I should have known I would get sick as soon as spring break started. This is our first break since December and, between then and now, I have been going, going, going like a hamster stuck on its wheel. The bright side is that at least it is during break and I don't have to drag myself to school while I am feeling miserable or having to sub plans (sub plans are worse than taking a day off, in my opinion). The down side is that it is spring break and I haven't been able to do much in the first part. I'm finally over the sickness but I have a weekend left to be as productive as I can.
One of those productive things was to send my sister a birthday package. Today is her birthday and since I didn't drive home this time around, I wanted to surprise her with something at work. I had sent her mason jar cupcakes one birthday and I didn't want to do that again. For some reason, my brain went to something with alcohol. I think it's because I knew she was doing a happy hour celebration after work and I couldn't be there so why not send the booze her way? Well, say hello to Margarita Cake Balls - just about the perfect thing for me to make!
I don't think it really turned out all that boozy but it's still really good. I'm sending it to her work anyway so I shouldn't get her too drunk, ha! I took the easy way out and chose the recipe that used a cake mix (oops), but it was just a lot easier for lazy old me on spring break, especially on a recipe that is pretty labor intensive anyway. It took me a whole day to complete this. Of course, I took some breaks in between when things needed to be chilled and such, but with the cake baking, cooling, crumbling, chilling, frosting making, mixing, rolling, chilling, chocolate melting, dipping, chilling, chocolate melting, more dipping, a whole day was needed.
My dipping skills increased with this recipe but this is the fourth time I've made cake balls in the last 6 years so it still needs work. It's a lot of fun making these actually and very versatile as you can change the flavors of the cake and the frosting and even coat it in real chocolate instead of candy melts. Have fun with it!
Margarita Cake Balls
For the cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tequila + 2 tsp, separated
1/3 cup lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest + 1 tsp, separated
For the frosting (I needed to double the recipe)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp tequila
2 packages white candy coating (sometimes called almond bark)
1 package green candy coating or oil-based green food coloring
Large sugar crystals
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9x13 pan.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil, water 1/2 cup tequila, lime juice, and 1 tsp zest and mix on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until batter becomes fluffy. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let cool for at least 15 minutes, then brush the top of the cake with 2 tsp tequila & sprinkle 1 tsp zest over the top. Let cake cool completely, up to overnight.
Just before assembly, use a fork or your hands to break up the cake into fine crumbs, removing any large crusty pieces from the cake's edges.
To make the frosting, combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar in half cup increments and blend until there are no lumps. Add the lime juice and tequila and blend until combined.
To assemble, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Thoroughly mix 1/2 of your frosting into the crumbled cake mixture. Test your “dough” to see if it is sticky enough to form a ball without crumbling. Add more icing if needed, until consistency is almost that of a thick cookie dough (no dry cake balls!).
Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (you could also do this the night before) – it will make it easier to roll into balls.
Using your hands, roll chilled cake mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on lined baking sheet.
When done, place baking sheet in freezer and let cake balls chill for 30 minutes. This step is optional, but it helps the cake balls keep their shape and prevents crumbs from getting in the candy bark and thus, causing lumpy coating.
While cake balls are chilling, microwave a package of white candy bark in a small bowl, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. If desired, add oil-based food coloring (it must be oil-based! water-based will cause your candy coating to seize up) OR before microwaving the white candy, toss in a handful of green ones in the same bowl to achieve your desired shade of margarita green. [I ended up using at least 4 packages of white candy melts to double coat all of my cake balls.]
Place a cake ball into the bowl of melted candy coating and use a spoon to cover with coating. Lift the cake ball out of the coating with a fork and tap against the rim of the bowl to remove excess.
Use a toothpick to gently push the cake ball back on to a parchment or foil cookie sheet (or onto your counter, lined with parchment paper). Make sure you push the cake ball from the bottom so you don’t smudge your coating.
While the coating is still wet, give your cake ball a healthy sprinkling of decorating sugar and a tiny pinch of salt, if desired.