Recipe Friday: Cherry Poke Cake

This is an easy and tasty dish for a potluck – pure sugary junk food. The varieties are up to your imagination, but here are a few ideas:

  • Spread frosting over the cake, instead of Cool Whip or whipped cream.
  • White cake, use chocolate pudding instead of gelatin (can still mix in the cherries); sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the whipped topping
  • Chocolate cake, use chocolate, butterscotch, or vanilla pudding; drizzle caramel sauce over the whipped topping
  • Chocolate cake; mix strong brewed coffee with chocolate pudding mix; mocha frosting
  • Any kind of cake; any kind of ice cream, softened, then re-freeze before adding the topping (cake should be cooled before adding the softened ice cream)
  • Lemon cake, use pineapple gelatin mixed with crushed pineapple
  • White cake with lemon gelatin and lemon pie mix
  • White cake with canned coconut milk (thick part only, save the watery part for another use) mixed with sweetened condensed milk; mix some coconut into the Cool Whip
  • Spice cake with vanilla pudding (mix in some cinnamon); mix cinnamon and nutmeg into the Cool Whip
  • Spice cake with green apple gelatin and apple pie filling (blended into smaller chunks); cream cheese frosting on top

You can do an internet search for poke cake varieties, and find dozens of ideas.

Whatever flavor mixes you choose, be sure the gelatin or pudding sets up pretty thick, so you don’t dissolve your cake into a puddle of mush.


1 yellow cake mix with additional ingredients to make and bake the cake in a 13×9” pan

1 21 oz can cherry pie filling

1 3 oz package cherry gelatin dessert

1 cup boiling water

1 tub of Cool Whip or whipped cream


Bake the cake according to package directions in a 13” x 9” pan. Cool slightly.

Use the round end of a wooden spoon to poke the cake at 1-inch intervals. I found that the cake starts sticking to the wood (and spreading cake crumbs all around) about half way through, so you might want to rinse it; I didn’t care, since it was all going to be covered up with the Cool Whip, anyway.

While the cake is cooling, pour the cherry pie filling into a 4-cup container. Use an immersion blender to blend the cherries into smaller chunks.

In a separate bowl, mix the cherry gelatin with one cup of boiling water, and stir until completely dissolved.

Pour the gelatin into the mashed cherries, and stir to combine.

Pour the cherry mixture evenly over the cake, making sure it drizzles down into the holes.

Refrigerate the cake for two hours or overnight. I put plastic wrap over mine, and the gelatin and plastic stuck together the next day. It came apart easily with a spatula, though. You may want to spray the plastic wrap with some oil before laying it over the cake, or cover with a high cover.

I cut the cake before adding the Cool Whip (although, at the potluck, the person putting out the dessert didn’t know that, and cut it again 😉); you can cut it before or after.

Spread the Cool Whip over the cake, and serve.

Recipe Friday: Funfetti Chocolate Bars

Just so we understand one another, this recipe has no nutritional value and is, in fact, pretty much a negative nutritional value. It has a lot of sugar, and sugar snags your immune system for up to six hours, while it processes the garbage out of your body.

That said, they are delicious, quick, and easy. These are good for church potlucks.

We had these at an assisted living lunch, and they were so good I looked up a few recipes online, and patched this one together.

For variety, you can substitute for the milk chocolate bars:

  • Chocolate almond bars
  • Krispy chocolate bars
  • Rolo caramel pieces
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Heath candy bars, or sprinkle Heath bits
  • Hershey kisses
  • Chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Peanut butter chips
  • Any combination of these

These could be frosted, but it would really be overkill, I think.

Yield: 1 9×13 pan


1 boxed Funfetti cake mix

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

3 eggs

6 Hershey milk chocolate candy bars, full \ regular size, unwrapped


Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix together the dry cake mix, melted butter, and eggs.
Press half the dough into a greased 9×13 baking pan.
Arrange the 6 unwrapped, whole candy bars atop the dough (If needed, break the bars so they fit the pan).
Working carefully, smooth out remaining dough on top of the candy bars.
NOTE: wet hands work well for spreading and smoothing dough.
Bake at 350° 13 – 16 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow to cool. Cut into bars.

Recipe Friday: Brown Butter Cake with Fruit


Who knew that browned butter could take your baking to a whole new level???

Last week we bought an unknown variety of apple. They were huge and firm. For my afternoon snack, I bit into one. SO TART!  😝  Ack! What to do? I figured it would bake nicely into a cake, if I chopped and simmered it a bit in some coconut palm sugar and pie spices. I thought immediately of my brown butter cake. Yum.

This cake is delicious on its own. I don’t recommend any frosting with it, as that would detract from the brown butter richness. Fruit goes well with it. The original recipe calls for nectarines and raspberries on top of the batter, then cook. But you can make the cake without the fruit and serve plain; or serve cooked fruit over it. Or, as I did with the apples: I diced and simmered apples with coconut palm sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to taste; I poured the apple mixture over the batter, then baked the cake. Note: a 9-inch pan really means a 9-inch pan. If you use an 8-inch pan, the batter overflows. Yeah, I did that.

The information for browning butter is taken from my DVO Cook’n weekly magazine a few years ago. Well, it must be a while ago, because I can’t find the article in the archives. But I did find the recipe for the cake online. Both follow.

From DVO Cook’n:

Brown butter is an undisputed shortcut ingredient to great cooking. It takes any kind of cake to a whole new level of complex, nutty deliciousness, and adds toasted flavors to blondies, cornbread, or even savory dishes like pasta, rice, or quinoa.
To brown butter:
STEP 1: Heat butter in a light-colored, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat until it has completely melted. The light color allows you to monitor the butter’s color as it browns and the heavy bottom ensures the butter heats evenly. Butter consists of clear yellowish butterfat, water, and milk proteins. It’s the proteins that are actually browning
STEP 2: Cook off the water. Butter contains 13 to 17% water, which has to go before the fat’s temperature can rise enough to brown the milk proteins. Once the butter reaches a temperature of 212°F, the water in the butter starts to quickly evaporate. As a result the butter will start to bubble and splatter dramatically. At this point you can place a splatter screen over the pan, though swirling the pan and stirring constantly to make sure any and all bubbles get released will work as well.
STEP 3: Begin the browning. After about five minutes the butter will start to foam. This is when you want to watch the butter like a hawk, stirring it around with your spatula to prevent the milk solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
You can tell the butter is browning because dark golden flecks (browned milk solids) will appear in the melted butter, which will start to smell nutty and toasty.
The foam can make it hard to see if the butter is browned to your liking, so to check the color, try clearing away some of the foam with a spoon or take the pan off the heat and spoon a little of the butter onto a white plate.
Once you’re happy with the level of browning, pour the butter—browned milk solids and all—into a heatproof bowl and stir it for one or two minutes to cool it down. If you were to leave the butter in the pan, the residual heat would continue to cook it, and the butter might scorch from a perfect brown to a burnt-tasting black.
Also, keep in mind that only the milk solids turn a dark golden brown, not the butter itself. The fat will be darker as well, but not as dramatically as the milk solids.
There are 3 basic kinds of browned butter. First there’s golden brown. When you first start to see the milk solids appear, pull the pan off the stove. This version is perfect for incorporating into a salad dressing or a vegetable dish (roasted carrots with toasted nuts, for instance).
Next comes brown-brown butter. Even 15 seconds of further cooking and the milk solids get just a touch darker. Slightly darker means slightly richer in flavor, adding the perfect intricacies to finish pasta or fish dishes.
Lastly, there’s nearly-blackened brown butter. Here’s where you may think you’ve burned, or ruined it. This is the version of browned butter that most professional bakers cream into baked goods.

Recipe and photo from

Brown Butter Cake with Fruit

Yield: a 9″ round cake
Prep Time: 30 min + 2-4 hrs cooling afterward
Cook Time: 50 min

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon browned butter cooled to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups plus 3 teaspoons flour
  • 2 2/3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 nectarines
  • 2/3 cup frozen raspberries


1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with baking parchment. (The parchment will stick to the sides of the pan with a little bit of butter.) NOTE: The batter rises more evenly when the cake pan is lined with parchment. Simply buttering the pan will often result in a very domed cake.
2. Using a mixer, cream together the brown butter and the sugar in a medium-sized bowl, until the mixture has become slightly pale and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula when needed.
4. Add milk, vanilla, flour and salt; stir mixture with a spoon or rubber spatula, until flour is absorbed by the liquid. Mix with mixer until batter is completely smooth.
5. Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
6. Wash nectarines; cut them into little pieces.
7. Place nectarine pieces on top of the batter and sprinkle the raspberries (still frozen) on top. Completely cover top of the batter with fruit.
8. Bake approximately 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve either warm or cold, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Kathy notes:
I made the cake as directed, used my springform pan; baked 40 min.
Let the cake cool in the springform pan. It did help to line the pan with parchment first. After it cools, slide the cake off the springform plate/parchment paper and onto the large plate.
Note: If using blackberries, raspberries, or other berries with tiny seeds, then thaw/cook those in the pan first, and run through a sieve. The berry seeds are yucky with the cake.