Vanilla cake balls with hand-made chocolate roses

These little beauties are made of vanilla sponge, rolled into balls with some Hummingbird frosting and dipped in white chocolate.

They’re finished with chocolate roses, hand-modelled from white chocolate modelling paste and dusted with gold lustre.

I’m rather proud of them.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been editing the text for a cake-decorating book. So feeling very inspired, I decided to have a bash at some hand modelling.

I’ve also, for ages, been meaning to make cake pops – and in fact that’s what these were originally intended to be, but I somehow forgot to order the sticks. Duh. But it didn’t matter really because they were still divine and in the end much smaller and simpler to transport.

Here’s how they’re made…Firstly, I baked two vanilla sponge cakes, following Rachel Allen’s recipe on p263-4 of Bake. I also made up some cream cheese frosting, using the recipe on p11 of the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Then I followed this cake pop method (I’m rather in awe of April Carter’s beautiful blog!).

It felt quite naughty breaking up my lovely springy cakes into crumbly little bits, but it had to be done, as they needed to be mixed sufficiently with frosting before being rolled into balls. I measured out 30g portions of the mixture and rolled each into a ball until it held its shape. Onto a baking sheet and into the fridge they went to become firm overnight.

Next up: the roses, which had to be made a few hours in advance so that the modelling paste could dry out and set hard. I used white chocolate cocoform bought from this online store. To tint the chocolate, I bought a pot of tangerine paste colour and, as the yellow ones were an afterthought, I also used normal liquid food colouring, which certainly wasn’t as strong as the paste colour, but still worked suitably. The instructions from the book I’ve been editing were most useful (thanks to the author Juliet Sears), as was the advice of Mich Turner, whose Cake Masterclass book is gorgeous, and whose Youtube video is very helpful. And of course, I learnt a few of my own things along the way. Funnily enough, of the 25+ roses I modelled, the very first one remained my favourite.

Once the roses were modelled, they had to be left at room temperature for a few hours to harden. When hard, I used a soft brush to apply gold lustre dust all over them. This also helped coax off any leftover icing sugar and smoothed out imperfections on the petals.

With my balls lovely and firm (!) and my roses stiff and gleaming, it was time to melt the white chocolate candy dips (bought from the same cakecraft website).

Regular white chocolate is so tricky to melt. If you’ve ever tried it you’ll know. It’s essential to keep it around 27°C or below; if it edges above this temperature it ‘seizes’, which means it hardens into a solid, grainy, unworkable lump and it’s nigh-on impossible to rescue. But these dips have been formulated specifically not to do that. They’re really stable and can be melted without problems and then they remain liquid even once they’ve cooled, giving you plenty of time to do your thing. You can melt them in the microwave or over a pan. Here it was also necessary to add a splash of sunflower oil, which thins out the chocolate enough to form a smooth coating. (When adding oil, it MUST be flavourless, i.e. sunflower or vegetable – don’t go adding olive or truffle oil to your chocolate unless you want a nasty savoury surprise!)

Because my cakes weren’t on sticks, I used a thin chopstick to skewer and dip them, then the back of a teaspoon to cover any missed areas and smooth out the chocolate. Once coated, I pressed a rose onto the top of each cake and then gave them some more fridge time.

If you’ve a sweet tooth and require dessert or edible therapy, these are ideal; however, the frosting does make them quite sweet so I could only manage one or two at a time. They could probably be made less sweet by using a different frosting or by making them with chocolate, lemon or carrot cake…


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