Cake balls are my absolute favorite way to eat cake. I have never been a huge cake person, leaning more towards cookies for all occasions. However, cake has grown on me more and more as I have grown as a baker myself. But, my obsession with cake balls doesn’t seem to be going away.
What are cake balls? Cake balls are like a combination of cake and candy – to me. They are cake, mixed with frosting, rolled into balls, and then covered completely in chocolate. And, I love chocolate candies like buttercreams. So, this moist and delicious cake covered in chocolate that resembles a buttercream candy is pretty much one of my favorite desserts. If you haven’t ever tried cake balls, you are missing out! Plus, they may seem intimidating, but I promise you I make cake balls easy!
There are also some upsides to making cake balls. They can be made from messed up cakes or cupcakes very easily, so you avoid waste. I hate wasting food, and owning a bakery for so long, it’s inevitable. But, I always look for ways to use up food that wasn’t exactly what it was supposed to be.
Here’s some examples of when you can make cake balls.
Forgot your leavening in your cake? If you forgot baking power or baking soda in your cake, then you know it didn’t rise. And what happens when cake doesn’t rise? It becomes a dense mess and it doesn’t even really resemble cake, because cake is known for its texture and fluffiness. But, instead of throwing away that cake, you can use it make cake balls. Why? Because the cake gets broken up and mixed with frosting to form a squishy consistency, you really don’t miss that leavening because the cake is all crumbled and smooshed anyways! I know it happens sometimes, and cake doesn’t rise, so in the future – make cake balls!
Your cake fell. There is nothing worse than a cake falling. Maybe you were testing out a new recipe and it just didn’t work, or maybe you forgot something in your cake to make it fall. Whatever the reason, fallen cake can’t be used as cake. But, it can be used for cake balls (as long as it still tastes okay!).
Your cupcakes sunk. Same thing here. As long as your sunken cupcakes taste fine, you can use them for cake balls!
Your cake broke! So, you baked this layer cake, and you were going to stack it and put it together, but it broke coming out of the pan. This is the perfect opportunity for cake balls. It’s incredibly difficult to put together a broken layer cake, trust me. So much easier to just make cake balls.
If you have any broken chocolate cake, you can use it to make these Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake Balls. And that makes cake balls easy! If you have about 1 dozen cupcakes or a 6-inch layer cake that is broken, that would be the right amount of cake for this frosting and coating ratio.
Tips for Making the Best Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake Balls
• Make sure your butter is soft. It’s very important to cream together the butter and sugar so there are no remaining portions of just butter in the cake batter. Creaming the butter and sugar together helps give cake its light and fluffy crumb.
• This is also why using room temperature eggs, milk, heavy cream, and sour cream is very important. You just worked to cream together butter and sugar. And, if you put in cold ingredients the butter can easily clump up again, which would derail the first step! So, that’s why having these ingredients at room temperature is super important. It makes mixing the cake batter so much easier and ensures your cake has the best light and fluffy texture.
• I use a shot of espresso in the chocolate cake. If you don’t have an espresso machine at home, you can just stop by your local coffee shop and ask for a single shot to go. Just store in the fridge until ready to use!
• I use an organic espresso powder in the frosting to provide flavor, you can find the one I use here.
• My favorite organic dark chocolate (and what I use at my bake shop) can be found here. It is important to buy high quality organic chocolate that is meant for melting – this is not chocolate chips people.
• I actually always store all my cake balls in the freezer. This makes them last longer, and I don’t feel the need to eat them all immediately. Because I have a serious cake ball problem (I could literally eat like 6 in one sitting), it makes me feel better they aren’t going bad. And it’s easier for me to pace myself! Plus, they are delicious cold out of the freezer as they don’t really freeze solid.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake Balls
Makes 35 cake balls
1/2 cup (113 grams) organic salted butter, softened
170 grams (3/4 cup) organic cane sugar
2 organic large eggs
1/2 cup organic milk
1/4 cup organic heavy whipping cream
57 grams (1/4 cup) organic sour cream
1 shot organic espresso
127 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) cake flour
43 grams (1/2 cup) organic Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon organic ground vanilla bean
3/4 cup (170 grams) organic salted butter, softened
340 grams (heaping 2 1/3 cups) organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons organic espresso powder
2 to 3 teaspoons organic milk
425 grams (15 ounces) organic dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
To make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and cane sugar and mix on low until combined and there are no chunks of butter.
Add the eggs, milk, heavy whipping cream, and sour cream and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to combine, it will look a little chunky and that’s okay.
In a separate bowl, add the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sea salt, and vanilla bean and whisk together. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until combined into a smooth batter. Divide the batter evenly into each cake pan, about 226 grams each.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the cake pans.
To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, powdered sugar, espresso powder, and milk. Mix on low until combined and then speed mixer up to high for 1 minute or until light and fluffy.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the cake from the pans and add into the bowl with the frosting. Using your hands or a spatula, stir and squish in the cake until the mixture is uniform. Using your hands, form the cake mixture into 35 balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Place in the freezer.
Tip: I like to pop in the freezer for 15 minutes and then go back and re-form them into smoother balls as I have a difficult time forming them the first time! This is optional, so you can also skip this step. But, leave the cake balls in the freezer until they are ready to be coated.
To make the coating: In a double boiler, add all the chocolate. I don’t temper the chocolate here as these need to be kept in the fridge anyways, so I don’t see the point. Melt the chocolate until completely melted and remove from heat.
Remove the cake balls from the freezer. Using a fork (so the excess chocolate drips off below, do not pierce them), dip each ball into the chocolate and place back on the baking sheets. Repeat for all the balls. Place back in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove, and use the remaining dark chocolate to drizzle a pretty finish over the tops. Place the trays back in the freezer for 1 hour.
Remove from the freezer and remove from the parchment paper. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week (if they even last that long)!
Gluten Free — Replace the cake flour with 127 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) organic gluten free flour blend.
High Altitude — Bake at 350°F for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Did you make this recipe? Make sure to tag @mimibakescookies on Instagram!