These Cake Balls Are In The Bag

plate of cakeballs

Gucci and Chanel never had it so good.

more purse cake balls on a plate

Don’t purse your lips against these tasty treats!

If you know me, you know that I’m the least fashionable person possible. I have 15 pairs of the same capris in different colours, and I have many nerdy and/or cake-related t-shirts. That’s my wardrobe. If you see me in a dress, chances are someone is dead or getting married or depending on the scale of the drama, both.

So when the Austin cake club had a theme this year for our Day of Sharing of “Fashionista” I thought, “Meh, I don’t know anything about fashion short of being sick of Ridge and Brooke’s constant on-and-off marriage thing.”

But then it occurred to me that I’ve been looking for an excuse to make more of my dark chocolate buttercream cake balls that I made for my friend Kyla’s birthday in the form of wee little Adiposes, so why not make some little purses? They’d be easy, right? Just shape the cake balls and wrap, right?

Yes! It turns out they are that easy! In fact, I had to force myself to stop making them and go to bed so I could get some sleep before the event, because they were also a lot of fun to make. They’re a great opportunity to use any texture mats/pins, small cutters, or other fun cake toys serious decorating tools you have lying around that don’t get nearly enough use. You can also use scraps of fondant, and then scraps of scraps blended into marbled patterns.

The one caveat I’ll state is that for this application you want good quality fondant. I often use my homemade stuff because nobody pays me to make cakes, so I usually can’t cost-justify commercial fondant. But while my homemade fondant is excellent for figures, it doesn’t do well at being rolled thin and folded. For all of the purses shown below, all of the fondant is Satin Ice. (Disclaimer: the Satin Ice I have is all leftover from our cake show, and it was donated to that show. So I didn’t pay for it, but it didn’t come directly to me for this blog.)

For the cake balls themselves, I used a box mix (Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge) with a couple of large squirts of Hershey’s Special Dark syrup added, and then about half of a batch of dark chocolate buttercream. That made over 60 little purse shapes. Obviously your yield may vary depending on size and shape of the balls you make. There are tons of web sites and videos out there that show you how to make cake balls so Google for more details, but the very basic methodology is you break up the cake and then mix in the frosting thoroughly. I like to use two forks to tear up the cake in a large bowl, pour the frosting in, and hand-knead.

The next step is to shape the balls, which in this case are clearly not balls at all. Purses come in many shapes and styles, so don’t fret about anything being specific unless you’re trying to replicate a particular purse, in which case Google for images and shape it accordingly. Generally speaking you want to make a ball in your hands, gently pinch out the shape as desired, and push it down a little on a flat surface so it has a stable bottom. The basic purse is a ball that is pinched at the top like a point-free teardrop. Backpacks are the same shape pushed flat on one side. Handle bags are the basic shape with a pinky finger or thin tool pushed down in the middle and the sides nudged upwards. Round purses are thick disks pushed flat one one side to stand up. All of these are roughly about an inch and a half wide, but you could go bigger or even a little smaller.

cake balls on a tray

An entire batch of shaped cake balls. You can see that there are lots of different shapes. Hint: if your shape won’t stand up on a tray, it’s not going to stand up when covered and put on a plate.

I like to put my cake balls in the freezer to fully harden, although if it’s really humid this can create the problem of the balls sweating out through the fondant as they come out. To combat this, you can either just put them in the fridge (but then they’ll be softer for covering) or pull them out a few minutes before covering and wipe off the frosty condensation, plus build in some time for them to sit and dry out after covering. I did the latter for these purses, sitting them on a bed of cornstarch as they dried so they didn’t stick to the plate I dried them on.

Either way, you do need to cool them after shaping or else they’ll be too soft to cover.

Now here’s something I want to make really clear: I had never made a cake ball purse before. So how did I know how to do it? I didn’t. As I said above, I figured I could just wrap it, so I tried that using another lump of fondant in the right shape, proved to myself that it worked, and then I went to town with it. You don’t always need someone to show you how to do stuff. Once again, the reason for the title of this blog is I want to encourage you all to try things, play with your food, and worst case scenario you end up with ugly cake balls so EAT THE EVIDENCE!

Here are my first three experimental attempts, which are very basic. The backpack turned out kind of weird, but it’s cute and obviously a backpack:

three cake ball purses

My first three purse cake balls. Basic, easy, and fast.

Here’s how to make the basic red purse shown above. First, roll out the fondant in an oval shape much bigger than the bottom of the cake ball. If you’ve used a texture mat or otherwise prefer one side of the fondant to be the outside, be sure that what you want showing is on the underside. Brush on a little bit of water at the sides and where it’ll join above the cake ball as shown in the photo:

making a purse 1

You can also brush around where the sides will join if you find they’re not staying closed. That will depend on how wet the cake balls are. The frozen cake balls are wet enough that the fondant will stick to them easily. If yours aren’t sticky on the surface from condensation, brush more water on your fondant. But don’t overdo it, because you don’t want it starting to condensate and becoming a wet mess!

The next steps are simply to fold the fondant around the cake ball and pinch it shut. Don’t pinch hard if you want a visible seam to remain as the purse’s opening.

making a purse 2

Lift up one side and gently rub it against the cake ball to adhere it. Don’t go too hard or you’ll squish the cake ball, especially if it’s not frozen. Also be sure your hands are clean or else you’ll have cake ball crumbs being smeared all over the outside of the fondant.

making a purse 3

Fold up the other side and smooth it on, pinching it closed all around, flush against the edge of the cake ball. At the bottom, pinch and push down slightly to make a flattened fold against the cake ball as shown here.

For the next step, you should use whatever you like for cutting fondant. A sharp x-acto or paring knife will work. I found it easier to use these small, sharp scissors that are made for sewing but I always use for small cake decorations (hint: if you make a green fondant cone and make little snips up the sides you get a great mini Christmas tree effect).

making a purse 4

It’s easiest to cut across the top first. You can start higher up to get extra stuff out of your way, but eventually you want to snip along the top so just a bit of the seam is popped up (depending on your purse’s style of course). Next, cut straight down the sides so there’s a bit sticking out as shown here. After that, cut on an angle from the top down to the side fold in a manner that suits your purse’s style (i.e. it could go close to the contour of the ball or might flare out as you wish).

making a purse 5

Wet the side flap a little bit, fold it up, and pinch it in snugly.

making a purse 6

Then just roll or extrude a little handle, attach it with a tiny amount of water (or if the ball was sweating a lot from being frozen you may not even have to) and attach a little dragee or similar candy as a clasp. Voila! Adorable little cake ball purse, fast and easy!

The one above is sitting on a bed of corn starch since the ball because of condensation from the frozen ball, but even fondant without that condensation problem is likely to stick, so let it dry up for awhile (overnight is best) on a bed of corn starch. Then when you’re ready for it to go to a plate or package, carefully brush or wipe the corn starch off of the bottom with a dry brush or cloth.

After my first couple of basic purses, I was able to do this simple covering, handle, and dragee in about four minutes. In fact, for this stage you want to move quickly because you don’t want your fondant drying out and cracking as you work it.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do more complex designs. Really, the sky’s the limit on these, and as I mentioned above, it’s a good time to use a lot of tools you have around that you might not get a chance to use often unless you’re committing their patterns to an entire cake. For instance, in one of my cake show prize packs over the years I won a tiny little flower-pattern roller that quite frankly isn’t very useful otherwise. It’s so small that it’s hard to make in even repeating rows beyond its length, and the roughly-cut design sticks to fondant after a couple of rolls over, even with corn starch. I’ve let my daughter play with it but I was meh on it until this application, because it’s perfect for these little purses!

Flower texture pin purse

Roll out your fondant to almost the right thickness, then give one final roll with the patterned roller. Flip it over and assemble as shown above. Note that a directional pattern like these flowers will be upside down on one side. I guess you could overcome that by cutting the fondant and doing each side separately, but that’ll take longer so only do that if you think the recipient will notice or care.

texture mat on a purse

This one was made with a texture mat that features large flowers surrounded by smaller ones. It’s tricky with this sort of pattern to line it up centered when the fondant is upside down, so plan to be able to shift the ball around a bit as you bring the sides up. And of course, the back big flower isn’t as well-aligned (it’s lower, not pictured).

orange stitch purse

Another easy option is to run a pounce wheel around the sides and corners for a really effective fabric look. On this I also etched some really faint lines with a carving tool. This cake ball also had a slightly higher profile.

You can also make handles that stand upright, but it takes a bit more skill. The handle should not be too thin or it’ll fold down, or too thick in which case it’ll flop over. Roll out the fondant, bend it, wet the top of the purse, and then push the handle gently down into place, pinching slightly downward and sort of slightly smearing the fondant out to the sides to anchor it. You’ll be able to feel if it’s steady or not as you go and adjust accordingly with some practice. Then be sure to set it aside overnight to dry before transporting or covering.

upright handle

This upright handle is a simple rolled snake pushed on and flared out to make it stand. There are no supportive structures in place. The purse itself was rolled on a texture mat and started out with a slightly different cake ball shape: instead of curving down at the sides, it curves up like a Hello Kitty head.

Here are most of the rest of the purses and details on how they were made:

red flower purse with silver paint

The same red flower-pin purse as above, except I decided to paint the dots with Albert Uster silver, which gave it a whole different look.

red silver flower purse

The red flower texture mat one from above, except I painted the central big flower with Albert Uster silver and the handle as well. I also stuck a dragee in the center of the big flower.

Hello Kitty purse

Speaking of Hello Kitty heads, they looked so much like it on the tray that I decided one should be like that character. I know it’s not exact, but it’s close enough that everyone at the event referred to this as the “Hello Kitty purse”. It’s one of the cake balls with the upturned sides, and instead of folding a flap up at the bottom sides I cut it close and pretty much just smooshed it closed. I then rolled little flattened balls for the bow, flattened ovals for the eyes, a flattened black ball for the nose, and some tiny snakes as the whiskers.

pink dragonfly purse

This is another one of those upward-corner styles as well. The dragonfly was simply cut with a tiny cutter. This is an excellent project if you have tons of small cutters as I do!

marbled purse with white heart.

This is marbled black and white fondant for the main purse, a white fondant heart cut with a tiny plunger cutter, and an upright handle that was rolled on a texture mat.

sack style purse

This one is more into sack territory. The cake ball is a cone shape. I rolled out some marbled scraps of various colours and then gathered the whole thing around and pinched it together on the top to let the edges flare out like gathered cloth. I then used some marbled black and orange as a rope that I “tied” around the neck. I considered adding a stick to make it like a bindle but decided that was straying from the theme too far, but you could use this methodology to make a really cute set of old school bindle bags on candy sticks!

orange and black backpack

My first attempt at stripes turned out kind of chunky on this backpack-shaped cake ball because I made the snakes too wide. In the two below, I made much thinner snakes and that worked better for striping. For the backpack, do it as the main method but with more on the rounded side, and tuck the side flaps in more at the bottom like soft cloth. Add two ribbon-style straps to the flat side.

black and white striped purse

For this I rolled out very thin snakes of black and white, alternated them, and then rolled them out as a sheet. Otherwise it’s exactly as the how-to above.

pink and white striped purse

As the black and white one above. Doesn’t this look like it should taste like peppermint? It doesn’t, but there’s no reason you couldn’t make peppermint cake balls inside!

pink flower purse

Here’s another one done with the flower roller, and this handle was extruded on a clover setting.

orange and black star purse

This cake ball had a slightly higher profile, so I left off the handle to make it more of a clutch-style purse. Otherwise it’s simply the standard method as shown above with black plunger-cut stars stuck on.

pink checker grid purse

Pink rolled with a Fat Daddio’s “checker grid” impression pin. The handle was extruded using a tear-drop shape (with the pointed end curved on the inside) but it’s really hard to tell.

black purse with checker grid

A square-ish profile cake ball with the fondant rolled with the same pin as above.

red hearts on grey marble purse

A cake ball with a more stylized top, wrapped mostly as shown above but with points left flaring out to the sides more. Marbled white and black fondant with red plunger-cut hearts stuck on.

pink and black stripe purse

The basic methodology except that I laid down some very thin snakes of black when the pink was mostly rolled out. I then swirled some of the trimmed off part as the handle.

cylinder purse 1

A cylinder shaped cake ball to start, and this time I wrapped it roll-wise in marbled scrap fondant, then rolled out two disks and put them on the top and bottom. I ran the pounce wheel around the seams, then rolled and cut a flat style handle and attached it teapot style.

cylinder purse 2

Same as above but with red top and bottom to contrast.

orange heart purse

The basic methodology shown above on the upturned-corner style cake ball, but I trimmed the bottom side flaps very small so they’re hardly there at all. Orange hearts from the plunger cutter again.

yellow wide purse

Another one of the more stylize-top cake balls, but this time with a simple yellow covering with a light touch from a wave impression mat. The handle is scraps marbled together, cut as a flat ribbon.

pink and black teddy purse

Pink and white marbled for the main purse with a simple mini teddy bear cutout in black added.

black and orange marbled purse

Black and orange scrap fondant from the black and orange backpack above marbled together with the pounce wheel run around the edges and up the middle for a leathery look.

yellow circle purse

This was my favourite for turning out as a fancy purse. I think my Barbie dolls had one like this when I was a kid. The cake ball was formed as a flattened, thick disk. I cut two circles out for the sides, then wrapped a ribbon cut to fit around the middle. I had to massage the seams together all around, which took some doing without just sliding the fondant side to side. Once it was all together, I ran the pounce wheel around, made a ribbon-style handle and pounce-wheeled it before putting it on.

So there you have it: lots of styles from a few basic methods. These are super easy and mega-cute so go make some! Get some friends together and have a cake ball decorating party!

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2 Responses to These Cake Balls Are In The Bag

  1. rocioscakesupplies says:

    Thanks for sharing. They are too cute.

  2. Maria says:

    Oh my GOD!!!!!!! They are sooooooo beautiful! Is and austanding job!

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