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Like most elementary students, Alex had a Valentine's Day party at school yesterday. When the goodies and treats sign up sheet came out last week, I wrote in that I would send cake balls, much to my family's delight.
In developing this recipe, my goal was to provide a treat that was on the healthier side of the scale, as well as something that was tasty and not nearly nutritious. In my recent reading, I have been learning that kids with ADHD may have sensitivities to certain food additives and colorings, so I sought to eliminate the majority of the food coloring from my preparations. Yet, I wanted to do so in a way in which the result would be tasty, pretty, and fun. I must disclose that, at the end, I topped each cake ball with a smattering of red sprinkles, because I just couldn't help myself, but you could easily leave these out for a truly dye-free treat.
1 French Vanilla Cake Mix, or ingredients for any white cake recipe of your choosing. I had very little time, so I went the way of the mixes.
2ish cups of strawberry puree (see below)
Vanilla Almond Bark
1 TBS Shortening
Sprinkles, if desired
Last May, we went out to a local berry farm to pick strawberries. I bought way more than I needed so that I could freeze the excess and have strawberry treats all year long. Before freezing, I washed, capped, and sliced the berries. Then, I froze them in 3 cup increments. If, like most, you didn't do this, then just pick up a couple of containers of strawberries from your grocer. Or, substitute frozen berries. If you go for frozen, check the label for dyes, though.
Thaw your berries, if needed, in a saucepan over low heat. When berries can be easily separated, put them in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Prepare cake mix as directed, but substitute strawberry puree for oil, as you would applesauce in any other recipe. This will give the cake a delightfully berry flavor. Bake in any cake pan as directed. Let cool.
When cake is cool, slice cake into inch-size chunks and place in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash. Add strawberry puree in small increments until cake is wet enough to stick together in a ball, but not too gooey. Put mixture in the freezer and let chill for an hour or so.
Ballin' it Up:
Remove mixture from freezer and, using a favorite spoon or cookie scoop, scoop cake mix into balls and place on plates or a cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer. If desired, roll balls to make them more round or shape into any form desired. Hearts would be cute. Freeze balls for another hour or so.
Alternative: Use buttercream frosting with strawberry flavoring instead of the strawberry puree to get a richer, more decadent treat.
Heat Almond Bark and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl for 90 seconds. Stir. Continue heating at 15 second intervals until melted and shortening is combined. Using two forks for search and rescue, drop cake balls into almond bark and cover. Retrieve and place on Parchment Paper-covered plates or sheets. Sprinkle with candy immediately, if desired. Repeat for all of your balls.
Serve whenever. But, don't be surprised if these two-bite goodies don't last very long.
For those of you following my mortified mama series, don't be surprised when I gain, oh... ten pounds this week.
For better directions, much better photos, and fantastic ideas, check out Bakerella's lovely site.
A special thank you to Nicole for teaching me how to make these yummy desserts. My family loves you. If you're in the Roanoke area, Nicole makes the BEST cakes and cake pops around. Check out her One Bite Delights to place orders for cake balls or cake pops for your next party or social function.
|Cake Balls are just the right size for toddler hands.|