Adorable Valentine’s Day Desserts: Cake Balls

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These two delicious cake ball recipes take very little time and effort, and look absolutely adorable...perfect for a Valentine’s Day treat.

Delicious Valentine's Day Cake Balls | Help! We've Got Kids
Peppermint–White Chocolate Cake Balls ©2012 Sabra Krock Photography

This Valentine’s Day, surprise your sweeties by making everyone an adorable and very sweet treat. Thanks to Dede Wilson’s delectable book, Cake Balls: More Than 60 Delectable and Whimsical Sweet Spheres of Goodness, we have the recipe for some scrumptious peppermint white chocolate cake balls and s’mores cake balls.

Peppermint–White Chocolate Cake Balls

Makes about 48 golf-ball-size balls

This cake ball recipe features white chocolate and red and white peppermint candy. You can adjust the strength of the mint filling easily by adding more or less of the peppermint flavoring.

Ingredients
1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring, or to taste
1 batch White Chocolate Ganache (below), ready to use (should be soft and spreadable)
1 batch White Cake (below), baked, cooled, and crumbled
1 1/2 pounds white chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely crushed red and white peppermint candy
48 miniature fluted paper cups (optional)

Directions
1. Stir the peppermint flavoring into the ganache. Combine the cake and 1 cup of the ganache. Test by compressing and tasting, and add more ganache only if needed for flavor and moisture. Roll into golf ball–size cake balls. Refrigerate until firm. This can be done 1 day ahead; store in an airtight container once they are firm.

2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the balls one at a time in the chocolate, encouraging any excess chocolate to drip back into the container. Place, evenly spaced, on the prepared sheets. Sprinkle a bit of crushed candy on top of each cake ball while the chocolate is still wet. Refrigerate briefly until the chocolate is set. Trim the bottoms, if needed. Place each cake ball in a paper cup, if desired. Place in a single layer in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

White Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 1 1⁄3 cups

If you want the most pronounced chocolate flavor possible when using white chocolate, make sure it has cocoa butter listed as its fat and not palm or cottonseed oil or other fats. This works wonderfully with yellow and white cakes in particular.

Ingredients
3/4 cup heavy cream
10 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped (For best results, use a high-quality white chocolate, such as Callebaut or Valrhona Ivoire.)

Directions
1. Place the cream in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. Remove from the heat and immediately sprinkle the chocolate into the cream. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The heat of the cream should melt the chocolate. Gently stir the ganache until smooth. If the chocolate is not melting, place over very low heat, stirring often, until melted, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Let cool at room temperature until spreadable. The ganache is ready to use. (You may hasten the chilling process by stirring the pan over an ice bath. If it becomes too firm, or if you would like to return it to a softer state, simply place over hot water or microwave briefly.) The ganache may be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month in an airtight container.

White Cake
Makes one 9 x 13-inch base cake (about 10 cups crumbs)

Lighter in texture, paler in color, and subtler in flavor than yellow cake, white cake is perfect when combined with delicate flavors such as Vanilla Pastry Cream and White Chocolate Ganache. A golden brown, thin, somewhat crispy edge might develop during baking, which is hard to crumble. Feel free to cut it away before crumbling the cooled cake.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.

3. Whisk together the egg whites and milk in a small bowl; set aside.

4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in the vanilla.

5. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the egg white mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs when removed. The cake might just begin to brown along the edges. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The cake is ready to use. Alternatively, double-wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day before proceeding.

S'mores Cake Balls
©2012 Sabra Krock Photography

S’mores Cake Balls

Makes about 70 golf-ball-size balls

S’mores are usually made over an open fire with roasted marshmallows. This recipe does take some license with the concept by skipping the roasting step. I suggest combining chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, mini marshmallows, and crushed graham crackers for a version you can whip up in your home kitchen.

Ingredients
1 batch Super-Easy Chocolate Cake (below), baked, cooled, and crumbled
4 cups miniature marshmallows
3 cups coarsely crumbled graham crackers
1 batch Dark Chocolate Ganache (below), at room temperature, ready to use (should be soft and spreadable)
2 1/8 pounds semisweet chocolate, such as Callebaut or Ghirardelli, finely chopped
70 miniature fluted paper cups (optional)

Directions
1. Combine the cake with 3 cups of the marshmallows, 2 1/2 cups of the graham cracker crumbs, and 1 1/4 cups of the ganache. You might have t o work a bit to get these ingredients to come together. Test by compressing and tasting, and add more ganache if needed for flavor and moisture. Roll into golf ball–size cake balls. Refrigerate until firm. This can be done 1 day ahead; store in an airtight container once they are firm.

2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Chop the remaining 1 cup of marshmallows and set aside with the remaining 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs; these will be for decoration. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the balls one at a time in the chocolate, encouraging any excess chocolate to drip back into the container. Place, evenly spaced, on the prepared pans. Sprinkle a few marshmallow pieces and graham cracker crumbs on top of each cake ball while the chocolate is still wet. Refrigerate briefly until the chocolate is set. Trim the bottoms, if needed. Place each cake ball in a paper cup, if desired. Place in a single layer in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Note: Crush the graham crackers by hand until most of the pieces are between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch in size. There will be some fine crumbs, but try to keep some of the pieces a bit larger, as described, so that they hold up within the cake ball. Also, feel free to mix and match the base for this cake ball with the denser brownie base of the Rocky Road recipe on page 129.

Super-Easy Chocolate Cake
Makes one 9 x 13-inch base cake (about 13 cups crumbs)

Need a chocolate cake in a hurry? No mixer is required—just two bowls, a whisk, and a rubber spatula. This cake contains no eggs or dairy, making it vegan as well. Sift the cocoa powder before measuring to remove any lumps.

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup sifted natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups room-temperature water
2/3 cup flavorless vegetable oil, such as canola or sunflower
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.

3. Whisk together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.

4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk vigorously until combined and smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

5. Bake of r about 25 minute, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs when removed. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The cake is ready to use. Alternatively, double-wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day before proceeding.

Note: For ease of preparation, I make this in my stand mixer, but you can get perfectly fine results if you whisk briskly by hand.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

This ganache is the darkest, richest chocolate icing in the book. The chocolate that you use will greatly affect the result in terms of flavor and texture. Given the balance of ingredients suggested in this recipe, using chocolate with a cacao mass content higher than 55 percent will often cause the ganache to “break” and not come together. If this happens, just whisk in some extra chilled cream or buzz it with an immersion blender and it should come together (but it would be better to use the recommended chocolates). You can easily halve this recipe when a half batch of ganache is called for.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, such as Valrhona Equatoriale or Callebaut

Directions
1. Place the cream in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. Remove from the heat and immediately sprinkle the chocolate into the cream. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The heat of the cream should melt the chocolate. Gently stir the ganache until smooth. If the chocolate is not melting, place the pan over very low heat, stirring often, until melted, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Let cool at room temperature until spreadable. The ganache is ready to use. (You may hasten the chilling process by stirring the pan over an ice bath. If it becomes too firm, or if you would like to return it to a softer state, simply place over hot water or microwave briefly.) The ganache may be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month in an airtight container.

Excerpted from Cake Balls. Recipe © 2012 by Dede Wilson; Photo © 2012 by Sabra Krock Photography and used by permission of Harvard Common Press. Distributed in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son. Available wherever books are sold, $19.95.

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