Red Velvet Sourdough Cake Balls made with a sourdough discard red velvet cake, mixed with cream cheese frosting, and dunked in a rich chocolate coating. Like little chocolate truffles, these may look fancy but they are really easy to decorate and perfect for gift-giving any time of the year.
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know that I don’t like finicky bakes or decorating. So when my baking partner-in-crime Mimi Council suggested making cake balls for our fourth collaborative recipe together, I broke out in a cold sweat. I was intimidated by the multiple components and messing with melted chocolate. After finally tackling this bake, I was so glad to have conquered it and I know that I will be making endless cake ball variations in the future!
Why I love this recipe
- It’s made with a straight-forward, eggless sourdough red velvet cake
- Simple to make, in spite of multiple components
- The finished product tastes like fancy chocolate truffles
- Perfect for gift-giving!
Baking with Sourdough Discard
Sourdough discard adds a delicious tangy flavor to balance the sweetness of these cake balls. Since you’re not using it as a leavener, you can use your discard straight from the refrigerator. There’s no need to feed it or activate it before mixing it into your batter. Older discard will have a tangier, more acidic flavor than a freshly-fed sourdough starter. Both will work for this recipe, you’ll just get a slightly different flavor profile but your bake will still be delicious!
Need more ideas for using your excess sourdough starter? Check out my favorite Sourdough Discard Recipes!
What You Need
These Sourdough Red Velvet Cake Balls have three main components, the cake, frosting, and chocolate coating finished with an optional decorative topping.
Butter: This recipe uses salted butter, which imparts an additional dimension of flavor, add ¼ teaspoon salt if you’re using unsalted.
Cane sugar: Organic cane sugar is made using a process that’s kinder to the environment, use it if you have it, substitute granulated sugar if that’s what you have. Do not substitute brown sugar.
Vanilla extract: Brings out the flavor of cocoa
Sourdough discard: You can use your discard directly from the refrigerator. If you don’t have any sourdough starter but still want to make this recipe, simply add 56 grams of all-purpose flour and 56 grams of water to the recipe.
Milk and sour cream: A mixture of milk and sour cream adds richness and tenderness to the cake. Don’t skip the sour cream, substitute yogurt if that’s what you have on hand.
Cake flour and all-purpose flour: Cake flour reduces the overall protein content of the cake which results in a soft and tender cake, while all-purpose gives it structure. Substitute pastry flour for cake flour if that’s what you have on hand.
Dutch-processed cocoa: Just a hint of cocoa powder in this recipe, shows you it’s there without overpowering the flavor of the cake. Dutch-processed cocoa powder is alkalized, don’t substitute natural cocoa powder which is acidic and will react with the baking powder in this recipe.
Red Beet Powder: The red color of red velvet cake was traditionally achieved with beets, now food coloring is usually used. In this recipe, we use a red powdered dye made from beets from Suncore Foods. Because this is a natural product, there’s a tendency for the red color to be muted, feel free to use food coloring if you want a more pronounced color.
Baking powder: Makes the batter rise as it bakes, imparting lightness and softness.
Salt: I used Morton’s Kosher salt for this recipe, feel free to substitute Diamond Crystal Salt but double the measurement since the salt crystals are larger.
Butter: The butter should be softened but still a little cold to prevent your frosting from feeling greasy, don’t attempt to use cold hard butter or it won’t mix easily
Cream cheese: Adds a lovely, rich tang that cuts through the sweetness of these cake balls, if you forget to set your cream cheese out, whip it in your mixer until it’s no longer clumpy before adding the rest of your ingredients (I learned this trick from my best friend who makes made-to-order cakes).
Powdered sugar: Don’t skip sifting your powdered sugar or your frosting will be lumpy.
Red Beet Powder: Turns the frosting into a lovely pink, use more if you’d like your frosting to have a richer color.
Vanilla: Adds a floral note that balances the richness of the cream cheese.
Chocolate Coating and Topping
Chocolate: I used both dark chocolate and white chocolate for my cake balls. Both were delicious but the white chocolate made them a little too sweet.
Sprinkles and sanding sugar: Mimi used organic sprinkles, which I could not get my hands on in time, use your favorite sprinkles or try making your own!
1. Combine wet ingredients and whisk together the dry ingredients.
2. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3. Bake the cake at 350 F for 35 minutes (30 minutes for high altitude).
4. Make the frosting.
5. Break up the cake and fold it into the frosting.
6. Portion out 40 balls and freeze for 10 minutes.
7. Melt the chocolate.
8. Shape the balls into perfectly-formed spheres.
9. Dip the balls in melted chocolate using a fork.
10. Place balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and top with sprinkles
Absolutely! Simply use the same proportion of freshly fed sourdough starter in the recipe. Your starter won’t add a strong tangy flavor to your brownies, but it will still work.
If you don’t have a starter, but still want to try out this recipe, simply add 56 grams of all-purpose flour and 56 grams of water to your batter.
Absolutely, since these cake balls are made with cream cheese, they should be refrigerated. They also taste better once they are completely cooled.
These cake balls keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
No! The sourness of the sourdough discard is balanced by the sugary sweetness of the frosting and the rich bitterness of the chocolate coating. There's a slight tang, which is delicious and not overpowering.
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Red Velvet Sourdough Cake Balls
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- 113 grams salted butter softened
- 170 grams organic cane sugar
- 6 grams vanilla extract
- 113 grams sourdough discard room temperature
- 113 grams whole milk room temperature
- 56 grams sour cream room temperature
- 109 grams cake flour
- 43 grams all-purpose flour
- 15 grams Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted
- 8 grams Suncore Foods Organic Red Dye
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt fine sea salt or Morton's Kosher salt
- 113 grams salted butter softened
- 113 grams cream cheese
- 425 grams powdered sugar
- 8 grams Suncore Foods Organic Red Dye
- 4 grams vanilla extract
Coating and toppings
- 500 grams dark chocolate
- sanding sugar
- Mix the wet ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, cane sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined and there are no chunks of butter. Add the milk, sourdough discard, and sour cream and mix on low until combined.113 grams salted butter, 170 grams organic cane sugar, 6 grams vanilla extract, 113 grams sourdough discard, 113 grams whole milk, 56 grams sour cream
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: In a separate bowl, add the cake flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, red dye, baking powder, and sea salt and whisk together.109 grams cake flour, 43 grams all-purpose flour, 15 grams Dutch-processed cocoa powder, 8 grams Suncore Foods Organic Red Dye, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- Make the batter: With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until completely combined.
- Bake: Transfer batter to prepared baking pan.Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
- Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, red dye, and vanilla extract. Mix on low until combined and turn up the speed for 1 minute or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until smooth.113 grams salted butter, 113 grams cream cheese, 425 grams powdered sugar, 8 grams Suncore Foods Organic Red Dye, 4 grams vanilla extract
- Fold the cake into the frosting: Break the cake up and add into the bowl with the frosting and mix on low for a few rotations or fold in with a spatula. Mix until evenly combined.
- Make the balls: Portion out 40 balls, (about 1 ½ tablespoons) using a cookie scoop or your hands. Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes or until they are slightly set and less sticky.
- Melt the chocolate: Place the chocolate in a bowl and melt by placing it in the microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring in between until completely melted.500 grams dark chocolate
- Finish cake balls: Using gloves, if you have them, round balls into perfectly formed spheres. Using a fork, scoop a ball of cake (don’t poke), and lower it into the chocolate until completely coated, let any excess drip back into the bowl. Place balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and top with sprinkles.The cake balls will be cold which will make the chocolate harden quickly, so top your cake balls right away.sprinkles, sanding sugar
- Enjoy and store: Freeze cake balls for at least 1 hour before serving (they taste better once they are fully set and completely cold). These cake balls keep well in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
These recipes were developed and tested using grams for precise measurements. To increase your chances of success, I recommend investing in a kitchen scale. I've included rough volume estimates (in tablespoons and cups), but they might not be totally accurate.
Remember all ovens are unique, these recipes were tested in my oven which runs cooler than others. You might need to lower the temperature if your bake appears to be browning too quickly. Monitor your bake closely and make adjustments if needed.
Use beater attachments and a large bowl if you are using a handmixer
If you forget to set your cream cheese out, whip it by itself until it breaks down and is no longer chunky before adding it to the rest of the frosting ingredients.
These cake balls taste best after they have cooled fully and are totally set
High Altitude — Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.