A Piece of Cake February 2014
A Word from Anne
Huddled in the one warm corner of my home on this February morning, I give thanks for the sunshine and the radiant heat shining through my window. It has been a cold and dreary winter so far for Southerners like myself, and while I cannot walk in the boots of Minnesotans – brrr – I do appreciate what you have been through this year and most winters.
It makes good baking weather, at least! And these wintry days I am baking Barbara’s Oatmeal Cookies from What Can I Bring, pumpkin bread with chocolate chips from Judy’s cousin Marion (sharing this recipe in my new book this fall), chocolate Bundts with Greek yogurt, brownies with peppermint bark folded in, and a pretty wicked chocolate sauce from my friend Bette. Come to think of it everything I mentioned has chocolate in it, except those oatmeal cookies (but they are wonderful with chocolate chips instead of raisins!). February is the month for chocolate.
And as ever my baking repertoire is a mix of from-scratch and convenience. A purist, I like homemade flavors. But I also know when to devote the time to scratch and when to pull down a good mix from the shelf.
Thoughts, resolutions, wishes for this year besides staying warm? To stay better connected with you, my readers, and welcome a new cookbook in the fall called Save the Day, a fun, eclectic and useful collection of recipes from cooks across the country. When posed with the question, “What recipe saves your day?” this book is a go-to compilation of those answers.
Recipes I am sharing this newsletter are that Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Cake, made with a chocolate cake mix and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to cut fat and calories. And I am sharing a fabulous chocolate sauce recipe from my friend Bette. Betty gave jars of this sauce to her girlfriends at Christmas, but the sauce works well most any season – Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, summer picnics and housewarming gifts, fall bake sales, and the holidays.
One thing for sure, I have no intention of giving up chocolate this year. I will walk an extra mile and eat my daily salad so that chocolate can get me through February and beyond.
Bette’s Chocolate Kahlua Sauce
Prep: 10 minutes
1 tablespoon butter
5 ounces half-and-half
¾ to 1 cup sugar (see Note)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (see Note)
1 to 2 tablespoons Kahlua
Place the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring to melt. Add the half-and half and sugar, and continue to cook over low, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted. Stir in the Kahlua. Let cool slightly and pour into two 8-ounce jars. Or spoon at once over ice cream.
Note: Bette’s recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, but I prefer a less sweet sauce and use ¾ cup. You can easily double this recipe. I have doubled it and used just 1 cup sugar for the doubled recipe but used 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate and 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate. You can omit the Kahlua entirely and use a teaspoon vanilla instead. Or, for a treat, use Bourbon.
Sneak Peek Inside Save the Day
Watching a book pull together in the months before publication might be a little like a mother watching her child pull it all together and graduate from high school? You feel proud, tired, optimistic, a little wary as to what lies ahead in terms of book tour, and some sense of relief, too, to be honest. Having a great editing team and photographic team makes my job so much easier. No cover has been finalized yet, and we are too early yet for advance orders online. But here is a snapshot of some of the recipes photographed in New York in December. You’ve got Marian’s Pumpkin Bread, top right, then moving clockwise, my mom’s white corn pudding recipe, eggplant and tomato stacks for summer entertaining, and finally, Ann Evers’ Tomato Pie. Yum!
Mishaps and Reinventions
Loved hearing from my friend Holly Westcott who has moved to Aiken, SC. A half-dozen years ago Holly shared her Broccoli Cornbread recipe with me, and I shared it with you in my book What Can I Bring. Holly confessed how recently she had decided to double-batch the recipe but instead of pulling two cornbread mixes down from her pantry, she got one biscuit mix and one cornbread mix. After dumping them into the mixture, Holly realized her mistake, but it was too late. She had nothing else prepared to take to the party with her, so she crossed her fingers for good results. “Luck was with me – the bread was good and the biscuit mix probably made it hold together better. Just thought I’d let you know there’s one more variation on this recipe.” And heaven knows, Holly, I love one more variation of recipes. Keep ‘em coming!
Greek yogurt instead of sour cream is not the only way to slim down with winter baking. Use unsweetened applesauce for either the eggs or the fat in a cake recipe, but not both! Use a 4-ounce container of the applesauce for each egg or instead of every ½ cup of the oil or butter.
And the most popular question of the month/year/decade:
Q. How do I use the smaller cake mixes in your Cake Mix Doctor recipes? A. Add all-purpose flour to the smaller mixes to make them compatible to my recipes. Some recipes still work with the smaller mixes, but you will have better results adding 5 to 6 tablespoons flour to the smaller mix to give it heft. It will bake a taller cake, and it will slice better. No need to add extra sugar because cake mixes are sweet enough. And no worries about leavening because the smaller mixes still have plenty of leavening in them, and you are adding eggs that help the cake rise.
Anne’s Cake Mix
Thanks to Linda Jerkins of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the great review. In addition to being on the baking aisles at Publix and Harris Teeter in the South and Shaw’s in the Boston area, Texas readers don’t forget you can find my mix at the fabulous Central Markets, where I hear I am now a Gold Medal item. Not sure what that means, but I’ll take it!
My cake mixes contain no artificial ingredients. If you cannot locate my cake mixes in your area, you can always order online. A February & March Special Offer: A free copy of my Icing on the Cake cookbooklet with each online order!
And One Itty, Bitty Offer
You digital cookbook lovers out there should check out this February deal – a nice backup to have on your phone, iPad, you name it when you don’t want to lug the Cake Mix Doctor book with you.
Next Issue: April. Spring cakes, bars, and bites.