We’ve all heard that old saying: when life gives you shitty cake, make cake truffles.
|Frosting cake ain't easy. source|
No? Well, it’s true. Life itself may not give you cake, crappy or not, (much as I wish it would), but you can certainly make cake truffles whenever you fuck up a recipe and end up with a pile of mushy, crumbly mystery substance on your hands.
Throughout my short baking career, I have successfully fucked up what seems like a thousand recipes. I have filled the entire house with smoke when roasting plums and, after proceeding successfully for the first 99% of the recipe, caused a cake to crumble all over the countertop after removing it from the pan five minutes too early. I have even added four times the amount of butter necessary to a basic chocolate cake recipe when I misread “¼ cup butter” for “2 sticks”.
(Now, cut me some slack here—the extra stick and a half of butter was softening on the countertop in preparation for the frosting, so it was a mindless mistake to not separate the two portions. But you can imagine my dismay as I wondered why, exactly, my cake batter looked like greasy diarrhea after some particularly bad Mexican food.)
|Not that you needed that image. source|
Sometimes the mistake is not, thank God, apocalyptic. About a year ago I recall unintentionally omitting half the sugar from a white cake, only to realize it was the richest and most delicious vanilla pound cake I’d ever tasted. Even the butter-overload cupcakes described above were salvageable. Nobody at the concert reception noticed the difference. Fuck, I don’t think anyone would’ve noticed if I had stuck broccoli puree in the frosting, since their brains were all fried from listening to Suzuki violin for two and a half hours.
But sometimes, you gotta make truffles.
Not every truffle comes from a disastrous cake. I can personally assert that if you show up to a track meet with a fancy-ass cheesecake, you’ll end up in side-eye city; but if you smush the cake into little balls and cover them in chocolate, no one will think twice about shoving those motherfuckers into their mouths in between hundred-meter sprints and long jumps.
People seem afraid of layer cakes these days, with their sophisticated frosting and multiple layers and precarious serving methods. Cupcakes are much less intimidating. Take it a step further with cake truffles, and boom—the ultimate party treat.
|DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, CALL THEM CAKE POPS source|
Now, layer cakes hold a special place in my heart. I’ll always look for opportunities to make them, to perfect my layer cake-making skills—I mean, actually obtain some skills in the first place. But some occasions call for truffles. Take this past Saint Patrick’s Day, when I was baking a totally non-vegan chocolate macaroon cake to celebrate the end of the indoor track season. So there I was, humming along as I mixed up some sexy chocolate cake batter, when I realized that something was terribly, horribly wrong. Something to do with adding too much flour. My heart stopped. Time slowed. Everything blurred in and out of focus. What was I to do?
In the end, ever-so-brave Baby June determined that she would reserve the macaroon filling in the fridge (as that was the only portion of shredded coconut I have available) and that she would bake this failed chocolate cake batter in a separate pan while mixing up the recipe once again, this time with the correct proportions. The failed cake was not bad, just a bit crumbly and a bit dry. I had a successful cake with which I could impress my classmates (and indeed, they were impressed), but I also had a sucky mess of a cake at home. The only logical solution to this situation was to make cake truffles.
As it was around Saint Patrick’s Day, I determined that some alcohol-infused truffles were in order. And my family being Irish, we had plenty of Bailey’s Irish cream on hand. Again, not vegan, but this recipe from Oh She Glows looks fabulous if you need a substitute.
|POUR UP, BITCHES, AND CELEBRATE THE UNIVERSAL POWER OF SUGARY BOOZE. source|
Oh, I’m underaged? Cool. So, about those government documents explicitly prohibiting kids from cooking with alcohol…they don’t exist? Even better. Tell that to my mother, who let me fry bananas in Kahlua when I was eleven.
Cough. Um. Enough with the braggadocio.
So I encountered this little recipe from My Baking Empire (which is more like a guideline, really) and whipped up some delicious dark chocolate balls to stick in the freezer for, you know, a readily available nighttime snack. I ended up with a shit-ton of truffles, so being a kindly and gracious neighbor I brought some to the family next door. Turns out they loved them, and—wait for it—want more for Easter. They’ll pay, the mother said. Same exact recipe. Don’t change anything, not even the Saint Patrick’s-themed Bailey’s or the wintery dark chocolate or the somewhat haphazard presentation (a result of my inability to make a perfectly smooth cake ball).
So I’ll comply. But this time, they’ll be fabulous. Here’s the new and improved and brilliant recipe. Just don’t call them cake pops.
(Note: if you want an in-depth TRUFFLE GODDAMIT tutorial, please head over here to Cake Central. But be warned, those candy melts taste like shit.)
Irish Cream Cake Truffles
Yields a ton. Enough for a party of hungry teenagers.
Chocolate cake (from a swagalicious Instructables user)
Adapted to fit a 9 x 13 pan
225 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons
150 grams • sugar • 1 ½ cups
43 grams • cocoa powder • ½ cup
7 grams • baking soda • 1 ½ teaspoons
4 grams • salt • ¾ teaspoon
355 grams • warm water • 1 ½ cups
9 grams • vanilla extract • 1 ½ teaspoons
100 grams • vegetable oil • ½ cup
7.5 grams • apple cider vinegar • 1 ½ teaspoons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together dry ingredients, and then fold in wet. It’s really that easy.
Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 sheet pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and wait ten minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Or in the freezer, lazypants. Either one.
Irish cream buttercream (adapted from My Baking Empire)
226 grams • Earth Balance (or other vegan butter-like substance) • 1 cup
512 grams • powdered sugar • 4 cups
60 grams • Irish cream (vegan, if available) • ¼ cup
3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon
Make sure your butter is softened and at room temperature before you begin. If it is not, you will regret this.
Put the butter in an electric mixer. Mix that bitch on high speed until it is light and fluffy. Lower speed, and add powdered sugar one large spoonful at a time. Mix on high speed until it’s all light and fluffy and frosting-like again. Slowly pour in Irish cream while mixing slowly. Dump in salt.
Mix it really, really well—like, at least three or four minutes. Don’t over-mix, just make sure you’ve got nice and fluffy and delicious frosting. Not that it matters, since you’ll be destroying it soon anyway.
Irish cream frosting
Food coloring (optional)
Scrub your hands for surgery. Dump cake in a large bowl and crumble like there’s no tomorrow. Dump in about ¾ of the frosting (reserving the leftovers) and mix well. Be sure to get out all the chunks. The smoother, the better.
Take the gooey cake-frosting mixture and roll into little balls, about the size of a golf ball. Stick them in the freezer for about ten minutes while you prep the rest of the stuff.
Mix the remaining frosting with food coloring of choice and stick in a piping bag with a narrow tip for later.
Melt the chocolate. Temper it, if you’re fancy (I’m not). Please, for the love of God, don’t overheat it, or you’ll be duly sorry. Once the balls are sufficiently chilled, remove them from the freezer one or two at a time to dip / enrobe / smear chocolate. They don’t have to be perfect to taste fucking awesome.
Let truffles harden on a sheet of parchment paper. To finish, pipe colored buttercream on top of each truffle in a zigzag pattern. Store those bitches in the freezer, although I doubt you’ll have any leftover to do so.
Be assured, those cake balls are finger lickin’ good. Did I really just say that? Yes, I did. The Irish cream flavor is pretty strong, but it’s complemented very well by rich dark chocolate. These truffles are, like, objectively delicious.
|Oh, beautiful sheet cake.|
The chocolate cake is much, much easier than pie, and almost as easy as eating pie. Comes out nice and moist and somewhat spongy—definitely would be worthy of dessert on its own.
But wait—it is time to destroy our beautiful creation, to obliterate the carefully constructed crumb and mash it violently in a bowl. And what a pretty red color. It might have to do with the blood of my enemies, or it could be a chemical reaction involving baking soda and vinegar.
|Paula Deen moans in the distance.|
Okay, so now that you’ve finished the cake, it is frosting time. Take your flawlessly softened Earth Balance (or other butter-like substance) and stick it in the KitchenAid. Or whatever brand you use—I don’t judge. Whip it until it will be whipped no more. Then add powdered sugar.
|Sweet, sweet baby Jesus.|
Add the Irish cream too. Now, I’ll admit, my family is not exactly vegan friendly, so I used real, authentic, dairy-containing Bailey’s in here. But (and don’t hate me for this) I am just a little vegetarian weakling anyway. Not to mention, my very Irish family always has an extra bottle or two of Bailey’s hidden around the house. So there’s that.
|Succulent, chocolatey truffles, naked and afraid.|
Filled with frosting, the cake is ready to be shaped. At this point, a battle of supreme willpower is necessary to prevent oneself from eating all of the truffle batter. I may or may not have been successful.
Stick those bitches in the freezer, then cover them in chocolate (nondairy if you are so inclined). Squirt buttercream on top. Or try, then realize you shouldn’t have chilled frosting while you were freezing the truffles, then struggle for half an hour with a sickeningly sweet brick-like mush at ten o’clock at night. If you wish to attempt this, please be wiser than me and keep the frosting at room temperature. For the sake of your wrists.
|Okay, so these may be for the neighbors, but I don't give a damn.|
Try not to eat all of them at once.