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Nicole Franz is a copy editor and paginator at The News-Herald in Willoughby. She takes all those sweet recipes, grueling workouts, cleaning tips, money-saving tricks, do-it-yourself projects and looks that seem so cool on Pinterest and writes about how they really turn out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Healthier cake with packed pumpkin, any boxed cake mix

I’ve been dying to make cake bites since I started this blog. But the first step of making cake bites (a.k.a. cake pops or cake balls) is to bake a cake. So I started out with a healthier base to this sugary confection. 

I didn’t bake the cake to the instructions. I cheated a little to make it healthier (or as healthy as anything can be when it involves a tub of icing and chocolate coating). My mom passed along this tip, which she may have gotten from my sister-in-law Karen or my sister Liz, that you can take any boxed cake mix and — instead of adding oil and eggs — you just add a can (15 ounces) of solid packed pumpkin instead. That’s all it takes. Packed pumpkin and cake mix all mixed up and baked in the oven to the directions on the side of the cake box. There’s a pin floating around that highlights the awesomeness of this technique in muffin-form.
I’ve been using this trick to make healthier (and pumpkin-flavored treats for more than a year). The cakes are still moist and delicious but much healthier than if you had added eggs and oil. 

In my experience the pumpkin flavoring complements spice cakes and carrot cakes and enhances white and yellow cake mixes, but in chocolate cake it’s virtually untraceable. Most people have no clue there’s pumpkin in it unless you tell them. 

Anyway, I wanted to make German chocolate cake bites with coconut pecan frosting and a dark chocolate coating and spice cake bites with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate coating. So I started off with the German chocolate cake.

Mixing the cake batter and the packed pumpkin it ends up being a bit thicker than the standard eggs- and oil-filled cake batter. Once it was all mixed up I dumped it into a metal pan and attempted to evenly spread it around. I didn’t really have to worry about how it looked though (my favorite kind of baking) because I was just going to crumble it up when I made the cake bites. 

I baked it to instructions and let it cool.

Then I mixed up the spice cake and packed pumpkin. This one didn’t really mix as smoothly as the German chocolate cake. The spice cake has little lumps in the mix that wouldn’t really mix up no matter how much I stirred the batter. So I didn’t worry about it, dumped the mix in a glass baking dish and tried to spread the thick batter as evenly as I could (again, not worrying about the aesthetics). 

I baked it to the instructions on the side of the box, then pulled it out to let it cool. I covered both the cakes and put them out of sight so my roommate wouldn’t be tempted to indulge while I headed to work. 

The next day, I got to work on all the other steps that resulted in some pretty popular treats, but I will blog about that in another post.

Love pumpkin? 

I've also blogged about soft pumpkin cookies that are hard not to scarf down, a pumpkin French toast bake that will brighten any morning, and an easy and delicious pumpkin cheesecake.

— Nicole Franz | | @FranzOrFoe
Follow my Mission: Pinpossible board on Pinterest.

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