Yes, this is the post you’ve been waiting for. I told you about the baking disaster I had this past Sunday in my last post, and this is what I have to show for it. I am still very happy with these, and think that maybe they’re even better this way, but it was still a pretty difficult Sunday afternoon! I originally wanted these to be cake pops with little jack-o-lantern faces on them (you can see a photo of the disaster they turned into below), but the cake and frosting combined were just too dense for that to happen, and the chocolate on top of that made them even heavier. Everything tasted so good, so I was so sad watching everything fall apart. The cake balls would stay on the sticks for a moment, then drop like the ball in New York on New Year’s down the stick and plop! onto the styrofoam block I had them standing in. Kramer watched with dismay as I desperately tried to fix the situation – I tried putting the cake in the freezer with the sticks in them, I tried making the cakes smaller and smaller, and I tried thinning the chocolate, but nothing worked. It just wasn’t going to happen. I thought about inverting the way that the pops would stand (have the sticks sticking up out of the cake instead of the cake on top of the stick), but I wasn’t really loving that idea, either. After sitting on the couch with Kramer for a while, I thought I would just turn them into truffles and be done with it. Then Kramer suggested that I drizzle some chocolate over the top to make them more Halloween-themed (at this point I was not interested in hunkering down and drawing faces on 65 truffles, especially after I burned my first batch of milk chocolate – I really was messing up everything that day). I was sold! I went to work taking all the sticks out of the cake balls, dunking them in chocolate, and drizzling chocolate over all of that – this is after I had already baked two big sheet cakes, made frosting, and spent two hours trying desperately to make my cake pops work. All in all, though, the truffles were a success!
There is one shining star in this whole mess – the cake! It is a pumpkin spice cake made with browned butter and mixed together with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting (which is why I assume it was so heavy on the sticks). It was delicious. I rarely can’t keep my hands off of the things that I bake, because I do bake often and learned long ago not to taste too often. I couldn’t help myself with this cake, though, and I found myself picking off the corners of the cake before mixing it with the icing. It had just the right amount of spices alongside the pumpkin, and the cinnamon cream cheese frosting was outstanding, pairing perfectly with the cake. You might think that the white chocolate on the outside of it all would make these overly sweet, and while they were definitely sweet, the size of the truffles were small enough that you got just the right sized bite of everything at once without feeling overwhelmed. These are perfect for Halloween parties or to bring in to the office, I promise you! Usually cake truffles are chocolate or vanilla or something like that, so it’s quite a treat to bite into these little beauties and discover pumpkin spice cake! It just goes to show you that with a little thought, you can turn any disaster into a winning dish!
Your cake ingredients.
Begin by browning your butter. Heat it in a small sauce pan over medium heat. It will foam at first; keep stirring it so it doesn’t burn.
After the foaming subsides, it will start to become a bit more clear. Keep stirring!
When it is a light amber color (mine could have gone for another few minutes, but I was impatient), remove from the pot.
Strain to remove any burned bits, and set aside to cool for a bit.
Combine your flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
In your large mixing bowl, combine your sugars and pumpkin puree. Beat until just combined.
Add in the browned butter, mix to combine, then add in the eggs, one at at time. Do not over mix! If you need to, finish up by hand. Carefully add in the flour and mix until just moistened.
Spread the batter into your prepared 9×13 cake pans (I doubled the recipe, which left me feeling like double the failure when I got to the assembly, haha). Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or so, until the cake is set and the edges are just turning a golden brown.
When the cakes are ready, remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely. I put mine in the fridge to speed this up. You can also see the bit of cake that I just had to try in the corner. Can you blame me?
When the cakes have cooled, make your frosting.
Beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes, then add in 3 cups of powdered sugar, the cream, the vanilla, and the cinnamon. Beat until combined, light, and fluffy (at least another 3 minutes). Add in another cup of powdered sugar, beat until combined, then another cup of powdered sugar, then beat until combined, then another, and beat until combined. I ended up using 6 cups of powdered sugar in all to get the consistency that I wanted, but I also doubled the cake recipe, so keep that in mind.
In a very large bowl, using a fork, spatula, or your hands, mix together the cake and the half of the frosting until combined. Add more frosting if the cake is not sticking together enough, but be mindful of this. I used all of my frosting and I felt that the result was much too dense. I would imagine that the perfect ratio is about 3/4 of the frosting with the cake. Roll the cake and frosting mixture until balls, about the size of a tablespoon. Place them in the fridge or freezer to firm up while you melt the chocolate.
This is my makeshift double-boiler, which is important to use in this case so your chocolate stays melted while you dip all of your cake balls. To do this, fill up a pot with about an inch of water, then place a glass bowl over it, making sure there’s a bit of room between the water and the glass bowl on top, and heat over medium heat. Make sure that your top bowl is stable; if any water touches the chocolate, it will be completely, 100% ruined. If you have a real double boiler, good for you! You’ll be golden.
It will take a while for the chocolate to start to melt, so just keep gently stirring it.
When the chocolate is completely melted, turn the heat down to low and add in the food coloring. Stir until combined.
This is my moment of shame. As you can see, the cake and the chocolate were just too heavy for cake pops. I watched them all slowly fall, one by one, and then decided it was time to turn to Plan B, as this was never going to work.
It was now truffle time! To make the truffles, just roll the cake balls in the chocolate with a fork.
Carefully remove them and place them on foil or parchment paper. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly smooth – they’ll still be beautiful when you’re finished!
Now melt your milk chocolate (I just did mine in the microwave for 30 second intervals).
Place the melted milk chocolate in a plastic baggie, cut off the tip, and drizzle the milk chocolate over the balls. Place in the fridge or the freezer to firm up for 10-15 minutes.
I wrapped each truffle individually and kept them in the freezer until the next morning, when I took them into the office!
So, in the end, they were still delicious and adorable! I’m glad that I didn’t give up on them.
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- 1 14 oz. can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces regular cream cheese, room temperature
- 1½ cups powdered sugar (plus another 2-3 cups as necessary)
- 2 teaspoons milk or cream
- ⅔ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 16 oz. (1 bag) white chocolate (I used white chocolate chips - it's probably best to have 2 bags on hand, just in case)
- orange gel food coloring (optional for Halloween - do NOT use liquid food coloring)
- 8 oz. milk chocolate (for drizzling)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Begin by browning the butter. Place the butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. It will foam at first, but just keep stirring occasionally. When it is a golden amber color, remove from heat, strain, and set aside to cool a bit (see photos above for help).
- In a medium bowl, combine your flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and allspice. Set aside. In your large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat until combined, then add in the butter, mixing until combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Gradually add in the flour mixture, finishing by hand if needed so as to not overmix.
- Spread the batter into a greased and/or lined 9x13 cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until set and just slightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely before removing (I placed my cakes in the fridge to speed this up).
- While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Beat together the butter and cream cheese until combined (at least 3 minutes), then add in the 1½ cups of powdered sugar, the 2 teaspoons milk or cream, the cinnamon, and the vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy, as least another 3 minutes, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in another cup of powdered sugar, beat until fluffy, then another, and beat again until fluffy. The frosting should be firm but not stiff. Add another cup of powdered sugar if you feel that the frosting is not firm enough (it should hold peaks for a moment or two).
- When the cake has cooled, place it in a large bowl with half of your frosting and mix until combined. If the cake is not holding together in ball shapes, add half of the remaining frosting, mix, and check the consistency again. If you want, add the rest of the frosting, but you probably won't need to. On a lined baking sheet, roll the cake into balls about the size of a tablespoon, then place on the sheet. Continue until you have used up all of the cake, then place in the fridge or freezer to firm up for 20-30 minutes.
- To make the truffles, now you will have to melt your chocolate. Use a double boiler to do this; if you don't have one, you can make your own (see the photos above for visual instruction). To make your own, fill up a pot with about an inch of water, then place a glass bowl over it, making sure there's a bit of room between the water and the glass bowl on top. Heat over medium heat. Make sure that your top bowl is stable; if any water touches the chocolate, it will be completely, 100% ruined (seriously). Add the chocolate into the glass bowl, making sure there is absolutely no way that any water will ever come in contact with it, and stir gently until melted.
- When the chocolate has melted, add in a few drops of your gel food coloring, and stir until you have the color you want. Take one cake ball at a time and roll it in the chocolate with a fork, until covered, then remove and place back on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have done all of your cake balls. Place in the fridge or freezer to firm up for 15-20 minutes.
- Now melt your milk chocolate (or dark chocolate) to drizzle over the truffles. Melt in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Spoon the melted milk chocolate into a plastic bag, then cut off a tiny bit of the tip. Drizzle over the truffles. Place back in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve. Makes 30-40 truffles, depending on their size.