for one bite. I have scoops in about 10 sizes and chose my smallest for these.

    Of course, I had to taste one before I served them to anyone else. ;-) You'd never know they originated with a cake mix.