Once you start baking from scratch, cake mixes become almost repulsive. But, let's face it. It's almost impossible to completely live without them. Especially when the store puts them on sale for the price of the coupon you are carrying, making them free. Hence, my pantry has several cake mixes and one tub of chocolate frosting nearing expiration dates. What to do? Well doctor them, that's what!
Now I know you can't make a cake healthy no matter what you do. If it has white flour and white sugar it isn't healthy, period. But you have to do what you can to make it less UNhealthy. So I always try to lower the fat, if possible, and put anything in that might be close to healthy as long as it doesn't kill the recipe. (I went on a binge several years ago where I only made recipes with whole wheat flour, etc., etc. and no one would eat my desserts, including me. So I finally decided that the key is moderation. Enjoy the desserts but don't overdo it. Now the changes I make are usually unnoticed.) One change I like to make is to substitute Smart Balance buttery spread for butter. Smart Balance has the good fats in the proper balance, and it has a buttery taste. It contains olive oil. The other change I like to make whenever baking cakes is to substitute unsweetened applesauce for part of the fat in the recipe. I buy the little tubs that come in a package of 6, and always add them at the end of the mixing process.
Those of you on the west coast have PBLoco for peanut butter concoctions. Here on the east coast, it's Peanut Butter & Co. (ilovepeanutbutter.com). I have just recently discovered Dark Chocolate Dreams, made by Peanut Butter & Co. You can buy it from their website for something like $6.00/jar, or you can buy it from Wal-Mart for $3.34 a jar. They have other flavors as well, but Dark Chocolate Dreams is the one that caught my eye. I guess it's America's answer to Nutella, the European chocolate-hazlenut confection that everyone is so crazy about. I made a really good cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Dreams and submitted the recipe to betterrecipes.com. It was rated 5 stars and given a good review, but I didn't win. I'll post that recipe in a later blog. Since I still had half a jar left, I thought it would be good in the cake and frosting. I wasn't wrong. Combined with the coffee flavors from the coffee brandy and instant coffee granules, this was a winner. The peanut butter flavor is subtle and goes really nicely with the chocolate and the coffee. I gave all the mini-bundt cakes away and some of the mini cupcakes, but I kept some standard mini cupcakes to snack on, because they're really good. The recipe is below. I'm categorizing my recipe archives now, -- see the upper right sidebar -- thanks to Erika of tummytreasures.blogspot.com.