Confession: I love Little Debbie Valentine Snack Cakes. And the Christmas Tree Snack Cakes. Snack size vanilla cakes? Count me in! It was only a matter of time before I had to attempt making my own.
I’m happy to say, these taste so close to the real thing! Although a bit more time consuming than just picking up a box at the store, you can’t beat a homemade treat.
- Valentine Snack Cakes
Ingredients for the Vanilla Cake
5 large egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, line with parchment, and flour a 12 x 16 x 1 jelly roll pan/cookie sheet.
In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed for 30 seconds.
Add the butter and remaining milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Be careful to not over-bake. Let cool for 10 minutes before loosening the sides, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently peel the parchment paper off of cake and cool completely.
While cake cools, prepare filling:
Ingredients for the filling
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar!)
In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If you’re in a hurry, place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.
While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.
To assemble the cakes
Once the cake has cooled completely, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out as many hearts as you can. You want to have an even number. Place the flat side of one cake heart facing down, and spread filling on the top. Place another cake on top, flat side up. Repeat with all the cakes, you should get about 12-15, depending on the size of the cookie cutter you used. Place cakes on a wax paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
While cakes refrigerate, make the candy coating:
Ingredients for the candy coating:
4 cups pink candy melts
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 cup white chocolate candy melts or chips
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt pink candy melts and shortening, stopping to mix every 30 seconds. Once it’s fully melted and combined, place a cake in the bowl and gently spoon candy over the top. Slide a fork under the cake and lift it out, pausing to let the excess drip off. Place cake back on waxed paper. Repeat with all the cakes, then let sit at room temperature until coating is set. Since it’s thinned with shortening, it will set up firm, but not harden like chocolate.
Once all the cakes are set, melt the white chocolate and drizzle on the cakes.
* The pan you use doesn’t have to be that exact size, although I wouldn’t go any smaller. My cakes were very tall, and I wish I had used a bigger pan so my cake layer would have been thinner.
Sources: cake slightly adapted from Sweetapolita / filling Tasty Kitchen / candy coating slightly adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen