How To Make Cake Balls Without Frosting

Let me start off by saying that the word “balls” appears in this post an inappropriate  amount of times.

I am not an expert on cake balls. Some people are really really good at making them.  I’m not even talking about the cutesy, snazzy people who can make their cake balls/pops look like freakin Hello Kitty or a unicorn head.  No, those people are sculptors. I’ve come to grips with the reality that I simply do not have the skill, time or patience for that. But they are cute.

Mine always come out looking more like mini deformed potatoes.  I basically quit trying to make cake balls because not only was I making pathetic looking ones, but they were so sweet that I would make the sour pucker face when I ate one.  What’s the point of all this work if I wasn’t willing to blow the summer slim down diet for a few?! Yes, they’re adorable, they are usually too sweet and don’t taste very good.  I am all for presentation, but taste is first and foremost.

Don’t get me wrong, I looooove me some sweets (I mean look at my recipe page, it’s a wonder I don’t give myself diabetes).  Most cake balls use a crumbled cake and frosting as the binding agent (the thing that holds the crumbs together), then dunked in white chocolate which I hate because it’s too thick and too sweet even on its own.  I make no-bake oreo “cake pops” that I love (get recipe here) because they don’t taste like a pound of sugar cubes… but they aren’t actually made with cake, so they don’t technically count as “cake” balls.

Then I took a cake class at Momofuku’s Milk Bar in NYC (read about that adventure here and here).  The head pastry chef Christina Tosi doesn’t refer to their cake balls as cake balls.  Nope, the tiny confections appear under the alias of “cake truffles” on the Milk Bar menu.  Let’s face it, truffles sound better than balls 😛 Keep it classy, let’s  say truffles instead.

I picked up many pointers from that class.  My favorite was the idea of not using frosting to bind cake balls truffles.  The bakery uses a soak made with milk and vanilla instead.  Also, instead of a thick white chocolate shell, they used a very thin coat of white chocolate, then rolled it in another ingredient.  Double win.  After the class, we took home a cake and about 5 cake balls truffles and sure enough I tweeted that I ate them for breakfast the next day.  They were the best bar none.  They weren’t the most adorable things I’ve ever seen, but as far as taste goes, Milk Bar was King.

At the class Tosi said that they ONLY use cake scraps and never make the truffles just to make the truffles.  It seemed kind of frowned upon to bake a cake just to crumble it up.  Well, being the wild woman I am, I did just that.  And brought them to a family picnic.  Not one was leftover.  I also used a *gasp* boxed cake mix because I procrastinate like it’s my job plus I’m lazy.

Start with a 1/4 sheet cake baked and cooled. (1/4 sheet cake is fancy bakery talk for 9″x 13″).  So obviously I chose funfetti because sprinkles make everything better.

funfetti cake balls

Now comes the fun part.  Crumble it until it looks like this.

 funfetti cake truffles

Add in your soak a little at a time.  You don’t want it drippy!  Add just enough moisture so that it holds its shape when you try to make a ball.  Then roll them up!

make cake balls without all the frosting

If you are OCD and need them to be all the same size, then use a small cookie scoop or melon baller.

Melt the chocolate and add in some shortening.  It needs to be runny and thin.

Pour some dry cake mix into a bowl.

I set my work space up like an assembly line (1. cake balls truffles   2. chocolate  3. dry cake mix  4. serving dish).  Working somewhat quickly is a good idea when working with melted chocolate. I use disposable bowls because it makes clean up a breeze.

cake ball assembly Line

Dip cake ball truffle into chocolate.  You want a thin coat.  This way is messy, but whatever, it was the way they taught me in the cake class.  And it’s fun.  You can dunk them however you want, but I despise too sweet white chocolate, so I did this:

Cake balls without using frosting

Roll into the dry cake mix and then place on a dish to set.  Refrigerate for about an hour and then faceplant.

Funfetti cake truffles!!!

Pin this so you have the recipe handy for your next picnic or party!

Funfetti cake truffles without any frosting! They kind of taste like the most amazing doghnut you've ever eaten.

These would be awesome rolled in toasted coconut, crushed cinnamon toast crunch, or anything else that would make them yum.


1 Boxed cake mix made according to package in a 9″x 13″ pan

1 Boxed cake mix not prepped (just the dry mix)

1/2 cup milk

2t vanilla extract

vegetable shortening (a few tablespoons to thin out the chocolate)

1 bag white chocolate chips or candy melts



Make one boxed cake mix in a 9″x 13″ pan and cool completely.

Crumble cake into a large bowl.

Whisk together milk & vanilla then add it slowly to the cake crumbs until you can roll into a bite size ball without it falling apart.

Roll into bite sized balls.

Melt chocolate and add some shortening to make it very thin.

Coat each ball with the chocolate the roll in dry cake mix.

Refrigerate for at least an hour then serve.

11 thoughts on “How To Make Cake Balls Without Frosting

  1. I’ve been looking for a recipe that doesn’t call for adding frosting to the cake balls. Question for ya. Do you think I could stick a lollipop stick into these and have them stay on? Or are they too moist with the milk mixture?

  2. Love your blog, recently found it on Pinterest.
    However the diabetes comment is very much a stereotype. You can’t get diabetes from too much sugar. I know Type 2 diabetics are always trying to loose weight and watch what they’re eating and that’s probably where the misconception comes from. Ye many Type 2 diabetics are over weight, and probably should watch their sugar intake, but sugar is not the culprit. Type 2 has trouble absorbing the insulin(attacks the carbs and sugar) made, which is why exercise and clean eating is important. Type 1 diabetics don’t make insulin at all, it’s autoimmune and there isn’t a known cause or cure. Diabetics can have all the carbs and sugar in the world as long as they have insulin, now it wouldn’t be a good idea for anyone but it can happen. Only difference is that when diabetics have sweets they have an injection, and others have their pancreas do the work.
    Just wanted to let you know. 🙂

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you….hated the sweetness of other cake balls. Can’t wait to try this method.

  4. Hi. I hear you about procrastinating. Trying to get a jump on son’s paintball themed bday cake and make the paint “truffles” ahead of time. Planned to dip in colored white choc in thicker coat than here. Not roll in another topping. Would freezing be an option ? Or freezing up to before coating? Or really do I just have to plan for night before?

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