SparkNotes Blog

The Cake Balls Incident of 2011

Every time we’re sure that thenameseoldie can’t get any funnier, she writes a post like this and proves us wrong.—Sparkitors

My friend Lilly (you guys all know Lilly—the brains of the “let’s play hide-and-seek at Target” disaster) was recently in a car accident. She’s okay, but bed-ridden, and her car was completely totaled. We’re in mourning for that car. I feel like that car was the vessel that ferried me across the murky waters of my adolescence. I mean, don’t get me wrong—I loved that car, but I love Lilly so much more, and I’m just happy she’s okay.

Anyway, Claire had this brilliant idea to cheer her up.

“Hey, guys, we should do something for Lilly,” she was saying, as we lounged on this beach eating junk food and not doing anything—so basically we were doing exactly the same thing we usually do at home, except we were on a beach. Suddenly Claire got excited. “Oh! I know! We’ll make her cake balls!”

Tara and I agreed this was a good idea, and there was a split second of silence, and then we all burst out laughing.

To fully appreciate the hilarity of this situation, you should know that we are not competent people. We do not know our way around the kitchen. Our “I’ll just pop in a TV dinner and call it a night” mentality, combined with the sheer difficulty of the delicacy that is the cake ball, did not bode well for us. Seriously—it’s a three-hour process. There is so much potential for error that we resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d need poison control on standby. Nonetheless, we took on the challenge of Operation Cake Balls with the determination of three people about to engage in battle.

All that determination went right out the window the second we walked into the grocery store. None of us really knew what we were doing, as evidenced by the fact that we stood there in the entrance for a few minutes looking lost and confused.

“Okay, we need one box of cake mix, and one tub of frosting,” I said, squinting at the list. “And—what the hell is CandiQuik? Well, we need that.”

We couldn’t even find the cake mix. God help us. And don’t even get me started on the CandiQuik conversation.

“It says on the list that it’s near the chocolate chips.” I looked around helplessly. I was being buffeted by strangers who clearly knew their way around the grocery store. “Where, uh, where are the chocolate chips?”

“I think they’re near the marshmallows,” said Claire, craning her neck and looking around. “So… where are the marshmallows? We should ask someone.”

So Claire angled our cart (which we brought in a fit of misguided enthusiasm, given that there were only three items on the list) in the direction of the nearest employee, and here’s what she said to him: “We’re looking for the marshmallows to help us find the chocolate chips to help us find something called CandiQuik. Please help us, we’re incompetent.”

He pointed us in the direction of the gelatin/spice aisle. We turned the corner and brought the whole store to a standstill by simultaneously screeching, “LOOK! MARSHMALLOWS!” and nearly running down an old man in our haste to get to the CandiQuik.

We returned to Claire’s house, and thus began the actual baking portion of the adventure. We were instructed to bake a cake, which none of us had ever actually done before, and then crumble the cake into a bowl. I forgot that things that come out of the oven tend to be, you know, hot, so I said stupidly, “Crumble it? Just like this?” before plunging my hands into the heart of the cake and whipping my hands back out and shrieking, “Sweet baby Jesus, that is like HELLFIRE.”

“Well, I thought that idea showed promise,” said Claire, snickering and grabbing a fork and poking holes in the cake. “But hey, you’re supposed to poke holes in it so it’ll cool down faster, right?” We agreed that, yes, we’d all heard of this phenomenon, so we each grabbed a fork and proceeded to mutilate that cake beyond recognition.

After the most inept crumbling in the history of cake ball crumbling, we added the frosting. (This makes the delectable, cakey center.) Up until now, Claire had been the resident mixer. She mixed everything with great vigor. So Tara said, “Claire should mix it. She’s like the human blending machine,” which Claire took to mean she should just start smashing it all together with her hands. Tara and I watched this spectacle with our mouths open for a minute before Tara managed, “I meant with a spoon, but… hey, I’m sure it’ll work just the same.”

The CandiQuik was a tricky operation. CandiQuik, we learned, is a special type of chocolate used for the outside coatings of various desserts. We had to melt it—but according to the instructions, we couldn’t let it get too hot, or horrible things would happen. It would scorch or caramelize, or explode, probably. Once melted, we had to quickly roll the cake balls around in the bowl before said horrible things could occur. It was all very intense, and we were standing closer together than seemed entirely necessary, so one bump could put a hiccup in the entire shindig—“Damn! I dropped a candy ball and it’s stuck to another candy ball, and now we’ve got some kind of mutated candy ball Siamese TWIN. Someone get a spoon or something!”

“It’s caramelizing,” said Tara, waving her CandiQuik-coated hands in the air. “Oh, God, I think it’s caramelizing!”

“It’s already been stabbed, mutilated, and mixed with Claire’s hands,” I said, feverishly spooning a cake ball out of the CandiQuik concoction. “It might as well be caramelizing.”

“We’re almost out of CandiQuik!” Claire was frantic. “Melt some more!”

“There isn’t anymore!”

We were literally scraping chocolate off the sides of the bowl and dabbing it on the last ten or so cake balls, giving them this appearance of male pattern baldness. We eventually conceded that there was nothing more we could do, and we stood there for a moment basking in the glory of having actually baked something. It was undermined somewhat by the knowledge that what we had created could probably be considered a lethal weapon in nineteen states. I mean, the grand champion of that mess (this really massive, ugly cake ball—we called it The Monster and moved it away from the others, just in case) could probably come to life and kill us. But still.

“We should eat some,” I said. “Just to see how they taste.”

“We’ll eat the bad ones,” said Claire. “And we’ll save the good ones for Lilly.”

And then we promptly ate half of the good ones anyway. By the time we got to Lilly’s, we were so full that we thrust the Tupperware container at her and then plopped down on the floor in agony. We moaned and groaned and swore we’d never eat anything ever again. Thirty minutes later we were signing her cast, ranking actors via the hotness factor, and shoveling cake balls in our mouths by the truckload. As endeavors go, Operation Cake Balls could certainly have been worse. (Numerous scenarios come to mind, many of which involve fire.)

(By the way, if anyone wants the recipe we used, I put it up on my blog… so that you, too, can have your very own cake ball adventure just rife with danger and hilarity.)

If you’re not choking on your own laugh-spit right now, there might be something wrong with you. Has anyone else ever attempted to have a cake ball adventure?

Related post: NBK Michigan