Friday, August 31, 2012

Red Velvet Cake Balls + Cookbook Giveaway

Who doesn’t love a sweet treat? I honestly do not know a lot of folks who simply don’t adore a sweet bite or two. Perhaps it might be frequent or infrequent, but there is no denying a well executed dessert is purely decadent. Several weeks ago I was contacted by Meghan from The Harvard Common Press. I was extremely flattered when she asked me if I wanted to be part of the blog tour to promote Dede Wilson's two new cookbook releases: Cake Balls and A Bakers Field Guide to Doughnuts.

Okay, maybe I might be the last person on earth who had never made a cake ball. Not sure why I had never gotten around to experimenting with this tiny bite sized ball of delightfulness. The good news is that Mehgan was kind enough to send me a copy of each book prior to the official release in September. I toyed with testing out a doughnut recipe, but I think I will save that for later. I was simply intrigued to test my hand at making my very first cake ball.

After perusing numerous times through Dede’s fun filled and whimsical cake balls, I narrowed it down to the Red Velvet Cake Balls. Trust me between the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake Balls, Confetti Cake Balls, Espresso Brownie Cake Balls and the Midsilde Cake Balls, it was a tough decision. Dede features over 60 wonderful and easy cake ball recipes in her book. She defines them as “delectable & whimsical sweet spheres of goodness”. I could not agree more.

I was fortunate enough to have an interview with Dede to gain her perspective on desserts, writing cookbooks along with some personal insights. Dede is a contributing editor to Bon Appetit magazine and the author of thirteen books featuring sweets, desserts and baking. Please enjoy getting to know Dede Wilson:

When did your love for cooking begin and who was your inspiration?
Both of my parents were amazing home cooks. My dad was traveling all
over the world for business and would bring home spices, condiments
and recipes. In the 60's and 70's I was eating authentic Chinese,
Indonesian and Italian. Little did I know that my palate was being

How do you come up with the ideas for your cookbooks?
Sometimes it is a flavor that inspires, like chocolate for my book
Truffles. Other times it is a trend, like my newest Cake Ball book and
doughnut book. The sweet treats themselves were inspirational.
What is your all time favorite dessert, and why?
I refuse to pick a favorite child! But I have a soft spot for dark
chocolate and I also have an emotional connection to a classic
two-crusted blueberry pie, which is what my Nana always made for me.
She used 100% Crisco in her crust and orange juice for the liquid.

Where does your knowledge about baking come from? Are you
professionally trained, or is it trial and error?

I am self-taught. If I can do it, you can do it! I have always just
had an insatiable curiosity about food and read endlessly - and then
head to the kitchen to practice and play. Recently a friend was
telling me excitedly about reading 50 Shades of Gray. She asked me if
I had read it. I said, Um, I'm reading the cookbook Sugar Baby by
Gesine Bullock-Prado. She stared at me blankly LOL. That's what was on
my nightstand. I devour food information.
What inspired you to write your latest releases - Cake Balls
and A Baker’s Field Guide to Doughnuts?

Doughnuts are hot right now and we knew they would fit perfectly into
the Field Guide format, so that was a no-brainer. What inspired me to
do Cake Balls is that these little spheres were staring to crop up,
but they were largely approached from a design perspective - boxed
cake, canned frosting and elaborate decoration. I wanted to put my
"flavor first" spin on them and I am thrilled with the result. I bet
you wont find a Crème Brulée Cake Ball elsewhere!
What does a typical day look like for you when you are
writing a cookbook?

GREAT question! My brain is most focused in the morning, so that is my
best writing time. I just keep writing until my brain dies, which is
usually early to mid-afternoon and then I head to the kitchen. I can
bake on auto-pilot, so I will often bake well into the evening. My
neighbors and gym pals are the happy recipients of my "practice"
With many food bloggers having aspirations of writing a
cookbook one day, what advice would you share that might be helpful to
help them get started?

Truth be told it was a different time in 1995 when I got my first book
contract. It is harder now; the market is much more crowded. You must
have a social media/online platform. Publishers will be looking for
ways that you can help publicize the book. You must start with
passion. What food subject are you passionate about? Dive into it,
become its most learned fan and start writing!

If you weren't authoring cookbooks, what might you be doing
with your life?

I would still be baking all the time, no question. It's what keeps my
creative juices flowing, it's a stress reliever - I just love it!
But...I also show my bull terriers and it would be great to just go on
the road with the dogs! Hopefully what is around the corner is the
launch of, my start-up, which will be the leading online
baking and dessert resource. This is in the works now - there is
nothing like it.
Thank you Dede for your time and interesting insights – is there
anything else that you would like to share with my readers?

I don’t mean to be preachy, but the fact of the matter is that the
great majority of email that I receive where there has been a problem
can really be sourced to the baker not following directions. Good
recipe developers write good recipes! We take pains to use specific
words and give accurate instructions. My best advice is to follow a
recipe to the letter the first time. Take notes. Maybe you want more
cinnamon? Perhaps it took 10 minutes longer to bake in your oven? Or
maybe next time you want to fold in milk chocolate chips instead of
semisweet. Make it your own! Use the recipe as a launching point...but
this only works if you make it as intended first, so that you actually
get to "know" the recipe. Happy baking!

Winner announcement:  Congratulations to Camille @Growing Up Gabel for winning the Cakeballs Cookbook and Erin @Dinners, Dishes and Desserts for winning A Bakers Field Guide to Doughnuts.  I will email each of you individually so I can get the details of where to send your lovely cookbooks!

CONGRATULATIONS Camille and Erin! Happy Baking!

Giveaway: (Is now closed - thank you to everyone who entered)
I am excited to announce that each of you have a chance to win one of Dede’s new cookbooks before they are even available in the stores. I have one copy of Cake Balls and one copy of A Bakers Field Guide to Doughnuts to giveaway that were generously supplied by The Harvard Common Press. This contest is open to US residents only, my apologies to my international friends!

How to Enter:
  • Leave a comment on this post and would love to hear about your favorite Cake Ball flavor.
  • Entries/Comments accepted until 9pm (PST), Friday, September 7th, 2012
  • Two winners will be randomly selected and notified by email.
  • This contest is open to US residents only, my apologies to my international friends!
 Bonus Entries:
  • Become a fan of Authentic Suburban Gourmet on Facebook. Leave an additional comment to let me know you became a fan.
  • Follow Authentic Suburban Gourmet on Twitter. Leave an additional comment to let me know you became a fan.
  • Follow Authentic Suburban Gourmet on Pinterest and Pin this giveaway with the cover photo from this post.  Leave an additional comment to let me know you followed and pinned the cover photo.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

Makes approximately 40 Cake Balls

Red Velvet Cake

Makes one 9x13 Base Cake

1 ¾ Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoon + 1teaspoon sifted cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 Cup Buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ Cup butter, cut into pieces
1 ½ Cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon red gel food coloring
2 large eggs, room temperature

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a 9x13 rectangle pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and vinegar; set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in the vanilla and red food coloring until thoroughly combined.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition and allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in four additions, altering with the buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows few moist crumbs when removed. The cake will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The cake is ready to use. Alternatively, double wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day before proceeding.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ Tablespoon butter, room temperature
½ Cup + 3 Tablespoons of Confectioner’s sugar

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes to eliminate any lumps. Add the butter and beat 2 more minutes until smooth. Scrape down the bowl a few times. Gently add the sugar on low speed until incorporated. Frosting should be creamy and smooth.

Assembling the Red Velvet Cake Balls

Use an electric mixer to combine the cake and frosting together. Crumble the cake and add the frosting to the bowl. Mix on medium, until all incorporated. The mix will be dense. Roll into golf ball sized cake balls. Refrigerate until firm.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt 1 1/3 pound of semi sweet chocolate over a double boiler and low heat. Dip the balls one at a time in the chocolate, encouraging any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Place, evenly spread on the prepared pans. Add a few mini chocolate chips and red sugar on top of each ball. Refrigerate briefly until the chocolate sets. Trim the bottoms, if needed. Place each cake ball in a paper cup, if desired. Place in a single layer in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.


  1. These are so beautiful, Lisa! I love the red velvet with chocolate pairing and I enjoyed the interview too. Pinned! :)

  2. These look fabulous! My favorite cake ball flavour would have to be peanut butter and chocolate.

  3. Beautiful job on these red velvet cake balls, I sure do like the sound of them! I enjoyed your interview as well, pinned!

  4. Great post Lisa! I love that Dede is focusing on the flavor of cake balls. I've spend a lot of time searching the web for more creative cake ball recipes, and as Dede said, found mostly boxed options with canned frosting. Cake balls are one of my favorite decadent treats!

  5. These look great! I love anything chocolate!

  6. i am a fan of you on Facebook

  7. i follow you on twitter @pixystik4u

  8. i follow on pinterest and pinned

  9. Love Red Velvete anything. I have been wanting to give making cake balls a try and I think I just found my recipe. Love using Apple Cider Vinegar! Can't wait to give this a try!

  10. Love Red Velvete anything. I have been wanting to give making cake balls a try and I think I just found my recipe. Love using Apple Cider Vinegar! Can't wait to give this a try

  11. I love making Oreo cake balls. They are always such a huge hit at parties.

  12. I love making Oreo cake balls. They are always such a huge hit at parties.

  13. I have avoided cake balls exactly for the reason she stated -- boxed mix, canned frosting! Can't wait to try them using her recipes!

  14. Following and Pinning on Pinterest!

  15. Love these little sweet cake balls Lisa! I like that they are made from scratch and not the box, I'm sure they taste a lot better too.

  16. Well... I think this makes you the 2nd to last person on earth who has not made cake balls... I must now be the last person! I'm not familiar with either book... but I can see both on my Christmas List!! Liv would be nuts over the dounut one too!

  17. I already follow you on Pinterest... and we have already pinned this post!! (tweeted the pin too...)

  18. My sister makes pumpkin spice cake balls for Thanksgiving and they are just incredible!

  19. I have never made cake balls, but I do make Oreo truffles at Christmas! I would love to try some of the goodies in this book. Your truffles came out SO pretty!!

  20. My fave cake ball flavor is carrot cake!

  21. I follow you on pinterest and pinned this post!

  22. These look heavenly and I love just about anything "red velvet". I haven't eaten many cake balls but I was at a Paula Deen event in Mississippi a couple of years ago and she served strawberry cake balls covered in white chocolate. Out-of-this-world!!

  23. I haven't had many flavors of cake balls but the chocolate one I had was great. What a fun giveaway. Dabmab2010 @

  24. I like ASG on Facebook. Dabmab2010 @

  25. I like straight up chocolate cake balls.

  26. I liked ASG on pinterst and pinned this giveaway.

  27. I'm a fan of Red Velvet Cake & you on Facebook.

  28. I like making lemon cake balls or vanilla bean cake balls-the kids at school love them and they are so fun to make! hezzidsbooksandcooks at gmail dot com.

  29. I've never made cake balls either, but these look fantastic!

  30. Another excellent post Lisa. Mystery is now solved! I wasn't exactly sure HOW cake balls were made. Very clever:) Will try them soon.

  31. I'm new to cake balls, but would love to try these red velvet ones!

  32. I also "liked" Authentic Suburban Gourmet on facebook.

  33. Those are just amazing! I love those tempting pics!

  34. I've only made twice cake balls but can't say which one is my favorite since there are tons of combos I haven't tried.
    I love love the donuts cookbook. what a great cookbook idea!

  35. I love the birthday cake pops from Starbucks. A fun treat with my coffee.

  36. For someone who never did cake balls before, you did a superb job here! They look sooooo delicious! It's a pity I can't join your giveaway but I am already a follower in Facebook. Have a good Sunday!

  37. I would love to make these-))) They are looking sooo good!!!

  38. These cake balls are so gorgeous! I love the red sprinkles on top. Very shnazzy. :)

    My favorite cake ball is actually red velvet! I've only had one but it was sooo good.

  39. These cakeballs look amazing, and this book sounds so fun!! I have only tried a few, but my favorite was a chocolate peanut butter cake ball - taste like a peanut butter cup. So good!

  40. I have not tried a cake ball yet, so no favorite yet.

  41. Hey there Lisa, I have to tell you... you are not the last one to make cake balls. Count me in that crowd, but maybe I need to hope on the bandwagon. Cute little sweet treats are hard to resist:)
    And I enjoyed your interview too.
    Have a great week Lisa,

  42. My favorite cake balls is anything that involves peanut butter!! The red velvet cake balls look out of this world!!

  43. Following you on Twitter! Didn't know you live in SF. I live in the East Bay!!

  44. Great post Lisa! I recently made Clark Gable's Grapefruit cake into cake balls and they were deeeeelish! My kids no longer ask for bday cake, they just want cake "truffles". Love the red velvet. Mmm.

  45. Hi Lisa! My gosh these cake balls look PERFECT! They look like they come from a fancy bakery. Glad you made red velvet one because I'd love these! I enjoyed reading your interview with Dede. She's a self-taught baker? Wow... I'm impressed! I want to believe that I can do it like she said. :)


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