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Christmas Cake Balls + 10 Tips [for successful Cake Balls]

December 5, 2011 in cakes - 20 Comments - 4 min read

Cake balls have become one of my favorite desserts to make.  I don’t make them all fancy and wonderful like Bakerella does, (she’s amazing!); mine are just plain and simple.  And I’ve learned a lot in the two years that I’ve been making them.  In this post I’ll tell you some tips I’ve learned along the way through trial and error.  This post isn’t a tutorial, but if you’d like one, check out these posts here and here I made over a year ago and this past July, respectively.  Just please be kind to me and naivety.  As I said, I’ve learned A LOT.

So here are my top-10 things to do/not do when making cake balls.  (And they are in no particular order.)

1.  To melt candy melts, or chocolate, (which I’ve done before too), do not use a double boiler to melt the cancy coating.  Or, if you do, make sure it’s still not on the burner and the stove top isn’t on.  You’ll melt the cake balls, which will make it very difficult to coat, since most of it will end up being clumps in the candy melts.

2.  Don’t use too much frosting.  Start with 1/2 of the can and then work up to 3/4 of the can if need be.  It’s a lot easier adding more than taking it away.  (To see if you have just the right amount of frosting, make sure there are no traces of frosting in the cake.  Then grab some cake in your hand and gently squeeze.  If the shape holds, then you have just the right amount.)

3.  Watch the microwave.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned the candy melts!

4.  Shortening is your best friend when the melts are too thick.  Put in 1 tablespoon at a time and fully mix it in to thin it out.  The candy melts should be the consistency of heavy cream.

5.  Take your time.  This can be said for everything, but it’s important to not be rushed or distracted.
6.  Let the cake balls get really cold.  I usually make the balls in the morning and coat them later in the day.  If they’re not cold enough then they will fall apart when you melt them.  And then there are small cake clumps in your melts.  No bueno.

7.  Place finished cake balls in fridge when done, especially if you have a cream cheese frosting.

8.  If, after you coat the balls, they crack, recoat.  It just means you rolled them too tight.

9.  Work in small batches.  I pull out 5-6 balls at a time to work with.  This allows the balls to stay cold in the fridge and not get to room temperature while you work with the other balls.  If they’re too warm, they won’t stay on the stick and/or crumble in the melts.

10.  Have all the supplies ready.  It’ll ease frustration and make for a smoother, more enjoyable ride.

I hope these tips help.  And by all means, if you have one that works for you that I didn’t state, please share it in the comment section.  I’d love to hear from you!  Enjoy!  xoxo

Christmas Cake Balls

printable recipe

1 boxed cake mix, any flavor

1 can frosting, any flavor (make it match with the cake)

1 bag red candy melts

1 bag white candy melts

Wax paper

Lollipop sticks

Shortening (such as Crisco)

Bake cake according to box directions in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Let the cake cool completely. Once it is cooled, place the cake into a large bowl and crumble it using a straight spatula.

Start by adding about ½ of the jar of frosting to the crumbled up cake. Only add a little bit at a time, mixing the frosting in.  You want to make sure there are no traces of frosting. To achieve the correct consistency, the balls will hold together when gently squeezed in your hand.

You can make the balls as big or as small as you like. (I made mine about the size of small golf balls.)  Place them next to each other on a cookie sheet with wax paper over it.  Once you have rolled out all the balls, put them in the fridge for at least an hour or in the freezer for 15 or so minutes so they are good and cold. (It makes rolling them in the candy melts easier.)

To melt the candy melts, follow the instructions on the package. If the melts are too thick, use 1 tablespoon at a time of shortening to thin it out.  It should be the consistency of heavy cream.  (Mix the shortening into the candy melt until the shortening has melted.)  Use one color at a time.  Working with a few cake balls at a time, dip the lollipop stick into the candy melts about 1” down and then dip in the cake ball.  (This makes it easier to coat the ball near the stick.  I also leave all the cake balls in the fridge and pull out 5-6 balls at a time to work with.  This allows the balls to stay cold in the fridge.)  Then dip the ball into the candy melt to completely cover it.  Tap the stick on the side of the bowl to let any excess candy melt drip off.  Place onto wax paper to dry completely.  Do this for all the balls.

Melt the other contrasting color and pour into a squeeze bottle.  Working with one ball at a time, gently squeeze the bottle as you use a back-and-forth motion over the ball to create the “stripes.”  Let dry.

Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until ready to eat.


Thanks for stopping by! I love baking and hope these recipes inspire you to create something wonderful in your kitchen. xoxo

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  • The Kitchen Kook January 28, 2013 at 1:18 am

    I loved this! Another easy tip (especially for those who are short on money or time – and don’t have time to get those special cake pop sticks) is to use a toothpick to dip the cake balls in the candy coating! When the coating dries, gently pull the toothpick out and dip the toothpick in a little bit of the coating to cover up the hole. It’s really simple!

    I blogged about it at

    and I almost made Christmas themed cake balls with… GINGERBREAD! mmm :)

    • holly January 28, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Good idea. Thanks!

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  • Sharyn December 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I’m going to try my hand at these for Christmas. I’m going to try several flavors, too! Question: Do you have to use the sticks? Can you use a fork or toothpick or something to coat them (like you would pretzels) and skip the stick? Or, is it just so much easier to go with the stick. Yours turned out so pretty! Thanks!

    • holly December 20, 2012 at 4:55 am

      That would totally work, and I have done that before. Just scoop up the ball with your fork or spoon and tap the side of the bowl to get any excess coating off before placing on the wax paper. I wouldn’t use a toothpick, unless you want to leave it in the cake ball; otherwise, you’ll have to try to cover the hole and your coating won’t be smooth. Good luck!

  • Peas + Carrots December 14, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Thanks for the tips, Holly. I’ve never made cake balls before, but I’m feeling a bit more confident now. These look like the perfect thing to bring to my girlfriends’ Christmas cookie exchange! Any suggestions on flavors?

    • holly December 14, 2012 at 5:37 am

      I love lemon cake with lemon frosting, but the Funfetti cake mix with vanilla frosting is good too. Red velvet with cream cheese frosting is also good and popular around Christmas time. For candy melts, the vanilla flavoring is good for any option, and any color you like would do. Good luck and let me know how they turn out!

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  • Lacy December 14, 2011 at 4:47 am

    I can’t wait to make the cake pops! Thank you so much for helping me and pointing me to your blog. Your directions and hints will (hopefully) help me avoid many mistakes. :)

    • holly December 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      I hope it works out for you!

  • L. Renee' December 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I just started making cake pops, one thing I’ve learned dip your stick in the melted chocolate, let cool then stick the stick in the cake ball, keeps it on there better! Your pops look great and festive!!

    • holly December 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to try it next time. :)

  • Natalie December 6, 2011 at 4:43 am

    I am enjoying my lemon truffles..kinda like a cake ball! :) Thanks for all the encouragement and cake ball hints. I’m happy to know that I knew all but one. :) I have a tip for you that I just learned. Winco sells the white and choc. large melting chips in the bulk section. I used the white choc. just yesterday for the truffles and it melts really runny. I loved it. Wilton’s choc. is always so thick and even when I add Crisco it never seems to make it much thinner. Back in the day when I lived in Bakersfield, CA we had a cake/candy shop where I could buy crystals that you add to the choc. to help it get thinner. Can you buy that here?

  • Noelle December 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I just made these a couple days ago…same exact colors! I still have a few left too, which is always nice.

  • cookingcollegechick December 5, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Lovely photos! I’ve been wanting to make cake balls for a while now and these looks great and really simple :)

    • holly December 5, 2011 at 6:11 am

      Thanks! And they are really easy to make. :) Addicting, I promise you…

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