Festive Cake Balls

Keep your balls cold, and the chocolate will coat them nicely.

I’m talking with Shelley Hakonson in her chocolate-aroma’d kitchen one afternoon when she demonstrates this piece of wisdom by making a tray full of cake balls.

These are a nice replacement for classic rum balls – lighter in texture because their insides have more cake than icing sugar, and endlessly variable because any liqueur can be added. And they can be frozen ahead of time, perfect for those times visitors just show up.

Hakonson is known in Dawson as an enviable baker whose delectable cheesecakes and pies, in particular, seduce anyone who’s tried them.

Along with husband Greg, who’s equally skilled at cooking and has the best pickled grayling recipe I’ve tried, she has provided many a lavish dinner party, birthday celebration or welcome meal for travellers.

Cake balls aren’t a new invention, Hakonson notes. But she just came across them recently and found dozens of recipes online when she searched for possible combinations.

The afternoon I stop by, she’s making a batch with three types of toppings: dark chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch.

Preparation is simple. Crumble a chocolate cake into a bowl and add:

3/4 c icing sugar

1/3 c fruit jam (blackberry is good)

1/2 c rum

Quickly form bite-sized balls from the cake and put them in the fridge until chilled.

When the balls are good and cold, roll them quickly in your choice of sauce and place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper to harden.

If the cake is cold enough, the chocolate will set quickly without dripping everywhere.

The thing that really makes cake balls festive is their decoration. You can drizzle them with of one of your other toppings or, of course, with sprinkles.

For a spice cake version, add a can of cream cheese icing instead of jam, and 1/2 cup hazelnut liqueur instead of rum.

Another base cake to try would be orange, with a little Grand Marnier, Hakonson says.

When Shelley and Greg were newlyweds in the late 1970s, they lived in a small cabin near Clear Creek, beside Greg’s placer mine. Shelley mastered baking on a wood stove, from cake to bread to muffins.

Moving back to Dawson in the ’80s gave her a chance to bake again without having to chop wood, and she hasn’t stopped experimenting. Last week she tried chocolate-dipped bacon; this week it will be chocolate-dipped potato chips.

Cake balls are easier to serve than cake – no plates needed! – and if you use quality chocolate, the single bite is surprisingly satisfying.

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