It all started with porn. Well, Food Porn. Once you see the image, you will understand. Don’t leave this site too long, that web site is dangerous.
Every year for his birthday, my boyfriend Jay requests one thing from his loved ones, red velvet cake. Seeing as he is now in his forties, he is a red velvet cake connoisseur. I sat on the sidelines for the first few years I knew him. I watched him turn up his nose at several cakes. Too sweet, not bitter enough, obvious cake mix, cheesecake icing. I quickly learned the differences between red velvet cake and cake that is died red. Basic rule: RVC should be bitter as it has vinegar in it. Second rule (and shocker): Cheesecake icing was a replacement to make it more healthy.
This was a lot of pressure as his girlfriend and I wanted to nail it the first time around. I went right to the source. After contacting his mother, Linda, for “grandma’s” recipe, she sent me a scanned image of the recipe card which had the Waldorf Astoria title written at the top. Finally! I was making my first red velvet cake. I made it, he consumed it with love, even if it was a bit ugly.
Naturally, when I saw this photo of the cake balls randomly surfing the internet, I was intriqued. How wonderful would this combo of both cake and chocolate be? I decided to try it with his mother during the holiday in Florida as I knew it would be an experiment that would require a professional RVC baker. She was on board. Jay emphasized he likes red velvet cake the way it is. So I figured I would make a couple versions to be safe.
Before heading down to Florida, I purchased some high quality chocolate from Brommer’s Chocolate Factory in Chicago. I purchased milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips. It is made for making candy so make sure you get something along the same lines if you are trying this.
For the recipe itself, I knew I would be making a batch of the Warldorf cake, a double batch of the icing and a basic white boxed cake to make a different set of balls. I made the boxed French vanilla cake to see if I could turn any cake into a chocolate cake ball.
I researched the recipe linked with the photo pointing to Bakerella. I knew I wasn’t going to use her recipes but wanted to see how the cake balls were formed, portions, etc.
Experiment 1. RVC and vanilla cake chocolate balls with various chocolates
Experiment 2. RVC with icing on the outside
Experiment 3. RVC with icing on the inside and dusted with cake crumbs
WINNER!! Experiment 1. Looked nice, easiest to pick up, rich as hell. I think half of one of these will send you into a sugar coma. I think the dark chocolate was better than the other flavors on both cake balls as it had better contrast with the sweetness of the cake. Make in small batches or give half to your friends.
Experiment 2. Looked nice but was messy when you picked it up.
WINNER!! Experiment 3. Fastest. Looked gorgeous, easier to pick up, truest to the cake recipe.
The Waldorf Astoria cake recipe and icing can be found here.
Notes on the cake:
- Do not wear anything you like, anything with color and wear rubber gloves. If you do not, you will have red with you forever. There are TWO SHOTS of red food coloring in this recipe.
- Use Hershey’s chocolate. I tried making it with a higher quality chocolate, but this is closest to the original.
- I divided mine between 3 smaller pans as I didn’t have a big one, so make sure to watch the cakes depending on your size as not to over cook
- If you were going to just make the cake, let it cool completely before trying to ice the cake and use the icing at room temperature. I made a three layer cake so I double the batch of icing.
- If you are making the ball recipe, bake the cake, let it cool. I think it would be easier to make the cake on one day and then let it cool overnight (cover to keep moist) Then, do the balls on another day. If you are doing this alone, I think it will keep you sane.
Notes on the icing:
- I used organic ingredients when possible (eggs and butter) as that also would be closer to the original recipe ingredients from 1920.
- When making the icing, add the milk in a little at a time to the frosting and beat it well(Thanks Linda). This makes the icing super smooth.
You will follow this method for both chocolate cake balls and regular cake balls. I tried to make it easier by bolding each step for which recipe.
1. Both recipes: Bake the cake according to directions. Let cool completely or overnight. Make a double batch of icing and leave at room temp.
2. Both recipes: In a huge bowl, dump the cake and crumble it until is broken up.
3. If you are making regular cake balls, set 2-3 cups of the cake aside and crumble it until it is as small as possible. This will be the cake you roll the balls into make them red in the end. You will need to experiment with the quantity as I only made as many as I could with the experiment I had. You don’t want to have more cake balls than crumbs to roll them in, so I think 2-3 cups of crumbs is a good place to start. Well, if you have leftovers, you have to eat them. Darn.
4. Both recipes: Add enough of the icing into the cake mixture to be able to form them into balls about the size of a ping pong ball. Mix well with your hands(don’t forget the gloves). I would start with a half cup to a cup of icing. Depending on how much cake you have in the bowl, add more. The more icing you add, the sweeter the balls will be. I would add the minimal amount as we will be adding a lot more icing in the recipe.
5. Both recipes: Line a baking sheet with wax paper and clear a space in your freezer for this pan. If you don’t have room in your freezer a refrigerator is fine for the first part. Make sure to cover them with plastic wrap so they stay moist. You need to clear some space in your freezer as you will need to put them in there in smaller batches.
6. Both recipes: Take your index finger and punch a hole in the middle of the cake balls. Then fill that little hole with some of the icing. This will make it filled with yummy goodness. This is really important for the chocolate cake balls as they won’t have icing by itself anywhere else. The regular cake balls can go without the hole, but it does not hurt! Below is a photo of the white cake balls.
7. Both recipes: When all the cake is made into balls, put them in the freezer or refrigerator. If in the freezer, check back every half hour. If they are in the fridge, let them sit in there for a couple hours.
8. Regular Cake Balls LAST STEP: Once the balls are hard enough to handle, you can ice them. Remove the cake balls from the freezer and coat them in icing. After you have iced them, gently roll them around in the red velvet cake crumbs until they are covered and red. Put them back in the fridge until you are ready to eat them!
9. Chocolate Balls: Set up the following before removing the balls from the freezer.
We used a double broiler to melt the chocolate. I think next time I would use a crock pot as the chocolate got dried out after about 10 balls. A double broiler is fine but just keep it as low as possible and if it starts to get super clumpy, clean out the pan and start a new batch of chocolate. I am assuming you know how to use a double broiler. If not, look this up elsewhere.
I used a Easter Egg wire dipping tool (the wire circle tool that comes with die kits bent at an angle). This is what you will lower the cake balls into the chocolate pot. If you do not have this tool, just use a spoon. I was just feeling clever at the time.
1. Melt the chocolate in the broiler. I would put about 2 cups of chocolate in to start.
2. Take the balls out of the freezer. Once the balls are hard as possible, it will be easier to dip in chocolate. It is recommended you take out 3 or 4 at a time and leave the rest in the freezer until ready to dip. Call a friend to help that won’t be eating them as they cool.
3. Lower the balls down into the melted chocolate. If using a spoon, roll it about a little to get it all over the ball. You will need to move fairly quickly as you don’t want the ball to get too heavy in chocolate. If it gets too heavy, there is too much chocolate to cake ratio. This is when you should get over the beauty part. See #4.
4. Pull up the balls and put them onto some wax paper. It will pool a bit. This ball will not look beautiful or gorgeous. Get over the fact it is not going to look like a truffle, but rather a big blob of chocolate. Anyone eating them will not judge you. Once they bit into it, they will be spouting words of praise you have never heard before. If you spend too much time trying to make it look nice, like I did, your chocolate will get all cruddy and get WORSE. Dip and move on. I don’t know how Bakerella got it looking so nice and I don’t care to worry about it too much.
5. After they have set a bit, you can re-dip any giant blemishes you may have missed but don’t coat it too much nor try to break off anything as it just makes the holes bigger. You can then break off any little pools with a sharp knife or smooth it down with a spoon if it is still soft enough. Again, no one will judge.
6. I didn’t try this, but you could drizzle a white chocolate over the top if you wanted to make them look fancier. Even a little red food coloring in white chocolate would be nice. You could also do what Starbucks does and insert a post and make it a cake pop.
7 . These freeze pretty well but they can stay at room temp for a while as they are coated in chocolate. They will sweat if you freeze them.
I hope I didn’t forget anything. Overall, everyone liked them that tried them. They are way richer than a piece of cake so eat at your own risk. If you have any questions, let me know.