Cakes And Frostings

Boozy Pecan Dump Cake

While you might remember making dump cakes in second grade science class, this sophisticated version is nothing like the messy, below average results in your mind’s eye. A crispy chocolate crust studded with toasted pecans blankets creamy whiskey-infused vanilla custard. Sound like a mouthful? That’s because it is—a downright delicious one. Here’s the difference: most dump cakes start with store-bought ingredients like instant pudding and boxed cake mix. We tried baking instant pudding and it bubbled, thickened, and strangely took on the flavor of scrambled eggs, leading us to conclude that making a quick homemade custard is the best option. You’ll also make your own cake mix for a tastier, preservative-free treat.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

This sunny yellow cake would be a delightful way to finish off brunch or even start a special breakfast (we won’t tell). It’s a bit like a lemon bar, only super fluffy. Ricotta adds a ton lightness to the custardy base, and the cake topping is crisp and sweet. You can certainly dump all of the ingredients into the baking dish and mix them up in there, but it’s a bit easier to combine them in a big bowl first (it’s just one dirty dish!). Let your baked masterpiece cool completely before scooping it out or cutting into squares.

Dark Chocolate-Pumpkin Dump Cake

Think of this cake as an easier version of pumpkin pie—baked in a 9x13-inch baking dish instead of a pie crust. In fact, we modified our classic pumpkin pie recipe to create the base of the cake, adding plenty of chopped semi-sweet chocolate so every bite is a creamy combination of custardy pumpkin and melted chocolate. Sweetening the deal, the cakey topping tastes intensely like a molten chocolate cake. You have our full permission to enjoy this dream team (pumpkin and chocolate, that is) all year long, not just around the holidays. It’s so simple you can.

Apple Streusel Dump Cake

To be honest, we’d liken this “cake” to an amped-up mega-delicious apple crisp. The base is made with baking apples, cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice for balance, just like pie filling. In the spirit of dump cakes, the fruit mixture is covered with a crispy topping that you quickly dump together (we added some rolled oats for texture, plus cinnamon and ginger for oomph). For a finishing touch that plays up the dessert’s similarity to apple crisp, we decided to top it off with an extra layer of streusel. And not just any streusel: big, buttery, crunchy crumbs.

Cherry Coconut Dump Cake

It’s sweet and sophisticated, simple and speedy: 15 minutes of hands-on time and you’re done (really). There’s nothing not to love about this dessert. If you stash some frozen cherries in the freezer, it can truly become your backpocket sweet treat, because you should have everything else on hand. It’s pretty served straight from the pan, or in big scoops with vanilla ice cream. Dish it up at your next dinner party and no one will ever guess that you dumped all of the ingredients together, stuck it in the oven, and drank a glass of wine while it was baking.

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9 Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

Sometimes, the world of Halloween desserts is a scary place. That “bloody brains bowl” looks a little too much like, well, bloody brains to be appetizing. But have no fear: these nine cupcakes strike the perfect balance between cute and spooky. Like the surface of a round sugar cookie, cupcakes are the perfect canvas for your artistic creations. Take your pick between options like gorgeous glittery pumpkin cupcakes, adorable “Fraidycat” cupcakes, or appropriately creepy vampire cupcakes. Each recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients, no more than 6 total. If you have some extra time, whip up a batch of your favorite cupcakes and frosting because fresh is always better. However, if you’re in a pinch the great news is you can always buy premade cupcakes from the bakery section of your grocery store and decorate those. Or make your own cupcakes and frost with store-bought icing. We recommend picking up an inexpensive small offset spatula to help with a super neat and speedy frosting job. You’ll be assembling each cupcake with a variety of toppings, so small glass bowls that keep your decorating station organized will be your best friends. If you’re making ahead, store them on a large plate or tray or cake stand and loosely tent or wrap them in plastic to keep them fresh. When you’re displaying your cupcakes, try dispersing several votive candles between them for an extra festive, extra shadowy touch.

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