Pillbox

Lemons and java — easy exotic treats

Dark chocolate java pudding brownies are the perfect snack for a group meeting or study session. (credit: Celia Ludwinski | Assistant Photo Editor) Dark chocolate java pudding brownies are the perfect snack for a group meeting or study session. (credit: Celia Ludwinski | Assistant Photo Editor)

With the holidays just around the corner, you may be looking forward to a delectable dinner filled with traditional desserts. However, there is always that one dessert that stands out for being the tastiest and most creative. These easy-to-make treats with fun twists will impress and leave your guests wanting more!

Double-decker lemon zester
This two-layer cake, made with pre-packaged ingredients and a refreshing drink, brings a new lemon zest to your holiday dinner.

1 box lemon cake mix, 15 oz.
1 1/4 cups water
Powered lemonade mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Preheat oven according to directions on cake mix. In a small bowl, combine water with enough lemonade mix to match the proportion as directed on the lemonade package. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cake mix, lemonade, eggs, and oil. Mix well until batter is uniform in appearance. Pour equal amounts of batter into two 8" cake pans. Bake for recommended time according to cake mix instructions. When done, remove from oven and let cool. Place first cake on serving plate and spread a layer of frosting on the surface (frosting recipe below). Place second cake on top and frost remainder of cake thoroughly.

Lemon zest frosting
If you are feeling extremely zesty, use the following directions for a perfect balance of sweet and tart with this lemon frosting.

1 package of whipped frosting
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3–1/2 cup lemon juice
1 lemon rind for zest

Place whipped frosting in a medium mixing bowl and make sure to feather the frosting to create peaks and valleys. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the frosting and mix evenly. Using a powdered sugar sifter, add enough powdered sugar to balance the tartness of the lemon without over-sweetening the frosting. Although the amount varies by person, 1/3 of a cup is a good starting point. Mix thoroughly.

Dark chocolate java pudding brownies
With the use of a dark chocolate pudding mix and a hint of coffee, these brownies will bake to perfection and be the talk of your holiday gathering.

1 box of brownie mix
1 3/4 cups coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 box chocolate pudding mix

Preheat oven according to directions on cake mix. In a small bowl, combine coffee and powered chocolate pudding mix. In a medium mixing bowl, combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil. Mix well until batter is uniform in appearance. Add pudding mixture to the batter, 1/4 of a cup at a time, making sure to mix thoroughly each time. Pour batter into one 9" by 13" cake pan. Bake for recommended time according to cake mix instructions. When done, remove from oven and let cool. Frost with chocolate pudding and top with a chocolate covered coffee bean. If you are feeling adventurous, try different flavors of coffee!