Thursday, April 6, 2017

Lemon and Blueberry Bliss

Nothing says "Springtime!" quite like constant tornado watches and getting hit in the face with ten pounds of pollen every time you leave your house. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised what with this being our inaugural spring in Florida that it bears a remarkable resemblance to springtime in West Texas. I've yet to see how locals react to a tornado warning though. If I walk outside to find several neighbors also looking for said tornado instead of seeking shelter, I'll really feel like I'm home! What? We don't have basements in Texas...if a tornado is going to take us out, we at least want to witness the awe of its indestructible force in action. Sheltering in place is for the timid! We can huddle in the closet for safety later. And when we do, I've found the perfect cake to encompass the feeling of spring exuberance, but with minimal guilt for those of us that also realize the month of April is on the precipice of swimsuit season. Behold--the skinny lemon blueberry poke cake!
You can also witness the awe of my sheer force of will to eat dessert and stay thin.
 Say goodbye to simple lemon poke cakes--layer them all with blueberries! I took a more is more approach with this cake; what can I say, I relish the opportunity to outdo myself culinarily. At only 204 calories per 12 slices, I've also outdone myself in the flavor to calorie ratio. I'd let you congratulate me, but clearly I'm still too busy patting myself on the back for coming up with this idea. I did, however, fail epically at remembering to take photos while making parts of this cake. I was trying to clean the house, do laundry, make dinner, and prepare for my in-laws to visit all in one evening. Even I have my moments. I will say it was totally worth all the effort and slight delirium. Not only did my husband's parents get treated like they were in the finest of cozy hotels, they even got cake. When was the last time Hilton did that for anyone? Exactly.
Yes, there are people in this world that drink Fresca.
To make the low cal cake, grab a box of vanilla or white cake, two egg whites, and 10 ounces of diet lemon-lime soda; I used Fresca because I'm 87 years old and enjoy drinking Fresca, but Diet Sprite would work just fine as well. Mix all three ingredients together for 2 minutes, preheat your oven to 350, and grease a 9x13 cake pan. Pour your batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 23-25 minutes (remember, cakes baked with soda cook faster than the times on the box).
After the cake has cooled about 20-30 minutes, take the end of a wooden spatula and poke holes in your cake.
This part always hurts me a little...I hate ruining a smooth cake, but in the end, all that delicious lemony blueberry goodness has to go somewhere!
 At this point, you can make both the lemon and blueberry fillings. Totally remembered to take photos of the lemon filling ingredients, but I did not remember to take photos of the blueberry sauce ingredients, so bear with my're actually going to have to read and not just look to figure it out. I apologize for causing your brain any undue trauma. 
I always feel like it should say "Real" Lemon.
To make the lemon filling, you're gonna need to do some Googling. Sugar free lemon Jello is surprisingly not stocked at every grocery store in the land. The Jello website can tell you where to find it though. Trust in Publix--they saved me all the calories by having this in stock. Publix is probably my favorite thing in Florida. It's like the Floridian equivalent to an H-E-B. Granted, no grocery store (except maybe Meijer's, bless you, Michigan) could ever come close to rivaling the greatness that is H-E-B, but Publix doesn't make me feel sad inside like Walmart, so it's got that going for it. I digress. To make the lemon filling you need:
  • 1 package of sugar free lemon Jello
  • 1 package of sugar free instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
To make, mix all ingredients together in a medium sauce pan. Cook while continually stirring until the mix comes to a boil. Continue to stir and cook for an additional minute before removing from heat. Allow about ten minutes to cool and thicken up. This is a thinner consistency, but you also need to have room for the blueberry portion of the poke cake, so this works well for that.
And you get to lick the whisk with no calorie guilt!
 Once cooled off a bit, slowly and carefully pour the mix into all the holes you poked in your cake earlier.
Inset Homer Simpson drooling noises here.
 So messy, yet so perfect. Place into the freezer while you make your blueberry mix. For this, feel slight annoyance there's no photo and gather:
  • 1 1/2-2 cups of blueberries (I used 1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces, and it was plenty)
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1 tbs flour
Dump all ingredients into a small or medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil and continue to occasionally stir and cook the sauce for 20 minutes. Things will be mushy and delightful. Allow the mix to cool for 10 minutes, and then grab your cake out of the freezer.
Even the colors complement each other. As a Vikings fan, purple and yellow just feel right together.
 Carefully pour the blueberry mix a little at a time on top of the pudding layer. Use a spatula to help you spread it out evenly. Some of it will spread into the poked holes while the rest creates a thin layer on top of the cake. Either way, it's going to amount to a perfect forkful with each bite. Now, place into the freezer for at least two hours to set.
I've become addicted to Cool Whip Free.
 I used to HATE Cool Whip. It was a poor substitution for real frosting in my greedy, sweet-toothed opinion. As I've adjusted my eating habits, I find Cool Whip honestly adds the right amount of sweetness to certain desserts. With all the fruit in this cake, a standard buttercream would simply be way too much sugar. Once your cake has set, top it off with about 8 ounces of Cool Whip Free. I can only ever find these in the large tubs, so I had plenty leftover for future late night snacking.
Also, I can get Cool Whip to make these wicked awesome peaks. So it's got that going for it, too.
I just used a spoon and the swirl and lift method to make my peaks. Then I placed my glorious creation into the fridge to allow the cake to set overnight, and, mostly, so that I wouldn't eat it before my in-laws arrived. People like you more when you don't eat cake without them. 
Worth the wait.
 So this cake has a lot of filling and getting slices onto the plate without a mess simply wasn't possible. But I really didn't care because look at it. It's beautiful. Full of bright lemony goodness and deep blueberry amazingness.
It's even more drool-worthy up close.
 This was a big winner. It's a light and fluffy cake, but the addition of both the tart lemon and sweet blueberry fillings were a perfect balance in decadence and flavor. The airy addition of Cool Whip was, literally, the icing on the cake. I love an accurate metaphor! We just finished the last two slices with lunch today, and I already can't wait to make this again. It has so many elements to it that you don't even realize you're eating a cake with minimal calories. I already have designs on a lemon raspberry or a strawberry lemon skinny cake for the summer. But this lemon and blueberry bliss is a perfect springtime cake. Great for those moments when the pollen count is too high and the tornado watches are driving you inside. Grab a slice of this, and it feels like you can actually be at peace with the season that tries its damnedest to kill you. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
I miss you already, cake.

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