Soon-to-be mystery debut author Debra Sennefelder has two constant writing companions: her Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy. She's been an avid reader since childhood and found writing came naturally for her. When she's not writing, she loves to cook, exercise (yes, really) and read. Learn more about Debra at her website.
Once upon a time there was a writer who was in the midst of writing a manuscript while working a full-time job and caring for an injured dog at Christmas, and just when she didn't think her to-do list could get any longer, it did. She had to bake for her 20-plus co-workers. She needed something quick, easy and had a high yield because she was short on time. The countdown to Christmas day had begun and she needed her own little baking miracle. Then a flash of inspiration hit and within a couple hours she was packing up the cargo space in her SUV with treats for her co-workers. What saved the day? Cranberry Eggnog Mini-Pound cakes.
Let me first start by saying that I do prefer to make my own cake batter from scratch but I was a desperate woman and I needed fast more than I needed homemade cake batter. And I do have a fondness for Betty Crocker since it was the go-to for my mom when I was a kid. I looked through what I had on hand and that's when the inspiration sparked and I quickly gathered all the ingredients—eggs, vanilla, eggnog, cranberries. I used the eggnog in place of the milk. Add in some chopped cranberries and a plain pound cake became festive. Bake them in pretty molds and they become giftable (is that a real word? probably not but you know what I mean).
I always have a large roll of cellophane on hand and various ribbons stashed away for any occasion. I did have a stack of cake boards that I cut into small discs for the cakes. But that was a little time-consuming so now I just wrap the cakes in the cellophane. If you're really short on time you can bake one large cake or a couple of loaf cakes according to the directions on the box. I do love the smaller
These little cakes showed me that simple sometimes is the best thing we can do. We get so caught up in all the things we think need to be done for the holidays and yet these very easy treats have become one of my most requested desserts and I'm happy to whip up a batch.
The recipe? There really isn't one. But here are the basics and don't be afraid to experiment. I've made mini-petite cakes and added Bailey's Vanilla Cinnamon to the batter.
1 box of pound cake mix along with the ingredients listed on the box but you'll replace the milk with eggnog and you'll add 3/4 cup finely chopped cranberries to the batter along with a dash of vanilla. In addition, confectioners' sugar to dust each cake.
For the mini-cakes pictured above I bake them for 18-22 minutes, it all depends on your oven.
I typically get 6-9 mini-pound cakes from each box.
If you're using mini-bundt pans be sure not to overfill each mold with batter or else you'll never get the cake out. (Been there.)
I wish you a joyous holiday season!