It’s been years since I posted this twocarolines classic and the birthday of my dear friend Steph last weekend reminded me how delicious her favorite Caroline cake is. I’m far away from her so I can’t bring her snowball cake this year so I’m posting it instead in her honor.
This cake is inspired by my brother in law Bob. I asked him what cake he would most want for the wedding reception of his beautiful daughter Aly and he said “white cake with pink frosting” – didn’t sound that good to me TBH. This combination reminding him of convenience store treats of his youth, like Grandma’s Cookies, Hostess Zingers and Snowballs, the nostalgic memory of these childhood treats inspired me! I decided to make a white coconut cake, with this coconut frosting I usually put on chocolate cake then just smother it in coconut flakes so it has the effect of a hostess treat, but with homemade goodness. The result was a resounding success, people went nuts for it! And just to make life easy I was able to doctor a cake mix for the cake and it was honestly so perfectly moist, bouncy and delicious I’m glad I didn’t make the cake totally from scratch. I used some pink dye just for Bobby J, but this would be extra pretty keeping all ingredients white as well, do what makes you feel good.
For the Cake:
1 package white cake mix (I used pillsbury, but any should work)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons warm water
3 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
For the Frosting:
16 ounces or 1 box powdered sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup butter
4 ounces cream cheese cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon coconut
1 drop red or pink food coloring if using
3 cups shredded coconut (I mix normal sweetened coconut with unsweetened wide flake coconut I buy from Sprouts because I think it’s so pretty)
Preheat oven to 350 – spray or parchment line two 9 inch baking pans. I spray and parchment line because I’m careful like that, but do what works for you. It’s also a good time to get out your cream cheese and butter for the frosting so they can come to room temperature.
Mix sour cream, oil, water, extracts and eggs one at a time making sure they are all incorporated, then add cake mix and mix for a few minutes making a consistent batter.
Pour into your prepared cake pans trying to get them as even as possible (I put them on a scale but that’s because I’m a dessert blogger and want my business to look legit – you could probably eye ball it and get close enough to even). Bake for about 25-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cakes are risen and browned nicely. Let cool 5-10 minutes then turn out of pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
For the frosting, mix together the cream cheese, butter and boiling water then start to slowly add the powdered sugar making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl, last mix in the coconut extract. Put your frosting in the fridge to get it a little thickened for 20 minutes or so.
To frost, cut the round top off your bottom layer, then turn, cut side down onto a cake board or plate. Pile a big glop of frosting onto this layer and spread out being sure to only touch your frosting spatula to the frosting and never to cake, just to the ends. Next even out your next layer by cutting the round top then plop that on top of your frosted layer cut side down. Put most of your frosting on top of the cake and spread out slowly – being careful to only touch the frosting and not the cake so you don’t pull up crumbs. If you do, wash off our spatula and get more frosting to cover, there will be some left over. Spread the top so it goes past the border of the cake then take frosting and scoop it on to your spreading spatula as you go along the sides turning your cake so you get a nice even layer all around the sides. Last do a nice back and forth or a circular swirl on top then before it hardens press your coconut into the top and sides of the cake. It’s helpful to have something under it so clean-up is easier. Serve at room temperature – keeps for a good 3 days or more if you keep it covered.
Prior to this I had never even had Tres Leches Cake and didn’t think I particularly needed to, but I was randomly watching Pioneer woman one day while folding laundry and she whipped up one of these and it looked super amazing and unique. I followed her recipe except for adding some cinnamon to the whip cream frosting because it’s an insanely delicious secret I learned from 1.0’s amazing Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse Pie. Also I used strawberries instead of maraschino cherries because those are kind of yuck but strawberries are summer fruit central and tasted delicious! I fed this cake to a crowd and they went nutso for it – I always enjoy seeing my bakes disappear with a quickness. I’m sure you’ll have a similar result because this cake was such a pleasure to eat.
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs – separated
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the tres leches mixture:
1/4 cup heavy cream
one 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
one 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (scant) teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
strawberries to decorate
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9- by 13-inch cake pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, set aside. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold the egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Spoon into the prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake until the cake is done, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan, and then turn out (upside down) onto a rimmed platter.
For the tres leches: Combine the heavy cream, evaporated milk and condensed milk in a small pitcher. Pierce the surface of the cake with a fork several times. Drizzle the milk mixture over the top and allow the cake to sit and absorb the milk mixture. Don’t worry about totally soaking the cake! That’s what you want.
For the icing: Whip the cream with the sugar and cinnamon if using. Spread it evenly over the top and sides of the soaked cake and decorate with strawberries. You can use as many or as few as you choose. I was more minimal for pictures, then I gave the rest of the strawberries to my 3 year old and she plastered it how she saw fit, which tasted great!
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Several hours is fine. The cooler the cake, the better!
I’m well known for my love of cakes, so people often ask me my favorite, well HERE IT IS! Caroline’s world famous Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Frosting. I just deeply love and adore this cake. It’s the dessert I crave the most often, there’s something about it, that really sends me. Usually when I make it, I bring it directly to an event of some sort and never get a decent picture, it’s just that once it’s done, everyone wants to eat it so fast photos seem unimportant! I’m not ashamed to admit that this is a ‘doctor the mix’ cake, with a mix foundation that tastes better than many from scratch cakes, there are no ego’s allowed in my kitchen! The cake itself is soooooo rich and chocolatey, the zucchini makes it ridiculous moist. And the frosting is a legit, dreamy dark chocolate buttercream just poppin off chocolate flavor like nobody’s business. I like to put nuts on half my cake so nut haters can still enjoy but man alive does a pecan or walnut just belong on this beauty! I also adore this cake with a white sticky frosting, but if you make it that way you need to eat it day of, because the white sticky tends to break down after a day or so. I’m so excited to share this and I hope you love it as much as I do!
Chocolate Zucchini cake:
1 package devils food cake mix (I use the pillsbury one and it always tastes great)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup oil
2 cups zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Chocolate buttercream frosting:
1/2 cup butter melted
3/4 cups cocoa
1/3 cup milk (or cream)
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup or so walnuts or pecans (optional)
Heat oven to 350. Grease and line 2 9 inch round cake pans (or it bakes up beautifully in a 9×13 – just pay attention to doneness rather than bake times).
In a large bowl blend cake mix, cinnamon, buttermilk, vanilla, oil, and eggs and beat for a few minutes. Add zucchini and mix until thoroughly combined and then add chocolate chips.
Distribute evenly into your cake pans and bake for about 22-25 minutes depending on your oven. It’s done when a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.
For the frosting, mix the butter and cocoa then add the milk, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar mixing on high until totally uniform and combined. I use a cocoa mix with 1/3 special dark cocoa and the rest regular cocoa for an ultra decadent flavor. Add more powdered sugar, or milk alternatively to get the desired texture.
Cut off the top rounds on your cakes with a large bread knife then put the first one cut side down on a plate or cake stand. Spread 1/3 of your frosting on that layer, then put your next cake on cut side down and spread the rest of your frosting, starting at the top and being careful to never touch your frosting spatula or knife to the cake itself but only on the frosting so you don’t pull crumbs. Spread over the sides and around the edges. Garnish with pecans or walnuts if you would like.
Yes the pumpkin spice thing is really popular this time of year and probably getting a bit played, but don’t front like you don’t want to put this in your mouth. Also, let’s not pretend you don’t have more than one can of pumpkin in your pantry right now dying to come out and make your house smell good. I made it for my brothers family and they felt strongly that this was a cake you could easily eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, it didn’t last long. It’s the perfect cake for Fall, all warm and cozy and tucked in nicely with a magical sweet/sour/touch of cinnamony cream cheese sweater.
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
(if you don’t have all of these spices don’t get stressed out, just use a little more or less of something you do have until it tastes good. I think clove is such a strong flavor that I used less of that and added cardamon which I love in baked goods, you could even use a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice instead of those last 3 if you’d like)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable or coconut
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites seperated
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup (or one stick) butter at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (but keep some extra on hand to make sure you get the right consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of cinnamon
For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 325 and position a rack in the center. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan (if yours is 9.5 or 10 that’s okay, just start checking for doneness 10 minutes earlier). Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter that too. If you’re making the frosting same day you might want to take out your butter and cream cheese so they can come up to room temp before it’s time to make frosting.
Sift (if you’re really concerned about lumps, but I didn’t sift the first time and it was just as good) the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a bowl and set aside
In a large bowl mix pumpkin, oil, sugar and salt for a good 3-4 minutes until it’s all combined. Remember to periodically scrape down the sides of your bowl.
Mix in egg yolks one at a time then add the dry ingredients but stop mixing as soon as the flour mixture is just combined.
Whisk the three egg whites until they are frothy and white. Fold them into the batter using a rubber spatula until they are no longer visible, but just barely, you want your whites to stay fluffy so your cake is springy.
Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake on the center rack in the oven. Begin checking the cake after 40 minutes, could take up to 45 – the center will continue to set as the cake cools in the pan, but still don’t take it out until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool at least 20 minutes before inverting it to a wire rack to completely cool.
For the Frosting:
Beat together the butter and the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth with no dry traces of sugar. You can use a little extra powdered sugar if you like your frosting thicker and sweeter, but I like the sourness of the cream cheese to come out as much as possible. Add a pinch of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla and beat until incorporated.
I liked it best served with chopped walnuts, but the original recipe (link below) made carmalized pumpkin seeds, which would probably be boss, but I don’t usually have those lying around and nuts can be somewhat polarizing in a family with kids so I usually add them at serving time for grown ups and littles who have refined taste. Let us know how you like it
My Mom Cheryll is an incredible woman- she has a PhD from Tufts School of Law and Diplomacy, she raised 3 children along with my Father, while working and fulfilling challenging church callings and she’s an absolute wonder in the kitchen! Her carrot cake is one of the most rare and spectacular privileges of my life on earth- you guys it’s BEYOND delicious! I get mad at carrot cakes that are jam packed full of raisins, nuts and pineapples, those are all good things that have no place in my cake. I am a carrot cake purist, I want a full rich cake with strong carrot flavor and texture, and a hearty portion of slightly tart cream cheese frosting to set it all off. What’s most magical about this cake is how the carrots start to caramelize in places and you get little crunchy, chewy sweet bits of carrot with a perfectly seasoned cake keeping it all together for a truly unforgettable cake experience. I love it with fresh chopped walnuts on top of the frosting, for some reason they taste way better to me on top of the cake than they do in the cake. My Mom usually makes this in a 9×13 pyrex, in which case you bake it for about 45-55 minutes (pay more attention to doneness than bake times). I made it into an layer cake for dramatic effect, but suit yourself, it’s incredibly delicious either way!
For the Cake:
1 1/4 vegetable oil or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 generous cups finely grated carrots
For the Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese (two 8 oz bars) room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 cup walnuts (more or less as you desire)
Preheat oven to 350 and grease (I also parchment line) two 9 inch round cake pans. If you haven’t yet get out your butter and cream cheese to get them to room temperature for the frosting.
Blend oil and sugars until really well combined. Beat in eggs two at a time until totally incorporated. Whisk together your dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Sift in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add carrots and give is a good mix so they are evenly distributed but don’t over-mix.
Pour into your pans trying to keep them as even as possible. Bake for 28-35 minutes rotating once. Pay attention to doneness more than bake times. Cakes should be raised, pulling slightly from the sides and a toothpick in the middle should come out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 or so minutes before turning out on to a rack to cool completely.
For the frosting, beat your room temp cream cheese and butter until nicely combined. Add vanilla, then start to add your powdered sugar scraping down completely a few times to make sure your frosting doesn’t have any dry spots. I found I like the consistency better with a tablespoon or so of milk, but that’s optional. Use as much sugar or milk as is needed to reach a nice sturdy frosting that can hold up in a layer cake – thick, but still spreadable.
Put first cake layer down on your cake board or plate then spread a generous layer of frosting on the top. Try to only touch your frosting tool to the frosting and never to the cake to avoid pulling up crumbs. Another tip is to use more frosting than you think you need – really pile it on, you can always take it off as you frost your cake, but if you’re needing to add more it isn’t as easy to work with. Once you have a solid 1/2 inch plus layer on your bottom cake put your next cake on top and pile frosting high then work it over the top and sides with a knife or frosting tool. I love this offset frosting spatula from Ateco. Turn your cake as you frost to evenly distribute your frosting, you will probably have some left over for your next batch of cupcakes or to decorate cookies with.
Chop walnuts and carefully press them into the top of your cake. Keep at room temperature and enjoy!
As our readers know, the love Caroline’s have for desserts of the peanut butter chocolate variety is SERIOUS! We have brought you some pretty amazing C&PB combo’s like the amazing double chocolate peanut butter pie, 1.0’s famous peanut butter banana chocolate chip cake, or our much loved peanut butter buckeye brownies plus many more. Now I bring you one of my favorite cakes of all time – this chocolate peanut butter cake is all the things you want your C&PB desserts to be! Rich chocolatey flavor, and creamy delicious peanut butter frosting plus a luxey ganache filling that sets it all off perfectly. I make this cake all the time, but it usually get’s eaten so fast I can never get a picture! This was a commissioner my friend Melissa- it’s hard when you make your favorite cake but can’t eat it! But they LOVED it and so will you! -CK 2.0
Cake: (this is my go-to chocolate cake recipe – but use your favorite, this one always turns out ultra moist and delicious but any standard chocolate cake recipe would work)
1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix
1 3.4 oz box jello instant chocolate pudding (not the fat/sugar free)
1/2 cup melted butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs lightly beaten (room temp works best)
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand like Jiff or Skippy
For the cake. Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9″ cake pans with parchment and either butter or spray them then set aside.
Lightly mix together the cake mix and pudding mix then in a separate bowl mix your eggs water, oil (or butter) and vanilla well, until all the eggs are incorporated. Add the wet mixture into the cake mix making sure to mix it thoroughly for a few minutes, and then add the sour cream blending until no white streaks remain. Last add the chocolate chips and just fold them in with a spatula so they are evenly distributed. The batter is quite thick, but it bakes up really nice so don’t be nervous about the texture.
Pour evenly into your cake pans and level out with a spatula. Bake for about 22-25 minutes checking for doneness with a toothpick. The top of the cakes spring back when done and the cake just barely starts to pull from the sides of the pan. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely while you make your frosting and ganache.
Next I make the ganache and then the frosting because you need to pipe frosting around the bottom of your layer cake in order to hold the ganache in the middle while it cools. The ganache can start to cool down and thicken while you make the frosting.
For the ganache: Put the chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl – I use 4 cup pyrex for this. Heat slowly in the microwave either on defrost or in 20 second intervals at full power until the chocolate starts to loose it’s shape and you can whisk it smooth. You can also heat the chocolate and cream in a double boiler, but I find the microwave method much easier.
For the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Once the cakes have cooled, level the tops with a long serrated knife, unless you don’t care about having a neat looking cake, but this makes frosting easier and it gives you a little snack while you work. Put the first layer on a plate or cake board and pipe with either a piping bag or just a bag made from parchment a dam of frosting around the diameter of the bottom layer that will hold in your ganache when you pour it in. You may have some extra ganache – I used it last time to put on the top of my cake which you can do, or just save it for something else. Now take your ganache and pour it into the middle of that bottom layer spreading out but taking care not to let it go over the edge or over the edge of your frosting layer – this is why you made a frosting dam, to hold in your ganache and keep your second layer of cake from squishing it.
Let that cool for 10 minutes or so then put the second cake layer on – neat side up and plop a large amount of frosting on top. Using an offset spatula spread the peanut butter frosting taking care to only touch your spatula to the frosting, and not to the cake so you don’t drag crumbs. Work your frosting around the top, pushing it slowly from the middle, and then around the sides scraping the extra into a paper towel so you don’t drag crumbs. A spinning cake pedestal helps, but you can do this by just turning a plate. Once you have a uniform and neat cake you can decorate with extra ganache, chocolate curls, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or whatever you would like.
Keep plastic where you’ve cut your cake so it doesn’t dry out, but you’re not likely to have any extra!
Winter brings out my love of comfort food. I just want to consume classic, easy, basic foods. I have been thinking about Pineapple Upside-Down cake for a while now because of that delicate caramelized layer of brown sugar and butter and fruit. I researched a lot of options and landed on this divine recipe that I slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour. If you are feeling like rewarding your tastebuds with joy, I suggest giving this little number a go.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 20-ounce cans pineapple rings in juice, drained
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups flour
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish.
To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
Cut the Pineapple rings in half and arrange on brown sugar mixture in staggered rows or in any pattern you desire. (I had a few rings leftover that didn’t fit)
To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.
Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.
Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.
Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan.
Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine took closer to 40 or so minutes)
Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate (You’ll need a big one for this size of dish). Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.