Michael loves orange-flavored things, especially orange and chocolate. But we’ll come back to that in a minute. First, let me tell you about some books I love: the Hannah Swenson Mysteries written by Joanna Fluke.
There are 15 or so books (I guess you could call them a series) about a woman named Hannah Swenson who owns a bakery (The Cookie Jar) in Lake Eden, Minnesota. She also happens to stumble upon dead bodies quite frequently and then does her own investigating to find the killers. The books are pretty predictable but they are cute and the characters are so lovable. They are just a fun, clean, mysterious, good read. A large part of the stories center around Hannah’s baking and so recipes are included within the book. While reading (or actually, listening to the audiobook version) Key Lime Pie Murder I found one for orange cake and I knew I had to make it for Michael.
I made it for his birthday last year exactly as the recipe instructed (in a Bundt pan, with chocolate chips and an orange fudge glaze).
This year he requested cake balls (also referred to as cake pops or cake truffles) made out of orange cake so I just tweaked the recipe from last year. Here’s what happened: (At the end I’ll post the recipe for both the Bundt cake and the cake balls)
Start by making your cake:
If you’re making the cake balls, these next steps are for you…
Add your icing and smush everything together (very similar to making sausage balls if you’ve ever done that)
Then pinch off bits of the mixture and roll into balls
(sorry, no pictures here)
Then you will dip them into the dipping chocolate. This is the hardest part for me. They never look pretty and I haven’t yet found a way to do this easily. The finished product was so ugly that I didn’t even take a picture of them. If you’re really interested in making cake balls or cake pops (just cake balls on a stick like a lollipop) I suggest checking out this tutorial.
Another word about cake balls: because Michael wanted orange cake and I went with the recipe from last year, there were several more ingredients to add. When I’ve made them in the past I just use a boxed cake mix (plus whatever it calls for) and the store bought icing. You can do any combination you want! Strawberry cake with cream cheese icing, yellow cake with chocolate icing, Funfetti cake with white icing, whatever! Just bake the cake, crumble it up and mix it with the icing, roll into balls, and dip in almond bark or other dipping chocolate. Easy peasy in concept, not so much in execution (from my experience).
On to the recipe(s)!
Kitty’s Orange Cake (taken from Key Lime Pie Murder)
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 package (3 oz) orange Jell-O powder
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 1 tsp orange zest (I did not use this and the original recipe says it’s optional)
- 1/2 cup oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips (I used them when I made the cake but not when I made the cake balls)
Grease and flour a Bundt pan (or 9×13 pan if you’re just making the cake for the cake balls). Mix the dry cake mix with the orange Jell-O. Add the orange juice, orange extract, oil, and orange zest (if you chose to use it). Mix all ingredients until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer or 3 minutes by hand. Fold in the mini chocolate chips (if applicable). Pour the cake batter into the pan; bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 20-25 minutes then tip cake out and let cool completely.
If you are making cake balls then once the cake is cool you will crumble it up into small pieces. Mix in the can of frosting (you’ll probably need to use your hands for this). I used cream cheese frosting and added some orange extract to the frosting before mixing it in with the cake so that my cake balls would be extra orange-y. Roll the cake into balls and refrigerate or freeze until firm. Using whatever method you can figure out that works for you, dip the balls into chocolate (coat completely or cake might ooze out of the holes!) and place on wax paper to harden. Again, refer to this tutorial.
If you made the cake like I did last year, drizzle with orange-fudge frosting (recipe below) or just dust with confectioner sugar.
Orange Fudge Frosting
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
Microwave the butter and chocolate chips together on HIGH for 60 seconds. Stir to see if they are melted. If not then heat on HIGH in 15 second intervals until melted. Add the orange extract and stir in. Add the orange juice tablespoon by tablespoon, stirring after each addition. Pour frosting over cake. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 20 minutes before serving to set the frosting. The cake can then be left at room temperature if desired.