Last Sunday was the Super Bowl (Go Packers!) and Billy and I went to our good friend Chris's house for the annual gathering. Good food, good friends, and we sometimes like the commercials more than the game (at least I do!). For those of you who missed the game/commercials, Google "Darth Vader VW Commercial" and enjoy!
Anyway, prior to our fiesta, I decided I'd finally make a dessert/treat that I'd read about for days, and had been wanting to make for months. They're called Cake Balls, and as it turns out, they're should be called nightmare balls.
The idea is basic, and sounds tasty - bake cake, crumble it and mix it with frosting, form balls, dip in chocolate, decorate, and eat! The reviews were amazing - everyone loved them and although they admitted it was work, everyone agreed it was worth it. So here goes!
I bake a chocolate fudge cake and mix with whipped cream cheese frosting. No prob. I refridgerate mixture for couple hours as suggested. Later, while talking to my mom on the phone, I start making my "balls" (they had to be football shapes, to celebrate the game!). No prob.
I put the little footballs in the freezer (as recommended), carefully stacking two cookie trays with the help of a wire rack. They stay there overnight, since it was already 7pm and Billy was home from work, ready for dinner. No prob. They looked like little poops, but here they are, ready to freeze.
The next morning (SuperBowl Sunday), after making breakfast (pancakes with bacon - more on that later!), I gather my supplies to start dipping my footballs in chocolate. I always burn chocolate when I try to melt it in the microwave, so I melted it with my double boiler, which I've done plenty of times before. I start dipping, but the first two are gloppy and uneven - no smooth chocolate running down the sides of the football, no shiny layer of chocolate coating hardening nicely on the cookie sheet. Just gloppy. So I decide that to get more liquid chocolate, I'll add some butter, right? Wrong. A tablespoon of butter later, my chocoate seizes. Damn! I put it aside (saved for some brownies or chocolate cake) and proceed to get very frustrated. This was supposed to be easy!
After a short while, Billy convinces me to try again, with new chocolate. So here comes Round 2, but the first couple footballs prove that my chocolate has not improved, or my technique is still off. I then decide that crying is the best solution - what else can you do when your great and adorable idea doesn't work, and you feel like a kitchen failure? :)
Luckily, my good husband didn't let me mope on and on, and with some kitchen trickery of his own, coaxed the chocolate to a smoother, more liquid-y consistency, and forced me back into the technique. Dipping was still not so successful, so I just dropped the footballs in the bowl one by one, rolled them in chocolate, and scooped them out onto my wire cooling rack. It was a hot (steamy from the double boiler), messy, and rather frustrating process, but I managed to coat about 90% of the footballs before running out of chocolate (if only I hadn't seized my first batch!).
Back into the freezer for the footballs, a shower for me, and then I whipped up some powdered sugar glaze for the final touch. I iced laces onto about half of the footballs - plenty to take to the party.
So after finishing up our chili and prepping our baked spinach-artichoke dip, we headed off to Chris' house, ready to stuff our faces and watch the game. We had a great time (Go Packers!) and ate plenty. Everyone loved the dip and chili, and they really enjoyed the little footballs too.
Looking back, my failure was limited to the chocolate dipping part, a problem I could have avoided if I had made a point to read an article or two on "tempering chocolate." Knowing the basics of how melted chocolate works would have saved me time and tears. Oh well... maybe next time? Nah.
The moral of my cake ball story? Kids, don't try this at home.