Whether it's Memorial Day, Labor Day, or the 4th of July, I love patriotic summer holidays because it's one of those occasions where everyone gets together and shares a whole lot of food. (In my family, it's always when the recipe-swapping happens!)
One of my friends actually drew me into this recipe when they made it for one of those aforementioned parties last year! These red, white, and blue mini cakes are adorable as they are, but it's the Pop Rocks surprise in the middle that really seals the deal!
Adapted From She Knows
MAKES 10 - 14 MINI CAKES
First, you'll begin by creating three sheets of cake - one in red, one in white, and one in blue! Start by mixing the box of white cake mix, the egg whites, oil, water, and sour cream together in a bowl for about 3 - 4 minutes on medium speed.
Once you're done, split the cake batter into three equal amounts, adding red and blue food coloring to two of the three portions. Coat three 4 x 9-inch bread pans with cooking spray and lightly flour the bottoms. Add the three batters to the pans, put them in the oven, and bake them at 350 degrees F for 18 - 23 minutes. Allow the finished cakes to cool, and remove them from the pans.
Once the cakes are fully cooled, use a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut circles from each of the baked cakes. (Depending on how close you're able to punch out holes, you should be able to make anywhere from 10 - 14 mini cylinders per color!)
This is also the part where you'd discard the rest of the unused (and strangely Lego-looking) cake sheets. You can do this by throwing it out, eating it yourself, or pawning it off to some impatient kids!
Using a serrated knife, carefully trim off the browned, baked bottoms of each cake circle. (Again, trash or kids. You won't be needing these bottom parts later!)
Using a jumbo straw or a plastic tube about 1/2 - 3/4" in diameter, remove the centers of the cake circles. Be sure to save the red and blue centers because you'll be using them as plugs for your filled firecracker cakes later.
Put a portion of the red cake plugs back into the bottoms of the red cake circles. Pipe a line of frosting around the centers of the red and white cake circles. Stack the white cakes on top of the red cakes, then the blue cakes on top of the white cakes to build your general red, white, and blue firecracker shape.
Carefully load the Pop Rocks into the hollow centers of the stacked cakes. Put a portion of the blue cake plugs back into the tops to seal the center filled with Pop Rocks.
Cut the licorice rope into 'fuses' that are approximately 1 1/2" long, and finally, insert them into the centers of the blue cakes. And you're done!
For maximum popping potential, pour the Pop Rocks into the cake centers no earlier than one hour before serving. The moisture in the mini cakes will cause the Pop Rocks to slightly snap and crackle on their own. But after about four hours, the Pop Rocks will lose most of their popping power, so make sure to plan accordingly!