Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Double Layer Chocolate Cherry Cake Surpreme

This cake reminds me of the big beautiful party hat in the children's book "Go Dog Go".  Do you remember that book?   I loved that book as a kid, and of course my favorite part was the party on top of the tree at the end of the book, and the last "hat" that the girl dog wore to impress the boy dog.  That was the hat that finally impressed him, and not only him but any of us who read the book.  But here is the story behind this cake.

Two of my daughters have celebrated their birthday together for most of the last 34 years.  That is because they are twins. They are married now, and have families of their own, but have often been able to celebrate their birthday together,  and would make each other a cake.... and their cakes are always something special.  But this year, they weren't together for their birthday, and so no cake for each other... but our daughter Marie was able to be with us, while our daughter Elizabeth was able to be with our son and his family in North Carolina, which was really special for each of us who had one of them, but what about that special cake?

I was going to make the cake this year, and  I wanted it to be special, because I had to keep up with their wonderful tradition. When they were little I had often made an ice cream cake, with layers of pound cake alternating with layers of ice cream, and frosted with chocolate frosting and then completely covered with M&M's.  They were fun, delicious cakes, although not very pretty.... always a little lopsided and messy looking, but so good.  I considered doing that again, but it seemed to me that it ought to be a little more grown up  type of cake and it should be much prettier than it was in those days.  I wanted it to be chocolate, and I decided cherries would add a variation to  traditional chocolate cake, and it should have some fun decorations, like those cakes of old, but perhaps an upgrade of the chocolate candies, with  at least a flower or two.  So here is the cake I made. I hadn't initially  intended to post the recipe, but it was so good and I did end up taking pictures of it once it was finished, soooo I decided afterwards, that I would go ahead and post it.

I had thought about frosting the cake completely, but once I began building it, my whipped cream started seeping out the edges, and I knew it wouldn't quite work to frost it all, so I left it mostly naked, and just frosted the top. I think if I realized how it would go, I would have made chocolate ganache, and poured it over the top and let it drip down the edges instead of the frosting, then I could have had purposeful drips, and it might have seemed more planned... but oh well, maybe next year.  Anyhow it turned out wonderfully moist,  rich and chocolatey.  The whipped cream and cherry pie filling was amazing with it,  the chocolate decorations were delightful and delicious, and like the dog at the end of the"Go Dog Go" book, everyone really loved it.

 For the Cake:
2 cups organic granulated sugar
1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil (my latest favorite oil to bake with is avocado oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Instructions for the Cake:
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
  3. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix well. 
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5.  Stir in the boiling water ( the batter will be very thin). 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted  center comes out clean. 
  8. Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
  9. Place in the freezer, and freeze for several hours or overnight (optional). 
For the Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
1cup organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions for the Frosting:
  1. In a medium small saucepan, add half and half, butter and chocolate chips, stir constantly and warm over low heat until melted.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar to the saucepan, stirring constantly to blend.  
  4. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Allow to cool about 10 minutes. 

For the Filling: 

Whipped cream

Cherry pie filling

For the Decorations: 
Fresh cherries
Chocolate chips
Large chocolate bar
Round chocolates, (Such as Lindt Truffles, or Ferrero Rocher Truffles)white, milk and dark chocolates  for variety
Chocolate cream filled wafer sticks
Chocolate covered cherries or chocolate covered dried cherries
Roses or pretty flowers

How to Assemble: 
  1.  Remove Cakes from freezer, and allow to sit at room temperature 10 - 15 minutes.
  2.  Place one cake onto a cake plate for the bottom layer.  
  3.  Spread with whipped cream.
  4.  Spoon cherry pie filling over whipped cream, (leave a little border of whipped cream on the edge, so that the cherries don't spill over and down the sides of the cake).
  5. Top with remaining cake.
  6.  Frost with Frosting
  7. Decorate by arranging chocolates, cherries and flowers over the top in one big wonderful grouping. When I shopped for the toppings, I looked for a variety of textures and shapes, all with the theme of chocolate, white chocolate and cherries.



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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Fourth of July Layered Bean Dip

I do love to make a Patriotic "something" for fourth of July, be it appetizer, main dish, side dish or dessert. It just helps make the meal and the day more fun don't you think?  This year's "something", is an  American Flag layered Bean Dip.  It is quick and simple, and would be great to bring to potlucks or picnics. It can be eaten cold or hot; I prefer it hot, but my hubby says he would take it either way without hesitation, so of course serve it the way you like.

2 16 ounce cans re-fried beans, or the equivalent homemade (about 4 cups).
2  cups salsa
2 1/2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
1 1/2 -2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in chunks
1/2 medium white onion, minced
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
salt, pepper and onion powder
Blue Corn Chips

Optional Ingredients: These optional ingredients can be layered over the salsa, and under the cheese and sour cream, to keep your colors consistent for the flag.
Chopped green chilies, chopped green peppers, chopped jalepenos, guacamole, corn, fried ground beef or Chorizo

In a 10 x 13 rectangular serving dish layer the following:
  1. Begin with the re-fried beans spread evenly over bottom of dish. Season with salt and pepper
  2. Top with Salsa.
  3. Cover with shredded Pepper Jack Cheese.
  4. Spread  sour cream over cheese. Sprinkle with onion powder.
  5. Place chopped Tomatoes as stripes.
  6. Add shredded Pepper Jack Cheese over the remaining sour cream stripes.
  7. Top the cheese with minced white onion.
  8. Place sliced Olives in the upper left hand corner as the blue background, allowing for a few gaps of white sour cream to show through for the stars.
Serve Cold, or Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, for a hot dip.
Serve with Blue Corn Chips

Spread re-fried beans on bottom of pan.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Top with salsa.

 Cover with shredded Pepper Jack Cheese.

 Spread sour cream over cheese. Sprinkle lightly with onion powder.

Lay tomatoes chunks into red stripes.

Cover the exposed sour cream with the remaining Pepper Jack Cheese, then top the cheese with minced onion.

Use sliced olives for the blue square of the flag, leave little spaces of white to show through for the stars.

Serve cold....

or bake for 20 - 30 minutes in a 350 degree, oven, and serve hot.

Little fingers can't resist.....


Friday, May 18, 2018

Strawberry Coffee Cake

When Strawberries are in abundance, this recipe is one of our family favorites.  I love to make it for a special occasion or when company comes by, and usually double it, because it always gets enthusiastic requests for more. I have adapted some of the ingredients, by using Almond flour, and Einkorn flour in the place of "All Purpose Flour", you can also use Almond flour with a wheat free or gluten-free flour  for wheat-free or gluten-free version.
1/4  cup butter, softened
3/4 organic raw sugar or coconut sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (I use half almond flour and half Einkorn flour)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup sliced, fresh strawberries 

Ingredients for the topping:
1/2 cup all purpose flour, einkorn, almond flour or gluten-free flour
1/2 cup organic sugar or coconut sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 chopped pecans
organic powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, cream together 1/4 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar and egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture , and alternately add the buttermilk, and mix until well blended.
  5.  Pour the batter into prepared baking pan. 
  6. Arrange strawberries on top of the batter.
  7. Using the topping ingredients, make a topping by blending 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter into a crumbly mixture
  8. Add chopped pecans and blend together. 
  9. Sprinkle topping over strawberries.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven until firm and golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. 
  11. Dust lightly with powdered sugar (optional).
  12. Enjoy! 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and then layer the fresh strawberries over the top.

Add the crumbly topping over the fresh strawberries.

Bake approximately 40 minutes or until lightly golden, and firm.

If desired, dust with powdered sugar.


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Thursday, May 10, 2018

DIY Fruit and Vegetable Prints

This is a fun craft for you or the kids, that is as easy as opening the refrigerator and laying hold of whatever fruits and vegetables you have on hand. Get out the paint and paper, or fabric and you have a delightful and inexpensive piece of art.  Use the base of celery, bok choy, or lettuce to make roses, slice oranges or lemons for a beautiful citrus print, carve carrots or potatoes into stamps such as leaves or simple designs, use bell peppers or squash for fun shapes,  slice apples or mushrooms and stamp them on fabric or paper. Use parsley and corn on the cob for texture and repetative design, and end up with some lovely scrapbook paper, pictures, cards or fabric prints.


Fruits and vegetables, such as:
Bok Choy, Lettuce, Carrots, 
Celery, Potatoes, Apples, 
Oranges, Lemons, Peppers, 
Squash, Mushrooms, Corn on the Cob, etc.
Craft Paint 
(if you are stamping onto fabric, use a fabric paint) 
Paint brushes or sponges
Paper or Fabric 

  1.  Slice the fruits and veggies in any manor that you wish
  2.  Brush on Paint.
  3.  Stamp onto Paper or fabric
  4.  Allow to dry
  5.  Use paper or fabric to create something else.
The base of bok choy, lettuce, or celery makes lovely roses. 


Carrots and potatoes can be carved into simple designs to create a stamp, such as the leaf stamp here.

 Bok choy rose, with carved carrot leaves.

 Peppers make fun shapes, such as flowers or shamrocks.

 Celery stems can be used separately as designs, or to add petals to your roses.

 I now have a nice pile of scrapbook paper to use.

Create greeting cards,

 scrapbook pages,

  or picture/plaques

Have fun and happy stamping.
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