Mirror, Mirror on the Cake Ball

It’s another weekend of cooking something for work.  This time, it’s for a shower for a coworker who’s getting married in a few weeks.  A work event is the perfect excuse to bake something without worrying about how many hours I’d have to run to burn off the calories from eating an entire cake by myself.

Now, what to make?  I started out flipping through my Ladurée Sucré cookbook, but decided I wasn’t in the right mood to make complicated French pastries.  Cake balls or cake pops seem fun & more approachable.  I did a bit of searching to get some inspiration (I don’t create my own recipes for baking), and came up with a couple of recipe options.  I ultimately decided on a recipe from Butterlust for Italian Cream Cake balls.  The runner up was the strawberries & champagne cake balls from Sugar & Soul Co.  I also thought about all the gorgeous pictures I’ve seen of mirror glazed cakes, and decided that would make a great finishing touch (I followed a recipe from Southern Fatty for the glaze).

If you decide to try this one yourself, there are several steps where things need to cool, chill, set, etc so make sure to allow yourself enough time.  I made the cake & frosting mixture on Saturday evening and let the mixture chill overnight, then did the candy coating & mirror glaze on Sunday.

Quick side note: I find that wine & cooking go hand in hand.  I paired day 1 (cake baking) with a lovely Roussanne from Qupe which I had picked up on my road trip a couple weeks ago.

I followed the cake & frosting recipes for the most part as written.  In case anyone at the shower is allergic to nuts, I made the batter without them and filled one cake pan with nut-free batter.  I then mixed the nuts into the rest and filled the remaining pans.

Tip: I find that beating egg whites works better when everything is cold, so after I separated the eggs, I put the bowl of egg whites in the refrigerator to chill, and put the beaters in the freezer until I was ready for that step.

I’m a member of the “there is no such thing as too much frosting” club, especially when it comes to cream cheese-based frosting, so I used the entire amount (split proportionally between the nut-free cake & the nutty ones).

The next morning, I started off by rolling the mixture into balls, then pressed them into silicone molds.  For the mirror glaze, it’s important for the surface to be as smooth as possible, and I thought using the molds might help.
silicone molds

The recipe suggested melting the candy bark in the microwave, but I prefer to melt things on the stove.  You can use a double boiler if you have one, but I make my own by placing a metal mixing bowl on top of a pot of boiling water.
faux double boiler

Once the coating melted, I added a small amount of food coloring to make it pale pink.  Most of the balls will get the mirror glaze, but since the glaze has gelatin, I wanted to leave some of them plain for the vegetarians in the group and thought it would be nice to add a hint of color.
candy coating in pot
To apply the coating, I popped the balls out of the silicone molds, then dipped them one at a time into the coating.  I transferred them to wire racks so that the excess would drip off as they cool (I put a layer of Glad Press & Seal* underneath the wire racks to protect my counter, but you could use any plastic wrap, foil, parchment, etc).

I dipped the nut-free balls first so that they wouldn’t get contaminated, and they turned out very nicely.  After a while, small crumbs started to get into the coating from the balls that I was dipping, so a number of the nutty ones didn’t end up with a smooth coating.  After they had hardened a bit, I used my hair dryer to reheat the tops and smooth them out a bit.  This improved things, but they still weren’t perfect.

After the coating had cooled and hardened, I removed the balls from the wire racks.  The coating had dried and made them stick to the racks, so I slid a sharp knife under them to remove them.  I then put them in the refrigerator to chill for a couple hours.

Now it’s time for the mirror glaze!  This part turned out better than I expected.  I added a bit of food coloring to the glaze to turn it pink, and when the temperature was right to pour the glaze, I pulled some out and added purple food coloring to it.  (The bubbles in the pink one were from the initial mixing, and disappeared before it was time to pour the glaze).

I poured the pink glaze over the balls, then quickly added the purple on top (I took the fork that I’d used to mix in the purple food coloring, and used it to drizzle the purple glaze in random patterns).  As a finishing touch, I sprinkled Wilton edible gold glitter hearts over the top.  Overall, I was quite pleased with the finished look.  Even the less than perfectly smooth balls ended up looking nice.
cake balls smallI left them on the counter to set up a little bit, then once glaze was no longer dripping, I put them in the refrigerator (still on the wire racks) to finish setting.

Last, I decided to decorate the gelatin-free balls a little bit too.  I combined lemon extract with some Wilton gold pearl dust and painted the balls, then sprinkled a few gold glitter hearts on top.
no glaze cake ball
If I were to make these again, I might try doing it without the candy coating.  The only reason I used the coating was to help provide a smooth surface for the glaze, and I think the balls on their own probably would have been smooth enough.  With both the candy coating and the mirror glaze, the cake balls are too sweet (in my opinion).  The candy coating step also adds a fair amount of time, between prepping, dipping, and then waiting for the coating to harden.

 

*disclaimer: I work for the company that makes Glad

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