Want a delicious, show-stopping treat for your next holiday party?
How about a Cake Ball Tree?
In this tutorial:
• What You'll Need
• Make Cake Balls
• Prep the Base
• Prep the Spoons
• Form and Freeze
• Dunk and Decorate
• Some Assembly Required
• Wrap it up :)
Step 1: WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Any cake mix/frosting combination will work so be creative. Here are a few combinations:
• classic white/cream cheese
• butter cream/butter
• red velvet/cream cheese
• dark chocolate/fudge
• dark/light cocoa
CRISCO (or similar shortening)
ASSORTED SPRINKLES AND TOPPINGS
• assorted shaker sprinkles (as shown)
• crushable cookies, candies or nuts
• chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter chips
• mini marshmallows
• dried fruits
• soup spoons have the best shape for this project but any plastic spoon will work
• at least 18 inches tall
• white foam (not green floral foam)
• with a diameter larger than the base of the cone
HOLIDAY FLORAL PEICES (not shown)
CLEAR CELLOPHANE WRAP
TWIST TIE (not shown)
HANDY TOOLS TO HAVE ON HAND:
• xacto knife or similar
• parchment paper
• baking sheet similar that fits in freezer/fridge
Step 2: MAKE CAKE BALLS
This is so easy it's surprising.
• make a cake according to the box directions
• cut into pieces and put in large mixing bowl
• while still hot, mix in one tub of frosting (yes, all of it - it's a cake ball not a diet snack :/ )
• mix into a sticky dough
• place into freezer to quickly cool
Once the cake and frosting are mixed, spoon the entire lump of sticky dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap.
Fold one edge of the plastic wrap over the dough and roll it out with a rolling pin to flatten it out a little bit.
Fold the other edge of the wrap over and repeat until you have a square or rectangular piece of dough about an inch thick wrapped in plastic. COOL COMPLETELY
The more precise you are with this, the easier it will be to portion later in the process, so it's worth the couple extra minutes to get the thickness and shape consistent.
Step 3: PREP THE BASE
While the dough chills…
Center the bottom of the cone on the cake base and trace a circle around the diameter.
Trace a second circle inside the first. The inner circle should be 1/4 inch in diameter less than the outer circle.
Cut out the inner circle. You should now have an "O" shaped cake base.
Slide the cake base over the cone and press down slightly. Be sure to level the cake base.
TIP: Cut a 1/2" to 1" inch piece of the cake box to use as a measure all the way around the base.
From the underside of the cake base, score the foam cone with a butter knife to make a shallow groove around the entire cone. Be careful to keep the groove just beneath the cake base. The cake base will be fitted into this groove later in this step making the base extra sturdy.
Remove the cake base from the cone.
Cut the top two inches off the cone (this should leave you with a 15" - 16" cone).
Wrap the cone with metallic tissue and tape along seam to secure.
Twist the metallic tissue at the top and cut any excess along the bottom.
Once the cone is wrapped and secured, press the cake base over the cone until it fits into the groove you created earlier. It should fit snuggly.
Step 4: PREP THE SPOONS
The spoon handles are too long to insert into the cone easily.
Trimming them back will make it easier and cause less stress on the cake balls during insertion.
The spoons I used were easy to snap against a table edge, but if the plastic is more flexible, simply score the spoon with a knife and snap or cut with strong craft scissors.
TIP: Keep the first handle you snap off as a reference measurement for the rest of the spoons.
This will help you keep them uniform.
Step 5: FORM AND FREEZE
Remove the cake ball dough from the freezer and plastic wrap.
Divide the cold dough in thirds horizontally and vertically.
Divide each smaller section in half. This should produce 36 square pieces.
Divide the squares into a group of 24 and a group of 12 - put the 12 back in the freezer.
Quickly shape each of the 24 squares into balls and press gently into the prepped spoons.
Return the cake balls to the freezer.
Step 6: DUNK AND DECORATE
Thoughtful preparation is the key to success with this step.
PREP THE DUNK STATION:
Place different color melting chocolates in separate microwave safe drinking tumblers.
Place an oven safe baking dish, large enough to accommodate all the glasses, on a burner over very low heat.
Fill dish with approximately 1/2 an inch of hot water to create a water bath. Be sure to watch the water level during the process so the chocolates don't burn.
Place melting chocolates, one at a time, in the microwave and heat for 20 - 30 seconds.
Stir chocolates between each melting to ensure you do not burn the chocolates. This usually takes two or three rounds in the microwave to get a smooth consistency.
Use 1 - 2 tbsp shortening (like CRISCO or similar) in the melting chocolates to thin the mixture and make it easier to coat the cake balls.
Be sure not to use too much or the coating will melt to the touch.
Leave a spoon in each glass to use later.
Once the chocolate is melted, carefully place the glass in the water bath to maintain temperature.
PREP THE DECORATING STATION:
For a wide variety of finished cake balls, use various toppings like cookie crumbles, crushed candies and assorted sprinkles.
Place a few teaspoons of each of the toppings in separate cupcake liners.
Place each cupcake liner filled with toppings in separate coffee filters. This will make sense in a moment.
PREP THE PRE/POST STATIONS:
Clear an area near the melting chocolates for the cake balls to rest before dunking.
Place the sprinkles after the chocolates and then place a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper at the end of the line to receive the dunked cake balls. (See graphic)
NOW WE DUNK AND DECORATE:
Take a chilled cake ball by the spoon handle and dunk into the chocolate mixture of your choice.
Use the spoon you left in the chocolate earlier to fully coat the ball, but be sure not to coat the spoon the cake ball is resting on.
Gently shake any extra chocolate off the cake ball. If your melting chocolate mix is correct, it should leave a thin glossy layer.
Set aside any dipped cake balls you plan to drizzle at this point as it is easier to drizzle a well chilled, pre-coated cake ball. I usually reserve 1/4 of the total.
Once the cake ball stops dripping, move it over the topping of your choice.
Use the cupcake liner to pour toppings over the cake ball catching any excess in the coffee filter.
Pour excess toppings from coffee filter back into cupcake liner and repeat if necessary.
Tilting the cake ball will help you get an even coating. It is not necessary to coat the bottom in sprinkles.
Once the cake ball is coated set on wax paper lined cookie sheet.
Once all the cake balls are dipped and decorated place the cookie sheet in the fridge to chill.
Dark or milk chocolate - crushed Oreo
Dark or milk chocolate - crushed Heath Bar, Butter finger, m&m or similar
Dark or milk chocolate - chopped nuts
Dark or milk chocolate - various sprinkles
Dark or Milk chocolate - crushed peppermint
Colored melts with - chocolate drizzle or contrasting drizzle
Colored melts with - corresponding colored sugar
Colored melts with - crushed red hots
To drizzle chocolate, dip a spoon into melting chocolate and leave a small amount on the tip.
Practice your technique first over the glass to test consistency.
Gently wave the spoon back and forth letting the chocolate drizzle - in a continuous stream - off the end of the spoon.
Re-load the spoon with chocolate and repeat the waving motion over a chilled, pre-coated cake ball.
WINNING COMBOS :)
Light chocolate over dark
Green or red over white
White over any
Dark chocolate over any
Step 7: SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
After the decorated cake balls have chilled for at least half an hour.
Remove from the fridge and prepare to press into tree base.
It may be necessary to score the metallic tissue with a knife to make it easier to push the spoons into the foam cone.
Starting approximately one inch from the base, press a cake ball into the cone.
Hold the cake balls with plastic wrap or parchment paper to avoid leaving fingerprints on them when pressing them in.
For my tree I used:
Six balls on the bottom layer
Six balls on the second layer
Five on the third layer
Four on the forth layer and
Three cake balls on the top layer.
Place a ribbon bow on the top of the tree and push sprigs of garland in the empty spaces between the cake balls.
Step 8: WRAP IT UP
Unroll two layers of cellophane wrap more than twice the height of your tree, allowing for six or so inches of extra cellophane above the tree to tie closed.
Place the one layer of cellophane vertically above the other horizontally until you have a large plus shape.
Place the finished cake ball tree in the center and pull the cellophane up around the tree gently, gathering the extra at the top.
Tie the extra closed with twist tie to secure and then with ribbon to finish the presentation.