Sweet Success

I’ve tried my hand at cake balls and cake pops a few times before, and I’ve never been completely satisfied with the result. For whatever reason, no matter what I do (aka follow the recipe exactly), I can’t seem to get the cake balls to stay intact long enough to coat them in melted chocolate or candy melts. After giving up on the cake ball phenomenon, I decided to give truffles a try. I started with the basic chocolate truffle, and graduated to the (barely more complicated) Oreo truffle. After feeling confident enough in those attempts, I decided to try something new.

The biggest problem I’ve had with the cake mix and frosting mixture, as I’ve said, is that it just doesn’t stick together. The frosting is sticky, but it just isn’t sticky enough. I’ve only had success when ingredients like cream cheese or peanut butter are involved. So, after thinking long and hard about what I could use as a bonding agent, I realized there was a simple solution: sweetened condensed milk! Not only would it add an extra sweetness, but it’s sticky enough to hold everything together without being over the top sticky, like some syrups. Enter the cake truffle!

On Wednesday at work, my (new) department decided to celebrate Festivus. This meant a White Elephant, an ordered lunch, and of course, treats! Since I’m known as the resident baker and food provider in the office, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to try my truffle idea. You only need four ingredients, and everything comes together quickly. Sure, you have to spend some time waiting for the cake to harden so it can be shaped into balls and coated in chocolate, but I don’t mind the down time… it lets you do other things!

These are a perfect last minute dessert to take to a Holiday party, or something just to enjoy for yourself! These were such a success, I’m thinking I may have to make a few more batches to share before the year is up.


Vanilla Cake Truffles
– makes 30-40 truffles, depending on the size –

2 cups of vanilla cake mix (I used French Vanilla)
½ cup + 1 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Combine the cake mix, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in a medium-sized bowl. Make sure everything is well combined; the mixture should easily stick together. 
2. Refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes. 
3. Using the chilled dough, shape them into balls, placing them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. My truffles measured out to be about 1.5 teaspoons each. Of course you can make them smaller or bigger – it’s up to you!
4. Freeze the dough balls for another 15 minutes. 
5. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in a glass bowl. Your time may vary (I like to do 1 minute, stir, and then do another minute). 
6. Using two spoons, drop each dough ball into the melted chocolate, being sure to coat every side, scraping it along the edge as you finish. Lay them back on the baking sheet with parchment paper. Freeze for at least 15 minutes, and then refrigerate to keep intact until you’re ready to eat them! 

A Festivus for the rest of us!

On Saturday, my fiancé and I hosted our second annual (he’s been throwing one for years) Festivus party! If you’re unfamiliar with the origins of Festivus, Google it, and hopefully a clip of the Seinfeld episode is on YouTube. I grew up watching Seinfeld with my parents, and they to this day watch the re-runs after work while preparing dinner. Most people I’ve come across either love or hate Seinfield, but both my family and my fiancé’s family are fans.

Last year was unfortunately kind of a flop, as the first snow storm of the year rolled in, and we wound up only having two guests! This year, with no reports of potential snow, I knew I needed to make sure we had enough goodies. The party was more than just a Festivus celebration, it was also the first time most of our friends were seeing our new place! Needless to say, the pressure was on.

I always make some type of cupcakes. This time, instead of making full sized, I realized they would likely go faster if I made mini’s instead. I like to make them seasonal, or at the very least boozy. While I left out the booze this time, you could definitely add it in if you want, since I made eggnog cupcakes, courtesy of Southern Living! Based on the recipe I used, I wound up with 60 mini cupcakes. Plenty for all of the party-goers, and enough to bring into work on Monday as well. In addition to the cupcakes, I wanted to make something savory. I had a bunch of recipes to choose from, but wound up settling on Brown Eyed Baker’s Italian Gougeres, coming in a later post.

But back to the cupcakes – the cake was perfectly moist and just the right amount of eggnog. I actually tasted eggnog for the very first time after I mixed it into the batter. There was some leftover, so I decided to take a swig. I guess it’s a good thing I liked it, since I was already committed to 60 mini cupcakes with it. The frosting, though, was a bit runny. Even though it had cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar, I couldn’t get it thick enough to allow me to really do any decorating (I added A LOT of extra sugar). It wound up almost drying on the cakes though with a nice sheen, so they looked okay. But I would have liked to do something a little more snazzy!

I definitely think you could add some dark rum to the cake and/or frosting mixture to give it that boozy kick that I’m such a fan of. Nothing quite like a festive drink in cupcake form!

Eggnog Cupcakes via Southern Living
– makes 60 mini cupcakes, or about 24 regular cupcakes –

Cake Ingredients:
1 (16oz.) package pound cake mix
1 1/4 cups eggnog
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat all ingredients together at low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes. Pour into lined cupcake pan, filling about 3/4 .
2. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, about 10-15 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (3-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1/4 cup eggnog
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting Directions:
1. Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with eggnog, beginning and ending with sugar and beating at low speed. Add freshly grated nutmeg and vanilla extract; beat until smooth.
3. Spread over cupcakes.