Photo courtesy bigbearswife.com
It’s almost Halloween, and that means it’s almost time for my family’s annual debate about the merits of candy corn.
(For the record, I’m pro, especially if you include those marshmallow pumpkins in the mix.)
But I understand candy corn is a divisive food, so I always feel guilty when I make a Halloween dessert that features it prominently. This year, I wanted to find a festive dessert without candy corn for the holiday, and I think I’ve got a winner in this Melting Witch Poke Cake. It’s not perfect, but it still will make people happy.
Make this cake on a day when you’ve got time to be at home. It’s not complicated, but it involves a lot of waiting. Preparing the cake batter, baking the cake and letting it cool took me about two hours, and then it had to sit in the fridge for another two hours so the pudding layer could set prior to it being topped.
Regardless of whether or not I make this full dessert again anytime soon, I’m going to save this chocolate cake recipe for year-round use. It came together quickly, it smelled fantastic, and it looked so rich and chocolatey when I pulled it out of the oven. It was so perfect that I felt bad poking holes in it.
I’d never made a poke cake before trying this recipe, but I was familiar with them because they were served in the dining hall at my college. My friend from rural Minnesota had to explain to me that the red liquid floating at the bottom of the cake was Jello mix. Pudding seems like a much better choice to me.
I added six drops of food coloring to my vanilla pudding, which made it sort of a slime-green shade. The recipe calls for two boxes of pudding mix and six cups of milk, but this was far too much for my cake. If you only whisked the pudding mixture slightly and didn’t let it thicken, then maybe you could get it all in the pan, but that is not what I did.
I almost wished I would have stopped at this step and decorated the cake with just the bright green pudding as the final layer. When I added food coloring to the whipped topping, I had to add significantly more than I did to the pudding. And because the base didn’t have the yellow tint to it that the pudding did, the color still was much more St. Patrick’s Day than Halloween.
For the witches hats on the top, I improvised a bit. I used halves of sandwich cookies for the brim of the hats and gummy Lifesavers as the decorations because my grocery store was out of the striped cookies and colored licorice.
The nice part is you can use your imagination and decorate it however you like. And, if you’re really in a pinch, you could always add candy corn.
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup boiling water
2 large boxes of instant vanilla pudding
6 cups cold milk
Green food coloring
1 large tub of whipped topping
Green food coloring
Witch hat cookies
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Mix in eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla.
4. Mix in boiling water until smooth.
5. Pour into a greased pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until done.
6. Let cake cool completely.
7. When cake is cool, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes into the cake.
1. Whisk together the milk and vanilla pudding mix until it just starts to get thick. Add in green food coloring and stir until green.
2. Spread the pudding all over the top of the cake. Place into the fridge and let sit for 2 hours.
3. Remove from the fridge after 2 hours.
4. Mix together the whipped topping and some green food coloring.
5. Top the cake with the green whipped topping and witches hats.