A few weeks ago, for completely unexplained reasons related to boredom and a forever-wandering train of thought, I found myself perusing the list of cake flavor offerings on the website of a local bakery called Sugarland. While all sounded divine one really caught my eye…the Mimosa cake. My mind was a little blown. It was like the love child of two of my favorite things: cocktails and desserts!
Because I have no reason in my immediate future to spend 50 or more dollars on a custom ordered cake, I decided to adapt the idea to something more fitted for my needs. I settled on cake balls because I could enjoy a few myself but also pawn them off of friends more easily than I could hunks of actual cake. And who doesn’t love a piece of cake you can put in a baggie, carry to lunch, and not have to bring a fork for? #winning
When I was researching this recipe, I saw that a lot of cake ball recipes use store-bought frosting. I am all for convenience most of the time, but store bought frosting is just not something I easily can get behind. A) making your own buttercream frosting is not hard. Like, at all. aaand B) the flavor is just SO much better. Oh, and also C) there are only like 3 ingredients versus the 10-15 unpronounceable ones in canned frosting. Just promise me you’ll give it a shot next time you bake.
In the case of these, you don’t even need to make the buttercream separately. I just put the basic buttercream ingredients (butter and confectioners sugar) in with the crumbled cake and allowed the cake balls and the buttercream to all come together at once. It worked beautifully and made for less cleaning on my part, which is a very high priority for a lazy baker like myself.
There are a few other things I feel like I should explain before we dive into the recipe. First of all, when I mean “crumble the cake,” I pretty much mean just destroying it by “shredding” it like you would meat: with two forks and some aggression towards it. This is an oddly satisfying process that results in a finished product that looks like this.
Second, when I say finely minced orange zest, you have two options. You can either use a microplane or fine cheese grater to make it or (with a little patience) you can mince it yourself then use a special trick to turn it into a “paste” of sorts that will blend perfectly into the cake balls. Start by peeling off some of the orange zest with a vegetable peeler. I ended up using the zest of one whole (smallish) orange. Next, with a very sharp knife, start mincing. You need to mince for 2 or three minutes until the pieces are seriously tiny. Once you’re there, add the salt called for in the recipe to your orange zest. Using relatively hard pressure, drag the side of your knife blade across the orange zest and salt several times until it has a consistency that allows you to form it into a very loose ball of zest. I saw this technique on the food network once used for mincing garlic so that you ended up with no garlic chunks, but I have found it is very useful for things like this too! The final product will look like this (and thanks for bearing with me in that long explanation!).
These are not hard, but I won’t lie, they are time consuming. There are a lot of steps, and dipping all of the cake balls this makes is no small task. I think they would make a great addition to a spread at a special occasion like a bridal shower or graduation party, where spending a little extra time on preparation is worth it and mimosa flavored things are highly encouraged.
Mimosa Cake Balls
Makes approximately 30-40 balls, depending on size
1 box white cake mix (to make a 13×9 inch sheet cake)
1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons champagne
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (optional if omitting add an extra tablespoon of orange juice)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest (see above)
2 packages vanilla flavored almond bark coating (easier for dipping than white chocolate and dries into a harder shell)
optional: sprinkles for decorating
- Prepare cake according to package instructions, substituting all water for champagne (the mix I used called for 1 1/4 cup). Cook in 13×9 inch sheet pan until golden brown on top. I found this took about 5 minutes less than the box advised when I used champagne, so keep a close eye on it. Allow cake to fully cool.
- Using 2 forks, crumble the cake (see above).
- In the bowl of a large electric mixer, combine the cake crumbles, the butter (softened!), and all remaining ingredients except for the almond bark. Mix with the paddle attachment until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes.
- Removing about 1 tablespoon of the cake mixture at a time, form balls of cake ball dough with your hands and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Continue until all dough has been rolled.
- Place undipped cake balls in the freezer for 2-3 hours, until completely frozen.
- Once cake balls are frozen, melt your almond bark using a double boiler. I explain how to set one up in this post. Once almond bark is smooth, turn water of double boiler down to a simmer, and leave over hot water so it stays thin and smooth throughout dipping process.
- Remove 10-15 cake balls from the freezer. Dip each ball into the almond bark and roll around until completely covered (working quickly to avoid the butter in the cake balls melting in the heat). Remove from coating with a fork and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Immediately decorate with sprinkles, almond bark hardens quickly.
- Once you complete the first batch, pull 10-15 more out of the freezer and continue with this process until all balls are coated and decorated.
- Store in an air-tight container in the fridge