Happy Halloween, everyone!
My daughter’s class is having a Halloween party and has requested parent contributions to the menu– naturally, I volunteered to bring a dessert item, and asked her what she’d like me to make. After a little debate about ingredients and logistics, we decided on pumpkin muffin balls decorated to look like pumpkins. And I can’t wait to tell you about an awesome discovery I made with regard to decorating icing– but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Once the balls were cool, I took a can of storebought cream cheese frosting and stirred in some gel food coloring to make it a nice, pumpkin-y orange. I took the can of tinted frosting and heated that for 30 seconds to make it nice and liquidy. Then– and this is the special ingredient– I put about 1 cup of white candy melts (I would’ve used orange but white was all I had) in a separate microwave-safe bowl and poured the heated frosting over it, stirring to melt the candy. I microwaved it in 20 second-increments until the candy melts were fully melted and incorporated.
The resulting icing was thin and pourable. As a side note, I really like the finished texture of the icing here– it’s soft enough to bite through without cracking into pieces, but firm enough to pick up without getting your fingers messy. The addition of candy melts was definitely a good one. I was originally worried that the candy melts wouldn’t incorporate smoothly into the frosting, either due to seizing (like chocolate when faced with liquid) or some other weird chemical reaction between the admittedly synthetics-heavy ingredient lists of the two components. I was especially concerned because I intended to use gel food coloring to color the mixture, which I’ve always been told to avoid when dealing with candy melts. However, it worked beautifully, and I think in the future I might even increase the candy melt ratio to make for an even firmer finish while still keeping the pourability and soft bite that the frosting adds.
Anyway, to coat my muffin balls, I stuck a toothpick into one of the balls and dipped it into the warm icing, spooning extra over the top to make sure it was completely coated, and then shook it vigorously to get the excess icing off. I used a spoon to scrape off the last bits of extra icing, then put the ball onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
One trick I learned was not to try to pull the toothpick out just yet– it won’t necessarily come out easily, since it’s firmly in the ball and the icing won’t give enough traction to allow you to remove it. Instead, I worked with two toothpicks– once I’d used the second one to dip a second ball and put it on the parchment, the icing on the first had hardened enough to give me enough resistance to pull out the first toothpick.
The icing will thicken after you’ve dipped for a while, but you can easily re-heat it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to get it nice and warm again. I had to do this more frequently as the level of icing in my bowl went down, since it cooled more quickly with less mass.
After chilling the dipped balls in the fridge for about 30 minutes, I decorated them with green icing leaves and brown stems made of pieces of Pocky. As the frosting chilled, it hardened into a nice matte glaze with just enough firmness to keep it from being sticky. Even after I took them out of the fridge, they stayed non-sticky, and unlike my ice cream cone cake pop disaster, did not turn into a drippy mess. I would caution against leaving these out in warm weather, though– even candy melts can only do so much to counter the natural stickiness of canned frosting.
All in all, I used about 1 1/2 cans’ worth of frosting for my double batch of muffin balls, with about 1 1/4 cups of candy melts stirred in, and used the remaining 1/2 can for the green leaves. So if you’re making a double batch of muffin balls, load up on frosting– one can isn’t enough!