Choco-flan

Chocoflan

September 15-October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month

At a cake club meeting that Islander had attended, one of the members brought in a curious cake called choco-flan. It was a doubly delicious dessert of chocolate and custard. It is also popular among her Mexican friends whose country is known for xocolatl y flan. Islander added Texas’ state nut, pecans, to decorate the top of the cake for a Tex-Mex taste. Thanks to her Mexican friends for introducing this recipe to us. In their honor, and as an homage to all our Hispanic friends, we made this cake in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. Muchas gracias, amigas.

Recipe

Inspired by nuestras amigas en San Antonio, Tejas

For the cake

  • 1 bottle or can of dulce de leche or cajeta (caramel), divided use
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (may use devil’s food, triple chocolate fudge or other favorite chocolate cake mix)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 eggs

For the flan

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vainilla (vanilla)

Directions

Grease a 12-cup bundt pan. Then pour about a cup of caramel to coat the sides and bottom. Set aside. Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box by combining the cake mix with water, oil and eggs and blending into a smooth batter. Pour the cake batter over the caramel. Set aside.

Choco-flan

Make the flan by mixing the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs and vanilla.

Choco-flan

Pour the flan mix over the cake. It will sink to the bottom. Place the bundt pan in a larger pan. Pour boiling hot water in the larger pan up to the middle of the sides of the bundt pan to make a “water bath”. Mist a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the bundt pan with the sprayed side down (this will prevent the risen cake from sticking to the top of the foil). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator to allow the flan to chill and solidify.

Choco-flan

Take out from the refrigerator and carefully invert on a plate. Drizzle more caramel on top of the choco-flan and let it drip down the middle hole and sides. Toast whole pieces of pecans by heating the nuts in a small skillet, being careful not to burn. Cool the nuts then place them decoratively on top of the choco-flan. Refrigerate. Slice and serve.

Choco-flan

Notes

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Remember the story of Cinderella where her fairy godmother transformed a plain pumpkin into a pretty carriage? Well, we also made some magic on a basic bundt and dressed it up in the glorious colors of autumn. Although it isn’t as simple as waving a wand, decorating the cake is actually do-able, even for beginners.

For this particular post, we baked a chocolate pumpkin spice cake, glazed it in decadent chocolate, drizzled it with a pumpkin-colored/pumpkin flavored confectioner’s coating (candy melts) and sprinkled it with seasonal nonpareils (fall leaves). Like Cinderella entering the grand ball, this cake is sure to be a showstopper at seasonal social gatherings as well!

Add your personal and magic touch to a plain chocolate pumpkin spice cake and get creative in decorating it. What a way to celebrate National Pumpkin Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn)

For the chocolate pumpkin spice cake

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix (we used Duncan Hines brand)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chocolate cake mix, pumpkin and eggs.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Add the cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend well. Fold the cinnamon chips into the cake batter. Spread evenly into a greased bundt pan.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven. Cool completely in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack over a foil-lined lipped pan.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

For the chocolate glaze and decorations

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate (baking squares or chips)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup orange candy melts (we used Wilton’s seasonal pumpkin flavor)
  • colorful seasonal candy sprinkles (optional)

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup. Heat until melted. Mix until smooth. Drizzle on the top of the cake and let the glaze run down the sides.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

In a microwave-safe cup, melt the orange candy melts. Spoon in a decorator’s bag outfitted with a small round tip. Being careful not to burn your hand, drizzle on top of the glazed cake in a back and forth motion all around. Finish by sprinkling some colorful seasonal candies on top. Let the topping set. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Notes

  • Add a teaspoon or two of vegetable shortening to the candy melts for a thinner consistency.
  • Sprinkles can be black and orange jimmies, Halloween nonpareils or autumn leaves (like we used for this recipe) to reflect the fall flavors and season.
  • Search our blog for other pumpkin recipes.

Rocky Road Cake

Rocky Road Cake

June 2: National Rocky Road Day

On a hot, summer day, eating Rocky Road ice cream is a cool choice. But lactose intolerant Islander feels it is “safer on her system” to eat a slice of Rocky Road cake because the dairy content in it is less than in Rocky Road ice cream (although there is a little bit of cream used in the chocolate frosting). The cake is also less likely to melt when sharing it with others at summer socials.

Rocky Road cake is easy to make, and the textured topping give this decadent dessert a “wow factor”. Instead of the ice cream flavor, try Rocky Road cake to celebrate the summer season as well as observe National Rocky Road Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

Bake the chocolate fudge sheet cake in a 9×13” pan. Cool completely. Make the chocolate frosting by melting 10 ounces of chocolate squares, stirring in a half cup of heavy whipping cream and incorporating 1 ½ cups of sliced butter pieces until smooth and well blended.

Rocky Road Cake

Allow the frosting to cool for a spreadable consistency (several hours at room temperature or 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator). Stir before spreading on the top and sides of the cake. Pipe decorative shell borders on the top and bottom edges of the cake (optional).

Rocky Road Cake

Sprinkle mini marshmallows randomly on top of the cake. Chop the walnuts roughly and toast them in a small skillet over medium high heat for about five minutes, being careful not to burn the nuts. Cool and scatter them on top of the cake, filling in the gaps between the marshmallows.

Rocky Road Cake

Melt chocolate candy wafers/chips. Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag with a small round tip (or fill a plastic zipper top bag and cut a small hole). Drizzle over the top of the cake. Let set. Slice the cake into 24 squares and serve.

Rocky Road Cake

Notes

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

November 15:
National Bundt Pan Day

Most homestyle bakers have a bundt in their cake pan collection. Islander has ta few—a fancy pineapple-design form and two mini bundt pans—but she borrows a basic one from her brother. The round, ridged mold with a hole in the middle gives cakes a distinctive shape.

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

The bundt pan evolved from the Viennese kugelhopf.  Austrians and Germans who immigrated to North America brought their baking traditions—and ring-shaped pans—with them. The word “bund” translates to “community” or “a gathering of people;” hence, the round pan shape for cakes that were meant to be shared during coffee or tea time. The first reference to a recipe for bundt kuchen was found in the turn-of-the-20th-century “Milwaukee Settlement Cookbook.”

Nordic Ware adapted the design to make a bundt pan at the request of members of the Hadassah Society, an American Jewish volunteer women’s organization. The company trademarked the pan in 1950, but sales were slow. A decade later, “Good Housekeeping Cookbook” featured a pound cake recipe baked in a bundt. In 1966, after a “Tunnel of Fudge” bundt cake recipe won second place at a Pillsbury Bake-Off, the bundt became the best-selling cake pan in America!

Nordic Ware and other companies continue to make classic and creative bundt pans in different designs, shapes and sizes. In 2007, some of the original Nordic Ware bundt pans became part of the museum exhibits at the Smithsonian Institute.

Pillsbury licensed the bundt name in 1970 for its line of cake mixes, which are not available as of this post. But we made a version (see Notes) of the Tunnel of Fudge bundt cake to observe National Bundt Pan Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Pillsbury and Busy Cooks via About.com)

For the Tunnel of Fudge cake

  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
  • 1 tub chocolate fudge frosting (we used Pillsbury brand)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and blend well. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder. Using a spatula, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix by hand. Fold in the nuts. Generously grease the sides of the bundt pan with vegetable shortening or cooking spray just before adding the batter in it.

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

Place half the batter into the pan. Spoon a thin ring of the fudge frosting in the middle of the batter, being careful not to let it touch the inner and outer sides of the bundt pan. Place the remaining batter on both sides of the fudge frosting and on top. Smooth it out. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour or until the edges of the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the bundt pan. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about two hours. Invert onto a wire rack over a foil-lined lipped pan to cool completely. Prepare the glaze.

 Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

For the chocolate glaze

  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder/unsweetened cocoa
  • 6-8 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the cocoa. Stir in the milk until it is smooth and has a drizzle-like consistency.

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze on top of the bundt cake, letting it drip down the sides. Transfer to a cake platter, slice and serve.

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

Notes

  • The original Tunnel of Fudge cake recipe included powdered fudge frosting mix, but Pillsbury has discontinued the product. Since the 1966 bake-off, the company has modified the recipe. The fudge from the tunnel is basically the undercooked batter, which is similar to a molten chocolate or lava cake.
  • Other companies, such as Nordic Ware (makers of the bundt pan and a Tunnel of Fudge cake mix) and Sof’Ella, make bundt cake mixes.
  • When we previously attempted to make a Tunnel of Fudge cake, it crumbled when released from the bundt pan (not greased enough) and it did not have fudge oozing out of the tunnel (overbaked). We also modified the recipe by following the concept of filled cupcakes (such as Betty Crocker brand FUN da-Middles). Half the batter is poured into the pan, a syrup filling is squeezed in the middle, then the remaining batter covers the filling before baking.
  • Thanks to Islander’s brother for letting us borrow his basic bundt pan for this Tunnel of Fudge cake recipe.
  • Thanks to Lisa L. who gifted Islander with the adorable “aloha” bundt pan.
  • Search our blog for recipes of other cakes baked in bundt pans.

 Mexican Chocolate Mini Pound Cakes

Mexican Chocolate Mini Pound Cakes

October 28: National Chocolate Day

Colorfully-decorated altars are being set up in some Mexican homes around this time of the year here in South Texas in preparation for El Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities on November 2.

Mexicans have an interesting way to honor their loved ones who have passed away. Their altars are a memorial to the dearly departed and they are adorned with bright flowers, candles, photos and candy skulls. Sometimes, pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and other favorite foods of the deceased are displayed. The dead are not forgotten; their lives are celebrated by those they left behind.

Inspired by this cultural custom, we made Mexican chocolate mini pound cakes for National Chocolate Day. But these pasteles de chocolate may be prepared ahead of time, then eaten by family and friends during graveyard gatherings or presented on the altars on El Día de Los Muertos

Recipe

(Adapted from Southern Living)

For the cake

  • 4 squares (4 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup chocolate syrup
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Directions

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla. 

Mexican Chocolate Mini Pound Cakes

Beat in the eggs. Stir in the chocolate syrup. Mix in the melted chocolate. In another bowl, combine the flour, ground cinnamon, baking soda and pinch of salt. Gradually blend into the chocolate mixture until smooth. 

Mexican Chocolate Mini Pound Cakes

Add the buttermilk to the batter. Grease the wells of a mini fluted/bundt pan (we used a Wilton brand pan). Pour the batter no more than 2/3 full to the top in each well. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Invert the pan onto a wire rack to cool the cakes completely. Yield: Approximately 1 ½ dozen mini pound cakes.
 Mexican Chocolate Mini Pound Cakes 

For the chocolate drizzles (glaze)

  • 3 squares (3 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons heavy whipping cream, hot
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup

Directions

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate. Stir in the whipping cream and corn syrup until smooth. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Put the wire rack with the mini pound cakes on top. Place the chocolate glaze mixture into a pastry bag outfitted with a small round tip. Or place it in a zipper top plastic bag and snip a small hole from the corner. Drizzle the tops in a back and forth motion, allowing the glaze to drip down the sides of the mini pound cakes. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Mexican Chocolate Mini Pound Cakes

Notes

  • Mexican chocolate pound cake is a bit dense but dry. We prefer to put a chocolate glaze on top to make it more moist and have a richer flavor. A dusting of powdered sugar instead of the glaze is another option.
  • This recipe can be made for a little loaf pan. Increase the baking time by another 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Double the recipe of the glaze to ice the loaf-style pound cake.
  • Check out more chocolate recipes by searching our blog.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

June 16: National Fudge Day

We have lived in the Lone Star State since 2008 and we get a taste of Tex-Mex meals and cowboy-country cooking all around town, whether at food festivals, restaurants or informal get-togethers. We especially enjoy the down-home desserts, such as cobblers and cookies, pies and puddings and custards (flan) and cakes.

Sometimes we see a sweet and simple chocolate cake at social events. What looks like a giant fudge brownie is known as a “Texas sheet cake.” And since “everything is bigger in Texas,” the flavor of this rich, moist dessert is even more pronounced—irresistably chocolaty and fudgy!

Texas fudge sheet cake is considered a comfort food. The ingredients are basic and the recipe is straightforward. The completed cake can be ready in less than an hour! It is sturdy enough to transport to potlucks and can be served straight out of the pan in which it was baked. Mmmmm…fudgy, not fussy!

Try this Texas fudge sheet cake for National Fudge Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from the Pioneer Woman)

For the fudge sheet cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • ¼ cup cocoa (we used Nestle brand)
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside. In a pan, melt the butter. Stir in the cocoa, then the boiling water. Boil for another 30 seconds.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

Pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir. In a small bowl, mix the buttermilk with the eggs and baking soda.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

Add the vanilla to the buttermilk mixture. Pour this into the flour-chocolate batter and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking pan.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven. Cool completely. The cake may be frosted in the pan itself. Or it may be inverted onto a cake board or platter and then frosted.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

For the fudge frosting

(Adapted from About.com – Desserts/Baking)

  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3+ cup milk

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, sift the cocoa with the sugar to remove any lumps. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, place the stick of butter, cover with plastic film/wrap and microwave until melted. Remove the melted butter from the microwave and stir in the vanilla.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

Pour the butter-vanilla mixture into the cocoa-sugar and stir to combine. Add 1/3 cup milk and blend with a hand-mixer until smooth. Add a tablespoon of milk at a time to achieve the desired spreadable consistency for the frosting.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

Generously spread the top of the cake with frosting. Make decorative swirls with the spatula on the top and sides of the cake. Let set. Slice and serve.

Texas Fudge Sheet Cake

Notes

  • Howdy, partner! Texas fudge sheet cake pairs well with plain vanilla ice cream.
  • At weddings, the Texas sheet cake recipe gets dressed up as a groom’s cake. Baked in a Texas-shaped pan and decorated with chocolate-dipped strawberries, this fudge cake is a favorite among guests at a Texas BBQ reception!
  •  Search our blog for other chocolate cake recipes.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

January 27: National Chocolate Cake Day

Chocolate cake is a favorite flavor for many, including us. We have baked (and eaten!) a variety of chocolate cakes to fulfill our chocoholic cravings. But the flourless chocolate cake has been our most decadent dessert—so rich, velvety smooth and intensely chocolaty! Right out of the oven, it looks brown and bland so we coated the cake in luxurious chocolate ganache and topped it with fresh, plump raspberries. It is surprisingly simple to make yet is an impressive treat for special occasions, on Valentine’s Day, which is coming up in a few weeks, and certainly on National Chocolate Cake Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from the Chocolate Bakery)

For the flourless chocolate cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 8 squares (8 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 6 eggs

Directions

Line the bottom of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Mist the paper and sides of the pan with cooking spray. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth. In another bowl, mix the sugar with the cocoa powder.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Beat in the eggs to this mixture and blend well. Pour into the melted chocolate-butter mixture, stirring until smooth.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Smooth out the batter into the springform pan. Place foil on the bottom of the pan to prevent leaks. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and let cool for half an hour before removing the cake from the pan. Brush off any crumbs. Invert the cooled cake, bottom side up, onto a wire rack placed over a lipped baking sheet with foil. Prepare the chocolate ganache topping.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

For  the chocolate ganache

  • 4 squares (4 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth. In a microwave-safe measuring glass, heat the cream for about a minute. Pour into the melted chocolate and mix well. Use immediately.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

To decorate the flourless chocolate cake, peel off the parchment paper. Pour the chocolate ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Use a spatula to smooth out the top and sides.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Carefully transfer to a cake board or plate. Let the ganache cool over the cake before decorating the edge with fresh raspberries (optional). Refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Notes

  • This cake slices neatly and smoothly if the knife is wiped free of crumbs after each cut. As this is a rich cake, we usually slice it into 16 instead of 8 servings.
  • The chocolate ganache topping is optional but lends a luxurious finish to the flourless chocolate cake. A dusting of powdered sugar over the top instead of ganache is another simple serving idea.
  • See the similar Sacher Torte recipe for National Sacher Torte Day on December 5.
  • Search our blog for more chocolate cake recipes.