These epic “cherries” are the most decadent cake balls around: They’re blended with homemade buttercream frosting, dipped in bittersweet chocolate, tickled with edible red luster, and finished with a glassy green candy stem. They don’t need a cherry on top—they are the cherry on top. These mini masterpieces were created by Justine D., who is both a popular New York DJ and a classically trained pastry chef. To channel Justine’s rock-and-roll spirit, roll up your sleeves, turn up your playlist, and get ready for a good time in your kitchen. You’re the bombe, and so are these cake balls.
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix on low speed until well combined. Slowly add the egg, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Slowly beat in the hot coffee.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the buttercream: Whisk together the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, whisking continuously, until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature of the mixture registers 140°F on a candy thermometer.
- Return the bowl to the mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat the mixture on medium speed, gradually increasing to medium-high, until stiff peaks form. Once the meringue has completely cooled, begin to add the butter, several tablespoons at a time. Add the vanilla and salt, then switch to the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until smooth.
- To make the Cherry Bombes, in a large bowl, crumble the cooled cake with your hands until there are no large pieces left. Using a large spoon, add the butter¬cream and mix well. With your hands, roll the cake mixture into 1½-inch balls. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, until firm.
- Once the cake balls are chilled, chop the bittersweet chocolate into chunks, reserving a 1-inch “seed” piece for tempering. (Tempering is a technique that ensures the chocolate coating will be glossy and crisp.) Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Heat the chocolate, stirring if necessary, until it has melted and registers 115 to 120°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and drop the reserved 1-inch piece of chocolate into the bowl. Stir frequently and let the chocolate cool to 80 to 85°F.
- Place the chocolate back over the pan of simmering water and return the temperature to 88 to 91°F. Remove any remaining bit of the “seed” chocolate. The chocolate is now ready for dipping. If the temperature drops, rewarm it gently.
- Insert a wooden skewer into the center of a cold cake ball and dip the ball into the tempered chocolate. Shake off any excess chocolate, return to baking sheet, and remove the skewer. Repeat with the remaining cake balls.
- Line a separate baking sheet with wax paper. Place a Silpat liner on a third baking sheet.
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook for 3 minutes to dis¬solve the sugar crystals. Uncover and cook over medium-high heat, without stir¬ring, until a candy thermometer registers 300°F. Remove from the heat and stir in the green food coloring.
- Place a double layer of latex gloves on your hands. Working quickly, pour half the melted sugar onto the Silpat and let cool until you can work it with your hands. The sugar should still be warm and easy to manipulate, with a texture similar to saltwater taffy.
- To make leaves, pull a small amount of sugar and form it into little cherry leaves with your thumb and index fingers pressed together. Place the finished leaves on the baking sheet lined with wax paper. The leaves should all look different. If the sugar hardens, place it back in the saucepan over low heat and melt again, repeating this process as many times as necessary.
- To make stems, dip a spoon into the melted sugar and drip in thin 2-inch lines over the Silpat. Use some melted sugar to adhere the leaves to each stem. Place on the wax paper–lined baking sheet to harden. Rewarm the reserved sugar if necessary.
- Using a paintbrush, dab the luster dust onto the chocolate-covered cake balls. Carefully place a stem into each cake ball through the skewered hole in the top. Serve at room temperature.
Reprinted from Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook. Copyright © 2017 by Cherry Bombe, Inc. Photography by Alpha Smoot. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.