Cake pops and cake balls are hugely popular now, and I know many of you have made them, eaten them, or at least seen pictures of them. A cake ball is simply cake crumbled up, mixed with frosting, rolled into a ball, dipped in candy coating or chocolate, and decorated. The first person to think of mixing the frosting into the crumbled cake was a genius. My guess is that it was a kid – a very young kid who just liked to play with food and took a nice piece of frosted cake, smashed it into oblivion, got to enjoy a few handfuls before being whisked off to the bathtub. Later when the parent returned to the kitchen to clean up the mess, not wanting to waste a piece of cake, finished it off. I doubt that either the child or parent knew that someday the simple act of smashing cake and frosting would become a huge craze, that people all over the world would take this idea and turn it into amazingly creative desserts. My version of this sweet treat is giant, hairy, and adorable, well O.K., as adorable as any super sized spider can be.
Last year for our Carnival of the Creepy Crawlers party, our kitchen and living room where completely infested with large hairy spiders, many were fuzzy, stuffed and cute, but others were disgusting, realistic, and ugly. The spider that would crawl up onto my kitchen island and offer itself up to my guests as party food would have to look as good as it tasted so that my guests would want to eat it.
I decided to super size a decorated cake ball and turn it into a giant spider which would be served up in it’s own web. To make this monstrous dessert, I mixed crumbled cake with frosting and molded it into a large dome before covering it in dark chocolate ganache.
I chose to make the spider’s legs out of piped dark chocolate which I frosted with chocolate ganache in order to make them look hairy, but if you prefer you could make the legs out of sculpted chocolate rice krispies treats, baked large “L” shaped chocolate cookies, or two pretzel rods glued together using some of the ganache. I always have modeling chocolate on hand, so I used some to make the eyes, but slices of marshmallow, vanilla cookies, vanilla frosting, or fondant could be used to make the whites of the eyes. Some piped ganache, large chocolate chips, Hershey’s Kisses, M&M’s, or even candy melts could be used to make the pupils.
I chose to add eyes that made my spider look cute, but they can easily be changed if your prefer a more ominous looking spider.
Super Sized Spider Cake Ball (serves 12-16)
If you’d like to make white and dark modeling chocolate for the spider’s eyes, click here for recipe and tutorial.
1 baked devil’s food or chocolate cake
3/4 – 1 tub vanilla frosting
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces tempered dark chocolate or melted dark cocoa candy melts
for instructions on melting click here for tutorial.
*for alternative ways to make the legs and eyes, read the last paragraph above
Special Equipment Needed:
extra large mixing bowl
1 1/2 quart bowl (holds 6 cups)
6″ cake round (or cut a 6″ circle of cardboard and cover with tinfoil)
food processor OR a microwave safe bowl
offset spatula or spoon
disposable pastry bag or heavy duty zip top bag
Crumble cake into an extra large mixing bowl. Add at least 3/4 or all of the tub of frosting and stir until very well mixed. I like to use my hands and I usually wear gloves.
Line a 1 1/2 quart bowl with plastic wrap. Press the cake mixture into the bowl and smooth out the top. Fold plastic wrap over. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Remove cake from the refrigerator and unwrap the folded plastic wrap. Pull on the plastic wrap, lifting the cake from the bowl. Set the cake upside down on the counter and remove the plastic wrap. Set the cake board on the flat side of the cake. Turn the cake over and set the cake on a glass or cup that is set over a piece of parchment paper or wax paper.
Make chocolate ganache: (if you prefer, you can use a tub of chocolate frosting)
Place chopped chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chocolate is fine crumbs.
Heat heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir often until it just comes to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, put lid on the food processor bowl, and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Pulse for 3 seconds. Remove lid and scrape down the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl. Return lid and pulse for 5 more seconds or until the mixture, which is called ganache, is smooth. Dont’ over-mix your ganache or it will turn grainy as it sets up.
Note: A food processor makes easy work of creating a chocolate ganache. If you don’t have one, finely chop your chocolate and put it in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Boil cream as above and pour over chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Use a whisk to create an emulsion. Begin by stirring just in the center of the bowl, then slowly bring the whisk out to the edge of the bowl. Stir just until combined and the ganache is smooth. If you have chunks of chocolate remaining, place entire bowl in microwave and heat on high for 10 seconds. Stir until melted.
Trouble Shooting Ganache: If your ganache gets too hot the cocoa butter from the chocolate will separate and rise to the surface. The cocoa butter will harden as the ganache cools and you will have chunks of cocoa butter throughout. This can happen if you add cream that is too hot or get the ganache too hot in the microwave. If your ganache does separate or look oily, add a little cold whipping cream (a tablespoon at a time) and mix until smooth.
Allow the ganache to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until it thickens slightly, then pour it over the cake so that the cake is completely covered with ganache. The excess ganache will fall off landing on your parchment paper. Reserve the excess ganache for the spider’s legs.
Allow the ganache to sit and thicken a bit. Then use an offset spatula or spoon to make the spider’s hair. Press the spatula or spoon onto the ganache and slowly lift it off allowing the ganache to pull up into spikes. If the ganache falls back down and smooths out, then the ganache isn’t thick enough. Wait a few more minutes and try again. The sides of the cake will thicken faster than the top, so you might want to start on the sides.
Continue making spikes all over the cake. While the ganache is still wet, make the eyes.
I rolled out some white modeling chocolate and dark modeling chocolate and cut them in circles using a 1 1/2″ and a 3/4″ round cookie cutter to make the eyes. You could use fondant if you prefer or use slices of marshmallow, vanilla cookies, vanilla frosting for the whites of the eyes and some piped ganache, large chocolate chips, Hershey’s Kisses, M&M’s, or even candy melts for the pupils. Attach the eyes to the spider by pressing them into the wet ganache.
To make chocolate legs: Draw a 6 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ rectangle onto a piece of paper. Slide the drawing under a piece of parchment paper. Pour melted and tempered chocolate or melted candy melts into a disposable pastry bag or a heavy duty zip top bag. Cut off the tip and begin to pipe the legs one at a time. The legs will be covered with ganache so they don’t need to be perfectly straight. After you finish piping a leg, carefully move the drawing of the leg over and pipe on more chocolate creating another leg. Pipe four legs then refrigerate if using tempered chocolate or freeze if using candy melts. Don’t allow them to chill for too long, or the legs will begin to curl upwards. Repeat making four more legs.
Frost the legs with the reserved chocolate ganache covering the entire leg. Use a fork to make the chocolate legs look hairy by using the same technique you used for the body. Once you’ve made the entire leg hairy looking, set it back on the parchment paper and allow to dry completely. Repeat.
Set your cake on a serving platter or if you prefer you can place it on a spider web. Attach the legs to the spider’s body by just pressing the short side of the leg into the cake.
If you want to make this cake prior to your party, store the finished spider body in an airtight container. The day of the party attach the chocolate legs and set on a serving platter or spider web. Serve!
Be sure to check out all the Halloween recipes here on Hungry Happenings.