Skinnier Mint Julep Poke Cake

Skinnier Mint Julep Poke Cake

Skinnier Mint Julep Poke Cake

The first Saturday in May usually means two things around our house – the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte and the Kentucky Derby.  The best part about the Kentucky Derby is Mint Juleps.  Mint Juleps are a favorite cocktail of mine, but I only indulge in them for the Kentucky Derby; however, I may indulge a little more often since I have a bumper crop of mint in the garden…

In addition to drinking Mint Juleps, I also wanted to find a way to incorporate the essential elements of this cocktail into baked goods.  So, I went to my favorite online place – Pinterest – to find some inspiration.  I found this recipe for Mint Julep Cookies from Shrimp Salad Circus, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for cookies.  I did like sound of the glaze recipe and thought it would be perfect in a cake! Plus, I had a box of white cake mix begging to be baked!

When it comes to baking, I have become fascinated and a little obsessed with “diet soda cakes.” If you’re not familiar with these, they are awesome!!  You simply replace the eggs and oil in a cake mix with a can of diet soda – huge calorie saver! I’m still not sure how or why it works, but I am so glad it does – it makes me feel a little less guilty about eating a piece (or two).

To start this process, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees.  Next, I gathered up my cake mix and diet soda (diet ginger ale for this one).

Cake Mix & Zevia Ginger Ale

Cake Mix & Zevia Ginger Ale

If you’re not familiar with Zevia, it is diet soda made with Stevia (a natural calorie-free sweetener) instead of artificial sweeteners.  I mixed the cake mix and soda until it was well-combined and poured it into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Bake the cake according to the box directions. I have found with diet soda cakes that they are usually done at the lower time in the given time range.  You just need to know your oven and start watching it towards the end of cooking.

While the cake was baking, I gathered the essential elements to make this a Mint Julep Cake: Bourbon, mint, and powdered sugar.

Woodsford Reserve Bourbon, Fresh Mint & Powdered Sugar

Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Fresh Mint & Powdered Sugar

I love this year’s Kentucky Derby bottle from Woodford Reserve.  For each running of the Derby, they release a special edition bottle.

After combining the glaze ingredients, you will have a very thin glaze that is ready to be poured onto your hot cake.

Mint Julep Glaze

Mint Julep Glaze

Once the cake is done cooking, you will need to poke slits in the cake so that the glaze can sink into it. In most poke cakes, you use a wooden spoon; however, I opted for a paring knife this time.  The wooden spoon is good if you are pouring a pudding or topping with that consistency.  Since the Mint Julep Glaze is thinner than pudding, small slits worked better.

Cake just after I poked slits into it

Cake just after I poked slits into it

Cake with the Mint Julep Glaze

Cake with the Mint Julep Glaze

Once you’ve poured the glaze on the cake, allow it to cool completely before adding the whipped topping layer.

You’ll notice I said whipped topping instead of “Cool Whip.” I have finally found a whipped topping with the same texture as Cool Whip, but it has one major difference – NO high fructose corn syrup!!  It is called “Truwhip” and I found it at Earthfare.

truwhip - Whipped Topping without High Fructose Corn Syrup

Truwhip – Whipped Topping without High Fructose Corn Syrup

Once the cake is cooled, you will spread a tub of Truwhip on top.  If serving right away, mint leaves make a great garnish!   If you are not serving right away, the cake needs to be stored in the refrigerator due to the whipped topping layer.

I had a slice last night and it was delicious! The Mint Julep flavor was in every bite and the whipped topping was the perfect frosting for this cake! An even better part – only 190 calories a slice (cake divided into 16 servings)!

Perfect Slice of Skinnier Mint Julep Cake

Perfect Slice of Skinnier Mint Julep Cake

I think this is just about a perfect slice of cake! You can see the mint poking out under the layer of Truwhip. Plus, you can see where the Mint Julep Glaze seeped down into the cake in the middle of the cake.

All in all, I have to say that this was a successful kitchen experiment and it will be one of my annual Kentucky Derby traditions!



1 box white cake mix

1 can of diet ginger ale

10-20 mint leaves, finely chopped

3 oz. quality bourbon

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tub whipped topping

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your baking pan (I used a 9 x 13 pan for this cake).
  2. Mix the cake mix and diet ginger ale until well-combined. Pour into prepared baking pan.
  3. Cook according to cake box directions.
  4. While the cake is baking, make the glaze. Combine the chopped mint, bourbon, and powdered sugar. You will want to stir it again just before you pour it on the cake.
  5. When the cake is done baking, immediately poke slits into the cake with a paring knife. Pour the glaze over the cake and make sure it sinks into the cake.
  6. Allow the cake to cool completely (about 2 hours).
  7. Spread the tub of whipped topping over the cake and garnish with mint leaves (optional).
  8. Enjoy the yummy cake you created!


Nutrition Information

Whole Cake: 3035 Calories, 57.5 g Fat, 624 g Carbohydrates, and 20 g Protein

Serving (16 servings): 189.7 Calories, 3.6 g Fat, 39 g Carbohydrates, and 1.3 g Protein

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