Do a google search for ‘cake’ and ‘cannonballs’, and you’ll turn up quite a few results for pirate themed cakes decorated like cannonballs.
This is not one of those cakes.
I often serve improvised dishes for dinner, and tell Mr Gander we are having ‘[insert mystery ingredient] surprise’. When I served these balls at a Gander clan gathering, and said there’s mystery stuff inside, Mr Gander asked ‘cannonball surprise?’. And the name stuck.
The first brave taster made ‘mmmm’ noises and nodded sagely, while his mother insisted that we tell her what was inside (we didn’t, she had to eat one to find out). Ahh, families at Christmas.
In short, each cannonball has cake-pop mixture wrapped around a candied clementine, and then wrapped in marzipan. A few of them had dark chocolate drizzled over the top. The clementine keeps the mixture very moist, while the marzipan and chocolate more or less helps the ball to keep its shape.
The idea came from rave reviews of Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas puddings, which had a candied orange in the middle. I wasn’t making puddings this year, but thought the dense, sugary, buttery cake pop mixtures would provide a similar foil for the candied fruit. And, since I was making these before Christmas, somehow marzipan found its way into the product.