Strawberries & Cream Chocolate Cake

Hi everyone– Happy to say the strawberry stands around here have opened up for the season!  I don’t know about you, but when the strawberries appear, it seems like spring is here.  So we’re putting them to good use with this creamy strawberry filled triple fudgy  chocolate cake.

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM CHOCOLATE CAKE

Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix*
water
canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup mini chocolate chips**
1 cup hot fudge sauce

Topping:
2 cups strawberries, cut to small bits
1 pint heavy whipping cream (2 cups)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 big pretty strawberry for garnish

Using an electric mixer, make the cake according to the directions on the box.  (Mine used 1  1/4 cups water, 1/2 oil and 3 eggs.)  Stir in the cup of mini chocolate chips.  (Save the hot fudge for later)

Spoon the batter into a 9″x 13″ baking dish*** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  And bake the cake about 25 minutes until it is firm to the touch on top.

Poke holes into the top of the warm cake and drizzle in the cup of hot fudge to fill the holes and coat the top of the cake.  (You may need to warm the fudge sauce 30 seconds in the microwave to make it pourable).

Let the cake cool completely before adding the topping!!

Remove the leaves and cut the strawberries to small bits and set aside.  With an electric mixer beat the cream, pudding mix and powdered sugar until it is thick and set (the whisk attachment works best for this).  Stir in the strawberry bits and spoon the cream onto the top of the cooled cake.  Garnish with a single pretty sliced strawberry.

You can serve it right away, but if it sits in the fridge for an hour or two the topping will set up more firmly. Enjoy!!

*I like Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate cake mix
**Mini chocolate chips are best because they don’t sink to the bottom, like the regular size ones.
***In place of a 9″x 13″ baking dish, I used an 11″ springform pan.  If you don’t have one of those on hand and want round cakes– put the batter in two 9″ cake pans.

French Chocolate Cake and a Good Book!


Bonjour!  Just finished reading On Rue Tatin, Susan Loomis’ story of her family’s move to a town in Normandy, where they renovated a 12th century Convent to make their home and immersed themselves in the luxury of French cooking.  The book is studded with recipes.  Here is her favorite chocolate cake!  It’s sort of a cross between a brownie and a chocolate souffle!

FRENCH CHOCOLATE CAKE
(Originally known as “Gateau au Chocolate de Mamie Jacqueline”)

7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (a rounded cup full)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
pinch salt
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
powdered sugar for garnish

Melt the chocolate in a large microwave proof mixing bowl– about 90 seconds.  Stir until smooth.  If the chocolate still has lumps, microwave it 10 seconds more and stir again.  Then immediately stir in the butter so it will melt with the warm chocolate.

When that is all blended, whisk in 1 cup of sugar (minus 1 tablespoon of sugar saved for later).  Next mix in the flour and 1/4 teaspoon of  salt until it is all combined.

Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into the bowl with the chocolate mixture and the whites into another clean mixing bowl.  Stir in the egg yolks.  And then whisk the eggs white along with the tablespoon of sugar and pinch of salt– until the egg whites are glossy and soft peaks form.  (The whisk attachment on my hand mixer worked well, took a little over 4 minutes)

Fold he egg whites into the chocolate cake batter until it is thoroughly blended and then spoon it into a 9″ cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake it up at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch and  sharp knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool to lukewarm and then shift powdered sugar over the top of the cake.  So good warm with a bit of ice cream!

Susan Loomis sort of has my dream life– She moved to Paris as a young woman and attended La Varenne École de Cuisine, a cooking school for Americans.  She found friends and small shops with tempting foods all over the city.  Later when she returned home she met, loved and married a sculptor, Michael Loomis and eventually the two found their way back to France where they purchased an ancient convent building in Louviers, a charming town in Normandy.  It took a long a grueling renovation to make the place a home for them and their small son.  But through the years they encountered a large circle of people, from the surly priest next door to warm shop keepers, farmers at the market, the florist sisters across the street and many others who became close friends. I was totally charmed by the book, wanted to write to Susan and ask if I could drop in and stay for the summer!  If you like glorious food, beautiful countryside, and wandering cobbled streets, I think you’d like this book as much as I have.

P.S. Each chapter includes recipes from the author, including a version of this cake!

Chocolate Cream Cake with Ganache Frosting

Hello there–  We are gliding into Christmas here.  Ani sent out an all family spread sheet– with arrival, exit dates for everyone.  Larry is off to do his shepherd part in the church’s Bethlehem walk for the next four nights.  Charlotte just came in the door from shopping with her dad, clutching a bag of Christmas gifts.  And I’m baking (of course!).

We had this cake with friends recently.  And I’m here to convince you to give it a try if you are responsible for dessert at a Christmas gathering ahead.  It’s deeply richly chocolate.  And the the cream filling is heavenly!  The berries are a nice little sweet touch on top– a cake fit for a Christmas celebration!!

CHOCOLATE CREAM CAKE WITH GANACE FROSTING

Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 packet instant coffee

Filling:
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup powdered sugar

Frosting:
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 package), room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Garnish:
blackberries
mint leaves

Make the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box (mine used 3 eggs, water & 1/2 cup oil).  Add the instant coffee as you mix it up (for a little richness). Bake the cake in three 8″ or 9″ cake pans.  Cool them completely before adding filling or frosting!

To make the filling, whip the 2 cups of whipping cream, pudding mix and 1 cup powdered sugar with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks.  Set it into the fridge to set up firm for about 15 minutes (0r more).

To make the frosting,  pour the 1/2 cup whipping cream and butter into a saucepan.  Heat it on the stove top until it starts to simmer and the butter is melted. Take it off the heat.  Drop in the chocolate chips and whisk it all together until the chocolate chips melt.  Set it aside to cool completely.

Then take the cooled chocolate mixture (ganache) and use an electric mixer to beat it together the cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar and vanilla.

To put the cake all together– Set one of the cake layers on a pretty plate.  Top it with half of the whipped cream filling.  Add the second later and top with the rest of the filling.  Add the third cake layer and the frost the top and sides with the chocolate frosting.

Set it into the fridge until to set it all up.  Take it out about 30 minutes before you want to serve it and garnish with berries and greenery (I used mint leaves because it grows like a weed in our yard).  So pretty!!

Lemon Cream Poke Cake

Hey there– Last weekend we traveled on up to Ojai to celebrate our Micah’s birthday!!  There was cake (of course) and gifts and a little trumpet concert from Charlotte (new to the school band).  Jodi and I stopped in at the Ben Franklin Dime Store (I didn’t know that’s existed anymore!!) and there was dinner at the cool new place in town.  Such a fine full day –love those 5 to pieces!

So here’s the birthday cake–sweet and tart and creamy—

LEMON CREAM POKE CAKE

Cake:
1 lemon cake mix
canola oil
3 eggs
water

Filling layer:
3.4 oz. box lemon instant pudding mix, divided
1 cup milk
8oz. cream cheese (1 package)
grated rind of 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)

Cream layer:
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 tab. of the lemon instant pudding mix*
1 tab. powdered sugar

Garnish:
lemon slices, mint leaves

Make the cake according to the directions on the package– (mine used 1/2 cup oil, 1 cup water and 3 eggs).  Spoon the batter in to 9″x 13″ baking dish or a 10″ springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until it is firm to the touch.  Cool completely!

To make the filling, take 1 full tablespoon of the lemon instant pudding mix and set it aside for now.  In mixing bowl, stir together the remaining pudding mix and 1 cup of milk.  Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, lemon rind and lemon juice together with an electric mixer for a couple minutes until it resembles a smooth paste.  Add in the pudding & milk mixture and beat until it’s all blended.

With the handle of a wooden spoon poke holes into the cooled cake.  Spoon the filling mixture over the cake pressing in down into the poked holes and covering the top of the cake.

To make the cream layer, use an electric mixer (whisk attachment works best) to beat the whipping cream, tablespoon of lemon pudding mix and tablespoon of powdered sugar a few minutes until it turns into a stiff whipped cream.

Gently cover the lemon layer with the whipped cream.  Refrigerate an hour to make sure it’s all well set.  Garnish with lemon and something green just for pretty.


This cake is a new favorite– so fresh and lusciously creamy!!

*the tablespoon of pudding mix stabilizes the whipped cream.

 

Showing you my best attempt at getting a photo our our sweet girls!!  (not easy!!)  Love those three!
    

And here’s to another wonderful year ahead Micah and Jodi…

Strawberry Topped Angel Food Cake

Hello friends–  The big news around our family is two babies to arrive in November!!  Our two beautiful nieces are expecting just about a week apart– so exciting!!  So last Sunday there was a family shower, all gathered around to bring gifts for the little ones and to offer blessings  and hugs.

And of course there was cake.  This couldn’t be simpler– It involves an angel food cake mix and some thin frosting. plus a few strawberries.  It’s sweet and fruity and pink.  Just about right for celebrating new babies on the way…

STRAWBERRY TOPPED ANGEL FOOD CAKE
Cake:
1 Angel Food Cake Mix*
water

Frosting:
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 oz. butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
8 strawberries cut to tiny bits

Garnish: fresh strawberries

To make the cake, following the directions on the package.  Cool the cake completely upside down perched on a bottle before taking it from the pan and adding the frosting.

Beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and cut strawberries with an electric mixer for a couple minutes until it blends into a creamy glaze.  Pour over the cooled cake.  Top with fresh berries!

*the only brand of Angel Food cake I can find here is Betty Crocker.  Please don’t buy an angel food cake premade– there’s a huge difference and making one from a mix takes less than 10 minutes (+baking time).

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And here’s the new Moms!  Sam with Grandma Lo and the sweet clown doll Grandma knit for the baby.  And Andrea with her Paul and a new quilted baby blanket.  Such a fun day!
     

Carrot Cake with Coconut Pecan Topping

Hello there– It’s Larry’s birthday today!!  I’m 3 months older than him so now he can stop teasing me about my advanced age.  Our parents are coming for dinner– chicken & rice– and we’ll top it off with this hearty cake.  Happy Birthday dear Larry!!

CARROT CAKE WITH COCONUT PECAN TOPPING

Cake:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/2 cups grated carrot (about 3 carrots)
2 eggs

Topping:
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup butter (2/3 of a stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups pecan, coarsely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Then mix in the oil, grated carrot and eggs.

Spoon the stiff batter into a 9″ cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  And pop it into a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool.

To make the topping, stir together the milk, 2/3 cup sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla in a sauce pan.

Then put the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer and stir until the mixture thickens (2 or 3 minutes).  the stir in the coconut and pecans.  Let it set a few minutes to cool and then heap it onto the cake.

P.S. This is an OLD post– Larry’s birthday is in August!!  But I saved it and the cake was lovely, so I’m passing it along.  Better late than never!!

Peaches & Cream Tart

 

Hi all– OK, OK, just one more peach recipe!!  I’ve had this one on my Pinterest board for months.  It calls for canned peaches (!), but I wanted to try it with fresh summer peaches and now’s the time!

Made it for my Monday ladies who came in the door this week.  And Larry and I split the leftover piece watching the Angel Baseball game on tv–sweet and peachy!!  Hope you still have peaches at the market so you can give it a try!

PEACHES & CREAM TART
1 white cake mix
1/3 cup butter (2/3 stick), room temperature*
2 eggs, divided
3 large yellow peaches
8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)**

In a mixing bowl cut together the cake mix, butter and 1 egg with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside one cup of the mixture for later.

Take the remaining mixture in the bowl and press it into a 9″x 13″ baking dish (or 12″ tart pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for just 10 minutes.

While that’s cooking, peel, pit and cut the 3 peaches into 1″ chunks.  When the baked crumb layer comes out of the oven spread the peaches over the top.

With an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese, 1 egg, sugar and amaretto until it is  creamy (just a couple minutes).  Drizzle it over the peaches.

Then take the remaining 1 cup of crumb mixture, that you saved out earlier, and sprinkle it over the top of everything.  Return it to the 350 oven and bake for 30 minutes more until it’s slightly browned on top.  Delicious hot or cooled.

*If your retrieving the butter from the fridge (like me), pop it into the microwave for 8 to 10 seconds to soften to room temperature.
**I used amaretto because I have a big bottle on hand– keep it in place of almond extract because it’s about a tenth the price and lasts forever in the cupboard.  The original recipe called for vanilla.