Here's what you'll need:
• 1 cake mix (or more if you want to make several different flavors as I did).
• Wide mouth, pint sized mason jars. These are the perfect height for the large flat rate USPS boxes.
• 1 can of frosting (or more if you want to include options). You'll add this to the box when it's time to pack it.
• Plastic knives and forks for eating/spreading frosting.
⁊ Ribbon to make the whole thing attractive.
2. Wash your mason jars.
3. Mix your ingredients.
Follow the mixing instructions on the box.
While you're doing this, turn your oven on to heat to 400 degrees.
The box probably says 蘮 degrees". Ignore that.
4. Grease your jars.
5. Put the batter in the jars.
Fill each jar about half way full to leave room for the cake to rise.
6. Bake those bad boys.
Place your jars in a 9x3 baking pan to make it easier to put them into the oven and take them out.
Put the pan with the jars in the oven.
Set your timer to 30 minutes.
7. Boil your lids.
While you're waiting for the cake to do its baking thing, prep your lids. You want to do this for two reasons: It'll make sure they are sanitary and heating the wax on the lid is what will let the jar seal later.
Place just the lids (NOT the rings just the lids) in a pot of water, set it on the stove and heat it until boiling. Then turn it off. This primes the lids for sealing on the jars.
8. Remove cake from the oven.
Check to make sure it's done by inserting a butter knife or something else long and smooth into the middle. Not done? Leave them in for a few more minutes and check again.
Done? Take them out.
Don't worry if the cake has risen beyond the mouth of the jar like it did for me. It's not going to be a problem.
Do NOT frost them. Add the unopened frosting to the box.
9. Put the lids on the jars.
As soon as you take the cakes out of the oven start putting the lids on.
To do this you'll want to grab some tongs so that you can pull each lid out of the water while keeping the other ones hot.
Pull a lid out. Dab the bottom with a towel to make sure it's dry.
Holding the hot mason jar with a hot pad (safety first, y'all), place the hot lid on top of the jar. Grab a ring and screw the lid down. If the cake is higher than the top of the jar just smash it down as you screw the lid on.
10. Let them cool.
As the jars cool you will hear a little "pop." That's the sound of the lid sealing. You may also note the cake pulling away from the side of the jar, too. No worries, that'll just make it easier to slide out later.
A note on canning sanitation: these are not just like Twinkies that you can keep on your shelf forever. They are sealed well enough to make it fresh to the 'Sand' or wherever your service member is. But I wouldn*#39t hold on to them for months on end or anything like that.
11. Decorating time!
I picked-up a spool of patriotic ribbon from Hobby Lobby, some twine and some little labels.
Using my hot glue gun I secured ribbon around each jar, added the tag and then tied the twine in place.
Think your service member doesn't need the tag? Skip it.
12. Package it.
***Notes from Jenny - I used the butter-flavored spray. Made it easier for the cake to slide out later.
I cut the excess off the top before I sealed it.
I also didn't have a glue gun, so I used tiny pieces of tape when I decorated the jars with ribbons.
Brownie in a jar
If your Airman isn't a cake person or if they just like brownies too!
(I'm sure you could do this with a homemade recipe as well. Just use these cooking times and jar use instructions)
I used the 4oz mason jars to make them in.
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Mix the brownies as directed on the box. (I made a couple different flavors)
Spray the inside of the jars with non-stick spray (I use butter flavored).
Fill the jars about 1/2 to 2/3 full (They will rise some, not as much as the cake).
I placed the jars in a cake pan so they were easier to get in and out.
Bake for about 35 minutes. Check with toothpick. add time as needed.
While the brownies are baking, place the top part of the lids (not the ring) in a pan with water and bring to a boil.
When the brownies are done, the lids should be boiling.
As soon as you remove the jars from the oven, cut off any brownie that might have baked up over the top and using tongs, grab a lid out of the boiling water and place on the jar. Tighten with the ring. (I used oven mitts to hold the jars so I didn't burn myself.)
After a few minutes you should hear the "pop" of the jars sealing. I noticed the little dent in the lid goes down when it seals. (It was fun watching them open them last night. The seal is VERY tight LOL)
When you mail them, wrap VERY well in bubble-wrap.
Here is a Fudge recipe that you can make and send to your Airmen.