These are Balloon Cake Pops or Mrs. L's Homage to The Movie 'UP'.
Every year the Godson's parents hold an Oscar party. For several years we have been asked to bring food related too, or made in, a movie. A few years ago, Mr. L and I had a Double Cheese and Sausage pizza delivered (think Fast Times at Ridgemont High). Last year we brought some Nite Owl coffee (from Watchman). This year, I figured I needed to get my butt in gear and actually cook something.
Thanks goes to Chef Barbie for brainstorming with me on what to bring. Our original idea was to get some donut holes, dunk them in white chocolate and then sprinkle the nonpareils on them. I decided that maybe making the balloons out of cake would be tastier, even if it required a bit more work. I found several recipes online that required baking a cake from scratch and making your own frosting (The Kitchen has a great recipe here). And then I saw that The Pioneer Woman made hers using cake mix and tub frosting. If it's good enough for Ree, it's good enough for me.
These were awesome. They made a great presentation, they were fun to eat for both kids and adults and they had a great flavor. What I liked most though, was the play on textures. You bite into the hard white chocolate coating with those little nonpareils that bounce around in your mouth and then you hit the soft cake interior. Really liked the way it all blended together.
Though I used chocolate fudge cake mix, any flavor will do (if I could have found red velvet, I thought it would have been perfect to go with the Oscars red carpet). Same I think, with using whatever flavor frosting you like/have on hand. Though I used nonpareils to mimic balloons, any kind of sprinkles, mini M&M's, along with leaving them just with the chocolate coating will work. I did try using one of those food color "spray cans" and though that worked fine, the cans were expensive and didn't give me the look and coverage I wanted for my "balloons". The directions might seem long, but it's more tips on how to put stuff together than actual instructions.
I thought these were prefect to represent "UP" at the Oscar party. I even won a little Oscar statue for Most Creative Dish! (which if you ever come to visit, is now proudly displayed in my bathroom). Other great dishes at the party were a wonderful batch of Jambalaya (representing The Princess and The Frog) and, what I thought was brilliant, a crock pot full of meatballs with little clouds of cotton balls stuck to the lid (representing Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs).BALLOON CAKE BALLS
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 tub frosting
White Melting Chocolate or White Chocolate Dipping Chips
Nonpareils in Various Colors
Block of Styrofoam
Prepare the cake according to the directions on the box using the 9x13 pan instructions. Allow the cake to cool completely. When the cake has cooled, gently crumble the cake into a large bowl (you should have fine crumbs). I just used my hands taking small chunks of the cake and just gently working at it over the bowl to get the crumbs.
Take about half the tub of frosting and mix it into the cake (see notes). You want to work the icing into the cake until it all holds together and can form a ball (add more icing if needed). Cover and refrigerate to firm up the cake mixture (at least an hour).
Once the cake mixture is firm (the refrigeration makes it easier to handle) take bits of the cake mixture and roll into a smooth ball (I made mine about the size of a golf ball). Arrange on a wax paper lined pan and freeze uncovered for at least an hour (again, this helps harden them up and makes it easier to coat with the chocolate). Take the cake balls out of the freezer and insert a lollipop stick into the top of each one (be careful when doing this so you don't smush the top of the ball).
Melt the white chocolate (whichever way is easier for you, in the microwave or use a double boiler) until smooth. Cover the cake balls by either dipping them into the chocolate or spooning the chocolate over (see my notes). Sprinkle nonpareils over the chocolate before it hardens. Stick the balloon cake balls cake up into the styrofoam. Eat. Enjoy.
Note: CAKE - A lot of directions say to take two forks to gently turn the cake into crumbs. Tried this. Took to much time and wasn't working so I just used my hands.
Note: FROSTING - In the directions The Pioneer Woman gave, she said to use 3/4 of a 12 oz tub of frosting. Most directions call for a full can. I used 3/4 of the 16 oz. tub so it was about a full tub if you use a 12 oz container. Using the full amount made the cake balls moister and what I would call "fudgier" than cakelike, but they tasted great so I think it's just a personal preference.
Note: MIXING - Directions also suggested using two forks to mix the frosting into the cake. I used a spoon and then gently did the last mixing by hand. I think the main point of using the forks is to not over mix the cake into the frosting. And as an FYI, even if you use white frosting (which I did), the frosting will mix well into the cake and you won't be able to see it.
Note: FORMING INTO CAKE BALLS - I found it was easier to form the balls by putting the cake with frosting mixture into the fridge for a bit to firm up. I also found that if they were firmer, there was less of a chance of a flat edge from putting them on the waxed paper. I used a cookie dough scoop which made it really easy to form uniform sized balls.
Note: LOLLIPOP STICKS - I got mine at Michaels so I assume you can find them at any hobby store. I got the shorter size, but the long ones would work too. I stuck them about halfway through the balls being careful not to go all the way through. Even though the cake balls had been frozen, it was easy to put the sticks in them.
NOTE: WHITE CHOCOLATE DIPPING CHIPS - I used Wilton's White Chocolate Melting Chips that I got at Michaels. I thought they didn't work as well as the Ghirardelli Melting Chips I had used at Christmas time. They just didn't seem to be as smooth consistency as I would have liked. Other recipes talked about using regular white chocolate and then adding wax. That just didn't appeal to me.
NOTE: MELTING THE CHOCOLATE: I was lazy and just melted the chocolate disks in the microwave. Most folks did use a double boiler as it keeps the chocolate melted while you work. The Wiltons chocolate melting disks never really thinned up as much as I would like so I tried adding a bit of vegetable oil (per instructions on the bag). Still was a pretty thick consistency.
NOTE: COATING THE CAKE BALLS: I tried dipping the cake ball into the melted chocolate but either the lollipop stick would come out or I just got a glob of white chocolate on the cake ball and it didn't look like a balloon shape at all. What I ended up doing was taking a spoon and getting a glob of the chocolate, spreading it on the cake ball, and then rolling the cake ball around the spoon in order to get an even coating. This helped make the chocolate smoother going around the cake ball.
NOTE: NONPAREILS - Okay this was the fun part. I first tried putting a single color of nonpareil in a bowl and dipping the white chocolate coated cake ball into the nonpareils. Smushed the white chocolate. And unless I had a HUGE bowl with about a ton of nonpareils to stick the cake balls deep in to, I don't think this was going to have worked. So then I tried taking handfuls of the nonpareils and pouring/sprinkling them onto the cake balls. Well..these little suckers BOUNCE. So unless you have a wide deep bowl, once you try to pour the stuff on the cake balls, little nonpareils will be bouncing all over the counter, onto the floor, or bouncing onto an unsuspecting cat. And while that can be entertaining, it doesn't get the cake ball covered. What I ended up doing was taking a big measuring cup, taking the lollipop stick and putting the cake ball deep into the cup. I then sprinkled the nonpareils over the bottom and sides of the cake ball. Once that was done I took a spoon and scooped up the nonpareils at the bottom of the measuring cup and used that to cover the top of the cake balls.
NOTE: STYROFOAM - I didn't put these back on the waxed paper to harden as most folks do. I stuck the lollipop sticks into a block of styrofoam which keep the round shape of the balloons. For presentation, I took a bell shaped styrofoam, cut off the little knob on the top and stuck the cake pops around the bell shape.
NOTE: The chocolate hardened pretty quickly on the cake ball since it wasn't a real thick coat. I had to work quickly to get the nonpareils on before the chocolate dried. I know there is something I can put in the chocolate to make it not harden so quick and I would probably use that next time. You can see in the photo, some of the cake balls have "missing" nonpareils...these were my first tries until I figured the process out.
NOTE: I did this in batches as I found that after a bit of time out of the freezer the cake balls became too soft to coat and would fall off the lollipop stick. I just did half the pan and then stuck the rest back into the freezer for an hour.
These really were pretty quick and simple to do. Now that I know some of the little tips that make it easier I could probably do variations of these in a flash. Covering these with nuts, colored sugar, or using little candy shapes would also be a great variation.