Cake in a Jar
August 12, 2019 by Nicole Collins
Believe it or not, I'm not much of a cake eater.
You guys would probably never believe that though, since I keep throwing cake recipes at you like this Mug Cake and like today's recipe.
But, every now and then I get a craving for cake. I guess since it's not something I usually want, when the craving hits, it's relentless.
About a year ago, I discovered this company called Don't Forget Cakes that makes cake in a jar. What I thought was interesting about this particular brand is that the jars can be stored in the fridge and the freezer, making them shelf stable to keep on hand for weeks to months.
Most people know that you can freeze cake but that frosting doesn't freeze well. So, it seemed genius that this company figured out that cream cheese frosting on cake in a jar actually freezes quite nicely. As soon as they hit stores in my area, I stocked up on all of their flavors.
There was just one problem. The cake was AWFUL!
Ok, it wasn't awful. But, it wasn't good. It was SOOOOOOOOO dry. And, the cream cheese frosting was nothing to write home about either. The flavors were classic flavors that you'd pair with cream cheese frosting: red velvet, carrot, and some caramel chocolate situation. But, it was just “meh”.
I loved the idea that I could grab a few bites of cake, screw the lid back on, and walk away without being committed to a whole slice. But, I obviously wasn't the only one that thought these didn't taste good. Because within a few months time, the only stores in the area that sold this product stopped selling them because they weren't moving off the shelves. (I asked because I think I was more addicted to the concept than the product.)
So today, I'm doing my own thing and making my own much better version of this treat that was such a great idea in theory but not in practice.
Today we're making Cake in a Jar!
First, I have to be honest. I'm recycling the jars that this company sold their products in. They're actually GREAT containers that are dishwasher safe and have held up well. You can get similar ones on Amazon. But, is that wrong that I'm using their packaging to make their product better?
Second, I have to be honest again. I'm cheating and using a boxed cake mix for this recipe. You guys know I'm not above boxed cake mixes, and I ALWAYS make my own frosting. Don't judge me! Plus, we're going to doctor up some of the mix for two different flavors, anyways.
So, here's the plan. We're going to make 8 jars...4 flavors, 2 of each. Each jar is about 2 servings of cake. And, each jar can be stored and eaten straight from the fridge or the freezer. So, you can have your sweet tooth satisfied at basically any time!
For our flavors, we're making Lemon Blueberry, Oreo, Reese's, and Coconut jars of cake. And, they all start with one box of French Vanilla cake mix. Make the batter according to the package directions. Then, split the batter in half. And, split one of the halves in half again. So, we have three batches of batter. One of the small halves gets jazzed up with lemon zest and lemon juice. The other gets a little kiss of coconut extract. Then we're going to bake these off in 2 9 inch cake pans. Aluminum foil helps us create 2 cavities in one of the pans so we can bake our lemon and coconut batter at the same time!
After our cake is baked and cooled, it's time to cut it down to fit the jars. For the first few jars, I used a round biscuit cutter to make perfect circles to fit inside of the jars. But, by the time I got to the second round of jars, I was just fitting random scrapes and squares of cakes into the jars. As long as you're not filling the jars with crumbs, it's gonna taste good. So, who cares how you get the cake in the jar!
The cream cheese frosting we make will go in all of our jars. It's my go to recipe and comes together quickly with just some cream cheese, butter, heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. I found that transferring the frosting to a piping bag and piping the frosting into the jars was must easier (and neater) than trying to spoon it in.
Now for our cake toppings! For the lemon blueberry cake, we're going to make a quick fresh blueberry sauce out of blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and water. Let them simmer on the stovetop for about 15 mins until the blueberries start to break down, then let them cool completely before we transfer them to our jars. Then we'll also use some crushed Oreo cookies, some melted peanut butter and chopped Reese's cups, and some shredded coconut flakes to finish out our toppings for each flavor.
To build the jars, we've got cake, frosting, topping, repeat. These jars are built in double deckers, so you get a layer of everything twice with each spoonful!
On top of these flavors being my dream combinations when it comes to cake, the dessert itself it divine. The cake is moist and never dries out in the fridge or freezer thanks to the perfectly sweetened cream cheese frosting that seals it in the jar. I, admittedly, might keep a spoon sitting on my countertop so that I can take a scoop every time I walk by the fridge.
It's just one bite!
A few times a night...
These will last about a week in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. I like to let mine thaw in the fridge after it's been frozen, but you can eat a bite straight from the freezer. The frosting is like ice cream texture that way!
I'd say I'm sorry for all of the easy cake tricks I've been giving you lately, but it wouldn't be heartfelt. If I'm going down, you all are coming with me!!
I'd love to hear about any additional flavor combinations that you guys come up with for these cakes in a jar. The possibilities are endless!
For now, let's all enjoy. And, let's eat!!
Cake in a Jar
Serves: 8 jars (16 servings) Print
For the Cake:
1 box French Vanilla (or white) cake mix, batter prepared according to package directions.
½ heaping tsp lemon zest (grated lemon peel)
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp coconut extract
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened at room temperature
1 lb (16 oz or about 4 cups) powdered sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
For the Toppings:
½ cup blueberries
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
¼ cup peanut butter, melted
4 peanut butter cups, chopped
1/3 cup crushed Oreo pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly into two separate bowls. Pour one bowl into one prepared cake pan. Divide the second bowl of batter evenly again between two bowls. In one bowl, add lemon zest and 1 tsp lemon juice. Stir well to combine. In the second bowl, add coconut extract. Stir well to combine. Fold a sheet of aluminum foil into a strip the length of the cake pan and slightly higher than the cake pan. Position the strip of foil in the center of the cake pan (leaving a little foot on both sides of the strip to help it stabilize). Pour one bowl of batter on one side of the foil, and pour the other batter on the other side. Bake according to package directions. Cool cake completely.
Meanwhile, make the blueberry sauce: In a small saucepan over medium high heat, add blueberries, 1 tsp lemon juice, sugar, and water. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 mins, stirring occassionally, until the blueberries start to break down and become saucy. Remove from heat, and cool completely.
Make the Cream Cheese Frosting: Add softened cream cheese and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix together on medium high speed for 1 minute until everything is mixed together and looking creamy. Add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla to the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds until the sugar starts to incorporate in the butter mixture. Turn up to medium high speed, and finish mixing for about 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
Assemble the jars: For the Lemon Blueberry jars: In one jar, layer lemon cake, frosting, blueberry sauce, lemon cake, and frosting, in that order. Repeat with a second jar. For Reese's jars: In one jar, layer vanilla cake, frosting, 1 tbsp melted peanut butter, 1 chopped Reese cup, then repeat layers. Repeat with a second jar. For the Oreo jar: In one jar, layer vanilla cake, frosting, 1 ½ tbsp cookie crumbs, then repeat layers. Repeat with a second jar. For the Coconut jar: In one jar, layer coconut cake, frosting, 1 tbsp shredded coconut, then repeat layers. Repeat with a second jar.
Store jars in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
*These jars work great for this project. I'm sure mason jars would work for these too, though I haven't tried it.
*You want your cake layers to each be about ½ inch thick. I started by using a biscuit cutter the size of the jar to make pretty circles, then cut those in half. But, you'll eventually end up with scraps. There's not enough cake to make pretty circle cut outs for all of the jars. But, it doesn't matter what it looks like! As long as you have an even layer of cake (whether it's circles, squares, scraps), it'll work perfectly!
*I recommend using a piping bag to get the frosting into the jars. Keep the tip close to the cake as you're piping so that you get a nice, even layer of frosting.
*You can eat the cakes straight from the freezer if you want! The frosting becomes the same hardness as ice cream when you're first scooping it from the container, so it's totally manageable. The cake is still nice and soft. But, I prefer to thaw them in the fridge before eating. I like my frosting soft.
*You could use this same technique with tons of different flavor combinations. Just stick with cream cheese frosting.
*Each jar is 2 servings.
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