We can all claim without any pretension to be really, really good at something. My something is batter. I can make a dough or batter like no one’s business. When I first became interested in cooking in elementary school, my mom bought me a cookbook composed entirely of cookies. My theory now as an adult is that she understood that giving me something that she didn’t like would be the best way to ensure that my early failures (and there were many) wouldn’t compromise dinner. If they worked out, we’d have a dessert, a rarity in my mom’s fresh, healthy kitchen. Despite my long-road approach to mastering cookies as a chemist (whatever, baking soda, just whatever), I did manage to master cookie dough. My short attention span and ridiculous sweet tooth meant that sometimes I would end up with like four cookies (none edible, of course) because I had eaten all of the cookie dough myself. I began to make my cookies based on how much I liked the batter, which sounds great in theory, but believe me, and my family, when I say that a batter may not turn out to make a great baked good. My raw cravings (not to be confused in any way with my mom’s raw cravings for home-grown produce) did not discriminate: all forms of unbaked carb were welcomed in my kitchen. Although I am much more of a salty tooth now, I still love to bake, although I do not need to eat the entire bowlful anymore. Adulthood has taught me much restraint. My cake batter (and cookie dough, and brownie batter, etc. etc.) cravings have not entirely subsided, though, and with all of my experience, I don’t think its immodest for me to refer to myself as a true connoisseur on the topic.
I have been making cake batter truffles for several years as an alternative to cupcakes. I like to make them for several reasons that I would recommend you consider when you volunteer to bring a dessert:
1) They can’t “flop” – no baking-magic-chemistry means no pressure. You mix the ingredients, you taste, and you keep adding things according to taste. All the truffles have to do is be sticky enough to hold together for the recipe to “work.” This makes is a great recipe for kids (and no raw eggs, so no worries if you have a young me on your hands who cannot control herself whatsoever around anything batter).
2) They don’t require baking – this has been crucial for me through the years. I have lived with tiny kitchens, or awful ovens that can scorch one side of a cake and leave the other half dripping. This is also extremely helpful when I am throwing a big party. My small rental ovens mean that I can bake one thing at a time.
3) They don’t have to be served “day of”- for this full-time worker plus student, that is a huge plus. I often have to cook at very weird times with my schedule, so it is wonderful to be able to come home, whip up some of these, and leave them in the fridge for two days before the party without compromising freshness. Timing is key to many desserts, and these truffles can be show-stoppers without being time-demanding divas.
4) They are infinitely customizable – I have made these with a little girl using strawberry cake mix and pink and purple sprinkles, covering the whole thing in loads of white chocolate and with a pumpkin cake mix with nuts and extra pumpkin pie spice folded in, drizzled with a glaze and dusted with cinnamon. The strawberry ones, which as you can see were liberally coveredin both white and milk chocolate, were so much fun to make with my favorite elementary schooler. She loved it, and she was able to do it “all by herself!”:
My itemized list, I trust, was enough to keep you reading to the recipe. The following recipe is for fantastic sprinkled cake batter truffles that I made for my boyfriend’s sweet mom’s recent birthday party. We had a slightly autumn theme, so I used seasonally appropriate sprinkles:
For the truffle portion, you will need:
- 1 ½ cups vanilla cake mix (I recommend one with pudding in the mix, I used a butter yellow cake extra pudding mix and it was great)
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Sprinkles! (anywhere from 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup – and remember you can add these on top of the melted chocolate if you don’t want them in the batter portion)
For the coating portion, you will need:
- 16 ounces of either almond bark (less expensive) or chocolate (any kind you like – I used chocolate flavored almond bark this time)
- Sprinkles, if desired, to top ‘em off (put sprinkles in the batter and on top, because I wanted a “confetti” effect for the birthday party)
Beat together the vanilla, sugar, and butter with an electric mixer. Once combined, add the dry ingredients. Save the cream for the second-last ingredient, once you have a good sense for how adhesive the batter is. You don’t want it to be too dry to stay together or to gloppy to maintain a shape. Last, fold in the sprinkles – and go on and add a few extra, too. Using clean hands (or some other method), roll a small scoop, about one inch across, of the batter and keep rolling it around your hands until it is an even ball shape. Place the batter truffles on anything flat (I’d say a cookie sheet, but if your party kitchen is like mine, you are definitely already using it!) and let them chill in the fridge for at least thirty minutes and up to overnight.
When you’re ready to fancify your truffles, melt the almond bark in a large saucepan on low heat until just liquified. Either turn off the heat (and probably remember to turn it back on every five minutes or so) leave it on very low. You have options with this phase: you can go for the full chocolate dunk, in which case I recommend using two forks to roll the truffle around in the chocolate (as with the strawberry truffles), or you can do a half-dunk, as I did with my birthday cake truffles.
Set the truffles back in the fridge. Almond bark is very quick-drying, probably five or so minutes, so if you want to sprinkle with cocoa powder, top with sprinkles, etc., you should remember to work quickly after the melted chocolate is on the truffles. I put about 1/3 of a cup of sprinkles in a bowl with this recipe. I used clean hands and dipped the truffles by hand into the sauce pan, then lightly pressed them, chocolate side down, into the sprinkle bowl before putting them back on my parchment covered tray to set.
I had enough chocolate left over to drizzle onto some of the cupcakes and other delights that I made for the party. I suggest having pretzels, strawberries, or whatever it is you like dipped in chocolate on hand as well, just in case such an emergency arises.