Ricotta Cake w/ Rosemary: Cheating

I am a cheater. I feel guilty, dirty, bad.

But would I do it again? ABSO-TIVELY!

I have a confession to make (yet another one).
I have never made a cake with a store bought boxed cake mix before. It reminds me of Sandra Lee from Food Network. She uses too many short cuts and her color tablescapes are just plain annoying. She always uses box mixes for everything, hence the name "Semi Homemade" ugh.
(That's a lot of hate for a Monday!!!).

I love ricotta cheesecake, but it always gets soggy after I refrigerate it, so I googled a recipe for a ricotta cake. I found many and decided on one that sounded decent. It called for a box of yellow cake mix. What does "yellow" mean? Dye? Lemon? Cornmeal?

I bought a box of Trader Joe's Vanilla Cake Mix because it had less artificial ingredients and additives than the others, but I am sure Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines would work too. The Trader Joe's mix actually had little black specks of real vanilla bean in the mixture! How bad could it be?

Well, it was one of the best cakes we have ever had! No kidding.
Here is the recipe:

Ricotta Cake w/ Rosemary: (inspired from All Recipes)

In 2 separate bowls:

1. Prepare the cake batter as per the box directions: 2 eggs, 1 stick of melted butter, 1 cup of cold whole milk and then add cake mix & mix together.

Now in your second bowl:

2. Make your ricotta mixture by mixing: 24 oz. of ricotta cheese, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 3 eggs, and 3/4 cup of sugar.

3. Now for my addition: add a tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary (optional) to the ricotta mixture.

Grease a 13" x 9" glass baking dish. Pour the ingredients from the first bowl (the cake batter) into the dish.

Now pour your ricotta mixture on top of the cake mixture. Do not swirl them together, just let the ricotta mixture sit on top, the cheese will sink to the bottom layer on its own.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes in pan before cutting. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. The rosemary and vanilla go so well together.

This cake was only FANTASTIC! Everyone loved it, and I even fessed up that I made it with a little help from a box!!!!!


Peter M said…
Ricotta and lemon are a natural and as for cake mixes..they always taste of cardboard!

Psst...I'm coming to NYC.
Don't worry, I won't tell. I just might make this. And I'll have to try the TJ'S ONE. I always have boxed cakes in my pantry. They are especially good when at 9pm, my child informs me that they need cupcakes for the student council bake sale:)
Stacey Snacks said…
I swear, this cake mix from Trader Joe's was terrific, and mixed with the fresh ricotta and rosemary, it was a great cake!

Lisa, you were the one w/ your peanut cake! that told me "it's ok to use a box cake once in a while!". You were right!
Pam said…
Don't you love Trader Joe's? The cake looks and sounds fantastic - who cares if you used a box.
Anonymous said…
Hmmm...just wondering, since you prepare the cake batter and the ricotta mixture separately, couldn't you just substitute a homemade vanilla cake batter?

By the way, love your blog.
Stace, I know for a fact that the TJ's vanilla cake mix is good, I've had it as cupcakes. Delicious! Not your ordinary Dunkin Heinz, or Betty Crocker kind at all. Love the vanilla bean flecks too!
Years ago, I use to make a cake similar to this but not with the rosemary. That sounds so good!
Stacey Snacks said…
I agree with you.
Since I had to melt a stick of butter, add a cup of milk and eggs to the mix, then why not just make a vanilla cake from scratch.
That makes sense.
It was still soooo good!
Thanks for the comment!
Patsyk said…
It looks wonderful - even if it was a "cheat" cake. Every once in awhile its nice to have one of those recipes to pull out when there's a last minute get together or something. I only discovered using cake mixes for cookies and such recently... my youngest seems to like those better than my from scratch recipes! I'll have to work on that one! ;)
Trader Joe's rocks...I love anything with vanilla specks. Did you have a piece for breakfast this morning? It looks beautiful and sounds delish! ♥Rosemary
Giff said…
as Joseph Conrad wrote, "the horror, the horror"

Wow, that turned out really good! I have to try that one...even though it is a box cake mix!
Maris said…
This sounds really good! I don't know which cake to try first...your olive oil cake or this ricotta cake!
Anonymous said…
Lol, I usually feel the same way about store-bought cake mixes, but I make the occasional exception for Trader Joes or Whole Foods :D. Your cake looks delicious, adding the rosemary sounds like a tasty idea :)!
Maria said…
I have the same feelings about Sandra Lee:) She bugs me to death!! But I am glad you made this cake, I am going to cheat now too! It looks awesome!
kat said…
You know I think if the store bought mix is just real ingredients & not chemicals why not use it, its just saving you a step. I'd love that cake, my poor Matt on the other hand can't taste rosemary, how weird is that?!
brandin + kari said…
I wont tell! This looks great. I love adding herbs into desserts. I made a cherry and rosemary crumble that was a huge hit!
Alexa said…
It looks like you up-grated it to something really special. :-)
SarahB said…
yum!!! Rosemary AND Ricotta in one!!! I'm dyin here...
Alejandra Ramos said…
Oooh I might try this! Don't know if I can bring myself to use a box, but for results THIS good, I just might! Plus, I just have some fresh rosemary from the green market this weekend!
RecipeGirl said…
Hey, sometimes those doctored up cake mix recipes are pretty darn good!! If you add enough stuff to them, you can't even tell it was a mix to begin with.

Is there rosemary inside the cake or just as a garnish? I didn't see it in the ingredients list unless I missed it.
Stacey Snacks said…
recipe girl,

I just edited the recipe, thanks for letting me know.

Yes, you add a tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary to the ricotta mixture. This is optional of course, but I promise the results are wonderful!

Anonymous said…
Looks delicious! And, those vanilla beans look great. Just please no goofy tablescapes! ;)
krysta said…
mmm. i love rosemary cake... if it was good who cares if it came from a box?
Veronica said…
Oh..don't be so hard on yourself-everyone cheats and uses cake mixes sometimes..they even did it on Top Chef. I love the sound of the ricotta/lemon combination...I'm trying this cake!
Anonymous said…
Ricotta, lemon, rosemary - what's not to like! This looks fabulous :-)
lilaphase said…
Thanks for posting this - my husband asks for ricotta cheese cake every year for his birthday, and I have never felt I got it right (soggy, like you said). I totally agree with you on the cake mix/semi homemade debacle - try not to touch either one.

One question - did this cake have a cheese cake consistency or more of a 'cakey' texture?
Stacey Snacks said…
Hey Lila,
I would say the ricotta cake was half and half.
You can see in the photos that the cheese sinks to the bottom, so that part is like a ricotta cheesecake, and the top layer is a nice vanilla rosemary cake.
It's 2 for one!
Anonymous said…
Hi stace, love your blog,wish I can smell and eat what you bake!!,we don't have TJ in Texas,Do you think I can try this with the other cakes boxes? TFS...Gina
Anonymous said…
this is SERIOUSLY up my alley. whoa. i have ricotta that needs using up...gotta make this!! great job!
Helen said…
Hi Stacey! I love your blog as I need to see an innards shot in order to really want to bake something so thanks for doing that for all of your baked goods! Do you think I could just use a vanilla cake recipe and add the ingredients for the ricotta part? Thanks!
Anonymous said…
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