Archive for the 'Chocolate' Category

Recipe: Back to the pantry!

|September 21, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Still checking out the pantry for the upcoming months!

Brownies are always good and I can't think of one person who does not enjoy them.

This is a mix, remember to label and date – store airtight in your pantry.


6 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder**
4 teaspoons salt
8 cups sugar
1 can (8 ounces) baking cocoa (use a good quality chocolate)
2 cups vegetable shortening

In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. With a pastry blender,
cut in shortening until evenly distributed. Store in a large airtight
container in cupboard. Keeps 10-12 weeks. Yield: about 17 cups of mix.

When it's time to make brownies:

2 1/2 cups brownie mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract**
1/2 cup chopped nuts optional
Confectioners' sugar, optional**

In a mixing bowl, combine first four ingredients. Beat with spoon until
smooth. Spread into a greased 8-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350'F for
20-25 minutes or until top tests done. cut into squares while still
warm. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Yield: 9 brownies.

You can easily make mini-muffins or use as a base for a large brownie cookie by spreading thin in a pizza tin. The aluminum pizza tins are nice to use. Adjust cooking time.

Recipe: Halloween is coming!

|August 13, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are fast approaching! It seems like just yesterday we were planning our July 4th menu with friends and family.

Soon it will be Halloween – so let’s make it SPOOK-tacular and very BOO-tiful for everyone to enjoy!

Planning a house party? I’ve given many – some very scary and packed with fun things to do – as well as having more than enough to eat!


For those that are preparing for a Halloween party –

don't forget the spooky tales that can be told –

we used to tell a tale –

everyone sat in a circle on the floor in a darkened room (the darker the better) –

the only light was from the flashlight used to read the story (one narrator who was responsible for handing out each gorey piece as the story was told)

As the story was told (very, very slowly of course) "things" were passed around – such as the rubber glove filled with sand and frozen was the dead man's hand, which came out of the ground (that's when you pass the crushed oreo cookies on a plate around for everyone to feel graveyard dirt – be sure to refrigerate for a better effect), chicken bones were human bones, corn silk was the "hair", jello "mushies" (jello gobs with a bit of water in a bowl) were the guts or the brains, a long balloon filled just about halfway with cold water were the intestines) etc. and at the end of the story every one was handed a HO HO because they had to eat doogie doo – or RING DINGS because they had to eat cow dung!

Spooky sounds were played in the background, the story being read so slow and all the props that were used really gave everyone a good scare for the night!

And don't forget the cauldron of dry ice in the corner – it made a nice prop as well.

With a little imagination – there is so much you can do!

I think just about everyone has made a Kitty Litter cake for Halloween.

Kitty Litter Cake for Halloween

Despite the cake's appearance, it's really delicious. For the proper presentation, use a brand new (and definitely UNUSED) plastic cat litter box and spoon it onto plates with a new (NEVER EVER used) pooper scooper. I like to make this the night before because of all the remaining preparations I need to make on Halloween.

I begin by making a homemade chocolate and a homemade white cake and bake in 13 X 9-inch pans.

To save time I use my own cake mix – this one is Just Like Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake mix:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups baker's** sugar (superfine sugar – a/k/a castor sugar)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

To make the cake you will need:
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

To make the cake mix: Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat in shortening using your electric mixer (on medium speed) until no chunks of shortening remain. Transfer to resealable plastic bag; label and date. This will keep in your pantry for 3 to 4 months.

To make cake: Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease and flour bottom and sides of pans – two 8 or 9-inch rounds or a 13 X 9 X 2-inch pan; or line muffin tins for cupcakes using paper liners; set aside.

Place cake mix in large bowl; add water, oil and eggs. Beat on low speed to incorporate ingredients until moistened; increase speed to medium and beat for 2 ore minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans. Round pans will need approximately 30 to 33 minutes; 13 X 9-inch pan will need approximately 35 to 38 minutes; cupcakes will need 19 to 22 minutes. Do the toothpick test for doneness.

For my white cake I used my White Cake Mix:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift ingredients.

I assemble this and place in a plastic resealable bag; label and date. This will keep for 6 to 9 months in your pantry.

When ready to make the cake: Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch baking pans or a 13 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan; or line a muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

Place the cake mix in a large bowl, add:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs (or extra large)
1 cup buttermilk***
2 teaspoons vanilla extract**
1/2 teaspoon almond extract – optional

Beat on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until done – use the toothpick test! My 13 X 9-inch cake was done in 35 minutes.

Remove pans from oven and allow to cool completely.

**Make it homemade and make it cheaper and healthier.

***When making butter, I always save the buttermilk to use in baking. Much cheaper than buying it at the market!

For this recipe you also need vanilla pudding, which of course I use my homemade Vanilla Pudding and Pie Mix:

Combine the following and store airtight in your pantry:
1-1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

This makes 3 cups.

To make pudding: Using a small saucepan, combine ½ cup pudding mix with 2 cups milk. Place over low heat and bring to a boil; stirring constantly. Boil gently for 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract; mix well.

Pour into serving dishes; chill until thickened. This makes 4 servings.

BUT FOR THIS CAKE RECIPE you will need the equivalent of 2 large boxes of pudding mix – meaning 8 servings – so you will need to use 1 cup pudding mix with 4 cups milk and ½ teaspoon vanilla.

And of course – you will need a large package of vanilla sandwich cookies.

Should I? Why not? Here goes:

Start by making your sandwich filling for your cookies:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups confectioners' sugar**, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract**

Beat all ingredients until creamy; set aside while you make your cookies.

This recipe is for a basic vanilla cookie. The dough can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.

In large bowl, beat until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes):
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
¾ cup sugar

With mixing running, beat in one at a time, beating well after each addition:
3 egg yolks

Cut a 2-inch piece vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds; add and mix well. If desired, substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract**.

In separate bowl, sift and whisk together:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Gradually add sifted mixture to creamed mixture, beating on low until well mixed. Divide dough into 4 portions; shape each into a ball and flatten into a disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. (This can be refrigerated up to 3 days ahead of time.)

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350* F. Butter 2 large baking sheets. Remove disks of dough from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before rolling and cutting.

Using a lightly floured work surface, roll dough ¼-inch thick and cut with cutters. Gather and re-roll scraps. Place on prepared baking sheets and bake about 8 minutes or until done. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

To make the cookies for this recipe, cut cookies in rounds and place 1 tablespoon filling on the bottom of one round, place another round (the bottom) on top to make sandwich cookies.

If not, this recipe can be used for cookies you like to ice or decorate with colored sugars.

Cookies for this recipe can be made a week ahead of time (they store well airtight for a week).

You made need to double this recipe – they are very good.

NOW do you think you are ready to make the cake? Yes – I get a bit long-winded……………..
Remember to buy some small Tootsie rolls (YES I HAVE A RECIPE TO MAKE THEM!) – you will need 12 for this recipe.

You will also need:

1 new kitty litter pan
1 new plastic kitty litter pan liner
1 new pooper scooper

Now that your cakes have been baked and have cooled, and you have made your 8-servings of vanilla pudding, and your cookies are baked and filled – we are ready to assemble our cake.

Using your food processor, crumble your sandwich cookies in small batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Reserve about ¼ cup of this. If you don’t have a food processor, place cookies in a plastic resealable bag and crush using your rolling pin.

Add a few drops of green food coloring to the ¼ cup cookie crumbs mixing until thoroughly colored.

Crumble your cakes into a very large bowl. Toss with half of the crumbled cookies and half the pudding. You want to use just enough pudding to moisten the mixture. Combine gently. Remember – you do not want this to be soggy.

Line a new, clean and thoroughly washed kitty litter box. Transfer cake mixture to the litter box. Unwrap 3 small Tootsie rolls and place in a microwaveable dish. Heat until you can shape the ends of the Tootsie rolls so that they are no longer blunt, curve them slightly. Repeat with 3 more which you will bury in the cake mixture. Sprinkle with half the remaining crumbled cookies over top; sprinkle with green cookie crumbs (to look like mold in the kitty litter).

Heat 3 more Tootsie rolls in the microwave until almost melted; scrape on top of the cake; sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Place remaining Tootsie rolls on top; roll in the cookie crumbs lightly.

Place litter box on newspaper – adding a sprinkle of cookie crumbs on the newspaper for a more disgusting look.

Recipe: hot? then join me in a dish of ice cream….

|July 4, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Yes – it's hot.  And it's humid.  And I don't take to this heat very well.  Add a hot flash or two and it's quite unbearable.

So what do you do?  Drink gallons of iced tea, cold refreshing water – and ENJOY SOME ICE CREAM!

Why not? 

It's quite healthy for you too.

Just scoop some all natural cherry vanilla ice cream into a bowl. 

The ice cream is "all natural" so it's good for you.

The cherries have antioxidants, are good for arthritis, etc.

Slice a banana to go around it – bananas are a good source of potassium and are very good for you.

Drizzle with a bit of chocolate syrup – which is also healthy.  (If I said chocolate is healthy – then it's healthy – so don't argue with me!)

Top with some lightly salted nuts – which nuts are good for you too.

And grab a spoon, relax, enjoy and cool off!

Follow with a tall glass of ice water…………

Recipe: COCOA: Dutch Process VS Regular

|June 11, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Substitution for 3 tablespoons (18 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa: 3 tablespoons (18 grams) natural cocoa powder plus pinch (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda

Substitution for 3 tablespoons (18 grams) natural cocoa: 3 tablespoons (18 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

Note: Due to the differences between natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powders, do not substitute one for the other in recipes.

Note: Do not confuse unsweetened natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powder with sweetened cocoa drink mixes. They are not the same thing.


Dutch-Processed or Alkalized Unsweetened Cocoa Powder is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids. Because it is neutral and does not react with baking soda, it must be used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless there are other acidic ingredients in sufficient quantities used. It has a reddish-brown color, mild flavor, and is easy to dissolve in liquids. Its delicate flavor makes it ideal in baked goods like European cakes and pastries where its subtle flavor complements other ingredients.

Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder tastes very bitter and gives a deep chocolate flavor to baked goods. Its intense flavor makes it well suited for use in brownies, cookies and some chocolate cakes. When natural cocoa (an acid) is used in recipes calling for baking soda (an alkali), it creates a leavening action that causes the batter to rise when placed in the oven.

When used alone in cakes, cocoa powder imparts a full rich chocolate flavor and dark color. Cocoa powder can also be used in recipes with other chocolates (unsweetened or dark) and this combination produces a cake with a more intense chocolate flavor than if the cocoa wasn't present. Most recipes call for sifting the cocoa powder with the flour but to bring out its full flavor it can be combined with a small amount of boiling water. (If you want to try this in a recipe, substitute some of the liquid in the recipe for boiling water.) Often times, you may notice that more butter and leavening agent are used in recipes containing cocoa powder. This is to offset cocoa powder's drying and strengthening affect in cakes. There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural and Dutch-processed and it is best to use the type specified in the recipe as the leavening agent used is dependent on the type of cocoa powder. Some prefer using Dutch-processed cocoa as a slight bitterness may be tasted in cakes using natural cocoa and baking soda.

To convert a cake recipe that uses bittersweet or semisweet chocolate to one using cocoa:

Substitute 1 tablespoon plus 1 3/4 teaspoons (9.5 grams) of cocoa, 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon (14.5 grams) granulated white sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) unsalted butter for every ounce (28 grams) of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Also, dissolve the cocoa in at least 1/4 cup (60 ml) hot liquid to bring out the cocoa's full flavor.

To convert a cake recipes that uses unsweetened chocolate to one using cocoa:

Substitute 3 tablespoons (18 grams) cocoa plus 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter for every 1 ounce (28 grams) of unsweetened chocolate. Dissolve the cocoa in at least 2 tablespoons of liquid in the recipe to bring out the cocoa's full flavor.

Recipe: Low Carb Fudgesicles

|June 5, 2011|read comments (2)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

At this time fo the year I think more people "snack" than actually eat.  By this I mean  – less real cooking, more fast foods or fast made foods and in the heat – sometimes it's a bit more junk-type foods and desserts.


We all enjoy frozen confections – and sometimes we over-indulge in calories or carbs.  So I like to make fudgesicles (luv chocolate!).


Just combine 1 small box of chocolate flavored instant pudding (sugar-free) with 1 1/4 cups water and 3/4 cup heavy cream.  That's it!


If you don't have popsicle molds, you can use 3 oz. bathroom Dixie cups.  Insert a popsicle stick and freeze.


Also try other flavors of pudding – and you can use regular pudding mix (with sugar) is you want.


Either way – these are good and refreshing!

Recipe: Great Gram’s Cake Fritters

|June 4, 2011|read comments (2)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Great gram always had a house full of home-baked goodies! She baked all day. It's no wonder she won all kinds of contests and was admired by everyone. She was a great pastry chef!

This is just a "quickie" she would whip up while she was preparing fried dough for everyone to enjoy  (and don't forget – during those times you wasted nothing!):

Great Gram's Cake Fritters

She would slice (what Gramps would say was "stale" because it was made the day before) homemade cake into 1/4 – 1/2-inch slices and cut into ovals or rounds using a biscuit cutter.

In a low sided baking dish she would combine 1 egg with 1 cup milk, grated rind from one lemon, pinch salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Then she would lay the cake ovals or rounds in this mixture until softened (not crumbly) – depending on the density of the cake, etc. and turn to coat the other side.

She would heat fat (lard in those days – but you can use shortening or vegetable oil – although we still use lard or it wouldn't be right to us) in a heavy skillet – about 1/2-inch deep. Carefully she would lift the cake pieces and place in the hot fat; browning on one side and then the other – adding additional lard if needed (depending on how many she was making – many times the recipe was more than doubled!)

Sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar when removed from the skillet. Served plain or with hard sauce.  When I make them I sometime just sprinkle with confectioners' sugar or sugar, and I also serve them with a nice lemon or fruit sauce or even a nice chocolate sauce.

Recipe: Now we’re talkin’………………

|June 2, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

I want to thank those that have e-mailed me with questions –

don't be afraid to ask a question; there is no such thing as a stupid question –

Q: "how can I stop chocolate chips, raisins, etc. from ending up in the bottom of my cakes when I bake them?"

A: Certain ingredients, such as chocolate chips, dried fruits, and even nuts will "sink" to the bottom of your batter. If you were to coat these ingredients with a bit of flour, tossing well, (please remember to leave excess flour behind – you don't need to add it!) before stirring into your batter you will have better results. The flour will absorb some of the surface oils/water that these ingredients emit during the baking process and will help to prevent them from sinking to the bottom.

Q: "I tried to melt chocolate in the microwave and it was lumpy – what did I do wrong?"

A: First of all – you all know that I do not believe in microwaves. I don't trust them for anything at all and I have no desire to use one in my kitchen. Next, I am a chocolate melter from way back – always in a double boiler. Which of course I don't even own one. I use a stainless steel bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stale chocolate will seize right up and has to be tossed. But for a small amount of chocolate with a bit of lumps, you can add a spoon of vegetable shortening or a tad of oil and that should do it for you – unless your chocolate is old. Then there isn't much you can do except buy fresh chocolate.

Q: "berries are so good fresh, but it's always too hot to bake in the summer months – how can I have fresh berries for baking during the off-season?"

A. Why not use frozen berries to bake? As long as they are whole berries that are not in syrup there is no problem. You do not need to thaw; but you may have to add an additional minute or two to your baking – depending on what it is you are making.

Q: "you have posted on your blog how to tell if your baking soda and baking powder are fresh – but what about yeast?"

A: Sometimes you cannot trust the dates on the packages of anything. And like I have said before – I don't care what the expiration date or use-by date is – once it is opened it is not going to last that long – regardless of what it is! I like to use bulk yeast in a bag. And it needs to be tested to make sure it is still active. The best way to do this is to test it by placing the yeast in the water as called for in the recipe, add no more than 1/8 teaspoon of sugar (the sugar is food for the yeast) and it should begin to bubble within 5 to 10 minutes. No bubbles – no good – don't use it.

Q: "what is the easiest way to prevent a cheesecake from cracking?"

A: I don't believe in wrapping the bottom of the springform pan with foil and placing in another pan of water to bake. Most cheesecakes have a topping and the cracks do not even show or matter. If you want to prevent cracks – place a small pan of water next to you cheesecake in the oven; less mess; no danger when removing from the oven.

I hope this helps – and don't be afraid to ask if you want to know something!

Recipe: 3 Hole Chocolate Cake

|June 2, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

This is a very old recipe!

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla**
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups water

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt together. Put in oblong cake pan,
make 3 holes and add the liquid ingredients and mix with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees, takes a little longer than other cakes.

Recipe: Those “circuit” recipes –

|May 31, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

You all know what I am talking about when I say "circuit" recipes. Those are the recipes that are "in" for that time period and just about everyone has to have a copy of it so they can make it too.

I've seen food fads and recipes (including the "circuit" recipes) come and go, but there are some that linger because they are really good and really worth keeping. Many circuit recipes die out after a while – once they've made the circuit – it's the end for them.

Back n the 50's this recipe was quite popular –

Chocolate Fudge Cake

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder**
1 can (about one pound) chocolate syrup**
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream margarine. Gradually add sugar and beat until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly, after each one. Add sifted dry ingredients, alternately with syrup. Blending well. Add nuts and vanilla and put in a 9" tube pan, lined on bottom with waxed paper. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Turn out on a rack and peel off the wax paper. Serve with whipped cream.


I wouldn't use margarine in this recipe – only butter now. Margarine today is not made the way it was back then. Sure – margarine back then may not have been good for us – but heck – we survived and we were healthy. The changes that have been made to margarine since then have rendered margarine as garbage in my book.

I've even added a handful or so of raisins to this cake, as well as a handful or so of chocolate chips or white chocolate chips. I don't overdo it – I dislike overkill in cooking and baking.

Also – a nice chocolate glaze or vanilla glaze goes well topping this cake, as does sifted confectioners' sugar. Sprinkle the glaze with chopped walnuts, if desired.

Leave the nuts out of the cake and use on top, or don't use them at all.

It's an easy recipe – an old recipe – far from those lousy cake mixes that are infested – yes I said infested – with all those chemicals, additives, preservatives, or even MSG!

Did you know that MSG is also going by dozens of other names to fool you? I'll have to educate you on that!

**Make it homemade, make it cheaper, make it better!

Recipe: Homemade Brownie Mix

|March 14, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It's comfort foods weather! My favorite time of the year!

In preparation for baking when I need to whip up something quick, I've started on my baking mixes.  Just like boxed cake mixes or commercially made bakery cakes – I can't eat brownies from any type of a mix unless I make the mix myself.


Here's my Brownie Mix:

6 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder**
4 teaspoons salt
8 cups sugar
1 can (8 ounces) baking cocoa
2 cups vegetable shortening

In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. With a pastry blender, cut in shortening until evenly distributed. Store in a large airtight container in cupboard. Keeps 10-12 weeks.

Yield: about 17 cups of mix.


2 1/2 cups brownie mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract**
1/2 cup chopped nuts optional
Confectioners' sugar, optional**

In a mixing bowl, combine first four ingredients. Beat with spoon until smooth. Spread into a greased 8-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes or until top tests done. Cut into squares while still
warm. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Yield: 9 brownies.

**Make it yourself, make it better, make it cheaper.


NOTE:  These can also be frosted and decorated with candies or nuts.

NOTE: You can use this recipe for making gift jars for friends during the holiday season. Place 2 1/2 cups brownie mix in jar and attach a recipe tag with instructions.

You can also place the mix in a resealable plastic bag with instructions and place in an 8-inch square baking pan with a wooden spoon or a set of measuring cups, or a pretty set of pot holders; place in a cello gift bag and add a pretty bow for a nice gift.