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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Favorite German Chocolate Cake




German Chocolate Cake is one of my family's favorite desserts for special occasions. I always thought it a little tricky to make because of the use of three layers. But as I've gotten older and more experienced in the kitchen I've found it's not difficult at all. There are a few tricks that will help you in the construction of this beautiful 3-layer German Chocolate Cake.

I found this written up in the Dallas Morning News twelve or fifteen years ago and added it to our Family Cookbook. You can find my article here on the pitfalls and successes of publishing our Family cookbook entitled "How to Put Your Family's Recipes Into a Cookbook Using WordPerfect."

I use this particular version of German Chocolate Cake when making cakes for a birthday party, a Christmas get-together, a reunion, or other special occasions.

The ingredients are as follows:

1 (4-ounce) package Baker's German's sweet baking chocolate

½ cup water

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

4 egg whites

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line the bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with wax paper and set them aside. In a microwave, heat the chocolate and water in a large bowl on high for 1½-2 minutes or until the chocolate is almost melted, stirring halfway through heating time. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt and set the mixture aside. Beat margarine and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

Add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating after each until smooth.

Beat egg whites in another large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir egg whites into batter. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. Immediately run a spatula between cakes and sides of pans. Cool 15 minutes; remove from the pans. Remove wax paper. Cool completely on wire racks. Spread coconut-pecan filling between layers and over top of cake.

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting:

In a large saucepan, mix 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk, 1½ cups sugar, ¾ cup (1½ sticks) margarine or butter, 4 egg yolks (slightly beaten) and 1½ teaspoons vanilla. Cook and stir over medium heat about 12 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and golden brown. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 (7-ounce) package shredded sweetened coconut (about 2⅔ cups) and 1½ cups chopped pecans. Cool to room temperature.

The Bad News:

The Dallas Morning News reports that each serving has about 848 calories, 51 grams fat and 152 mg cholesterol. But, it sure is gooooood!

Helpful Hints:

If you freeze the layers for 30 minutes or an hour after they cool on the counter it will be easier to spread frosting on them. Lightly brush off any crumbs from the frozen layers and place them on wax paper as you're working on the frosting.

Place one of the cake layers in the middle of a cake plate, frost with about 1 cup of icing and top with a second cake layer. Frost the second layer and place the third cake layer on top. Frost the third layer with the rest of the icing. This cake typically does not have icing around the edges so if you want to frost the edges you will have to make more icing.

To make perfect egg whites use perfectly clean utensils. Place bowl (preferably glass or metal), electric mixer wire whip, and egg whites in refrigerator to get completely cold before beating.

Buttermilk Substitution

If you don't have buttermilk, mix up some soured milk to use as a substitute.

To make 1 cup of soured milk, place 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a 1‑cup glass measuring cup. Add enough low‑fat (1% milkfat) milk to measure 1 cup; stir until mixed. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes in the refrigerator before using.

Hope you try this recipe and use it often!

Judy's Mustard Potato Salad


There is an on-going disagreement in our family about potato salad. There are at least 3 different versions of this favorite dish brought to nearly every covered-dish get-together we have.

I've always claimed that my version, Judy's Potato Salad, is the one made by our grandmother when we were children. Then there is the version my sister makes that I believe she borrowed from her German friends! But the most heated discussion is over which potato salad our favorite uncle favored - his daughter's or mine. He often said mine was his favorite! I'll let you decide if mine suits YOU!

Ingredients:

5 pounds potatoes, cooked (use the variety for mashing)

3 or 4 hard-boiled eggs

¼ cup onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

1 small jar pimento

¾ cup sweet pickle relish

Salt

Pepper

Paprika

Mayonnaise

Yellow mustard

Peel and cut the potatoes into medium size pieces. Cook the potatoes in a large stew pot with enough water to cover while boiling. Drain in a colander and place potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste, about 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, and about ¼ cup milk. Mix with electric mixer until potatoes are smooth.

Add chopped eggs, onion and celery. Add pimento and pickle relish. Add mayonnaise and yellow mustard to taste (approximately ½ cup mayonnaise and ¼ cup mustard). If potatoes are too watery at this point add less mayonnaise. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

I usually do the taste test and add more of any of the ingredients if I feel the salad is lacking something!

Place in serving bowl and sprinkle top with paprika. My grandmother usually boiled one or two more eggs that she sliced and used to decorate the top of her potato salad.

Cover and place in refrigerator until cold. Do not cover with aluminum foil; use plastic or glass instead. Foil will discolor eggs and possibly interact with mayonnaise.

Potatoes are easier to peel if you rinse them first with water. I learned that from my mother-in-law. It works, too!

Grandma used to use a little vinegar as well as mustard. I rarely do, but the vinegar tastes great! Another on-going joke in our family is one concerning my husband and squash relish. It is a well-known fact that he cannot stand squash and declares no one can trick him into eating the stuff. My youngest sister decided to give it a try. She and her husband usually have a garden and one year it was overrun with squash. She spent hours in the kitchen making squash relish and had our youngest granddaughter, who was about 7 years old at the time, help her. You guessed it - at the next family get-together she served her version of potato salad, told my husband after he had eaten more than his share that it had the dreaded squash relish mixed in. We've never known whether she actually put squash relish in the potato salad or not, but it certainly comes up at every meal where potato salad is served! Enjoy!

Judy's Beef Enchiladas


Do you love Mexican food? Do you sometimes crave the hot, spicy taste of enchiladas? I have the perfect recipe for enchiladas that I use every time one of my family members has that craving.

My younger sister also makes delicious enchiladas and her son requests them every year for his birthday dinner. She makes a wonderful green chili and cheese enchilada. They are a little more complicated; I usually opt for the quick and easy!

My mother's twin sister taught me how to make enchiladas at least 25 years ago. She said she always used El Paso brand tortillas, enchilada sauce and taco sauce. I prefer that brand, too, but if I can't find them in one of the local grocery stores I will use the brand available. My husband and I also prefer the mildest flavor of sauces; they can be found in Mild, Medium, and Hot. When I first started making these you could find the El Paso tortillas in a flat round can and that's what my aunt used. I haven't seen them in the grocery store lately. I substituted the bagged tortillas found in the bread section and they are great.

Ingredients

2 or 3 pounds ground hamburger (I prefer ground chuck)

2 small cans El Paso mild taco sauce

1 package of 24 corn tortillas

2 cans El Paso mild enchilada sauce

½ cup chopped onion

1 16-ounce bar sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Brown hamburger meat. Add 2 small cans taco sauce and cook slowly while preparing the tortillas.

Having tortillas and paper towels handy, I quickly dip tortillas one at a time in and out of hot oil in a heavy skillet. I use a pair of tongs to lift them out of oil. Then I place them on a paper towel to drain. I usually get 4 on a paper towel, and then place another paper towel on top, then another 4 tortillas, layering them until you have used all of the tortillas. It's important to dip them in and out of hot oil quickly to soften them. If you skip this step the tortillas will become too brittle while baking.

Let the tortillas cool slightly so you can handle them without burning your hands. Fill each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons hamburger mixture and roll tortilla up. Place them in an oblong baking pan, such as a 13" x 9" x 2" Pyrex dish. After filling the dish, sprinkle chopped onion and shredded sharp cheddar cheese over rolled tortillas. Then pour 1 can mild enchilada sauce over all. Bake in a 350º oven for approximately 20 minutes.

There will be too many enchiladas for 1 pan; place the overflow in a smaller baking dish and pour the second can of enchilada sauce over them.

This can be a little messy but it will help if you gather everything together before you start cooking. Also, don't get the oil too hot or it will begin to splatter and pop. Take your time!

I serve mine with a great salad and chips. Enjoy!

Vernelle's Baked Butternut or Acorn Squash Recipe

My mother moved to the west coast in the early 50s, married a career Air Force guy and traveled to many interesting places. We kids were always pretty jealous because we would get the postcard saying, "Wish you were here." We would love to have seen the things that were shown in full-color on the front of the postcard, but we knew in our hearts that we were safer and more loved right where we were - at home in Texas with Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa.

Anyway, I've since grown a lot, both mentally and emotionally and as an adult I've seen my share of interesting places. So, I no longer hold it against her that she saw the Statue of Liberty, the Redwood Forest, and Moammar Ghadafi up close and personal, and smuggled a memento out of Libya stuffed inside her bra!

She loved squash and when I ran across these 2 recipes for her favorite, butternut squash, I thought I would share them. She probably learned how to prepare the squash like this from a friend or neighbor while living in California or Idaho. I know we never had it at Grandma's!

Baked Butternut or Acorn Squash

Preheat oven to hot (400º F.).

Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise, and then across into quarters; or cut acorn squash in half. Remove the seeds and fibers and brush cut surfaces with melted butter. Mother said she sometimes sprinkled cinnamon and sugar along with the butter if she had a sweet tooth! Or you can just add salt and pepper.

Place on a baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil and bake until almost tender when tested with a knife, about twenty-five minutes. Uncover, brush again with butter, and continue baking until tender and lightly browned.

Glazed Butternut Squash

1 2-pound butternut squash

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed into measuring cup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg or ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Peel, seed and slice the squash. Place on a rack in a pot with a tight-fitting cover; add water to cover bottom of pot, cover and steam until squash is nearly tender - 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the squash well.

Preheat the oven to hot (400º F.).

Arrange the squash in one or two layers in a greased shallow baking dish. Mix sugar, spices and salt and sprinkle over the squash. Drizzle with the melted butter.

Bake until the squash is tender and somewhat glazed, 15 to 20 minutes. For a deeper glaze, place under the broiler for a few minutes.

Also published by Judy Shubert at Associated Content.

Judy's Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate cream pie has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. In my family chocolate cream pies were made for every get-together; but some family members liked one kind of pie more than another, so we usually had a chocolate cream, lemon meringue, coconut cream, and chess pie. One for every taste bud!

Most cream pies start with the same basic recipe with the addition of chocolate or coconut, etc. I found my mother-in-law's recipe for chocolate cream pie in a recipe book from her high school in Maryville, Tennessee. I use it every time I create one of these luscious desserts! My husband especially likes pie. He complains that I don't cook them nearly often enough.

My Tips and Suggestions

When I first started making this pie I wondered why the instructions said to stir a portion of the hot mixture over the beaten egg yolks. So I conveniently skipped over this step. Then I noticed my pie mixture had stringy cooked egg pieces all through it, similar to that found in fried rice! I reread recipe and followed it to the letter next time, and like magic, no more stringy cooked egg pieces.

I like to sift my cocoa with my sugar, salt, cornstarch, and flour before placing in saucepan. This eliminates any lumps forming while heating.

While making meringue and after pouring the chocolate pie mixture into baked pie shells, gently place a piece of Saran Wrap or other similar wrap over the chocolate, pressing out the air bubbles forming underneath the Saran Wrap and pushing it to the edges of crimped pie shell. This prevents the chocolate pie mixture from forming a layer of thickened "skin" on top.

I follow my stepmother's advice while making meringue. She always added about ¨û teaspoon baking powder - she called it a "pinch" when adding the sugar. The baking powder makes the meringue higher and fluffier.

I also find that the modern version of meringue works better: beat the sugar into egg whites 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed of mixer about 4 minutes more or till mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks and sugar dissolves (rub a little of the meringue between your fingers - it should feel completely smooth).

I hope you'll try making a cream pie of your own. They are delicious.

Ingredients:

2 baked pie shells

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups milk

4 tablespoons Hershey's cocoa

3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 egg whites for meringue

Instructions:

Bake pastry shells and cool.

Blend together in a saucepan the sugar, salt, cornstarch, flour and cocoa. Gradually stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir a portion of this mixture over the beaten egg yolks, stirring briskly. Then blend into hot mixture, return to heat and continue cooking over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Cool. Pour into cool pastry shell. Top with meringue.

Meringue

Ingredients:

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

Instructions

Beat well the egg whites. Use 2 level tablespoons sugar for each egg white. Fold in sugar gradually. Use a folding motion. Do not beat in sugar.

Recipe submitted to Porter PTA Cookbook
By Mrs. Elmer Scarbroug

Also published by Judy Shubert at Associated Content.

Cook a Delicious Italiano Meat Pie Tonight



Are you like me? Busy with life and little time for cooking a meal that everyone will enjoy and that will be nourishing, as well? I have a reputation in my family of 5 siblings and numerous cousins of being the ONE that doesn't cook. I do believe they all think I can't cook and I like to perpetuate that myth! After all, it saves me from all the headaches of trying to put together a meal when we all get together! I have begun to cook more desserts for our family gatherings and even now that's beginning to be questioned. Is it just me, or am I that bad a cook?

So time is not the primary reason for my looking for easy, quick recipes. It's more than likely my dislike for creating culinary masterpieces! Not that I could!

This recipe was given to me a very long time ago by my sister-in-law. She came from a long line of Italians and she shared several recipes with me and our mother-in-law, Marilee. I made a few minor adjustments to fit my life-style and cook it quite often. I use it as my "safe" dish when having company!

Ingredients:

1 or 2 pounds ground beef

1/3 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped green or black olives

1/4 cup water

6 ounces tomato paste

1 package spaghetti sauce mix

2 Pet Ritz deep-dish pie crusts

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350°. Brown the ground beef in a heavy skillet, drain, and add green pepper, onion, mushrooms, and olives. Cook 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the water, tomato paste and spaghetti sauce mix. Cover and simmer approximately 10 minutes. While meat mixture is simmering sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese over the bottom of two frozen pie shells. Spread half of the meat mixture over the Parmesan cheese in the pie shells. Sprinkle 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese over the meat. Layer remaining meat mixture and Parmesan cheese.

Place the prepared pies on a cookie sheet so it will not spill over onto bottom of oven. Bake in a 350° oven for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese. Return to oven until cheese melts. One pie serves six. But I always make 2 pies so we'll have some left the next day!

This freezes well and my entire family loves it. I serve it with a green salad and hot garlic bread and they are happy and satisfied. I made 4 last Christmas and put them in the freezer before my family arrived so I wouldn't have to spend my precious time cooking instead of enjoying the kids.

I hope you'll give this a try, especially if your husband loves Italian food as much as mine does. It's so much better than spaghetti.

Also published by Judy Shubert at Associated Content.
Clipart supplied by "The Vintage Moth".

Cheesecake Baking - Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Sugar and Eggs

Do you love cheesecake? I think it is my favorite dessert. There are many different flavors you can experiment with but my favorite is the "Can't Fail Cheesecake" that I want to share with you.

I've heard many people say that they wouldn't try to make a cheesecake from "scratch", but they are the easiest things in the world to make. I love to make them for special occasions when my family and friends get together. My husband says that I'm just addicted to the compliments! That's probably true.

Several years ago a friend gave me her recipe. She assured me it was fool proof. Of course, I thought that I wouldn't be able to make one that looked and tasted like the wonderful bakery or cheesecake factory desserts; but I was so hungry for cheesecake I decided to give it a try.

My friend told me she had two secrets to success when baking her cheesecakes - not opening the oven door while baking and leaving the cake in the oven over night!

Can't Fail Cheesecake

1¼ cups crushed graham crackers

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream

For the Crust

Combine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and margarine or butter. Press into bottom only of spring-form pan.

Then

Cream together until fluffy the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Add 3 eggs, beating well after each addition. Fold in sour cream.

Pour over graham cracker crust and bake in 350º oven for 30 minutes. Turn oven off - do not open oven door - leave in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool. Put in refrigerator.

If baking late at night you can leave the cheesecake in the oven until the next morning. I have done that and placed it in the refrigerator as soon as I get up.

Best if this is made the day before serving. But sometimes I can't wait that long!

My secret: Have all ingredients at room temperature.

I have read that the mark of a perfect cheesecake is having no cracks develop in the top while baking. Sometimes mine crack; sometimes they don't. No matter, they taste great. Those cracks can be covered by your choice of toppings.

Some favorite toppings of mine are cherry pie filling, chocolate syrup, strawberries and banana. Use your imagination and try this Easy recipe if you want a Can't Fail Cheesecake.

Also published by Judy Shubert at Associated Content.

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Gratitude

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.

--Chief Tecumseh

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