Oh fudge!

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The month of January is generally devoted to feeling better about ourselves by eating healthier, losing weight, exercising — that whole resolution thing. So I know that I should be sharing some health-conscious recipes.

But the first couple weeks of the month are almost over, and I figure some of you might be ready to indulge yourselves … just a little bit? Besides, I had promised a few people that I would share this recipe after gifting some jars of it during the Christmas season.

So the topic today is fudge. Hot fudge. Decadent hot fudge. The kind you pour lavishly over ice cream.

It is definitely not diet food. It contains butter. It contains sugar. It contains chocolate.

But it is delicious and worth the splurge. (Especially if you serve it with homemade ice cream, but that’s a topic for another blog.) And it is amazingly simple to make in the blender.

In my mom’s cookbook, the recipe is credited to late longtime family friend and my godmother, Beverly Lueth. For gifting, I change up the recipe by adding a few drops flavored extract. My favorites are peppermint and raspberry, although I also like almond, orange, hazelnut. If you have a favorite flavoring, try it.

The recipe calls for a 5 ½-ounce can of evaporated milk, and that small size does work perfectly. However, if you only have the large can, the amount is equal to a scant ¾ cup of evaporated milk. Oh, and the amount of unsweetened chocolate is half of the standard package size, so you can get two batches out of one large can and one package of chocolate.

Blender Hot Fudge Sauce

One 5 ½-ounce can evaporated milk

¼ cup butter

⅔ cup sugar

Dash of salt

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla

Several drops flavored (peppermint, raspberry, almond, etc.) extract, optional

In a small saucepan, combine the evaporated milk butter, heat until just simmering.

Meanwhile, in a pint-size blender jar (a pint canning  jar will work with most blenders), put the sugar, salt, chocolate, vanilla and optional flavoring. Pour the hot milk-butter mixture over the sugar and chocolate and blend immediately.

Serve over ice cream. Store in refrigerator.

 

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A wild (rice) start to 2018

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We are already a few days into 2018, but I can’t quite wrap my brain around it being 2018.

Maybe it’s because I’ve got yet another cold virus (that’s what happens when you work with first-graders!), and my head is clogged up with snot.

Or perhaps it’s because just days ago Hubby Bryan and I were celebrating Christmas on a beach in Florida. My mind is still on vacation — or else it’s still numb from the shock of coming back to the bitterly cold temperatures of Minnesota.

But more than likely, it’s because it always takes me a few weeks to adjust to a new year. It will be February before I can routinely write the right date on checks and other documents.

Truthfully, I’d rather still be sitting on that beach, soaking up the rays and contemplating the brilliance of the blue sky overhead rather than dealing with the realities of January weather in Minnesota.

Bryan and I went to Florida to spend the holiday with my sister Margaret and her husband, Don. They winter in the Fort Myers area, helping out at a Lutheran church there that has a large influx of snowbirds each year. Don is a retired pastor, and Margaret is a director of Christian education and musician extraordinaire, so we were able to enjoy their respective talents at several Christmas worship services.

Plus we ate, we drank, we sang carols, we ate some more, we sat on the beach, we sat by the pool — you get the picture.

It was a lovely idyl, and we are grateful to our relatives for hosting us for Christmas week.

In our luggage, we toted along some wild rice, as it is the key ingredient in one of our Christmas food traditions. Each Christmas Eve, Bryan and I make up a pot of wild rice soup. So while Margaret and Don were busy at church, we whipped up a batch in their Florida condo kitchen, and it was consumed between all those Christmas Eve services.

But this soup isn’t just for special occasions. It’s one of my favorite soup recipes and is regular on our Monday “Soup Night” rotation. Here’s the recipe:

Minnesota-to-Florida Wild Rice Soup

6 tablespoons butter

½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced celery

½ cup flour

4 cups chicken broth

3 cups cooked wild rice

2 carrots, grated

1½ cups diced cooked chicken

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup half and half

2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)

¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

In a large saucepan, melt butter and cook the onion and celery until tender. Blend in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the chicken broth, and continue to cook while stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the cooked rice, grated carrot and cooked chicken. Add salt and check seasoning. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the half and half, sherry and almonds. Simmer for several more minutes before serving.

 

O Christmas Tree

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Whew!

Are you ready for Christmas?

I can’t say I feel completely prepared, but I am ready to get the celebrating started. Bring it on, ready or not!

There were many things I intended to do this holiday season  — make more cookies, decorate more thoroughly, try out some of the Christmas entertaining ideas I see on Pinterest and Facebook — but I have to admit I got around to none of it.

Oh well, there’s always next year, right?

My sister Margaret, who is currently wintering in Florida, where she and  retired pastor husband, RevDon, help out at a Lutheran church during the winter months, did try out one of those social media entertaining ideas, preparing the lovely appetizer pictured here for a holiday gathering.

She was gracious enough to share both the photo and the recipe/method. If you’re looking for an impressive offering for a family gathering or your own appetizer table, this may just be the ticket.

I would suggest that you don’t have to stick to the spinach dip for the filling. Do you have a favorite cream cheese-based dip recipe? Use that instead. If I was making it, I would likely use a combination of cream cheese, Fiesta ranch dressing mix, green onion and diced red bell pepper.

From her own experience, Margaret shared a couple of tips about assembling the tree.

“Use the parchment paper to bake on and then just cut the paper around the tree to serve,” advises Margaret. “Cut horizontal ‘branches’ all the way in, leaving only about an inch between sides.”

Christmas Tree Spinach Dip Appetizer

12 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry in a towel

6 ounces neufchatel (reduced fat cream cheese), softened

1 garlic clove, finely minced

¼ cup onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon seasoned salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1 tube refrigerated thin crust pizza crust

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In bowl, combine spinach and neufchatel Add the garlic, onion, and seasonings. Add Parmesan cheese and half of the cheddar, combine thoroughly.

Unroll the pizza crust on a large piece of parchment paper. Using a pizza cutter, cut the crust into a large into a large V shape. The inside of the V will be the base for the tree shape. Stretch out the middle of the bottom to make a trunk shape. Put the other two side triangle pieces on a separate piece of parchment paper, pressing the long sides together to make a second large triangle.

Spread the spinach mixture over the tree base crust. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then place the second triangle over the top, stretching the dough to completely cover the base.

Leaving a one-inch strip intact down the middle of the tree, use the pizza cutter to cut slices from the middle to each edge, about every inch down the tree. Grab each slice and twist to form a spiral branch. Since the top branches are shorter, just give them a half twist; as you go down the tree and get to longer slices, you can twist each one multiple times.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until both the top and bottom of the crust are lightly browned. Brush with melted butter before serving.

 

Merry Christmas to all! I hope your holiday season is full of love, laughter and lots of delicious surprises. Thank you for reading this blog and inspiring me to try new things.

Buckeyes and Snowflakes

I had planned to bake some cookies this week.

That didn’t happen.

Let’s just say the infectious “bugs” were running rampant at our house. So no cookies were forthcoming, and I didn’t get anything else made for the holiday treat day at work tomorrow.

Stuff happens.

There were a few responses to last week’s query about people’s favorite holiday treats, but no recipes were forthcoming either.

So here’s what I had planned to make had I gotten those cookies made this week. Both recipes have roots for me in holiday baking sessions with my high school girlfriends. We haven’t had such a gathering for a couple years, choosing instead to get together for other fun endeavors. But I miss the opportunity to sit and gab while we mix and bake — and the resulting surplus of cookies and candies for my freezer.

At one of those first cookie baking sessions, I brought the dough to make the first recipe — lemony snowflakes that are a nice counterpoint to the plethora of chocolate that can dominate holiday cookie trays

Secondly, I’ve included a recipe that is a twist on one of the mainstays of our cookie bakes. Buckeyes are a satisfying combination of peanut butter and chocolate, but this one adds toffee chips for a bit of crunch.

Crunchy Buckeyes

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1 cup powdered sugar

¾ cup toffee baking bits

12 ounces semisweet baking chips

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In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, vanilla and salt. Beat with an electric mixer, adding the powdered’ sugar a little at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is stiff and dry to the touch. Mix in the toffee pieces by hand.

Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. Insert a toothpick into the center of each ball and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

Put the semisweet chips in a glass bowl and microwave until melted and smooth, adding a small amount of paraffin. Remove the balls from the freezer and, one at a time, dip them in the chocolate, leaving a small round of peanut butter still visible. Let the excess chocolate drip off before placing the balls on waxed paper. Refrigerate to set up the chocolate if necessary. Remove toothpicks. Makes about 32 balls.

Sparkly Lemon Snowflakes

¾ cup butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 egg

2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

coarse white sparkling sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add lemon peel and egg; beat until well blended. Reduce speed and gradually beat in flour and salt.

On floured board, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2 ½- to 3-inch snowflake cookie cutters. Place cutouts 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned on edges. Cook completely.

In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Spread glaze over cookies and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Once dry, store in airtight container.

Makes 6 dozen cookies.

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Baking cookies with my high school friends is a tradition we need to revive. This picture is from a few years ago: (clockwise from top left) Beth, Carla, Mary, Shannon, Amy.

Hey! It’s Cookie Time!

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It really should be a holiday unto itself. Cookie Time. That day or days before Christmas that bakers devote to concocting a plethora of sweet bites to feed or gift to family and friends.

When I was growing up, DotMom would spend days in the kitchen, mixing up all of our family favorites, many of which can be found in her “Mixing & Musing Cookbook.” There would be trays of cookies, candies and bars to deliver around the neighborhood and farther afield.

Today I’m going to share my personal top two cookies, but first, I’d like to encourage you readers to share your own favorite Christmas treats. What’s the one cookie that is a must-bake during these last few weeks leading up to Christmas? I’d love for you to share your memories and your recipes. Please email me at bnamanny@gmail.com, or share them through the comment section on this blog.

So here are mine:

This first recipe — No-Roll Sugar Cookies — was DotMom’s go-to sugar cookie recipe, and she didn’t just make it at Christmas time. She had an assortment of small cookie cutters for various seasons, which she would use to imprint a design in the top of these melt-in-your-mouth cookies. They were, without a doubt, DadDon’s favorite, and he would raid the cookie jar nightly in search of his cookie fix.

This is also the cookie that DotMom made most often with her granddaughters when they were young, as it was easy for them to press out the balls of dough, create the design and sprinkle with colored sugars. It’s much less messy and time-intensive than traditional cutout cookies.

The second recipe — Forgotten Kisses — is at the top of my own must-make list. I love the crispy meringue and the bite of mint. During the holiday season, I make them with either the candy-cane striped mint chips that are available at this time or year, or there is one company — Guittard, I think — that makes a chip that is a pretty shade of mint green.

I was both annoyed and fascinated with these cookies when I was young. It was annoying to have to wait until the next morning to eat them (Mom always put a “Do Not Open” sign with  threat of consequences on the oven door handle) but it was quite fascinating to see how they turned from the soft pillows of fluff into crunchy meringue cookies overnight.

These days, I also love their simplicity. My stand mixer makes quick work of beating the meringue into hard peaks, then I just have to fold in the chips, drop them onto the cookie sheets, put them in the oven and forget them (hence the name!).

No-Roll Sugar Cookies

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 cups plus 4 heaping tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream sugars, butter and oil until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add dry ingredients, then vanilla. Mix well.

Roll dough into small balls and press down with a glass dipped in sugar. Use a small cookie cutter to make an imprint in the top of the cookie, if desired, then decorate with seasonally appropriate colored sugars.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, until delicately browned.

Forgotten Kisses

2 egg whites
⅔ cup sugar
6 ounces mint chocolate chips (or more — I like them chock full of chips!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat egg white until frothy. Gradually add sugar, a little at a time. Continue to beat until very stiff, about 15 minutes total.

Fold in the chips. Drop by teaspoonsful onto greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper or silicone baking mats).

Put in oven, shut door, turn off the heat and DON’T PEEK for at least 5 hours or overnight.

 

Meatball mania

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Making these meatballs brought me to tears.

No, I didn’t cut myself, although that’s a likely scenario when I’m cooking.

I made the mistake of cutting up onion with my glasses on instead of my contacts. The fumes from the onions built up behind the lenses, and soon my eyes were burning and the tears were flowing. I know better, but it was early in the day, and the fog hadn’t quite cleared from my brain.

But I possibly could have also cried tears of joy — due to  the versatility of this recipe. It’s one I used to make a lot, but just hadn’t gotten around to for a while, and I’d forgotten just how good it is.

This big batch will go into the freezer and made enough so I can tote a slow cooker full to a holiday gathering in coming weeks, plus provide the basis for a couple of different meals at our abode. They can be used in meatball subs, spaghetti and meatballs, on pizza and even Swedish-style in a white sauce over egg noodles or rice.

The original recipe was clipped from a magazine many years ago.

The original recipe says it yields about 150 1-inch meatballs, but I’ve never come close to that amount, as I make mine a bit larger, using the largest of my cookie scoops for uniform size.

I’m not going to lie: Forming all those meatballs and cooking them off in the oven can be a time-consuming, but the result is so much better than those frozen meatballs you can buy at the grocery store that it is well worth the time investment.

Oh, and by the way, this recipe is so easy to adapt to other amounts of meat. Basically, for each pound of meat you add 1 egg, ¼ cup onion and ½ cup bread crumbs, so go ahead and make more or less to suit your own needs.

Versatile Make-Ahead Meatballs

4 pounds lean ground beef (or a mixture of pork and beef)
4 eggs
2 cups Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1 cup finely chopped onion (or less if you don’t like onion as well as we do)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (hands are the best tools for this).

Using your hands or a cookie scoop, lightly form mixture into balls. Place on single layers on ungreased baking pans. (I line with parchment paper for ease of cleanup.) Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, turning once to ensure even browning. Cool.

Package in freezer bags, 30 to a bag. Can be frozen for up to 4 months.

 

Here’s the sauce I use for making the meatballs as appetizers

Sweet and Spicy Meatball Sauce

½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup cherry cola
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (from a can), finely chopped

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients, bring to a light boil and continue to cook until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add meatballs and continue to cook until heated through, or pour over meatballs in a slow cooker.

A cranberry query

A couple weeks ago, sister Margaret sent me this text message:

“Didn’t mom make a cranberry cake with a rum or vanilla sauce? But it isn’t in the cookbook?”

Hmmmm. Back in the deep recesses of my mind, I had a vague recollection of such a dessert, but had no idea where Margaret would find such a recipe if it wasn’t in the IMG_7444 (1)“Mixing & Musing Cookbook.” I’m sure DotMom published it in her column and likely made it for a holiday bridge gathering when I was a young girl or teen, but back in those days cranberries weren’t on my approved eating list. (Yes, I was a bit pickier in my younger years!)

But as soon as Margaret conjured up an image of that cake now, I started to imagine how it would taste. So when she found a cranberry cake recipe that she was sure was THE ONE, I insisted that she send me the recipe. Margaret not only did that, but she sent photos of the finished product, along with rave reviews from the guest to whom she had served it.

Those reviews were so good, in fact, that she is whipping up another one for a Thanksgiving gathering tomorrow. It might be too late to make for your Thanksgiving get-together, but this is a dessert appropriate for the entire upcoming holiday season. It will certainly be on our table at some point, as I am salivating just looking at Margaret’s pictures.

Cranberry Cake with Butter-Rum Sauce

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the sauce:
½ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon rum flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; set aside

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cranberries, milk and melted butter; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan; add the sugar and cream. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rum flavoring.

To serve, cut cake into squares and spoon the warm sauce over the top.

Makes 9 servings.

 

The feast is on

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Thanksgiving is just a week away, so once again it’s time for my annual campaign to simplify the Big Feast by sharing my two favorite Thanksgiving recipes: Slow Cooker Stuffing and Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes. In the course of this long-running effort, I have convinced a number of you to give these a try with positive results. But my job will not be done until many more of you have seen the light.

The beauty of both of these dishes is that they can be made in advance. I always mix up the stuffing the day before, put in the slow cooker crock and stash it in the refrigerator. The potatoes can be made several days in advance and just need to be heated up on the big day.

The stuffing frees up oven space since it’s made in the slow cooker (and for that matter, the potatoes could also be heated up in one). And it’s much safer to NOT stuff the turkey with the bread mixture. Food safety experts have warned against stuffing the bird for years, as it can harbor harmful bacteria if not brought up to a proper temperature.

And finally, the final product is superior in both cases. The stuffing doesn’t dry out like it might if cooked in the oven, and the potatoes retain their heat much longer than traditional mashed ones.

So if you’re looking for a way to simplify your Thanksgiving effort in a delicious fashion, I urge you to give these recipes serious consideration.

Slow Cooker Stuffing

In 1 cup butter, saute 1 cup chopped onion and 2 cups chopped celery. Remove mixture from stove and stir in 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning and 2 teaspoons dried sage.

In a large bowl, combine 12 cups dried bread pieces with the butter-vegetable mixture.
Beat 2 eggs and combine with 3 to 4 cups chicken broth; pour over bread and stir well to combine.

Place mixture in slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. (I turn it up to high for about 1 hour in order to get the crispy stuff around the edges.)

Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes

Peel 5 pounds (10 large) potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender; drain. Mash until smooth (no lumps).

Add 6 ounces cream cheese (or lower fat Neufchatel), 1 cup dairy sour cream (I prefer the light version or Greek yogurt), 2 teaspoons onion salt, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Beat until light and fluffy. Cool. Cover and place in refrigerator.

May be used anytime within 10 days. Place desired amount in a greased casserole, dot with butter and bake in 350 degree oven until heated through, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size of dish.

 

Food, fellowship, friendship

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When I arrived home from work yesterday, a box waited on the front porch.

“What could it be?” I thought, quickly considering any mail-order purchases made recently, but my mind turned up a blank.

Then I saw the label on the box, and a grin spread across my face. It was our annual supply of pecans, courtesy of our amazing friends, Annette and Erwin “Junior” Rath of Cuero, Texas. Annette and I were on our town’s respective Turkey Race teams for the Great Gobbler Gallop 19 years ago — the start of an amazing friendship that we cherish (and not because of the pecans, although that is a side benefit).

The Raths own and operate several businesses in Cuero, which is our city of Worthington’s rival for the title of Turkey Capital of the World. The outcome of the aforementioned turkey race determines who gets to make that claim for the coming year. If you were unaware such a contest exists, visit www.turkeyfest.org or www.kingturkeyday.net for more information.

But back to the pecans.

One of Annette and Jr.’s businesses is the Cuero Pecan House, which not only markets Texas’ favorite nut, but also a plethora of specialty food items. So along with the basic pecans, there were some other goodies, and then, beneath the pecans — A COOKBOOK!

I had known about this book, a compilation of favorite recipes compiled to recognize Turkeyfest’s 45th anniversary, because Annette had contacted me about it earlier this year as she sought recipe contributions. But once I’d sent off my own submissions, I promptly forgot about it. Now it’s in my hands, and I couldn’t be more delighted. I’ve been perusing it every since.

I’ve been told the book will be available in the coming days at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. In the meantime, I wanted to provide a sample of what “Cooking with Ruby: Celebrating 45 Years of Cuero Turkeyfest” has to offer. Many recipes caught my eye as possibilities for sharing here,  but one in particular seemed to capture the essence of what the relationships forged through this Turkey Town rivalry mean to so many who have been involved in the cities’ celebrations.

Chili is an iconic dish in Texas, and it’s definitely different than what we Minnesotans are used to consuming. First and foremost, it doesn’t have beans! — definitely a selling point for me, and it’s probably a bit spicier than Minnesota versions. But then, this particular chili was the first place winner at Worthington’s 2017 Winterfest Chili Cook Off. How did that come to be? Here’s the blurb on the recipe.

“January 2017 — Jimmy and Brenda Martin drove 1,200 miles for the Winterfest Deep Freeze Dip and participated in the Winterfest Chili Cook Off in Worthington MN. Their “Texas Chili” took first place with a price of two $100 local grocer gift cards. After receiving their prize, Brenda and Jimmy donated the gift cards back to a family in Worthington who lost their home in a fire on Christmas Eve.”

So here it is, Jimmy and Brenda’s prize-winning chili recipe that resulted in a wonderful gesture that illustrates the bond of friendship between the two towns.

Minnesota-Winning Texas Chili

3 pounds coarse ground chili meat

1 pound pan sausage

1 large yellow sweet onion, chopped

One 28-ounce can Rotel tomatoes with chiles, drained

Two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce

2 cups chicken broth

¼ cup ketchup

2 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

6 to 8 tablespoons chili powder

Brown meat in large pot with onion and dry ingredients, then drain. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, Rotel, ketchup and jalapenos. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir frequently.

Best served with shredded cheese and cornbread.

 

Deep. Dark. Decadent. Delicious.

brownie bundt cake

A thick coating of ganache covers the dense chocolate goodness of this brownie-cake mashup.

Every time I make a bundt cake, I think of a scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” If you’ve seen the movie, you know the one, in which Toula’s very Greek parents and Ian’s very non-Greek parents meet for the first time.

Ian’s mother, Harriet, has brought a cake to this boisterous Greek family get-together. She presents the food offering to Toula’s mother, Maria, who is puzzled by the odd-looking dessert.

“It’s a bundt,” says Harriet.

“A boooont?” replies Maria.

And the two women go back and forth about the cake’s name for a while, with neither understanding the other’s confusion. Eventually, Maria sticks some flowers in the hole on the middle of the cake, and it gets passed around by the Greeks as a culinary oddity.

So invariably, as I make a bundt, I say “boooont” a few times and laugh to myself.

But the cake pictured here is no laughing matter. It is downright decadent, a densely rich chocolate creation that is seriously sinful. I’ve made it twice now, and it’s been quickly gobbled down.

The cake itself — the melding of two mixes — is a cross between a brownie and a cake. No, it is not light, but it is moist, and it comes out of the pan with a beautiful outer texture.

And then there’s the frosting. Oh, ganache, where have you been all my life? I never knew it was so simple to make a frosting that was so creamy and — here’s that word again — decadent. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Dark Chocolate Brownie  “Boooont” Cake

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1 box dark chocolate fudge brownie mix
4 eggs
1¼ cups water
1 cup oil

For the ganache:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare bundt pan by spraying with cooking spray, then dusting it with a combination of cocoa powder and flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the cake mix, brownie, mix, eggs, water and oil. Stir until all the lumps are gone.

Pour batter into the bundt pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Do not overbake, but make sure it is set. Allow cake to cool in pan for five minutes. Turn out onto cake platter and cool for 30 minutes more.

Pour heavy whipping cream into a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 2 minutes, just until boiling. Carefully pour the chocolate chips into the cream, making sure they are all submerged in the liquid. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate-cream mixture until it is shiny and smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour ganache over the cooled cake. Let set a few minutes before serving.