For a Halloween party this past weekend I was tasked with bringing something sweet– last year I made iced pumpkin cake balls, which were a rousing success, so I decided to revisit the idea and try again with a different theme. Eyeballs!
This time I started off with a regular box of white cake mix, doctoring it up with some sour cream in place of the water– in this case 1 1/4 cups of it. This really is necessary to make the cake batter thick enough to properly fill the wells of the cake pop maker– otherwise the batter is so thin that when it rises it just overflows, rather than doming to fill out the ball shape.
Once my cake balls were cool I popped them in the freezer for a little while to firm them up a bit while I prepared my coatings.
I had a half-bag of Wilton white candy melts, which I supplemented with a bag of white chocolate chips and a hefty spoonful of paramount crystals. I microwaved them at 50% power in 45-second bursts and stirred until smooth. Let me tell you, I’ve finally learned the trick to working with candy melts– it’s heating them slowly and carefully. Previously, I always assumed that if they were melted but still too thick, that just meant I needed to get them warmer, but this does NOT work. Instead, you have to add more paramount crystals (you can use Crisco shortening if you have it) until the coating thins out. Do this instead of heating things further– if you add crystals *and* keep heating, it won’t work.
Anyway, I dipped my cake balls in the white coating, then set them on a parchment-lined sheet pan and immediately stuck a single M&M on top so it would stick once the coating firmed up. I repeated the process with all 80 of my cake balls. By the way, this spiral-shaped chocolate dipping tool makes things so much easier– the extra chocolate falls out through the bottom and the thin wire spiral holds your cake ball without interfering with dipping. I like it better than any of the special fork-shaped tools.
Once the coating had hardened, I got out my food coloring markers and colored in a black pupil in the center of each M&M, along with red squiggly veins in the whites of the eyeballs.
Oddly, my markers didn’t do so well writing on the M&Ms, but worked fine on the hardened candy coating. Whatever, they turned out looking cute and tasting reasonably good (very sweet), which is what I was going for to please a horde of first-graders.
Next time I make these, I would wait until the white coating hardened and then dip the tops in colored candy coating to make a perfectly round and smooth colored iris. We’ll have to see if I have an excuse to make them again next year!