I've always loved the idea of a poke cake: bake a cake, poke holes in it, pour in a filling that compliments the cakes flavor, then top with something creamy. However, I hate that most recipes rely on mixes instead of homemade. The typical recipe calls for a boxed cake mix, pudding or jello mix, and coolwhip. The results are sweet, sweet, and sweeter with a touch of 'edible oil product' (aka cool whip).
It was begging for a homemade makeover.
I got started by making the following requirements:
-No extra time-consuming steps that make you wish that you had used a mix
-Must be served at room temperature or warm (poke cakes are usually eaten chilled due to the pudding or jello mixes, but it's freezing outside which makes cold cake unappealing).
Ingredients get stirred together in a bowl, poured into a pan and baked. Voila! As simple as a mix.
Next came the filling which was a little bit trickier. The only homemade version I had been able to find for poke cake used a dreamy sounding homemade pudding as the filling. Delicious? Yes. But much more time consuming than a mix with all the required stirring and cooking on the stove.
I wanted to be able to make the filling in the microwave from melted chocolate and some sort of dairy product. So I baked up a bunch of cakes to test out with different filling versions made from combinations of chocolate (bittersweet, unsweetened, semi-sweet) and dairy (cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk).
The winning combination was condensed milk, bittersweet chocolate, and a tiny bit of whipping cream. The condensed milk and cream are warmed up in the microwave and then the chocolate is stirred in. It produces a smooth fudgey filling that's deeply chocolatey and keeps the cake moist without making it fall apart.
Once the cake is baked and the filling is ready you use a chopstick to poke rows of holes...
... and then slowly pour the filling over the holes. It helps to pour slowly and try to fill up each hole before moving along to the next one. I like to let the cake rest 5 minutes or so and then use a spatula to smooth the filling over the holes again. It brings the stuff hiding on the sides to the holes in the center of the cake.
Then the cake rests for 4 hours (or overnight) before serving. Replacing
the coolwhip with whipping cream was a no-brainer but I also added a
shot of bourbon because it's the holidays and because bourbon is
When you slice the cake each piece has tunnels of oozying fudgy filling. It reminds me a chocolate version of tres leches cake because it stays so moist that it doesn't need any icing. It's all decadent and ready for the holidays, but the best part is that it comes together just as quickly as a boxed version.
Win, win, win and everybody gets homemade cake.
I created this recipe for my Globe and Mail Column. So head over there for the full recipe and instructions!