weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Cake Mix Doctor’

Holiday Menu: Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Bacon, Baby Arugula Salad & Cauliflower Gratin

The day after Christmas is my father-in-law’s birthday.  Tim’s immediately family came up to the Berkshires on the 26th to celebrate.  We had the delicious and festive menu below.  The pork I have made before and it was even better than I remember!  The bacon and the honey mustard coating gives amazing flavor to the meat.  This is the first time I made the Barefoot Contessa’s Cauliflower Gratin and it was a huge hit!  Who wouldn’t love cauliflower with a nice cream sauce and lots of Gruyere. I had some leftover Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash.  The dish reheated nicely.

We finished the birthday meal with a delectable Red Velvet Cake.  So moist!  And the cream cheese frosting was amazing!

Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Baby Arugula Salad

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Cauliflower Gratin

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Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette (leftovers from Xmas)

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The Best Red Velvet Cake

Holiday Menu: The Best Red Velvet Cake

I wish I had a photo of this cake but it was too hectic getting the meal on the table and entertaining guests.  But trust me, it was amazing looking and tasting!

I turned to my favorite source of the cake recipes — the Cake Mix Doctor.  She starts with a basic cake mix and adds all sorts of goodness to come up with some delectable cakes!

The red velvet cake required a number of ingredients beyond the cake mix but was super easy to make.  I do not have three cake pans so I just made a two layer cake and allowed the cake to cook for a bit longer since there was more batter in the pan.

The cream cheese frosting was delicious as well.  Make sure to allow the butter and cream cheese to come to room temperature and to sift the confectioner’s sugar.

There is no doubt I will be making this cake again!

The Best Red Velvet Cake
The Cake Mix Doctor

  • Solid vegetable oil shortening, for greasing the pans
  • Flour, for dusting the pans
  • 1 (18.5-ounce) package plain butter recipe golden cake mix
  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 3 9-inch round cake pans with shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour and set the pans aside.
Place the cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, food coloring, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, baking soda and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are incorporated, 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down side of bowl with rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes longer, scraping the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look well-blended. Divide batter evenly among 3 prepared pans, about 1 ½ cups batter per pan, smoothing the tops with rubber spatula. Place pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold 3 pans on center rack, place 2 on that rack and one in the center of the rack above.
Bake cake layers until they just start to pull away from the sides of the pans and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 17 to 21 minutes. The layer on the higher rack may bake faster so test it for doneness first.
Transfer cake pans to wire racks and cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so the cakes are right side up. Let the layers cool completely. Make frosting.
To assemble the cake, transfer one cake layer, right side up, to a serving platter. Spread the top with some of the frosting. Place a second cake layer, right side up, on top of the first and frost the top. Repeat this process with the third layer. Frost the side of the cake with a thin coat just to set the crumbs. Use the remaining frosting to go back over this and liberally frost the side, working with smooth, clean strokes. To make slicing easier, place uncovered cake in the refrigerator until frosting sets, 20 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
Place 1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese and 1 stick (8 tablespoons) of room-temperature butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop machine and scrape down side of bowl with rubber spatula. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 4 cups sifted powdered sugar; beat on medium speed until well combined. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat the frosting for 1 minute longer.

Celebrating Tim's birthday with Holy Cow Cake!

Yesterday was Tim’s birthday!

To celebrate, I made a cake that I brought into the office. This was no ordinary cake — it was Holy Cow Cake (as coined by the Cake Mix Doctor). This is not the cake to bake if you are looking for something elegant or pretty. It’s an ooey gooey messy cake. But it feeds a crowd and is packed with all sorts of sweet goodness!

Here is an overview of the cake:

1) Bake a basic devil’s food cake from a mix.

2) Poke holes in the warm cake after it comes out of the oven. A drinking straw will do the trick.

3) Pour a caramel sauce – sweetened condensed milk combination over the cake.

4) Sprinkle 2 crushed Butterfingers candy bars over caramel combo.

5) Make frosting with Cool Whip and Cream Cheese. Spread over cake.

6) Sprinkle 2 more crushed Butterfingers over the cake and refrigerate.

Make sure to buy the right size Cool Whip container. That was my only issue. I had to add some confectioners sugar to the frosting to make a bit sweeter.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the Holy Cow Cake! There is some leftover and I intend to have another piece as a Friday afternoon treat!

Holy Cow Cake
The Cake Mix Doctor

Cake

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, or sunflower
3 large eggs

Topping

1 jar (8 ounces) caramel topping
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 Butterfinger candy bars (2.1 ounces each), crushed
1 container (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

2. Place the cake mix, water, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 38 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Immediately poke holes in the top of the cake with a drinking straw or chopstick.

4. Prepare the topping. Place the caramel topping and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl and stir to combine. Spoon this mixture over the warm cake so that it can seep down into the holes. Measure out half of the crushed candy bars and sprinkle the pieces over the cake.

5. Place the whipped topping and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and combined, 1 minute. Spread the mixture over the top of the candy. Sprinkle the remaining candy pieces on top.

6. Place the pan, uncovered, in the refrigerator to chill the cake for about 20 minutes before cutting it into squares and serving.

Store this cake, covered in waxed paper, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Spooktacular Halloween Cupcakes

In honor of Halloween and as a pre-NYC marathon dessert for my sister-in-law Julina, I decided to bake some cupcakes.  I turned to the Cake Mix Doctor for a delicious and easy recipe.

This recipe “doctors” a devil’s food cake mix by adding a little cocoa and buttermilk.  The cake was super moist!  The icing was a simple buttercream and very tasty!  I added some yellow and red food coloring for a nice orange color.  I skipped the spiders in the recipe and just decorated with some red sugar.

The cupcakes were a hit!  I’ll definitely be making these again.

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Many thanks to Judy & Irv for the adorable cupcake plates.  They were perfect!

Halloween Spider Cupcakes
Cake Mix Doctor

Makes 24 cupcakes (2 1/2 inches each)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Spider chilling time: 30 to 40 minutes
Baking time: 16 to 20 minutes
Assembly time: 15 minutes

24 silver or foil liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2-inch size)

CUPCAKES
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FROSTING:
Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
6 drops yellow food coloring
2 drops red food coloring

GARNISHES:
24 Chocolate Spiders (recipe follows)
Tiny round decorating candies (optional)
Brown decorating gel (optional)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with silver paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Prepare the cupcake batter: Place the cake mix, cocoa powder, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Spoon or scoop a heaping 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool completely, 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the Buttercream Frosting. Place G cup of the frosting in a plastic sandwich bag and set aside. Add the yellow and red food coloring to the remaining frosting. Blend well so the frosting is evenly orange. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely.

5. Garnish the cupcakes: Cut off a small piece from one of the bottom corners of the plastic bag holding the frosting. Pipe 2 eyes on each of the Chocolate Spiders. Place a small round decorating candy in the center of each eye, if desired. Place a spider on top of each cupcake. There will be 6 extra spiders for additional platter garnish or simply to enjoy. If you wish, pipe a web on the platter using brown decorating gel. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

Store these cupcakes, uncovered or in a cake saver, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the unfrosted and undecorated cupcakes in a cake saver for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before frosting, decorating, and serving.

CHOCOLATE SPIDERS
You can make these spiders up to two days before you bake the cupcakes. The six extras make wonderful platter decorations or sweet treats by themselves.

1 1/4 cups chow mein noodles
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup crispy rice cereal

1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside.

2. Measure out 1 cup chow mein noodles and break them into small pieces. Break the remaining noodles into 2-inch pieces. These will be the spiders’ legs. Set the noodles aside in separate groupings.

3. Combine the chocolate chips and milk in a medium-size saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar, cereal, and the small chow mein noodle pieces until blended. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Drop the chocolate mixture by tablespoons in a slightly oblong shape (the body of the spider) onto the prepared baking sheet. You will have about 30 bodies, about 2 inches in size. Immediately insert the noodle legs into the spider bodies, 4 on one side and 4 on the opposite side. Space them evenly apart. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the spiders until hardened, 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Once chilled, remove them from the waxed paper by pushing up from the underside of the waxed paper.

Store the spiders in a plastic storage container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

the Cupcake Doctor says . . .
Here’s something to remember when you’re making orange-colored frosting: Use drops of yellow
and red food coloring in a 3 to 1 ratio, adding for example, 6 drops yellow and 2 drops red.

the Cupcake Doctor says . . .
Once the frosting for the cupcakes is made, reserve a small amount of it to pipe on each spider for its eyes.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Makes 2 1/2 cups, enough to frost 24 cupcakes (2 1/2-inch size)
Preparation time: 5 minutes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (see “the Cupcake Doctor says” below)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla.

2. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add up to 1 tablespoon more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

The Brownie Burglar

Tim and I came home from our absolutely delicious Valentine’s Day dinner at the Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough, MA, to find that our pooch Angus devoured the entire batch of brownies that I made this morning. Tim ate a brownie in the afternoon and loved it.  But the vast majority of Tim’s sweet treat ended up in the dog’s belly.   At least we now know the brownies get the labradoodle seal of approval!

Angus the labradoodle (aka the brownie burgler)

Angus the Labradoodle (aka "The Brownie Burglar")

A Sweet Treat for my Valentine

Hard to believe this is the 10th Valentine’s Day Tim and I have spent together!  Tim wowed me on our first Valentine’s Day together with a romantic meal at Chez Es Saada in the East Village (now closed) and a beautiful pair of silver earrings (one of which is now lost, but I hold on to the remaining one for sentimental reasons).

In honor of our 10th Valentine’s Day, I plan to make something sweet and chocolaty for my love.  I have baked these Raspberry Swirl Brownies a number of times and they always receive rave reviews.

Like my Super Bowl Cake, the brownies are from the Cake Mix Doctor.  This recipe starts with a basic brownie mix but you add a number of additional ingredients to boost the flavor.  The result is a super moist & chocolaty brownie batch with a wonderful touch of raspberry.

A few notes…

I don’t like nuts in my brownies so I omitted the pecans.

Make sure you use seedless raspberry jam!  Also, the jam will spread more evenly through the batter if the jam is at room temperature.

I am partial to Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract.  It costs more than your typical McCormick vanilla extract but I think it has better flavor.  I have had a bottle of the Nielsen-Massey for a couple of years and it has maintained its aroma and flavor beautifully.

Lastly, I am sure Nestle chocolate chips would be delicious in the recipe but as a dark chocolate lover I can’t help but adore Guittard Chocolate Chips.  When I can’t find Guittard, I typically use Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

Hope you enjoy some sweetness today!

Raspberry Swirl Brownies
from “Chocolate from Cake Mix Dr.” by Anne Byrn

  • Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
  • 1 package (19.8 ounces) brownie mix
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

Place the brownie mix, melted butter, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter lightens in texture, 50 strokes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula. Drop the raspberry jam by teaspoonfuls onto the batter, and with a dinner knife swirl the jam into the batter. Scatter the chocolate chips and the pecans evenly over the top. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the brownies until the outer 2 inches have formed a crust and feel firm, 23 to 27 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely, 30 minutes.

Slice and serve the brownies. Store these brownies, covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the brownies overnight on the counter before serving.

The Super Bowl Cake

While most people associate foods like chips & dip, wings, and chili with Super Bowl celebrations, Super Bowl Sunday in the Jewell house meant my father’s Super Bowl cake.  Given the sense of anticipation my father created around this cake (or anything he made for that matter), you’d expect it to be something elaborate, like a sheet cake with green frosting for grass and white piping for yard lines or one cut into the shape of a football.  But this cake was as simple as a cake could come – a two-tiered yellow cake (from a box) with chocolate icing (store-bought) with “Super Bowl #” carefully written in blue decorator icing.

The Super Bowl Cake tradition started on Sunday, January 15, 1978, Super Bowl XII (Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos) — I was 15 months old and my brother was five.  While certain Super Bowls of my childhood stand out because of my brother and father’s elation after the Giants won, I can’t remember a single Super Bowl without the Super Bowl cake.

The cake was always delicious.  And, each year my dad declared “Superb-O…the best ever” after eating his slice.  I will always cherish my memories of this cake and the wonderful traditions my parents created in our house growing up.  My dad passed away suddenly seven years ago and some traditions are still too painful to continue, but I think it’s time to reintroduce, and slightly reinvent, the Super Bowl cake.

I was headed to my friend Maria’s apartment to watch the game with her adorable baby Peter (his first Super Bowl) and a couple of other friends.  Transporting a cake would be difficult so I opted for cupcakes which are always well received at parties.  I consulted my favorite cake cookbook – the Cake Mix Doctor.  The Cake Mix Doctor takes a basic cake mix and spruces it up with some extra ingredients.

I opted for the red velvet cupcake with white chocolate frosting recipe, with a few modifications.  I couldn’t find German Chocolate Cake Mix so I used Devil’s Food Cake Mix.  The recipe called for a box of instant pudding but I bought a cake mix with pudding inside instead.  Also, the frosting called for peppermint extract which, although I had on hand, I wasn’t in the mood for.

For a festive touch, I decorated some of the cupcakes with red sugar in honor of the Cardinals.  The others I decorated with yellow sugar and mini chocolate chips for the Steelers.

The cupcakes were Superb-O!  Quite moist and delicious and a fitting reintroduction of the Super Bowl Cake tradition.

The Super Bowl Cupcakes

The Super Bowl Cupcakes


Red Velvet Cupcake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor

Cupcakes

24 paper liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2 -inch size)
1 package (18.25 ounces) devils food chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix
1 cup sour cream (reduced-fat sour cream works well)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 bottle (1 ounce) red food coloring
3 large eggs
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Place the cake mix, sour cream, water, oil, food coloring, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop N cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting.

5. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Place these cupcakes, uncovered or in a cake server, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

Store the cupcakes, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 3 cups, enough to frost 24 cupcakes (2 1/2 inch size) generously
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

6 ounces white chocolate chips
4 ounces (half an 8-ounce package) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 to 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Place the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and blend on low until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds more. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more, adding up to 1/2 cup more sugar if needed to make a spreadable consistency.