Cranberry Vanilla Dream Cake {cake mix chronicles}


Well well well…did you expect me to make a mini cake for two with part of a cake mix?

I conveniently realized that a cake baked in a 9″ square pan becomes two large pieces of cake once stacked and sliced.  How many life occasions do you need just two slices of cake?  On Mondays? On Fridays for celebrating?  Everyday?  Let’s stick with everyday.


Baking a 9″ cake from a cake mix requires 2 cups of cake mix.  (To use the remaining 1 cup of cake mix from the box, try my Frosted Eggnog Cookies).

The dreamy part of this cake is the rich cranberry butter.  I made Audra’s cranberry butter, and instantly knew that it should be slathered between light, fluffy vanilla cake layers.  And the cream cheese vanilla frosting?  Well, it’s my go-to during the holiday season.


I happen to think dairy makes almost any recipe better.  Butter, cream, sour cream, cream cheese–who’s with me?  I’ll even admit to you that I’m an adult that drinks milk daily.  Weird, right?  It shouldn’t be weird!  I think of milk as nature’s gatorade, but better.  Milk is the single greatest source of three of the four nutrients the Dietary Guidelines identified as lacking in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D and potassium.  And, since the American Dairy Association Mideast has partnered with Feeding America, more nutritious dairy products will be put in food banks across the country.  How can you help?  I’m so glad you asked!

We’re hosting a“Big Holiday Potluck,”and ADA Mideast will donate $1 to Feeding America for every “like,” comment or share each of the bloggers’ 12 recipes receive on its Facebook page between Dec. 6 and 13.

So, be like me and drink milk!  And help others drink it, too!

But, sometimes don’t be like me—grease your pan:


So, head on over to the American Dairy Association Mideast Facebook page and click ‘LIKE!’ Each time you do, you’re helping feed people.  And that’s pretty great.

PS I love cows:


PPS I tried to take this cow home with me.  It was awkward for all parties involved.

Cranberry Vanilla Dream Cake (cake mix)
Yields 2 pieces of cake
For the cake:
  • 2 cups dry yellow cake mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cream
For the cranberry butter:
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
For the frosting:
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  1. First make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8x8" pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the cake and beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Pour into the cake pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, make the cranberry butter by combining all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until cranberries start to burst, about 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes, until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool completely (better if cooled overnight).
  4. Make the frosting by combining all ingredients and beating on high speed until light and fluffy.
  5. When ready to serve, carefully flip the cake out of the pan. Slice it in half (from top to bottom). Add a layer of cranberry butter to one half, then place the other half on top. Frost with cream cheese frosting, and serve.
Thanks to Audra for the cranberry butter recipe.
The amount of frosting that this makes is only enough to cover what you see in the photo. You can double the recipe for enough frosting to cover the entire cake.




  1. says

    Nature’s gatorade, bahahaha! I love it! I drink milk every day too and have been ridiculed profusely for doing such. It’s delicious, haters gonna hate. Your cake is looking mighty fine with that frosting and that cranberry butter! Love that you’re baking for a cause, my dear! You have such a genuine and warm heart and I want to squeeze you!

  2. Jesse Hermiller says

    Do you even know what your feeding in that picture? I’m sorry but the dairy industry is one of the cruelest forms of abuse a mother cow and her baby endure. That bull your feeding is in a veal pen and will be slaughtered in a few months all so that you can drink that babies milk. Please educate yourself.

    • says

      Hi Jesse,

      I am educated. I have a Master’s degree in agriculture from University of California, Davis. What is your degree?

      What I’m feeding in the photo is in fact, a heifer, not a bull. I understand how you feel. My heart felt a tug when the babies were separated from the moms. However, it’s the best thing for the health of the cow and heifer. The cow goes back to the herd and returns to her normal diet and heals faster. The heifer, once healthy and strong, joins the herd. Cows love to be milked. Have you ever been on a dairy farm?

      Along the veal lines….I used to not eat veal. I found it cruel, too. However, veal is the way for a farmer to thin the heard before winter. Sometimes, cows throw calves late and there isn’t enough grass to feed them. We all have to eat, right? I’m not supporting veal farms. Never have, never will. But, I refuse to impose my morals on others and tell them how they should live and eat. It’s a waste of breath. Just eat what makes you happy :)

      Thanks for writing,

  3. Jesse Hermiller says

    Dear Christina,
    If I came off rude. I apologize. My intention was not to offend you but just to bring awareness to a situation that I don’t support. I too have a Masters in Nursing and Education but not Agriculture and I don’t feel any less educated on the subject. I completely agree that eat what you want and be happy. When I said please educate yourself I should’ve said is there are two sides to every story….the cows and ours.
    Jess Hermiller

    • says

      No worries, Jesse. It’s fantastic that so many people are taking an interest in how their food is produced these days. Let’s not ever go back to the days of Orwell’s The Jungle. But I really wish people would not villainize farmers. It’s the hardest, most dangerous job out there.

      Farmers would never be cruel for profit, or use farming practices that aren’t sustainable. If they’re not acting responsibly, their business ends. It’s kinda like paper companies getting a bad reputation for cutting down trees…If they don’t ever replant, they would never have a business in the future!

      My SIL is in the nursing field. What field do you practice in? She is in labor and delivery :)

      Thanks for writing :)

      • Jesse Hermiller says a nomad. I teach at three colleges and in my free time I too dabble in OB as a floor nurse.My husband says it keeps the baby fever at
        Have a wonderful holiday! Keep up the great recipes! Tasty and easy to veganize!

  4. says

    This cake looks so yummy! I am a huge fan of cranberries and always looking for ways to use them. And I love that cute picture of you and the cow!

  5. says

    This certainly looks like a dream! That cranberry butter sounds amazing — even better with vanilla cake and cream cheese frosting.
    PS That cow is too cute!!

  6. says

    Those sugared cranberries on top make this just so pretty, I could put it out as a decoration. And then eat it two seconds later. Because it is also delicious looking.

    But with one piece for me, and one for you ….Brian better not be hungry. ;-)

  7. says

    These cake mix chronicles are making me smile! What a fun solution for small-batch baking! And that cow picture at the bottom, Christina….well that is just crazy cute!

  8. says

    YOU, my gorgeous friend, are incredible. And incredibly BEAUTIFUL! I, too, love cows. But the picture of you and a cow… my heart nearly esplod’d. Also, have I mentioned how much I LURVE you? Cranberry butter and a two-person cake? Dude.

  9. says

    Goodness.. this is positively gorgeous! It definitely looks like a restaurant-quality dish, and I’m sure it tastes just as good! Is it just me or are sugared cranberries the most magical freaking thing ever?! Like little fairies dusted them with frost I SWEAR, it kills me how awesome they are.

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