In the world of baking blogs, cake balls are not news. They were hot off the baking presses back in 2008, when Bakerella started wow-ing the world with her creative cake pop creations. I don’t think Bakerella invented the idea of cake balls, but she sure made them famous. She has since created an impressive assortment of creative, beautiful cake pops, both on her blog and in cookbooks.
I’m not here today to show you a stunningly creative cake pop – that’s far beyond my personal artistic scope. Instead: I’m going to teach you to make the cake balls themselves.
I first made cake balls in 2010 for a friend’s birthday. It was like paying the cake forward, because a good friend had recently made them for MY birthday. They were a hit, and I thought about them a lot… but never made them again. I even bought ingredients for them a couple years ago – and then failed to ever make the cake balls happen. When you have a recipe list that’s nearing 400 recipes, sometimes things just don’t happen, no matter how much you scheme. For my birthday this year, I decided to finally revisit these delicious bites.
These Funfetti Cake Balls aren’t fancy – but they’re easy to make, easy to serve, and a true crowd favorite. I use Funfetti because it is just so, well, fun, but you could swap in any other flavor of cake and frosting. This is the perfect time to use mixes and canned frostings, by the way. You could definitely make your own if you wanted to, but the pre-made stuff is a nice shortcut for a recipe like this. Especially since you’re going to smash your cake into smithereens* to make the balls. This recipe is super easy, but do make sure to set aside time since there are a few different phases: make the cake, make the balls, chill the balls, dip the balls.
*Fun fact: Wikipedia’s description of cake balls is “reconstituted cake crumbs.” Technically correct, but what a funny way to describe it!
Funfetti Cake Balls
Original recipe: Bakerella (a.k.a. the Queen of Cake Balls and Pops). I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.
Yield: 48 cake balls
Suggested equipment: I used a mixer for my cake but you definitely don’t need to
Total Time: 3 hours, including all the steps/wait times
Cook Time: Depends on your base cake; my mix baked for 40 minutes
- 1 box cake mix (I like using Pilsbury’s Funfetti since it has sprinkles mixed into the batter). You’ll also need to gather whatever your cake mix requires to bake the cake. For mine, that meant water, oil and eggs.
- 1 container ready-made frosting (I used Funfetti frosting, and love that it comes with sprinkles for decoration, though it wasn’t enough for all of my balls)
- 48 oz chocolate candy coating (I used Candiquik)
- Sprinkles to decorate the balls
Step by Step Directions
Bake your cake
Obviously this step varies depending on which cake mix you buy! I like using a 9×13 pan since it’s the easiest to deal with, and you’re just going to crumble the cake, anyway. Make sure your cake is done by testing the center with a toothpick – it should come out batter-free. Once the cake is done, let it cool completely before proceeding. I actually baked my cake on a Saturday and finished up the balls on Sunday since it fit better into my schedule.
Make your cake balls
- Crumble the cooled cake into a large bowl. Your pieces should be pretty small – check out the picture below to get a better sense of size
- Add frosting to the bowl until the crumbs are moist, but not totally wet. The wetter the cake crumbles, the harder it is to make the balls (I know, sort of counterintuitive). I used about 2/3 of the frosting can. You can throw the remaining frosting in the fridge after that because you won’t need it again
- Use a spoon to combine the frosting and cake crumbs together. I used a wooden spoon; the original recipe suggests using the back of a large metal spoon. You’ll want to mix until the frosting and cake bits are totally combined
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper before you start making the balls
- Roll your cake mixture into cake balls about 1.5 inches big. They should be as round and smooth as you can make them – the prettier now, the prettier your final balls will be. I didn’t worry about making mine perfect since I knew the chocolate coating would hide some of the imperfections, but if you’re more aesthetically inclined, you should definitely invest time at this step
- Place your cake balls on the cookie sheets and let them sit for about 20 minutes.
- Then, cover the sheets with plastic wrap, and throw them into the fridge or freezer. If you choose fridge, they should chill for several hours. If you choose freezer, they should chill for about 15 minutes
- Once the balls are firm, you’re ready to dip! Be careful not to let the balls freeze entirely
Dip and decorate
- Put your candy coating in a microwave safe bowl. Technically you can melt most coatings in the tray they come in – but it’s a lot easier to dip the balls if you put the coating in a bowl first since you have more depth to roll
- Take out a few balls at a time to dip, and leave the rest in the fridge so they stay firm
- Dip each ball in the chocolate, one by one. You can sort of just twist the ball around in the chocolate to get it covered. You’ll start to get the hang of the coating after a few tries. You should find the coating simple to use, so if you’re fighting the coating to stay put or it’s getting lumpy, use a bit of vegetable oil to thin it out. Mine started to clump up once I got through half my balls, so it did need thinning
- If you’re going to add sprinkles, do it immediately after dipping each individual ball. The coating dries super fast, so you’ll miss the opportunity to decorate if you wait to dip all the balls first before adding sprinkles, etc.
These went fast at my birthday, but there were a couple left the next day. They tasted just as good on Day 2 – just make sure to keep them in an airtight container. And remember, this is just the tip of the cake ball iceberg. For lots of fun decorative ideas, check out Bakerella’s slew of tutorials