Halloween is here! Who can resist the chilly fall atmosphere, kids in costumes, and too many sweets?! The hard truth of being an adult is buying your own Halloween candy… there is just no way to make it as fun as running around the neighborhood getting free candy from your neighbors. The best answer is to make your own treats – Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake Balls, delicious chocolate-covered bites of pumpkin-spiced cake filled with rich cream cheese swirls.
I never outgrew Halloween as my favorite holiday. It’s kind of a bizarre celebration when you describe it as kids going house to house demanding sweets or they might throw eggs at your garage. But I loved the weeks of planning a homemade costume; Halloween has always been a storytelling holiday to me. Tall ghost tales, fall celebrations, scary stories around a bonfire – I love them all.
It was also the magical day when you can dress up as anything. One particularly memorable childhood Halloween, I was a lime green alien with a silver inner tube around my waist as my UFO. It was absolutely out-of-this-world awesome.
My successes in the kitchen are often directly correlated to patience… for example, the patience to let a hot cake fresh out of the oven completely cool before flipping it out. I lack patience. It is just one of those things that I am not very good at.
So the original plan – to layer perfect bundt cakes on top of each other to create a pumpkin and drizzle it with glaze, just like I remember from my childhood – was scrapped when I turned out not one but both cakes too early and had pieces of hot cake all over my kitchen counter. Kirk gently pointed out that maybe I need to work on baking at altitude a little more, to which I responded ‘NOT HELPFUL’ despite knowing he was entirely right. I did the responsible, adult thing: I covered them up and went to bed and decided to deal with the mess the next night.
And then I woke up thinking of the cake balls we made in college, which specifically call for smashing up a nicely baked cake. I ate some cake for testing and quality control purposes, considered, ate some more just to be sure, and headed to the store. And I have to tell you – cake is nice and all, but cake and frosting dipped in chocolate is the real winner.
- 15 oz. pure pumpkin
- 2 eggs
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 t. cinnamon
- ½ t. ground ginger
- ¼ t. ground cloves
- ½ t. baking soda
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 can cream cheese frosting
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 t. cinnamon
- chocolate almond bark
- vanilla almond bark
- ½ t. yellow food coloring
- 6-9 drops red food coloring
- (optional) sprinkles
- (optional) cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Beat together pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla.
- Stir in cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and baking soda.
- Slowly add sugar and cake mix and stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat frosting, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Break cake into pieces and slowly combine with frosting until mostly smooth.
- Slowly melt chocolate and vanilla almond bark in separate bowls in the microwave.
- Stir yellow food coloring into vanilla almond bark. Add red food coloring 2-3 drops at a time until you reach the shade of orange you want.
- Roll cake mixture into 1” balls, dip in either chocolate or vanilla, and set on a rack to dry.
- Top with sprinkles, cocoa powder, or candy immediately after dipping before the almond bark dries.