Friday, December 17, 2010

THE Cake :: a chocolatey angelic dessert

After years of making fun cut-out cakes, my mother in law ended up making THIS "cake" for my husband's birthday every year. For as long as I can remember, they've just referred to it as "THE cake." His requested favorite. It wasn't made for any of his siblings, just my hubby's own special cake for his own special day.

It's a rich and delicious combination of tastes and textures--the really nice airiness of the angel food cake and creamy scrumptiousness of a dense chocolate mousse. It's nothing short of the perfect dessert!

1 large angel food cake
4 eggs
2 TBSP sugar (I consider this optional)
12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pint whipping cream
1 cup nuts (optional)

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. (I put them in a glass bowl and microwave starting with 1 minute, stir, then heat in increments of 30 sec. + a stir until all is melted.) Add 1 TBSP sugar (optional) and egg yolks. Beat egg whites separately, add 1 TBSP sugar (optional), and fold into the chocolate mixture. Whip cream in separate bowl, then fold into chocolate mixture. Fold, stir, mix until there are no streaks. Break up the cake into small pieces, about 1-inch"ish" cubes. Put 1/2 of the cake into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Cover with 1/2 of the chocolate mixture; layer the rest of the cake pieces, then spread the rest of the chocolate mixture to cover all of the cake pieces.

Sprinkle with nuts if desired (we like toasted PEE-can pieces).
Refrigerate overnight, or at least for a few hours.
Slice into squares.

Serve with a kind word and a smile...and a birthday song, if it fits the occasion!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spider Cake

I was serious this time. I wasn't going to make my son's birthday cake this year. Just didn't have enough time. Violin performances, activities, Halloween. Busy week.


I went to the store for his requested spider cake, and there were no more and there wouldn't be anymore. Didn't have time to special order one either.

Baking aisle. Baking? Aisle? Where art thou?

He got his request.

A spider cake for our youngest little monkey.

Since he just read Charlotte's Web a couple of months ago, I couldn't resist writing his birthday "greetings and salutations" Charlotte style.

* * * * * * *


Boxed cake mix + ingredients to prepare
1 container dark chocolate frosting
1 container white frosting
Small black icing
Small silver sugar beads
Food coloring gels
1 Hershey Kiss (spider head)
A few pieces of black licorice

Prepare cake in regular cake rounds plus one cupcake (for spider). Use dark chocolate frosting to stack cake layers. Color 1/3 cups white frosting orange, put it into a ziplock baggie and cut small hole in corner to draw the web onto the frosted cake. Color the rest of the white frosting bright yellowy green to frost the outside of cake. Color 1/3 cup of the dark chocolate frosting as black as possible (for spider) with blue and red coloring gels. After drawing the web onto the cake add the small silver sugar beads at the connecting points. This is an optional step--I just had the beads already (and used a tweezers for placement). The spider was made from a frosted cupcake (top cut off) and a frosted Hershey's Kiss (from our kids' trick or treak bags) for the spider head. I also used the sugar beads for the eight eyes most spiders have. Don't forget that spiders have 8 legs...not 6! I finished off lining the bottom of the cake with black licorice. I only had it since I was thinking of making the cake one big spider using the black licorice for the spider legs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tropical Pool Cake :: Beach Cake

Our daughter requested a beach cake this year.

I found the idea for this cake online, and it led me to the original idea that came from the June 19, 2007 issue of Woman's Day. Zee dee-rect-shuns.

My daughter and the rest of the family LOVED this fun cake. It was pretty straight forward--especially since I don't have or know how to use any special cake decorating tools.

NOTES: I had to use 3 of 4 layers from TWO boxed cake mixes to get the height proportion of the online example.

I was a little concerned that if the Jello was pourable, it would make the cake soggy and even leak out. So, I waited until it was getting a little lumpy until I stirred it well and poured it onto the cake.

Our grocer does not carry Keebler Bug Bites for the cute butterfly (I'm not even sure if they make them anymore). After contemplating fashioning one out of something else, I decided to leave it out completely.

Instead of coloring all the different icings, I just used a box of Icing Writers found at the grocery store. I only mixed the light blue and light brown colors myself.

I couldn't find green Fruit by the Foot (only found the tie-dye version), so I used a roll of green Hubba Bubba gum tape (6 ft. in all) that I found at Party City for the "sea weed".

I also couldn't find striped sour belt candy, so I used part of a fruit roll up for the beach towel...but could've just used another piece of the gum roll.

The palm leaves were a bugger. Maybe leaving them flat would have been wiser. I tried to make them curved like the instructions called for (more realistic), but it was the most frustrating part of this cake. More often than not, the leaves broke.

Also, instead of bread sticks, you can see that I've instead used pretzel rods.

Another cake request fulfilled for one of our little'ns.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Carrot Cake (3 layers)

I just made this cake for our block party in celebration for all August birthdays. I think it had been a while since our neighbors had a homemade cake...not a crumb was left!

Our sweet neighbor down the street from our old house made this cake and a pot of chicken and dumplings for us a few days after we returned home from the hospital with our newborn twins. Since she is elderly and because we had a very steep driveway, Joe walked down the street to her house to pick up the food and bring it home for us. I remember him coming home with his arms shaking from fatigue because he had to carry the cake in one hand and a hot saucepan in the other. Since the handle cover wasn’t long enough to cover the entire length of the long hot handle, it took tremendous strength to continue holding the heavy pot all the way home without being able to support it underneath with his other hand…carrying the cake. Periodically, he had to just stop, rest it on the ground, and switch hands! What funny things we remember! We never told her about Joe's trouble, but I did get the recipe from her!

1-1/2 cup grated raw carrots
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 whole eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together oil and sugar. Add carrots and eggs. Add flour, cinnamon, soda, salt and vanilla. Using 3 – 8 inch cake pans (greased and floured), pour batter evenly into pans and bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 lb. box of powdered sugar
1 stick butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped (optional, but good)

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add sugar--and a little milk, if needed. Frost cake and add pecans all along the side.

Note: For the carrots, I took 1/4 cup of the leftover frosting and added 2 drops red and 4 drops of yellow food coloring, mixed it, then threw it in the freezer to harden a bit. I don't have nor would I know how to use fancy cake decorating tools, so I just scooped up wee bits of the frosting and formed them into carrot shapes and positioned them onto the cake. Ideally, I suppose I should have made one carrot for each slice of cake. For the leaves, I used a squirt can of green food coloring I had left over from another cake (I know, classy. Hey, I'm all about function and simplifying life, okay?

P.S. If you're wondering about the birthday banner, I made this cake for our street's 2nd Annual August Birthday Bash celebrating about 10 neighbors' August birthdays (including one of our kids). I used card stock to print up the subtle-colored bunting, printed letters with marker, sewed some craft thread through the card stock, and tied the banner to a set of chopsticks.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Glazed Pecans

We've been receiving a little tin of these pecans from our neighbor for 9 years now. We love 'em! In fact, we like them so much that I wanted to make them and share them with my family in far-off lands (well, in a number of states away anyway).

I found a similar recipe here, but the nuts turned out too sugary and required separating each one so they wouldn't stick together. That wouldn't do. So, I finally asked my neighbor, Glenace, for her recipe. It was her mother's recipe--even more special! I love recipe hand-me-downs!

This card is all you need... make many people happy!

I've typed it out below with additional notes so they come out perfect every time.

Glenace's Glazed Pecans

16 oz. (1 pound) pecan halves
1 large egg white
1 TBSP water
Zip-lock bag, gallon sized
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Pour the sugar, salt, and cinnamon into the Zip-lock bag and toss around to mix. Beat egg white and water until just frothy--NOT stiff peaks or you'll get a thick, sugary crust on the nuts that you don't want. Fold in the pecans until all nuts are well-coated. Pour the nuts into the Zip-lock bag--you may want a second pair of hands for this, or place bag in a small mixing bowl to stabilize. Zip bag closed securely and toss nuts around to coat evenly, using your hands to separate the nut halves as needed. Pour the nuts onto a parchment-lined large jelly roll pan. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool in pan. (If there are any nuts stuck together, separate them before completely cooled.) Store in an air-tight container to keep crisp.

Give them to friends at Christmastime.
Bring them as hostess gifts.
Send them to family in far-off lands. =)
Make them with pecan pieces and sprinkle on top of salads.

You'll be loved.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birthday Cake Chronicles :: M&K 2010

Mike and Kathleen made it easy on me this year and requested a tasty shared cake!

Quadruple Chocolate Mousse Cake