The Super Bowl Cake

While most people associate foods like chips & dip, wings, and chili with Super Bowl celebrations, Super Bowl Sunday in the Jewell house meant my father’s Super Bowl cake.  Given the sense of anticipation my father created around this cake (or anything he made for that matter), you’d expect it to be something elaborate, like a sheet cake with green frosting for grass and white piping for yard lines or one cut into the shape of a football.  But this cake was as simple as a cake could come – a two-tiered yellow cake (from a box) with chocolate icing (store-bought) with “Super Bowl #” carefully written in blue decorator icing.

The Super Bowl Cake tradition started on Sunday, January 15, 1978, Super Bowl XII (Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos) — I was 15 months old and my brother was five.  While certain Super Bowls of my childhood stand out because of my brother and father’s elation after the Giants won, I can’t remember a single Super Bowl without the Super Bowl cake.

The cake was always delicious.  And, each year my dad declared “Superb-O…the best ever” after eating his slice.  I will always cherish my memories of this cake and the wonderful traditions my parents created in our house growing up.  My dad passed away suddenly seven years ago and some traditions are still too painful to continue, but I think it’s time to reintroduce, and slightly reinvent, the Super Bowl cake.

I was headed to my friend Maria’s apartment to watch the game with her adorable baby Peter (his first Super Bowl) and a couple of other friends.  Transporting a cake would be difficult so I opted for cupcakes which are always well received at parties.  I consulted my favorite cake cookbook – the Cake Mix Doctor.  The Cake Mix Doctor takes a basic cake mix and spruces it up with some extra ingredients.

I opted for the red velvet cupcake with white chocolate frosting recipe, with a few modifications.  I couldn’t find German Chocolate Cake Mix so I used Devil’s Food Cake Mix.  The recipe called for a box of instant pudding but I bought a cake mix with pudding inside instead.  Also, the frosting called for peppermint extract which, although I had on hand, I wasn’t in the mood for.

For a festive touch, I decorated some of the cupcakes with red sugar in honor of the Cardinals.  The others I decorated with yellow sugar and mini chocolate chips for the Steelers.

The cupcakes were Superb-O!  Quite moist and delicious and a fitting reintroduction of the Super Bowl Cake tradition.

The Super Bowl Cupcakes
The Super Bowl Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor


24 paper liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2 -inch size)
1 package (18.25 ounces) devils food chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix
1 cup sour cream (reduced-fat sour cream works well)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 bottle (1 ounce) red food coloring
3 large eggs
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

2. Place the cake mix, sour cream, water, oil, food coloring, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop N cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove the empty liners, if any.) Place the pans in the oven.

3. Bake the cupcakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the White Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting.

5. Place a heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and swirl to spread with a short metal spatula or a spoon, taking care to cover the tops completely. Place these cupcakes, uncovered or in a cake server, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

Store the cupcakes, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 3 cups, enough to frost 24 cupcakes (2 1/2 inch size) generously
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

6 ounces white chocolate chips
4 ounces (half an 8-ounce package) reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 to 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Place the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and blend on low until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds more. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more, adding up to 1/2 cup more sugar if needed to make a spreadable consistency.

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