Cherry Chocolate Chip Cake (for Easter)

Hey all– It’s the day after Easter here.  Spending the morning stashing bunnies and plastic eggs away for next year.  And toasting up some leftover biscuits and jam for breakfast.

And sending off this Easter Cake recipe to you.  It’s cherries and chocolate nestled into a white cake, with cherry cream cheese frosting.  Add a few Cadbury eggs on top (or birthday candles for a different occasion) and it’s ready to go!

CHERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

Cake:
1 white cake mix
canola oil
3 eggs
water
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped to tiny bits

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)
1 pound box powdered sugar (3  3/4 cups)
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped fine
2 tsp. juice from the cherry jar
garnish: Cadbury Easter eggs

With an electric mixer, make the cake mix according to the directions on the box (mine added 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup water and 3 eggs).  Beat for 2 minutes.  Then stir in the chocolate chips and chopped cherries.

Spoon the batter into 2   9″ cake pans (or a 9″x 13″ pan) that has been spray with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake layers are golden and firm to the touch.  Let the cakes cool completely before you frost them.

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, amaretto, powdered sugar, chopped cherries and cherry juice.  (Start on the lowest setting or the powdered sugar will fly out of the bowl!)  Beat until it is all smooth and creamy, with little cherry bits here and there.

Spread frosting on the first layer.  Top it with the second layer and then frost the top and sides.  So pink and pretty!

Chocolate Toffee Caramel Cake

Hello all–  We’re still in Wisconsin here.  And still waiting for snow.  I checked the weather report today and it’s suppose to snow later in the week, the day after we leave!!  Meanwhile it’s sunny with a cold wind that will take your breath away!  OK, that’s all for the weather report– will send along more Wisconsin news (and photos!) in a couple days…

So now here’s the cake– crunchy toffee bits, tiny his of chocolate and caramel sauce and wrapped in and around a moist tender cake.  With a scoop of ice cream, just grand!  I think you’d like it!

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE CARAMEL CAKE
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1  1/2 cups canola oil
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
8 oz. bag toffee bits
1  1/4 cup mini chocolate chips*
1 cup caramel sauce

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the brown sugar, white sugar, oil land eggs.  Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and keep beating.  Beat in the milk.  And finally, fold in the  mini chocolate chips (save out 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top the finished cake)  and toffee bits (save a handful to sprinkle on the cake later).

Spoon the batter into a large bundt pan or tube pan that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.  Pop it into a 325 degree over for 80 or 90 minute (!!) until the cake is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for at least an hour.

Remove the cake to a large plate and Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top and sprinkle on the reserved mini chocolate chips and toffee bits.

* I like mini chocolate chips more than the standard size, because they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake and spread the chocolate more uniformly.

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!

Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread

Hi there– Well, if you love banana bread and also are fond of cherry bread and, of course, it’s a given you probably are crazy about chocolate chip bread, then here you go!!  All three breads rolled into one!

Made this for friends on a Sunday morning and there wasn’t a crumb left.  I thought you might like a Sunday morning treat too.

CHERRY CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD
1 cup dried cherries*
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unflavored yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tab. amaretto (or 1 tsp. vanilla)**
1  1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pour the dried cherries in a heat proof bowl and covered them with hot water for 5 minutes.  Drain in a strainer and set aside.

In a mixing bowl mash the bananas until they are a creamy pulp.  Then sit-in the oil, yogurt, brown sugar, egg and amaretto until it’s all blended.  Next mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally stir in the chocolate chips and drained cherries.

Spoon the batter into a standard 9″x 5″ bread pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray (I used two half size pans for 2 loaves).

Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.  Let it cool for 30 minutes or more before you slice it.  Enjoy!

*I used cherry flavored dried cranberries, because I had them sitting in the cupboard.
** Use amaretto in place of almond extract because you can find a large bottle that will last forever for less than a tiny bottle of almond extract.

Mocha Cheesecake

Hi there all–  Here’s a cheesecake made for a game night with friends– lots of talk, laughs and a dose of noisy competitiveness!  Finished off with a couple cheesecakes.

This desert has two layers of creamy cheesecake, one coffee flavored, one chocolate, topped with a creamy chocolate ganache.  Pretty irresistible!

MOCHA CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1 prepared Oreo piecrust*
2 tab. butter, melted

Filling:
2 tab. instant coffee granules
1 tab. boiling water
1 cup chocolate chips
32 oz. cream cheese (4 –8 oz. packages)
1 cup sugar
3 tab. flour
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream

Ganache topping:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tab. butter
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Mix the Oreo crust and the melted butter in the bottom of a 9″ springform pan.  Press the crumbs to make a uniform thin layer covering the bottom of the pan.  Set it into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Dissolve the coffee granules in the boiling water and set aside.

To make the filling, use an electric mixer the beat together the cream cheese and sugar until it’s creamy.  Then beat in the flour, eggs and sour cream.  Divide the batter evenly between two bowls.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and then stir until it is smooth.  Fold the chocolate into the fist bowl of batter until it is thoroughly blended.

Stir the dissolved coffee granules into the second bowl of batter until it is all incorporated.

Spoon the chocolate batter over the crust and smooth out the top.  Add the coffee batter over the top and spread it evenly over the top.

Pop the cheesecake into a 350 oven for 50 to 60 minutes until it is firm to the touch and just a little wobbly when you shake it.  Open the oven door, turn off the heat and let the cheese cake sit 1 hour in the cooling oven.  Then take it out, slide a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the cheesecake from the pan and set it into the fridge for 3 or 4 hours.

To make the ganaches, heat the whipping cream and butter in a small pan on the stove until it just starts to simmer.  Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and beat for 3 or 4 minutes until it’s glossy.  Let it cool and when you’re ready to serve up the cheese cake, drizzle it over the top.  Delish!

*The recipe I worked from used 20 Oreo cookies, crushed.  But getting the pre-made Oreo crust was cheaper and already to use.

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!!