Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sweet Sensations: Cake Balls

Cake balls are pretty much just what they sound like-- cake crumbles mixed up with frosting and molded into a little ball, with the addition of a stick if you want to make it into a pop-- and everybody loves them. Being easy to make and delicious, they are turning into big hits in kitchens & bakeries and becoming especially popular on  the internet. Starbucks have even started selling them! The only problem is that no one knows who to thank for these sweet little treats. The inventor of cake balls remains anonymous. It was a woman named Angie Dudley, author of Bakerella blog and a popular recipe book for these confections, who came up with the idea of placing them on a stick for a handy, on-the-go pop but even she claims that she wasn't the inventor of the cake ball, which are "the base for any great cake pop".

So what now? Can something still be considered creative even if we don't know who the creator is or the process behind its creation? I say it can, especially if you stop looking at cake balls as the product and start looking at them as a medium for creativity. Even if we don't know where a cake ball came from, we can easily see where they're headed and it's definitely something to get excited about. 

If you can dream it, you can probably make a cake ball out of it. One thing that's so great about cake balls are that because the frosting acts as a sort of glue to hold the cake crumbles together, it's really easy to mold a cake ball into any shape you want. Combine this with the all the choices of candied coating and topping options and its easy to see why bakers are going wild with their decorations;  there are balls with baby shower and wedding themes, holidays-inspired ones, and ones that references to pop culture.
It doesn't stop with mere appearances either. You can play with tastes too by combining different flavors of cakes with frosting, or by adding fillings like nuts, coconut shreds, jams, or different spices. Starbucks offers a traditional birthday cake flavor, but if you're feeling adventurous they have also created Tiramisu and Rocky Road flavors. Now, some people are even starting to expand the idea behind cake balls into other baked goodies as well like cookie balls and brownie balls. Compared to an actual cake, the balls and pops are much easier and quicker to make, so they're a lot safer to experiment with and are accessible to both professional and amateur bakers. In this way, cake balls allow for the sort of "play" that leads people to start getting creative.

 So even though we can't examine the who or the how behind cake balls, they're still creative in how they promote others creativity in making them and exploring the possibilities behind these delicious treats .


  1. These are gonna be the new cupcakes! Less mess and more fun to make! I'm a nanny and i've made these with kids and they are awesome to decorate and they are easier for a 3yr old to eat than a cupcake. I first saw these at Starbucks last year in little squares and I admit I thought it was kinda dumb but I've definitely changed my mind. I wouldn't be surprised if "name brand" cupcake shops like More and Sprinkles start selling these too. Awesome find!!

  2. At first glance, I thought cake balls definitely did not fall into the realm of creativity. They really are just cake on a stick, exactly what's been created before, but just not in the exact same way. I have no doubt these are unbelievably delicious, but I doubted the creativity.
    Then, like jgarnet above, I compared them with cupcakes. I truly believe the start of the "designer cupcake" fad was extremely creative. The amount of different fillings, frostings, etc. showed just the experimentation that led to the creative product. Now, I would be less prone to call Molly's, MORE or Sprinkles cupcakes creative. Similarly, cake pops have been popping up everywhere, so I am less prone to call them creative.
    I realize this is not fair. Just because the field has accepted and perpetuated an idea does not mean it can no longer be creative.

  3. I would definitely classify cake balls as creative. They are a new take on an age old dessert- easy to eat, with less mess. I think what's great about them is that they allow almost anyone to be creative. As you said, if you can dream it, you can make it. The creativity doesn't stop with the idea of the cake ball- if you want it to be blue or red, or polka dotted or striped- it's all up to you.

    The only thing I would argue is that while they are pretty, in my opinion they are not very appetizing. To me, they taste like mushed up, soggy cake. Maybe it was just the recipe that I ate, but I was not impressed with their texture or flavor. So while it is a novel idea, I'm not sure if critics could argue that it is necessary; who wants to eat a soggy, mushy, nasty dessert? Again, maybe I just haven't eaten a "good" cake ball, but I think that that flavor would definitely be an aspect of the creativity- if it doesn't taste good, who in the field will accept it?

  4. I think what makes cake balls so creative is not the dessert itself, but their potential as a fad that's desired by the masses. The marketing strategy of the cake balls could propel it to proportions such as Krispy Kremes, cupcakes, and fro yo. All of these sweets have experienced their fifteen minutes of fame, as Americans have been willing to pay enormous sums of money just to get their mitts on these desserts. The trends come as quickly as they go, but if someone where to sell cake balls with the anticipation of their eventual demise in popularity, they would be incredibly successful. Thus, I think it is not the cake balls themselves that are creative, but their potential for becoming a money-making fad due to consumerist trends in America.


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