Hey all-- I hope your New Years is warm and sweet (cause I'm freezing my feet off here!) To celebrate New Years, I'm participating in ZA Maxfields Progressive Dinner-- which means you can visit all of the blogs there at the link and see an entire dinner array of blogs! My blog is not so much a recipe as a way to recover from a failed recipe, but I hope you'll forgive me, because, well, CAKE BALLS! *dissolves into laughter* There is a prize at the end if you go to every blog and leave a comment, so sit down, drink something hot and sweet, and enjoy the show :-)
Okay—so Mate is actually the recipe follower here. He’s the maker-of-fudge, the soup-party impresario, the, “Hey, let’s make this!” guy. And as his candy-making expertise has gained weight in the family mythos, he’s become the King of Following the Recipe in the realm of our family and friends.
So this year, high on the successes of the previous year, wherein we sent fudge to half the people I know in the entire world after Christmas, he decided he was going to make cake-pops.
He had PLANS for the cake-pops. There was going to be sprinkles and decorations, and they were gonna look like Christmas and omigod and gloryhallelujia! They were gonna be frickin’ amazing cake-pops.
Anyone out there who has ever made cake-pops knows where this is going.
It’s like a zillion step process.
First you bake a cake—yay! Then you let it cool, and mix it with frosting—that’s right, like, mix the cake, with the frosting, crumbling it up and mashing it in your fingers like playdough, and then you make balls. (Heh heh heh… cake balls! Heh heh heh… yeah. I’m twelve.) Anyway—after you make the balls, you melt the chocolate and dip the sticks in the chocolate and then poke the balls (heh heh heh) and then put them in the freezer to firm up. (Omigod… this doesn’t get any less dirty!) When the balls are firm and good, you dip them in the chocolate, and then set them out to cool.
Now see, some of you are seeing that this looks relatively simple.
Some of you are seeing all the myriad ways this can go heinously wrong.
Let’s start with the cakes, which did not all cook the same. The dry one didn’t make good balls, and the wet one made balls that stuck together but also fell apart. Then move on to the chocolate, which claimed to be microwaveable but was not, and Mate tested this with his mouth because the crumbles didn’t look hot since they weren’t melty, and it turned out that crumbled microwaved chocolate was hotter than the temperature of the sun and he had blisters on his lips! (Poor guy. He’s giving these desserts to my family, you understand, since he works with a bunch of fitness enthusiasts who don’t allow processed sugar to grace their well-shaped, chiseled, manly lips.)
So he had to melt new chocolate and then try to stick the balls (nope, still laughing) and then, after they chilled, try to bathe them in the new chocolate while they were bound and determined to fall apart.
It was a disaster.
At the end, he had a tray full of broken balls, half covered in chocolate.
He saw failure. I saw potential comedy with a candy coating. I also saw processed sugar gold.
“So, just spread it in a cake pan!” I said, all enthusiasm.
“And then what? Broken cake?”
“No! Then pour the chocolate over it, and serve it with a spatula. You add some whipped cream or ice cream, and girls will be swarming over it like flies!”
“Flies will be swarming over it like flies. It looks awful.”
“Nom-nom-nom-nom…” Well, I may have said that. I was definitely salivating though, that I do remember.
So, Christmas arrived. We gave giant packets of three kinds of fudge to everybody, and felt pretty stupid because my family makes Martha Stewart look like a slacker, and I haven’t actually made anything Christmassy since Mate started making fudge. And the little tray of cake-ball-cake sat unnoticed in the corner.
Until dessert time.
“What’s this?” my nephew said, looking strapping and handsome at twenty years old. (This is important—until he hit about sixteen, I could swear he’d look like Dopey for his entire life. That he looks “strapping and handsome” means that it really does get better, and all adolescents should have hope! His ears even stick out less!)
“That’s failed cake-pops, covered in chocolate,” I said. (Notice that I called them “cake-pops” because I didn’t want him to launch into some silly adolescent snark about “cake-balls”. That’s my department.)
His mouth made the little “o” shape associated with extreme anticipation. I think he may have drooled a little.
“Hold on a second,” he told me. “Let me get the whipped cream.”
So we sat for about fifteen minutes, and he told me about his life while eating probably half of that sinful, decadent failed dessert. I loved that moment—I don’t get enough of them with my sister’s sons, and it was one of the highlights of my Christmas.
“So, the cake-balls didn’t get all eaten,” Mate said glumly.
“Yeah—Nate ate about half the plate.”
“But not everybody loved them. That sort of sucked.”
“I think that depends on how you look at it,” I said philosophically. “I think the person who ate half the cake really liked them.”
Mate grunted and shook his head. “Man, I don’t know if I should try those again or not.”
“Go ahead and try them again,” I said. “You never know what may happen.”
So, that’s not really a recipe for dessert. But, it could be a recipe for salvaging a failed dessert, right? Or even just a lesson that if you mix your cake with the frosting and then add chocolate, there is no bad way to do it.
Or even just a wish to have a happy holiday, and may your New Year be filled with nothing more serious than a failed chocolate cake-ball, with a dipped stick. (Buahahahahahahahahaha!!!)
Happy New Year!