Soft music and the aroma of chocolate waft past the stucco walls of a Tuscany-inspired commercial kitchen where a figure is dreaming up concoctions that make sugarplums envious.
Her hands translate that focus — measuring, mixing and molding homemade cake and frosting recipes into round, bite-size morsels of, well, heaven.
Baby Cakes Cake Ball Company owner Becca Sanders can’t think of a more relaxing way to spend her time. Baking has been in her blood since childhood in Waco, Texas, where she cooked for her family in junior high. Today, this tall, blonde Baldwin Park resident watches and smiles as someone takes their first bite of her moist cake balls.
“I’ve always loved to bake and cook — my sister and I grew up helping my mom in our kitchen,” Sanders said.
Crafting a product
She’s quick to point out that she did not invent the cake ball concept, which has been around for generations. The product gained wide appeal in recent years when Neiman Marcus included cake balls from The Cake Ball Company of Dallas on their gourmet gift list.
Sanders uses her own cake and frosting recipes for German-chocolate, red velvet, vanilla and carrot cake flavors, which are four of her most popular temptations. Each cake ball is covered in a solid shell of confection then fancifully topped with colorful sugar sprinkles, toasted coconut, cinnamon or even sugar shamrocks. Inside awaits the scrumptious cake creation — a secret recipe that Sanders has perfected and personalized. It is definitely no secret how her customers feel after they sink their teeth into that first bite — their sighs say it all.
Her debut at the recent Festival of Chocolate at the Orlando Science Center produced delicious results, winning a big pink Runner-Up Ribbon for Best Chocolate Confection. “I made 2,000 cake balls and sold all but 20, which we gave to our volunteers,” Sanders said.
“The best thing about cake balls, apart from the taste, is that they are bite-size, so they require no utensils, plates or napkins.”
Filling a niche
Baby Cakes Cake Ball Company seems to fill a tasty desert niche between cupcakes and petit fours, and Sanders said it is the moistness and richness that takes everyone by surprise. “I love to watch people’s reactions. Chocolate lovers enjoy the red velvet and German chocolate flavors. It is the most decadent, moist cake experience you can have.”
In the fall, she might throw in pecan pie or peanut butter brownie. In the summer it might be strawberry.
Sanders recently moved her baking operation to the co-op Chateau Kitchen in Winter Park. Her customers can send in orders by phone, e-mail or online, and she delivers most of the local orders.
Not yet ready for a storefront operation, Becca is happy for now to be a one-woman show. “I can control the timing, when and how I do business, and currently am deciding what locations I’d like to use.”
Baby Cakes testimonials
Every baker has its taste testers and Sanders’ children — son Connor, 10, and daughter Campbell, 8, have been up to the challenge. They have occasionally taken cake balls to school for teacher appreciation gifts.
So has customer and Baldwin Park resident Mollie O’Shea. “I buy Baby Cakes as teacher presents, and they always rave about how delicious they are. They really do make the perfect gift,” Sanders said. “They’re not too big and are rich enough that two is usually plenty.”
This is of course good news for those health-conscious folks with a sweet tooth.
Baldwin Park resident Stephanie Ansbro’s whole family fell in love with Sanders’ cake balls after discovering them at Audubon Park Elementary’s fall festival. “They are fabulous — everyone loves them, from my 5- and 8-year-old children to my 95-year-old great grandfather.”
Following her dream
What does her family back in Texas think of her endeavor? Sanders flashes a smile. “They’re not surprised, but I think they’re a little impressed. I know my parents are proud. My sister was the one who sent me a cake ball recipe to start with when I was hosting a clothing party.
“I wasn’t sure but she said, ‘Trust me, people will love them,’ and she was right. I just stuck with the cake ball idea, used my own recipes and watched it grow.
“When you do what you love, it doesn’t seem like work. I love coming up with new flavor combinations — that’s the most fun part.”
Baby Cakes Cake Ball Company can be contacted at 407-257-4491, www.babycakesorlando.com or [email protected]. She also customizes colors, packaging and recipes for school and sports teams, baby and bridal showers, holidays, birthdays, employee and client gifts and special events.