Gateau des Rois

French for “King Cake,” I made this dessert for extra credit in French class back in the day. How I miss the days extra credit was this easy. You can dye the frosting for Mardi Gras, as shown.


  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • Cake:
  • 12 refrigerated crescent rolls


  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 T milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Soak raisins in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Place cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins in food processor with metal blade. Process until combined. Add pecans and pulse until pecans are chopped to about 1/4″ pieces. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a pizza pan or baking sheet with butter-flavored vegetable oil.

Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles. Position triangles next to each other with the points toward the center, overlapping the long sides about 1/4″, forming a large round. Where the pieces overlap, press the seams together only in the center of each seam, leaving either ends of the seams unsealed so you can fold them up over the filling. Spread the filling around in a ring covering the center sealed seam of each triangle. Place a small plastic baby or dried bean somewhere in the filling.

Fold the short side of each triangle toward the center just to the edge of the filling to cover. Then pull the point end of the triangles toward the outer rim of the pan to fully enclose the filling, tucking under the points. Lightly press the seams. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. The consistency should be fairly thick, but still thin enought to slowly drip down the sides. Add more milk as necessary. Spoon icing in a ring over the top of the cake and allow it to slowly drip down the sides.

Notes: Icing doesn’t have much flavor, but filling was delicious!


Darn Good Chocolate Cake

  • vegetable oil, for misting pan
  • flour, for dusting pan
  • 18.25 oz plain devil’s food cake or dark chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 3.9 oz chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup water, warm
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Prepare cake pan and preheat oven to 350°. Blend cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, water and vegetable oil with mixer on low for 1 minute. Increase to medium and beat 2-3 minutes more. Batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into pan. Place on center rack in oven and bake 45-50 minutes until cake springs back when lightly touched and just starts to pull away from sides of pan. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert on rack to finish cooling.

Notes: To freeze: Wrap in foil up to 6 months. Don’t use pudding-in-mix cake mix.

From The Cake Mix Doctor

Chocolate Better than ? Cake

  • 18.25 oz plain devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup pecans, chopped
  • 3.9 oz chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean or sunflower
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Lightly mist a 10″ tube pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set pan aside.

Place 2 T cake mix, chocolate chips, and pecans in a small bowl. Stir and set aside.

Place remaining cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat 2-3 minutes more. The batter should be thick and well-blended. Fold in chocolate chip and pecan mixture until it is well distributed. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with spatula.

Bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 50-55 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert it on a serving platter, allowing it to cool 20 minutes more.

Notes: The chocolate chips and pecans are well suspended in this cake. A stiff batter and the extra step of tossing the chips and nuts with a little cake mix (as you would flour them in a from-scratch recipe) prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the pan.

Great with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

From The Cake Mix Doctor

Carrot Cake

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups carrots, raw, grated
  • ½ cup raisins, optional
  • ½ cup nuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup liquid Crisco
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs

Grease and flour bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Beat one minute at low speed and 2 minutes at medium speed. Pour into pan. Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes until it springs back when touched in center.

Use with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

My sister and I make my mom pineapple upside-down cake for her birthday every year. And ever since I was little, I remember her saying homemade can never be beat by a box mix. But ever since giving this recipe a try, this is the one we stick with every year. We just make sure to stir in extra love to make up for Betty Crocker’s helping hand. 🙂
  • 1 cube butter, more, not less
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can pineapple
  • cherries
  • ½ cup nuts, chopped
  • 1 box cake mix, any flavor but chocolate

Drain pineapple and save juice. In frying pan, preferably an iron skillet, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar. Lower heat, cook and stir until smooth. While still hot, place pineapple slices in a circle in pan. Be sure to have 1 slice in the center. Place cherry halves around pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts over all and remove from heat. Allow to set. Mix cake according to package directions, using 1/2 water and 1/2 pineapple juice for liquid. (If recipe calls for 1 2/3 cups liquid total, then add 1/3 and 1/2 cup of pineapple juice and 1/3 and 1/2 cup of water.) Pour batter into skillet. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Notes: I use Banana Nut Cake Mix – French Vanilla Moist Deluxe also good. Flip cake out onto dish before cooled, let sit a couple minutes, gently edge around pan with a knife, then flip onto dish.