Monday, December 17, 2012

Pillsbury Cake Ball Kit: NOT an Endorsement

The first cake ball I ever had the pleasure of consuming was also the first time I learned of its existence. I'm not sure how this happened, I thought cupcakes were still the rage, but now cake balls have taken their place. Or have they? Perhaps cake balls and cupcakes are the Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera of 2000, who shall prevail? Who will go on a manic spree, shave her head only to have a bipolar diagnosis that every clinician saw coming? Suffice it to say, I didn't know what a cake ball was.

So the cake ball...err truffle that I consumed was as a parting gift to a friend's wedding. (I was told it wasn't a cake ball, but a truffle. Not too sure of the difference, maybe the high brow version of a cake ball?) We weren't able to stay for cake, so I was delighted to consume the truffle in its entirety after getting home, into my pajamas watching most likely a rerun of the Housewives of New York City for the umpteenth time. The taste was amazing! So moist,so rich, so yummy! Usually I'm not a big fan of chocolate and when I eat cake the frosting is too sweet for me, but this cake ball was perfect. I think the winning factor of the cake ball is its size. Seriously, cake with frosting and chocolate is very rich, and consuming too much can lead to nausea so a cake ball is the perfect size to get the delicate taste without feeling as if you mirror Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory.

A girlfriend of mine told me how her mother often makes cake balls and I wanted to try. I always love a food challenge (executing the food, not consuming a la Joey Chestnut and his hot dogs). So last year for Bambina's birthday I was planning to make an Elmo shaped cake. I found a cake pan that was in the mold of  Elmo. So I baked the cake, but getting the frosting in all the nook and crannies was... I won't get into the Great Elmo Cake Debacle of 2012, you don't want to know the details. So I took the botched cake and decided to make cake balls. And thus continues the saga of the Great Elmo Cake Debacle of 2012. Due to a series of blunders, chocolate not melting properly, chocolate sweating off the cake, the results were at best a C+. (But much love to my Mama for taking the lead with it when she had never even heard of a cake ball!)

And so I thought cake balls and I were done, but as I was walking through H-E-B a month ago I came across a Pillsbury Cake Ball Kit. Yay, I thought, now if I need to make cake balls, I'll just get this kit and make them. So with our play group Holiday Party coming up I decided to purchase the kit.(I had prepared the group that if the cake balls didn't work I would bring cupcakes, but I didn't want to show up with my tail between my legs and cupcakes in tow. ) I read the instructions thoroughly. And when I mean thoroughly I mean I read the box three times from the top to bottom before starting the project.

Rather than using expletives, as I would love to do, actually, I would like to use an entire paragraph of expletives to describe these cake ball kits.  The cake ball kit was an epic fail. And when I don't succeed in something I get really frustrated and I greatly projected on Pillsbury! (Rightfully so!) After an evening of complete interruption while making these balls and much exasperation on my behalf,  Hubby exercised his logic and explained that the only problem with the kits was that there wasn't enough of anything. And thus the problem with these kits!

Exhibit A: Not enough frosting. You have to mix the crumbled cake with frosting to form a ball. There was not enough frosting and it was difficult to form a ball. Because there wasn't enough moisture, it made it difficult for the sticks to stick. I ended up dunking the balls in milk to get them to stay tightly compressed.

Exhibit B: Not enough chocolate wafers. The first batch of chocolate Hubby overheated by accident. The box specifically says not to overheat. But with the second box I still did not have enough chocolate, so I then melted chocolate chips and used them. I had flashbacks of the Great Elmo Cake Debacle of 2012 and didn't know if it would work. They did, but not as well as the wafers.

Exhibit C: Not enough sprinkles. Granted, the first couple I went a little sprinkle crazy, but thankfully I had sprinkles in my pantry to use.

Exhibit D: It states to use a foam block to keep the sticks in. Well where do you get that? Thankfully I went to Hobby Lobby, unthankfully I bought the cheap disposable box as opposed to the foam block that was $10 each ( I needed 2!).

So in the end I learned that cake balls are too much work and I'd rather take the cupcake side of the great cake ball vs cupcake debate. (And where do truffles fit into that?) Seriously though, these kits are horrible because they don't contain enough of what you need, but I did learn how to properly make cake balls and above all, don't use chocolate chips, use wafers. (And you can get them in all colors at Hobby Lobby!)

I was a little worried on how they would look and taste, but the kids loved them. I was worried I was going to take a ton of leftovers home, but they weren't too many left! (Bambina's ended up on the floor when attempting bite number three. Apparently her stick wasn't properly secure in the ball. Oops.)

 I transported them to the party like this...

The display, and I use the word display very loosely.

After the party...

In the end, the kit did teach me how to make a cake ball, but I could have found instructions on the internet and bought my own supplies. Thanks to my resourcefulness the balls came out halfway decent, no thanks to Pillsbury.

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