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Driscoll's review and Halloween Cake recipe

A little history lesson on berries, some advice and a Halloween cake recipe.

Driscoll's Halloween Cake; Easy and yummy

You are probably familiar with Driscoll’s, having seen them in your grocer’s produce department, probably having enjoyed them on many occasions. But do you know the long history behind the berry farming company?

The Driscoll history goes back to 1870, when friends Joseph “Ed” Reiter and R. O. Driscoll started producing delicious Sweet Briar strawberries in the California Pajaro Valley. The strawberries were planted in the valley and sold in local California markets.

In 1904, “Ed” Reiter and Dick Driscoll patented their Pajaro Valley Sweet Briar strawberries, then in the late 1940’s, began farming in Santa Maria with brothers Robert and Terry Sheehy, Driscoll’s first independent farmers. The strawberry business was going so well that in 1944, Ned and Donald Driscoll, Kenneth Sheehy, T.B. Porter, M.W. Johnson and Joe Reiter founded The Strawberry Institute, where research could be dedicated to breeding superior strawberries.

The Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Inc., was founded in 1953, as an independent California cooperative selling premium, fresh California Strawberries. And today, Miles Reiter, berry farmer and grandson of Joseph “Ed” Reiter, is head of Driscolls; Still a family business.

From a food tester’s point of view, I must say that the Driscoll research, and cultivating of new and better varieties of berries has been put to good use. I recently received coupons for Driscoll’s berries and decided to use the coupons in three different stores, on three different days of the week, using one coupon per week, for three weeks. I expected to find berries of lesser quality on certain days or in particular stores and to be honest, since it’s so late in the year, I expected the berries to be substandard. Wow! Was I wrong on every count. The Driscoll berries were big, firm, ripe and sweet each time. The only inconsistency was in the ripeness of the berry, but that is to be expected, since you can’t taste each one before you pick it. But overall, the berries were fantastic.

The moral of this story is; Don’t only buy berries when they are in season locally. Technology in growth, harvest and delivery has made it possible for us to get vitamin rich, low calorie berries year round.

A Halloween Recipe from Driscoll’s

Driscoll's Halloween Cake

Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries combine to make a boo-tiful and delectable chocolate berry cake perfect for any Halloween celebration. Pureed blueberries are added to the chocolate cake batter and a sweet strawberry-raspberry jam fills the middle. Impress everyone with this clever and tasty treat.


Strawberry Ghosts and Tombstones

  • 1 cup white candy melts
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
  • 1 pkg. (16 ounces) Driscoll's Strawberries
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Assorted Halloween sprinkles, such as Jumbo Ghost Sprinkles
  • 3 Milano cookies
  • 6 cream filled chocolate cookies, such as Oreo's

Graveyard Cake

  • 1 pkg. (6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups) Driscoll's Blueberries
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pkg. (18.25 ounces) devil food cake mix
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 large eggs

Raspberry Strawberry Filling

  • 1 pkg. (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cups) Driscoll's Raspberries
  • 1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Driscoll's Strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Chocolate Ganache Whipped Frosting

  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 pkg. (6 ounces or 1 1/4 cups) Driscoll's Blueberries for garnish
  • 1 pkg. (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cups) Driscoll's Raspberies for garnish


Strawberry Ghosts and Tombstones

  1. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine candy melts and shortening in large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Continue to microwave and stir at 30 seconds intervals until smooth and completely melted.
  3. Dip strawberries into candy melt to coat completely, let excess drip off. Carefully place stem side down onto prepared cookie sheet. Let stand at room temperature or store in refrigerator 30 minutes or until coating is firm.
  4. Spoon melted chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with Wilton tip # 3. Using melted chocolate place dots of chocolate as glue and arrange ghost sprinkles for eyes. Pipe on eyebrows and mouth, let stand until firm.
  5. Arrange cookies on tray. Pipe saying onto each cookie.
  6. Let stand at room temperature until coating is firm. In food processor blend cookies until fine crumbs, set aside.

Graveyard Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour 2 (9-inch) square baking pans. Place 1 cup blueberries and water in bowl of a food processor. Puree 1 minute or until smooth.
  2. Blend cake mix, blueberry mixture, oil and eggs with an electric mixer in large bowl on low speed just until moistened. Scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in remaining blueberries. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans.
  4. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Raspberry Strawberry Filling

  1. Combine raspberries and 1 cup coarsely chopped strawberries in food processor. Puree 1 minute or until smooth.
  2. Press through a sieve to remove seeds. Whisk sugar, cornstarch and berry puree in small saucepan until blended.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and boil 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat stir in ½ cup chopped strawberries; set aside. Cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache Whipped Frosting

  1. Bring heavy cream to a boil over medium-high heat in medium saucepan. Whisk in chocolate. Whisk constantly until the chocolate is completely melted.
  2. Pour chocolate into a bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap, chill 2 hours.
  3. Beat chilled chocolate with an electric mixer on low to medium speed 30 seconds or just until mixture is thickened and begins to hold a shape. Do not overbeat.

To Assemble

  1. Place one cake layer on serving plate. Spread raspberry strawberry filling to ½ inch from edge. Top with second cake layer.
  2. Frost sides and top with ganache whipped frosting. Arrange blueberries around top edge of cake and raspberries around bottom edge of cake.
  3. Sprinkle center top with cookie crumbs. Arrange strawberry ghosts and press cookies into cake, for tombstones.


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