One word. Delicious. Maybe two words. Totally amazing! Well, perhaps three words. Stroke of genius. On my friend's part, not mine, that is.
These salted chocolate cake pops (and cake ball truffles) are my absolute favorite flavor of all the flavors I've made. And I can't take one ounce of credit for them. See, I have a friend, Jenny, who wanted to learn how to make cake pops and cake balls. So we planned a day to get together and make that happen. We decided to make four different flavors - red velvet, chocolate, mocha, and margarita (I'll post about the mocha and the margarita ones sometime soon!).
So how did simple chocolate cake pops turn into absolutely-to-die-for salted chocolate cake pops, you ask? Well, I had some fleur de sel out for sprinkling on my margarita cake ball truffles. What's a margarita without a little salt, right? So I wanted to get that salt element into my cake balls, too. And here's where Jenny's stroke of genius comes in - after dipping one of her chocolate cake balls in her chocolate coating and sprinkling on a few chocolate jimmies, she reached over into the fleur de sel and sprinkled it on top too. Genius! Why didn't I think of that?
One little taste of the new flavor, and we were hooked. Okay ... maybe two little tastes ... you have to be sure, right? If you love the classic combination of salt and chocolate, then believe me, you'll love these.
Side note - Just in case you're not familiar with fleur de sel, here's a little about it before we move on to the process of making cake pops and cake ball truffles. I actually looked it up, because I figured I should tell you a little more than just "it's fancy salt." So, according to Wikipedia, fleur de sel is a traditional French hand-harvested sea salt. It's typically used as a finishing salt. Because of it's high moisture content relative to other salts, it doesn't dissolve when sprinkled on moist foods, and therefore gives food a slight crunch and a slight shimmer. (Click here if you'd like to read more at Wikipedia.)
Onto making cake pops and cake ball truffles!
The process for making both is pretty much the same ... except cake pops are on a stick, and cake ball truffles are not. That's all. And once you've got the process for these down, it's easy to mix it up with trying new flavors. As I know most of you know, I absolutely cannot take an ounce of credit for the cake pop/cake ball concept or process, either. We owe that to the ever-fabulous Bakerella! To learn from the queen-of-cake-pops herself, click for her original video from her appearance on the Martha Stewart show or for Bakerella's site for all-things cake pops.
Here's my version of Bakerella's process ... starring my friend Jenny's hands!
Step 1: Start by making a sheet cake. For our salted chocolate cake pops and truffles, we started with a yellow cake. Use any yellow cake ... your favorite go-to homemade version or a box mix. Whatever you prefer.
Step 2: Crumble the cake up. Yes, get your hands in there and turn that cake into a nice crumbly mess. Jenny and I decided this was our favorite part. It's like a baker's Play Doh!
Step 3: Stir your frosting into your cake crumbs ... about 1 to 1 1/2 cups frosting for a 9x13" sheet cake.
Step 4: Roll the frosting/cake crumb mixture into balls. Chill the balls for about an hour in the refrigerator or for about 15 minutes in the freezer. This will make it easier to dip them in the chocolate coating, coming up next.
If you're making cake pops ...
Step 5: Melt your chocolate coating according to the package directions, typically in the microwave. Dip a lollipop stick into the chocolate coating ...
... and insert the chocolate-dipped end of the stick about 1/2-way into a cake ball.
This chocolate "cement" will (hopefully!) keep your cake ball from slipping off the stick when you dip it in the chocolate coating. Despite doing this, I still always end up with a few swimmers. Oh well, an excuse to taste-test, right?!?
Step 6: Dunk a cake ball into the chocolate coating, gently pushing it straight down and then rocking it backwards once and forwards once. You want to do this fairly quickly or you'll end up with way too much coating. Don't stir the cake ball around in the coating ... it'll most likely fall off if you do.
Step 7: Pull the cake ball out of the coating and let the excess drip off back into the bowl. You can very, very gently tap your wrist to help with this process, if you'd like.
Step 8: Immediately, while the coating is still "wet," sprinkle your cake pop with the decoration of your choice ... in our case, chocolate jimmies (or sprinkles ... whichever term you prefer!) and fleur de sel.
Step 9: Place your cake pop into a styrofoam block, in which you've already punched some holes, to set up.
Step 10: Eat and enjoy!!
If you'd rather make cake ball truffles, they'll look like this:
For cake ball truffles, follow the same process as above for cake pops through step 4. Then ...
Step 5: (There are many ways to do this ... this is how I do it ... but experiment and find your own groove!) Drop a cake ball into the chocolate coating. Quickly, but gently, roll it around in the chocolate with a fork until it's coated. Slide the fork under the coated cake ball and remove it from the coating, dragging the bottom of the fork along the rim of the bowl a little bit to remove some of the excess coating.
Step 6: Slide the coated cake ball off the fork onto waxed paper.
Step 7: Before the coating sets, decorate with the sprinkling of your choice.
Step 8: Give one (or two ... ) a bite!
And that's how you make cake pops and cake ball truffles! When I'm in the mood to make these, I make a bunch and store them in the freezer. Then I can take them out whenever and for whatever I like!
Salted Chocolate Cake Pops & Cake Ball Truffles
Source: Concept & process adapted from Bakerella, flavor idea from my friend Jenny
1 baked 9x13" yellow cake
1 to 1 1/2 c. chocolate frosting, canned or make your own
1 (1 lb.) package dark chocolate candy melts
About 2 T. shortening
Fleur de sel or course sea salt
Lollipop sticks (needed for pops, but not for truffles)
FOR CAKE BALL CENTERS:
1. Crumble cake into a large bowl, working it into small crumbs. Add frosting and mix until well combined.
2. Shape into approximately 1" balls, using about 1 T. dough per ball; set aside on wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or place in freezer for about 15 minutes.
TO DIP FOR CAKE POPS:
3. In a small deep bowl, melt candy melts and shortening together in the microwave per candy melt package directions (typically in 30 second intervals, stirring in between).
4. Dip a lollipop stick into the chocolate and insert it about half-way into a cake ball; let stand for a few seconds for the chocolate to harden.
5. Hold onto the lollipop stick and dunk the cake ball into the chocolate coating, gently pushing it straight down and then rocking it backwards once and forwards once. You want to do this fairly quickly or you'll end up with way too much coating. Don't stir the cake ball around in the coating.
6. Pull the cake ball out of the coating and let the excess drip off back into the bowl, very gently tapping your wrist to help shake off excess chocolate. Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles and a bit of salt. Place in a styrofoam block to dry.
TO DIP FOR TRUFFLES:
7. In a small deep bowl, melt candy melts and shortening together in the microwave per candy melt package directions (typically in 30 second intervals, stirring in between). Use a fork to dip each cookie dough ball in the candy coating, letting excess coating drip off back into the bowl. Place on wax paper. Sprinkle with a few chocolate sprinkles and a bit of salt. Let stand for chocolate coating to set up.