Zebra Cake Balls

I took a class about how to build tiered cakes last Sunday, and as a result, I had a lot of scrap cake pieces leftover from leveling the cakes. I can usually put away the leveled tops myself, but four decent sized cakes resulted in an equally decent amount of leftovers. “What to do, what to do…”, I wondered. I’ll make cake balls!

I ate what I consider to be my first “cake ball” at a Christmas party a few years ago. This cake ball was actually an Oreo cookie ball, made of a crushed Oreo and cream cheese mixture. I thought they were delightful. So much so that I made them for my family’s Christmas spread a few weeks later.

A cake ball follows the same concept but uses cake, obviously, instead of chocolate sandwich cookies. All you need is cake, icing, and a chocolate coating, all of which can be store bought or made from scratch.

I had yellow, white, and chocolate cake tops. I initially crumbled the yellow and white together, intending to make a separate chocolate cake ball. “Maybe with peanut butter icing,” I thought. Then I looked at the lonely chocolate top, laughed in the face of my ambition, and crumbled it in with the yellow and white cake. The result was what looked like cookies and cream, which I thought was fitting since this all started with thoughts of that first Oreo cake ball.

Dipped Cake Balls

To crumble the cake, use your fingers or pull through the cake in opposite directions with two forks, much like you would if the fork was a rake and the crumbs were the yard. Then mix the cake crumbs with the icing and roll into balls.  Shaping the balls is much easier if you refrigerate the cake and icing mixture for a few minutes before rolling.

I dipped half the cake balls into a melted mixture of chocolate chips and heavy cream, and I dipped the other half into melted chocolate bark. Here, in my opinion, you are faced with a trade off.  The chocolate chips and heavy cream results in a better tasting coating, but it will not harden completely (freeze before serving to avoid chocolatey fingers). The chocolate bark will harden completely, but I find it is a giant pain to work with because it hardens very quickly. Whatever you choose, it is best to dip or coat the balls in small batches to ensure the chocolate stays warm and smooth while you work with it.

I used a spoon to drop a ball into the chocolate and then set it back onto a wax-paper lined tray, though you can also use a fork or a toothpick if they work better for you. If you don’t care about coating the bottoms of the cake balls, you can pour the chocolate over the tops. If you opt for the latter, you may want to place the balls on a cooling rack to allow the chocolate to drip through the tray and avoid creating a hardened chocolate skirt around the cake balls.

To decorate, I took the wire whisk I used to stir the chocolate to drip lines of chocolate across the balls.  This will be easier if you think of moving the whisk across the sheet as a whole rather than over each individual cake ball. I kept my cake balls simple, using a simple chocolate and white chocolate theme, but gel food color can be used to color white chocolate bark if desired.  Sprinkles also make pretty toppings if you want to add some glitz and glam to your cake balls.  Enjoy!

Cake Balls
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: approximately 50
  • 1 box cake mix (plus eggs and vegetable oil as directed)
  • 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 package chocolate bark (chocolate or white chocolate) or chocolate chips and heavy cream
  1. Bake the cake per the package directions.
  2. When cool, crumble into a medium bowl. Use your hands to make large crumbles, then use two forks, pulling in opposite directions, to make a fine crumb.
  3. Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla at medium speed until smooth.
  4. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and beat at low speed until well blended, scraping down the side of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  5. Mix the cake crumbles and cream cheese mixture together until well combined.
  6. Form the mixture into balls and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze dough as needed to make forming the balls easier.
  7. Melt the chocolate bark per the package directions. If using chocolate chips and heavy cream, heat a small amount of both in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. The amount of each ingredient will depend on the consistency with which you prefer to work.
  8. Use a spoon to dip and roll a cake ball in the melted chocolate.
  9. Return the dipped ball to the baking wax-paper lined sheet. Repeat until all cake balls have been dipped.
  10. When the coating hardens, use a whisk to drip lines of colored, melted chocolate across their tops as decoration.
Store bought icing may also be substituted for the cream cheese, butter, pure vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar.

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