Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring Fling

We have an annual Spring Fling at work which is basically our company picnic. It's a day of volleyball, ping pong, barbecue, door prizes, visiting with our co-workers, etc. We always have a bake-off also and this year's category was chocolate cake. I realize now that I could never compete in a real bake-off as I am hypercritical and want things to be 'just right'. This is my 'go-to' recipe for chocolate cake. I started out making it a 3-layer cake. That looked atrocious and was very lop-sided. So I scrapped that and decided to make it in my heart-shaped pan which I have done before (see here). This one stuck to the pan. It was about midnight by now and I decided to heck with it, but I could not sleep so got up and made this AGAIN like the picture above. Well, all efforts paid off as I won FIRST PLACE!! Yeah! I won a gift card to a grocery store. It was a fun day for sure.


1-3/4 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk (I used buttermilk this time)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup toasted almond slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and dust with cocoa a 9 x 13 pan. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until blended. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and beat will until combined, about 2 minutes. While beating, heat water to boiling. Stir water into cake batter and stir well.

Pour the thin batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
4-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, melt together butter and cocoa. Stir until smooth. Using a mixer, alternately beat in powdered sugar and milk until frosting is smooth and creamy. Stir in vanilla. Frost cake as desired. Garnish with toasted almonds.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Stuffed Strawberries

This recipe comes from the Deen Brothers Cookbook . Paula also made this on her show recently. These were a good addition to the strawberry shortcake (see below).


32 whole large strawberries, hulled
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut sides down, on a serving platter. Carefully, cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms. Fan the wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the stuffed strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Strawberry Shortcake

Another birthday at the office, so an opportunity to bake something. The birthday girl requested strawberry shortcake, so here is my version.

I made a yellow cake from the King Arthur recipe and split it apart and put strawberries and Cool Whip between the layers and frosted and topped with more strawberries and frosted with Cool Whip.


1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs plus 2 yolks
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups milk, buttermilk, or yogurt (I used buttermilk)

16 ounces frozen sliced strawberries with sugar thawed
32 ounces Cool Whip defrosted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, salt, baking powder, and vanilla until the batter is fluffy. This should take at least five minutes. It's a good idea to have your butter and eggs at room temperature. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time. Beat thoroughly before adding the next. Then slowly fold in a third of the flour, then half of the milk, then another third of the flour, the remaining milk, and then the last of the flour. Only stir until mixed.

Pour into a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with Pam or butter. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool completely and split cake horizontally. Spoon 1/2 the strawberries and juice on bottom layer. Add Cool Whip. Place second layer on top. Place remaining strawberries and juice and then frost with remaining Cool Whip. Slice strawberries on top for decoration.