Did anyone else grow up eating Little Debbie’s snack cakes?
My mom bought them for every major holiday and included them in our school lunches. It’s been at least a decade since I’ve eaten one (when I learned I’m gluten intolerant). But with this gluten free, copycat version, I can enjoy a snack cake any time I want! And so can you!
This recipe uses classic yellow cakes, sandwiched around a sweet marshmallow buttercream. They’re coated with white or semi-sweet chocolate and topped with sprinkles for a festive look.
Just be prepared, because this is a time-consuming recipe. There are several steps, including chilling time.
The cake recipe itself is fairly straightforward. The only “unusual” ingredient I use is butter extract, which gives the cake a richer flavor. Another “unusual” step is that the cake is baked in a half-sheet pan instead of a standard cake pan.
Once the cake is baked, you’ll need to chill it in the freezer for about an hour. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan onto a wire cooling rack lined with parchment or wax paper before placing it in the freezer. The parchment/wax paper will prevent the cake from sticking to the wire rack.
Cut out square cakes if you don’t want any scraps. Otherwise toss the leftovers or use them to make cake pops. (I haven’t perfected my cake pop recipe yet).
Use a slotted dipping spoon (like this one) while you’re pouring chocolate over each snack cake. If you want all white chocolate or all semi-sweet chocolate, simply double the ingredients for your chosen flavor.
These snack cakes are perfect for Valentine’s Day, but they can also be customized for other holidays using different cookie cutters. Tag me @rosesandwhiskers on Instagram if you make them and use the hashtag #rosesandwhiskers.
Valentine's Snack Cakes
- 2 1/2 cups gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour or substitute all-purpose flour for gluten-full snack cakes
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp butter extract
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 tbsp Crisco
- 3.5 oz marshmallow creme (1/2 of 7 oz jar)
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp whole milk
- 12 oz semi-sweet baker's chocolate
- 12 oz white chocolate baking bar
- 2 tbsp Crisco
- assorted sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and grease a rimmed baking sheet (also called a half-sheet pan) with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and then grease the top of that with butter. Coat the pan with flour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter, sour cream and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs and yolks, one at a time, until well-incorporated. Mix in the extracts.
- Gradually stir in the flour mixture on low speed, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour mixture.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire cooling rack lined with parchment or wax paper. Let the cake cool for a few minutes, and then place it in the freezer for 1 hour.
Frosting and Decorating
- Prepare the frosting while the cake is chilling in the freezer. Cream the butter, Crisco and marshmallow creme until smooth and fluffy. Gradually incorporate the powdered sugar, 2 tbsp of milk and the vanilla. Then beat on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add another tbsp of milk if needed.
- Take the cake out of the freezer. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter (mine is 2.75 inches wide) to cut out 24 hearts. (Toss the scraps or use them to make cake pops!) Pipe frosting onto one side of 12 of the hearts. Press the remaining hearts on top of the frosted hearts. Use a knife to smooth any frosting that oozes out of the sandwich. Place the snack cakes in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- After an hour, melt the baking bars (start with one type of chocolate or the other) and 1 tbsp of Crisco according to the instructions on the package. I used the microwave. Once the chocolate is melted take six cakes out of the refrigerator and place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or a silicone baking sheet. Let the chocolate cool and the cakes warm for 5 minutes.
- Hold a snack cake over the melted chocolate using a slotted dipping spoon. Then using a regular spoon, pour the chocolate over the cake, making sure it coats the top and sides. Gently remove the cake from the spoon onto the prepared baking sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat for the remaining five cakes, and then repeat the melting and coating process with the other type of chocolate and the other six cakes.
- Let the cakes set in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Then store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container.