This week I did not intend to make cake balls. These cake balls are an example of my turning a negative into a really delicious positive. May 2nd was Ryan’s 9th birthday. My kids always have fabulous birthdays, and their birthday parties always have a fun, fabulous theme. This year, Ryan chose “Captain America” as his theme. In keeping with that theme, he requested a “Captain America cake.” I love love love to make birthday cakes, and I can make them taste quite good. Decorating them, however, is a whole other matter. The truth is I cannot decorate a cake to save my life. I think I should get an “A” for effort, but usually the finished cake is a mere step up from how a preschooler would decorate a cake. So for me, making a Captain America cake was a lofty endeavor. After some thought, I decided to make a layer cake, and then decorate the top of the cake to replicate Captain America’s shield. Easy right? For me not so much. As a side note I just finished reading “My Life in France.” The book is about the life of Julia Child, and her experiences when she and her husband Paul, lived in France during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It was during that time that she attended the famous culinary institute “le Cordon Bleu.” It is pretty difficult not to be inspired to bake something after reading that book, so I decided to make Ryan’s cake, and color the batter myself. I had decided to make Ryan a checkerboard cake using red and white cake batter. So I made the batter and used all the red food coloring gel I had in the pantry, but the batter never quite turned red. It did however turn a lovely shade of hot pink! If the cake was for Victoria, hot pink would have been fabulous, BUT hot pink does not equal Captain America. So I had to consider my options…get more food gel and hope the batter turned red, or make another cake. Well, I decided to use a red velvet cake mix as then I was guaranteed that the batter would be red. That meant, however, that I had a whole mess of hot pink batter that I didn’t need. I absolutely hate to waste food, so I decided I had to use it somehow. I immediately thought of cake balls. I LOVE cake balls, but had never made them before. I quickly “googled” cake balls and got a number of results. I perused the first recipe and it sounded ridiculously easy…so cake balls it was!
I went straight back into the kitchen and followed the recipe exactly. What I should have done is taken a few extra minutes to read additional recipes for cake balls, or minimally I should have read the reviews posted by others who had utilized the recipe. The original recipe said to crumble the prepared cake while still warm into a bowl, and then mix in a whole tub of prepared cake frosting. So I did. What I got was a big bowl of hot pink goo. It was like the consistency of oatmeal…runny oatmeal. There was no way I could form little cake balls out of the mess that was in my bowl. So I panicked a bit and headed right back to the computer to see what I had done wrong. Well it was then that I read that the users of this recipe recommended that the cake cool completely! AND they recommended only using about 3/4 of the tub of frosting so as to avoid a gooey runny consistency. They also recommended that the cake batter be refrigerated for at least an hour before being rolled into balls. Then once rolled into balls, it was recommended that the cake balls be put in the freezer for another hour so they would be really firm before being dipped into chocolate. WOW! That was a HUGE departure from the original recipe that I read. So I refrigerated the dough for an hour, and then I divided the dough in half. I rolled all of the dough into little balls and froze half. The other half, I tried to bake again to see if that improved the consistency. It did not. So I ended up freezing all of the little balls for an hour. Then I melted some white chocolate and some milk chocolate, and dunked the little cake balls in the chocolate. The resulting cake balls are delicious! YUM with a capital Y!
In addition to the cake balls, I had a whole Captain America themed cake to master. I also had some batter left over so I made cupcakes, AND I wanted to make some sugar cookies, and decorate them to look like Captain America’s shield. I am happy to report that all of the sweet treats came out great! Victoria and Ryan decorated the shield cookies and they turned out super cute. The Captain America cake came out good too. I still want to take a cake decorating class someday, but Ryan was thrilled with his Captain America cake and that’s all that matters.
I am so happy that Ryan had a great 9th birthday. The festivities spanned from Wednesday the 2nd (his actual birthday), until yesterday when we had his party. On Wednesday, we had a “breakfast birthday bash.” Ryan got to open his gifts first thing in the morning before Dan and Victoria left the house. He also got to have his favorite meal for breakfast and then again for lunch…yep…you guessed it… I made him pasta! Our school’s annual ice cream social was scheduled on May 2nd from 6-8 p.m., so we wouldn’t all get to be together again until bedtime. Dan and the kids came to the ice cream social, and helped scoop ice cream and toppings. In fact, Ryan actually wanted to work longer than his shift, scooping ice cream toppings, and he did a fabulous job! He celebrated with his school friends that day and had the whole class sing to him. On Friday we had the “teacher appreciation luncheon” until about 1 p.m., but then we met our good family friends The Phillips to celebrate. Tyler (Ryan’s high school buddy and role model) turned 15 on May 1st, the day before Ryan’s birthday. Ryan wanted to celebrate his and Tyler’s birthdays by going to eat, and then going to see “The Avengers” which opened on Friday the 4th. We all met at Olive Garden and had a great meal, and then we went to the 5:40 showing of the film. The birthday boys LOVED it! I liked the movie, but I liked Ty and Ry’s choice in clothes better. Both guys chose to wear their Captain America shirts which made for 2 super cute versions the Cap! My in-laws were unable to attend Ryan’s party on Sunday as they had Tiger tickets, so they came over on Saturday for a late lunch to celebrate with Ryan. Then on Sunday we had Ryan’s official party…Captain America themed of course. Ryan invited a few school friends to his party on Sunday, so our home was literally filled with family, friends, tons of fun, and plenty of cake. The kids played baseball and football, the adults relaxed on the deck, my Dad watched the Tigers game, and we all celebrated my little 9-year-old Captain America. My favorite part of the day was when we all sang “happy birthday” to Ryan. He was so excited, and he absolutely loved his shield cake. The bad news is that Ryan is now 9 years old. The good news is that he isn’t 10 yet. I wonder what he will choose as next year’s birthday theme? I hope he chooses “The Hulk,” because then I can make whatever kind of cake I want and just give it a good “HULK SMASH” and call it good! It won’t matter what the cake looks like… in fact the messier the better right? ☺ Whatever my “10-year-old Ryan” chooses as his theme, I will do my level best to make his birthday wishes come true….cake included. ♥
Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cake-balls/ Please read the reviews before beginning the process, or just refer to the instructions I listed above.