06 Nov Kahlua-Spiked Mocha Cake Balls
We all know that chocolate cake is made infinitely better by the addition of coffee, right? Please tell me you know/love/live by this rule. If you haven’t been adding espresso powder and/or subbing dark, strong coffee for liquids in your favorite chocolate cake recipe, LISTEN UP. Do it, and do it now. Your favorite chocolate cake will go from good to next-level amazing. The coffee will make your chocolate taste chocolate-ier while adding a whole new depth of flavor to the recipe.
In fact, don’t just do this for cake, add a teaspoon of espresso to all your favorite chocolate recipes. Just trust and give into the chocolate-y tastiness. You’ll never go back.
Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’ve outdone myself with these Kahlua-Spiked Mocha Cake Balls. They’re tops. The best cake balls I’ve made in a long time.
While I adore some of my latest CB creations (Hello, s’mores! Ciao Nutella!), this espresso-laden variety takes the cake. They’re inspired by my favorite java-spiked chocolate cake (God bless Ina), but turbo-charged so that the rich, dark coffee notes take a leading role. Fear not, the presence of chocolate is loud and clear (and OMG good) but instead of the coffee providing a subtle hmmm in the background, it adds a prominent, complex bite that adds a touch of fancy to the friendly, comforting chocolate base. The Kate to the Leo, if you will.
The best part? Chocolate. Covered. Espresso. Beans.
They’re the crack cocaine of the candy world. I advise you to take caution and impose strict CCEB snacking hours, less you end up like me – wide awake at 2AM, shaky hands, scrubbing my shower and cleaning out my closet as the result of reckless consumption. They pack a serious punch, and I like it. In the case of these cake balls, they are the crunchy topping that perfectly contrasts the soft, gooey cake interior while adding yet another layer of espresso piquancy. You could alternately use crushed Oreo cookies for a sweeter, milder topping, but you gotta have the crunch. Don’t skip it.
Then of course, there’s the booze. Let’s not forget about the booze. Booze is fun (especially around the holidays) and boozy desserts only up your party game. There’s a generous amount of Kahlua in this recipe, however since it’s fairly low on the alcohol content spectrum it adds just a subtle, grown-up flare. A slight bite that is notably festive, but not strong enough to put off those who dislike the taste of alcohol. (<– those people exist, right?)
Are you sold yet? Seriously y’all, you gotta try these. And when you do, it’s highly likely that you’ll feel the urge to eat them for breakfast, alongside a tall cuppa joe. This is a good idea. Do this.
A few notes about this recipe:
Prep is important when making cake balls. In addition to the ingredients you will need a parchment lined cookie sheet, more parchment to place your dipped cake balls on to dry, a microwave-safe bowl for heating the candy coating, and a spoon, fork and toothpick for the dipping process.
To make an alchocol-free version: substitute the 1/2 cup of Kahlua in the cake with water, skip on brushing the cake with liqueur, and omit the Kahlua from the frosting instead adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
If you do not have Kahlua, you could substitute any other coffee-flavored or dark liqueur. Like Amaretto. THAT would be delicious.
Enjoy! XO, Katie
- 1 chocolate box cake mix
- vegetable oil, as called for on the box
- eggs, as called for on the box
- 1/2 cup coffee
- 1/2 cup kahlua + 1/4 cup for brushing on the cooled cake
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Kahlua
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar, depending on your preferred sweetness
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 package chocolate almond bark (also called candy coating)
- 15-20 chocolate-covered espresso beans, finely chopped
- Prepare the cake as instructed on the box, adding the coffee, Kahlua and espresso powder at the same time as the oil & eggs. Bake as instructed in a 13x9 inch pan and let cool completely.
- Once cooled, brush top of the cake with the remaining 1/4 cup of Kahlua.
- For the frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the Kahlua & espresso powder and mix until well combined.
- Carefully add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and mix on low until well incorporated. Taste and add another 1/4 cup powdered sugar, if desired.
- For the assembly:
- Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper and set aside.
- In the pan or in a large bowl, use a fork (or your hands) to shred cake into crumbs.
- Add about 1/2 of the icing and mix thoroughly with crumbled cake. Test your “dough” to see if it is sticky enough to roll into a ball without crumbling, almost like Play-doh. Add more icing as needed. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (you could also do this the night before) – it will make it easier to roll into balls.
- Using your hands, roll cake mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on lined baking sheet. When done, place baking sheet in freezer and let cake balls chill for 30 minutes. This step is optional, but it helps the cake balls keep their shape and prevents crumbs from getting in the candy bark and thus, causing lumpy coating.
- While cake balls are chilling, microwave 1/2 a package of the chocolate candy bark in a small bowl, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted.
- It’s time to dip! Coating cake balls is kind of an art. It takes practice so if your cake balls don’t come out looking perfect don’t worry about it! It took me several tries to develop a successful method. Regardless of what they look like, they’ll still taste magical. Promise.
- Place the cake ball into the bowl of melted candy coating and use a spoon to cover with coating. Lift the cake ball out of the coating with a fork and tap against the rim of the bowl to remove excess.
- Use a toothpick to gently push the cake ball back on to your lined cookie sheet. Make sure you push the cake ball from the bottom so you don’t smudge your coating.
- Once you have dipped all of your cake balls and the coating is dry, microwave one block of candy coating until melted. Scoop it into a plastic bag and snip off a very tiny piece of from one corner. Drizzle the mixture over the cake balls 2 or 3 at a time, sprinkling with chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans while the drizzle is still wet.
- Let dry completely, trim off any excess candy bark and place in candy cups (or mini muffin cups) to serve.