My goal was to make Totoro cake balls for Ellie’s birthday. But after my first attempt, I knew the cake pop maker wasn’t going to work. It was a disaster. I learned a few things along the way though. I received many suggestions and they all pointed to one method. Mixing cake with frosting. I knew then if I was going to pull this off as a cakeball rookie, I needed to listen.

I read up on this method that was suggested to me and it really seemed straight forward. You bake a cake, crumble it with a mixer, and then mix in a whole can of frosting. Once your cake frosting batter is mixed, you roll them into balls. After they set up in the freezer a bit, it’s time to dip them in the candy coating. Wow, that sounds pretty easy, right?

I even found a blog that spelled out how to do Totoro cake pops and purchased all my supplies. I knew I may stumble along the way, but I was confident I could produce a halfway decent looking Totoro. But on the eve of Ellie’s birthday, everything started to unravel.

It all started out okay. I made the cake, I crumbled it and blended it with the frosting, and then let it set up in the freezer. I rounded the cake balls and altered the shape to be more Totoro-esque. Then I added the almond slivers for Totoro’s ears. This was it, I was doing it! Once all of the Totoros were rolled and had ears, I let them set in the freezer. They were little chocolate devils with almond horns awaiting their magical Totoro transformation. It was all going according to plan. All the comments and suggestions I received on my earlier post made sense and I was putting them all to use. Now all I had to do was melt and color the candy coating and prepare for dipping.

Totoro is grey, but I couldn’t find any grey candy melt. So I bought white candy melt and figured I could color it. I didn’t have any black food color, but I had black gel frosting I used on my Christmas cookies. It’s all sugar, right? It’sll be fine, I thought. WRONG! My first batch of melted chocolate looked like a tub of Crisco! This was not supposed to happen! My mom said it’d be fine. (Yes, I am blaming my mom. It was almost midnight and I needed a scape goat to bolster my self esteem). Since the first batch was ruined, Aya suggested I use the real food coloring we have and make Totoro a purple color. It wasn’t grey, but the idea would still come out. Okay, I had plenty of white candy melt left. This was a good idea.

So I melted another batch of white candy melt, added the food coloring and well, just about the same thing happened. It got thick and chalky. I was able to dip two Totoros, but it didn’t coat smoothly. The melted candy coating was like a thick paste and I had to spread it on with a butter knife. What!? No, this wasn’t happening!

After a little debate, I decided Totoro would have to be albino. An all white Totoro. I didn’t really have a choice. It’d be like his second cousin, Kotoro, or something. He’s Totoro’s stunt double. Yeah, that’s it. It wasn’t my ideal preference, but since it was past midnight at that point, it’d have to work.

I started melting my third batch of white candy melt (I was starting to run low). This would be it, I thought. I would dip the Kotoro ball into the molten mixture and it would evenly ooze around the cake ball making a perfect looking Kotoro cake ball. *fizzles* NOPE. This candy melt was just too thick to evenly or smoothly do anything. And it was getting thicker by the minute. I had to move quick!

I managed to coat ten Kotoros (well, nine, I ate one out of anger) before I gave up the entire Totoro cake ball mission. They looked all clumpy and weird. It was just wasn’t going to work. So I went with my spur of the moment back-up plan, plain candy coating and sprinkles. It was simple, and Ellie would love the bright colors.

But even then, it didn’t seem like things were going smoothly. I had melted chocolate and sprinkles everywhere! It looked like the Keebler Elves were at war with Little Debbie. What was wrong with this candy melt? Why wasn’t it coating smoothly? I consider myself to be a fairly artistic person. I’m pretty skilled in crafty things, including baked goods. But why was this so difficult for me? It was just dipping and dunking at this point. I guess cake balls were not my medium.

Before I delivered my concession speech, I had one more chance to redeem my Totoro cake balls. They had ears and a lumpy white candy coating. Now they needed a face.

I had purchased something called a food marker per the blog I referenced. A fine tip food marker. I didn’t know such a thing existed. It had to be too good to be true. And it was. The thing didn’t work at all. My step-by-step Totoro guide had failed me. It was well after midnight now, what was I to do? I was tempted to use a real marker, but I figured since Ellie was going to eat it, maybe it was a bad idea (Aya didn’t approve either). So I resorted to what I knew. It was time to fall back on my trusty cookie making skills. I didn’t need a food marker, just some black frosting and a toothpick. And I have to say, they turned out okay.

They may have been Totoro’s second cousin Kotoro, but they still had ears, eyes, nose, and some whiskers. And most of all, Ellie sure did love seeing and eating them. And if I do say so myself, they did taste pretty awesome!

I now have a new found respect for cake ball makers everywhere. Cake balls are not for rookies folks. I know this now. And even though I’ve been beaten twice by two different methods, I’m still in the game. I’m in it, to win it.

12 thoughts on “CAKEBALLS: A TRUE STORY

  1. They look grey to me! Good job! I’m sure Ellie appreciated all the time and effort…. Or at least she will one day…

  2. How were you melting the candy melt? Not that I’ve ever even tried this out before, I’m just playing detective. Maybe altering the melting method will improve the texture.

  3. White candy coating is temperamental and gets too hot in the microwave. It does much better over a double-boiler on low heat. It stays warm and melty, too!

      1. Definitely going with Laura on this one. Any recipe for chaoclote-covered-anything that I’ve had success with called for a double boiler (on a gas range over a low flame) and Crisco. NO LIQUIDS at all since that messes with the chaoclote (turns it lumpy/chalky/unusable). Oil based flavorings/coloring will work though.Regardless, they turned out quite cute in the photos. But not as cute as the little 2-year-old consumer. Happy B-Day Ellie!

  4. I don’t know if this would work since my attempt involved chocolate. But my mom’s recipe for white chocolate covered grapes involes 1 cup white chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of crisco. Without the crisco, it’s super lumpy and looks horrible when you try to coat the grapes. I do the double boiler and then stir the chocolate mixture frequently just to keep it smooth in between grape coatings. So maybe adding a little crisco would work?

  5. Definitely going with Laura on this one. Any recipe for chocolate-covered-anything that I’ve had success with called for a double boiler (on a gas range over a low flame) and Crisco. NO LIQUIDS at all since that messes with the chocolate (turns it lumpy/chalky/unusable). Oil based flavorings/coloring will work though.

    Regardless, they turned out quite cute in the photos. But not as cute as the little 2-year-old consumer. Happy B-Day Ellie!

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