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Blueberry boy bait is essentially the same as blueberry coffee cake but it has a fun little story behind it.  Supposedly, a teenaged girl entered this cake into the Pillsbury Bake Off in 1954, won second place, and stole the show (evidently, considering it is still a popular cake 56 years later).  She named it after the effect that it had on boys.  So, needless to say, this recipe won’t be passed onto my little girl until at least 56 more years have passed.

Obviously, this recipe starts with blueberries.  But look beyond them in the picture above and notice the AMAZING berry bowl.  Meghan’s mom, Erin, sent it to me for my birthday and I use it almost as much as the oven.  It is never sitting on the shelf during the summer.  And why would it be?  You can clean the berries and then keep them in the fridge all in the same bowl.  No unitaskers allowed!  Alton Brown would be so proud.

Pieces of this cake are also good to package up and give to the neighbors or whomever you please.  My poor neighbors end up as test subjects for a lot of these recipes that make too much for two people… but they have never complained, so I figure I won’t stop until I see their lights turn out and curtains close every time I walk by.  Actually, one set of neighbors is moving!  I wonder if it has anything to do with the brownies I dropped off a couple of weeks ago…

Regardless, this boy bait is a winner.  It is moist and berrylicious and somehow with the blueberries I don’t feel so bad about all of the butter that goes into it.  Don’t even look below yet.  Let’s just sit here for a minute and imagine that this is health food. 

Ok, you can look now.  But trust me, it’s worth it!

Blueberry Boy Bait (from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Cook’s Country):

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

Topping:
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:

Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

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Bakerella has pretty much made these little cake balls famous by creating characters and turning them into lollipops and doing pretty much any other creative thing that you could ever think to do with a call of cake.  I have always been intrigued from a distance but have never worked up the courage to make them.  I mean the whole idea of it seems contradictory: you use boxed cake mix and store-bought frosting so it should be easy, but then all of the different steps like rolling the cake into little balls and dipping each one into chocolate is pretty labor intensive.  I use the term “labor intensive” as someone who sits at a desk for 7 hours a day and then goes home to eat bon bons.  I realize that dipping candies into chocolate doesn’t make a normal person work up a sweat.

So anyway, I finally broke down and tried it.  It was certainly a lot harder than making a cake, but gets more of a reaction, too.  It is easy to say no to a piece of cake (well, it is easy for some people) but there is no denying one of these harmless little calorie-free treats.  You can’t say no!

The cake balls that I made we funfetti themed because it was for my birthday, and they were good, but super sweet.  Which worked out fine because it kept me from eating 12 of them.  Everyone else at dinner who tried the cake balls seemed to like them, so that’s a good sign.  The white chocolate was more of a hit than the dark chocolate. I’m not sure why, but it is something to keep in mind.   

I was surprised that when combined with the icing the cake balls taste more like cake batter than real cake.  Like little truffles.  And doesn’t the name “cake batter truffles” just sound more elegant?  Ok, it’s decided then.  They will now officially be called cake batter truffles.  Spread the word.

Cake Balls (adaped from Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake Balls):

1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
1 package semi-sweet or milk chocolate bark
1 package white chocolate bark
wax paper

After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
Mix thoroughly with 1 can of frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper).
Chill for several hours.  You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.
Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.) I also only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot.

Soda cupcakes are what you make when you have little time and limited ingredients in the house.  They are easy, low in calories (if you use diet soda instead of regular), and easily customizable without much risk.  You can make a chocolate cake with Coke, a white cake with Sprite (or tonic water), or you can get creative and make different flavors (such as the super easy pumpkin muffins).  Essentially, boxed cake mix really just needs 12-15 ounces of liquid to work. 

For this recipe I wanted to put a citrus twist on these cupcakes.  It ended up working out really well.  Lemon is just such a clean, refreshing taste, and I love it combined with sugar.  Really, I love any food that has lemon in it, but especially sweets.

Here is the recipe:

For the cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
~10 ounces diet lemon lime soda (like Sprite)
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

For the frosting:
1 container of store-bought vanilla frosting
2 Tbsp lemon juice

The cake tends to end up better if the soda is flat, so if you have an open 2 liter bottle in the fridge, then that’s great.  If not, a new one will work fine, too (bottle or can).  Either way, you mix all of the ingredients together.  Easy as that! 

Next, fill a cupcake pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  I made 12 big cupcakes, but this could just as easily make really fun bite-size cakes in a mini-muffin pan.  Bake until the cupcake tops are a light golden brown and a toothpick or knife comes out clean.  This is usually about 15-20 minutes, depending on how your oven cooks.  Obviously, if you are making the mini cakes you need to cook them for less time.   You can also refer to the box that the cake mix came in and see what that particular brand recommends.

After you take the cupcakes out of the oven, let them cool completely.  We don’t want the frosting melting all over them. 

In order to make the frosting lighter, put it into a mixing bowl, add in the lemon juice, and whip it up with a mixer (or a wisk) to add air.  This makes it less dense, and, in my opinion, a lot better. 

Then you can either pipe the frosting on or just lather it on there with a knife.  Both ways taste exactly the same!

So, here they are (in all of their blurry image glory). My entry to the holiday bake-off at work. It is before Thanksgiving (yes, I realize that Thanksgiving was a month ago) so the candy corn wasn’t so out of place at the time.  The bake-off happens every fall for charity, and last year I went all out and made caramel apple cupcakes.  They were delicious and fun and won the judges’ award… but they were also ridiculously labor intensive.  You have to make the cupcakes, core the middle of them to fill with homemade cream cheese frosting, and then dip them in caramel.  So, this year I decided that I was going to put as little effort in as possible to even out the hard work last year.  Logical?  Not really.  Well, kind of. 

So, what I did was make the super easy pumpkin muffins but I changed them into cupcakes by putting the brown sugar inside instead of sprinkling it on top.  It made them sweeter, and left the top clean for the cinnamon cream cheese frosting that I was going to lather on top.   Then, for effect, and in a desperate attempt to get votes, I threw a piece of candy corn on top.  Jake came up with this good idea.  He’s a keeper. 

I’m sad to report that these puppies only won me 3rd place (well, technically I tied for 2nd, but there are no ties in baking), but they are so easy that I couldn’t complain. Plus, the winner made this crazy-good pear ginger cheesecake that probably took her a week to make. I had two samples just to be sure that it was delicious.

So, the cupcake info is:

1 box of spice cake mix
1 can of pure pumpkin. PURE pumpkin! Not pumpkin pie filling!
3 tablespoons of brown sugar

Mix this all up with hand or stand mixer, Since it is a very dense cake batter, trying to do it with elbow strength alone is possible, but not very fun. Scoop the batter into cupcake pans, filling them about 3/4 fullm and then bake like it says on the box. I tend to check it a little early with a toothpick though because you don’t want to burn the bottoms! Let them cool completely before icing.

Speaking if icing… (adapted from my handy dandy Joy of Cooking cookbook)

8 oz of neufatchel cheese right out of the fridge. Cream cheese is also good here, but it is higher in fat and tastes the same (in my opinion).
5 Tbsp softened butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered suger
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon (depending on how spicy you like it!)

Beat the cream cheese into submission, and then throw the butter in and beat them together. Next, add the vanilla and beat it all some more.  Who knew frosting could be so violent?   Once they are all combined, SLOWLY add in the powdered sugar. If you don’t do it slowly then you will quickly learn why I put the word slowly in all caps. Once it is all incorporated, add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Taste test it and keept adding more until you have the amount of flavor that you like.

I piped the icing on top so that it would look better and be cleaner/easier than using a knife. The taste of the frosting can be overwhelming, so don’t overdo it too much. I mean, lather it on, but don’t laaather it on, you know? Then throw a candy corn on top (completely optional, obviously) and eat it as quickly as possible. Or sell it for charity.

Speaking of which, our little bake-off made over $400 for the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. Hooray!

Here is a picture of one of the mini tasting cupcakes before the candy corn was put on:

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