February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day Red Velvet Cake Balls

Brilliant red centers with a dazzling white almond bark coating, sprinkled with sparkling red sugar crystals.  While beautiful on your dessert table at Christmas time, they are perfect for Valentine's Day as well.  Whether you make them into larger, 3 bite sized balls or smaller one or two bites, they are a hit with children and adults alike.

In addition to the recipe ingredients you will need either Lollipop Sticks (available at cake supply stores, online or hobby stores) or for very small balls, toothpicks work. You will also need 1 pound of vanilla almond bark, also known as candy coating; available in the baking aisle of most grocery and general merchandise stores.  (For those that can't find it, you can also order it online here .)  If you absolutely can't find it and don't have time to wait a couple days for an order, you can use white chocolate chips too, but allow more time for them to set up as almond bark sets up quickly at room temperature.

First the cake.  The 'Red Velvet' cake mixes you see in stores are not true Red Velvet.  The Red Velvet you usually find made in bakeries (like Costco and Sam's and grocery stores)  are usually not true Red Velvet.  One of my 'baking' pet peeves through the years are recipes that are basically just a dismal chocolate cake with red food color and called "Red Velvet".   A true Red Velvet Cake has it's own flavor that comes from the buttermilk and vinegar and vanilla used in it.  It's not a chocolate cake and doesn't taste as such.  The cocoa is used to enhance the brilliant red color but not to flavor.  This is a true Red Velvet and it happens to be my second favorite cake in the universe (I'm a die-hard white vanilla cake fan but Red Velvet is number two on the list!)

Red Velvet Cake

1/2 c butter
1½ c sugar (I made it sugar free with Just Like Sugar)
2 eggs
2 oz. red food coloring
3 T cocoa
2¼ c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1 c buttermilk
1 T vinegar

Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans or one 9X13 since you are making cake balls and it won't be a layer cake in the end. Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar (sweetener of choice) in a bowl.  Add the eggs. 
Make a paste with the cocoa and food color.
Add the food color paste and vinegar to the butter/sugar mixture.  Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk.  Add the buttermilk alternately with the flour into the sugar/butter.  Mix well.  Divide batter between the two prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes or until done for the layer pans and 5-7 minutes more for a larger pan. Test for the center to be done.  Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes, then remove cake layers from pan and cool completely.

Basic Cream Cheese Frosting

You can use your favorite frosting (that link goes to the *only* frosting I use for Red Velvet)  or here is a basic cream cheese frosting recipe to use, as many like cream cheese frosting with this particular cake.

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat softened butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy.  Set aside.

Crumble the cooled cake completely with your hands or use a food processor and process in 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your appliance.

Mix your frosting recipe into the cake crumbs. Start with about 2 cups of frosting and mix well with a wooden spoon and then, your hands. If it’s a dry mix, add more frosting by quarter cup increments. You want the cake to be the consistency of play dough so it holds together well and forms balls.

Scoop dough out to the size cake ball you want. 30 large or up to 50 or 60 if you are making 1 inch rounds. Roll in your hands until smooth and place each ball on a parchment lined baking sheet. Depending on the size of the cake ball use either a lolly pop stick or toothpick in the top. Place in the freezer and freeze for 2 hours until firm.

Melt the vanilla candy coating (almond bark) according to package directions over low heat or in the microwave. Dip each cake ball into the vanilla and place on parchment paper to set. If you wish you can sprinkle them with desired colored sugar or sprinkles at this point.

Leave on the counter while the candy coating sets. After hard these can be kept in a container as they are as the coating keeps the cake moist. I’ve also froze them for up to a month, and left to thaw on the counter until needed.Print Friendly and PDF