Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Decadent Chocolate Poke Cake Perfect for a Potluck!

Decadent Chocolate Poke Cake
This cake oozes chocolate delectability!

I associate Fall with potlucks—neighbors or friends getting together for a nice meal, teachers providing a luncheon for colleagues on a planning day. It seems forever since I’ve been to one and it doesn’t seem that they will be a part of my life in the near future. The best potlucks were “the luck of the pot” with no pre-planning involved. Maybe you would end up with a lot of desserts or sometimes an overabundance of potato salads, but that was the fun and surprise of it all and no matter what was brought, there would always be something so wonderful that you had to ask for the recipe so you could make it yourself.

I guess I will just have to make do with virtual potlucks—sharing dishes I make at home and putting pictures out on Facebook and when there is something especially delicious, the recipe.

I adapted a great dessert recipe from Ree Drummond, of Pioneer Woman fame (I love her recipes!). It incorporates lots of chocolate and is very easy to make. The recipe calls for a 9x13 baking pan. I’ve found that a disposable foil pan works best because the pan is deeper that a normal baking pan. You might not have a potluck dinner to take this to, but I am sure you have a few neighbors who would enjoy a nice piece of delectable chocolate cake!

Decadent Chocolate Poke Cake



Nonstick baking spray, for the baking pan

One 16-ounce box chocolate cake mix

1 cup dark chocolate chips

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup milk


1 cup milk

One 3.4-ounce packet instant chocolate pudding

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

One 12-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


For the cake: Spray a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with cooking spray.

Bake the cake in the prepared pan according to the package instructions. Allow to cool slightly, then, using the handle of a wooden spoon or a pair of chopsticks, poke holes all over the cake.

Melt the chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring between each, or in a double boiler on the stove, until smooth. Add the condensed milk and milk, then stir to combine. Slowly pour the mixture over the cake, ensuring you hit every last inch. Allow the mixture to soak into the holes. Cool completely.

For the frosting: Combine the milk, pudding mix and cocoa powder in a bowl.

Whisk the mixture until it thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Gently fold in the whipped topping until combined well.

Spread the frosting over the cake, then sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.

Decadent Chocolate Poke Cake in Disposable Pan.
I baked this in a 9x13 deep dish disposable pan because it leaves room for the topping and a foil cover 
if you are carrying it to a potluck dinner!

Fran's Favorites - Wellesley Cake

I baked a Wellesley Cake the other day. It’s a rich sour cream coffee cake with pecan streusel running through it. Fellow Aramcons (Arabian American Oil Company) who worked in Saudi Arabia may recognize it from a cookbook, Fran's Favorites, written by Frances Swingholm. All of her recipes were fabulous! They are my favorite type of recipes--hearty and homey! Enjoy!

Wellesley Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel
Wellesley Cake--A fabulous sour cream coffee cake with pecan streusel.

Wellesley Cake

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream, vanilla and almond extract and mix well. 

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and add. 

Place one third of the batter in a well-greased and floured (I used baking spray and it worked perfectly) Bundt or tube pan. Sprinkle with one half of the nut mixture. Add one third of the batter, then the rest of the nut mixture and the rest of the batter. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until cake tests done.

Nut mixture:

4 teaspoons sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine nuts with sugar and cinnamon.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Belvil Bakery

Belvil Bakery
This was the Belvil Bakery in the 1950s and 60s in Belleville Michigan.

I thought about the Belvil Bakery in Belleville, Michigan as I munched on a paczki this morning. Today is Fat Tuesday and it was the tradition to eat Polish donuts called paczki on this last day before Lent.

Polish Paczki
Polish donuts (Paczki) served on Fat Tuesday, the last day before lent.

The Belvil Bakery was a Polish bakery back in the 1950s and 1960s-- a combination deli and bakery that had a certain smell of smoked kielbasa, baking bread, and sugary smell that I can't identify, but definitely remember. The ladies who worked there all spoke Polish and on Saturday morning the place was abuzz with workers and customers. I remember the spool of string that hung down from the ceiling which was used to tie up the boxes of baked goods.

This is where we would buy our rye bread, smoked and fresh kielbasa, lunch meats and occasional baked treats. The Belvil Bakery had the best cake-style doughnuts--I've never had better. The glazed were the best. I used to serve (and eat) them when I worked at the Bingo at the PNA Hall on Sumpter Road. 

The Belvil Bakery doesn't exist anymore. Only the memories of another time and place. The building now houses a hair salon.

If you would like to make Paczki at home I have a recipe for them on my website here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Outrageous Brownies (Modified)

Outrageous brownies!
Outrageous brownies!

I love Ina Garten's recipes! Most of them are easy to follow, but her recipe for Outrageous Brownies, which are out-of-this-world delicious just didn't work for me. The problem for me was the quantity of brownies that were made from her recipe--it calls for a pound of butter.

I've modified the recipe to fit a 9" x 13" baking pan. They are just as outrageously yummy, but in a much more manageable size.

Recipe note: I always toast my walnuts before adding them into a recipe. It improves the flavor and adds a bit of crunch!

Outrageous Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces (1 1/3 cups) plus 6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder (I use Busteca Expresso powder)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 1/8 cup, divided
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups diced walnut pieces

Preheat over 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with parchment paper overlapping the long sides to form handles. Spray the parchment paper with baking spray.

Melt together the butter, 8 ounces chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly.

Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture.

Toss the walnuts and 6 ounces of the chocolate chips with 1/8 cup flour to coat. Add to the chocolate batter, stirring gently. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 25- 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Cool thoroughly, refrigerate, remove brownies from pan and cut into 24 to 30 squares. Serve at room temperature (These are very rich!).

If you want to try Ina Garten's original recipe, you can find it here.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Spumoni Ice Cream Cake--A Christmas Tradition

Spumoni Ice Cream Cake
A slice of Spumoni Ice Cream Cake that was served on Christmas Eve at the little house on Florida Street in Detroit, Michigan.

I searched all over southwest Florida looking for Spumoni Ice Cream to serve at Christmas Dinner but couldn't find it. For some reason my Polish Aunt Sophie used to serve Spumoni, an Italian ice cream creation, either at Christmas Dinner or in the holiday season surrounding Christmas. We children thought the combination of flavors was very exotic. My recipe may not be exactly the same, but it is pretty close!

After giving up finding commercial Spumoni, I found a recipe on the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream site for a Spumoni Ice Cream Cake. It was a good recipe, but I felt it need a little tweaking, one to add some orange flavoring to the chocolate layer, and two to figure out a way to make the cake easier to serve. I think I came up with good solutions for both. The ice cream cake was a big hit at Christmas dinner and the presentation at the table before serving was awesome!

Spumoni Ice Cream Cake

1 pint Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream*
1 pint Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio ice cream*
1 pint Dutch Chocolate ice cream
2 tablespoons candied orange peel
1/2 teaspoon orange flavoring
1 box Ghiradelli Brownie Mix, made as directed in a baking pan larger than a 9x5 loaf pan

1/4 cup Smuckers Magic Shell Chocolate

Mix orange flavoring with candied orange peel and set aside.

Bake brownie mix as directed in a baking pan larger than a 9’x5 loaf pan. Allow to cool, then trim off edges to create a 9x5 piece of brownie. Wrap with tin foil and set aside.

Line 9x5 loaf pan with tin foil, overlapping sides so that you can use the foil as handles to remove the ice cream layers out of the pan.

Soften 1 pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream so it is soft enough to spread. Spread over bottom of loaf pan  and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or until it's firm.

While that’s in the freezer, pull out another pint of ice cream to soften. Repeat step 2 for pistachio ice cream. Place in freezer.

Soften Dutch Chocolate ice cream and mix orange peel and orange flavoring in thoroughly. Freeze overnight.

To assemble, be sure that you can remove the ice cream layers out with the tin foil handles. You may have to run a knife around the edges to ensure removal. Remove from pan.

Put brownie layer on top of ice cream and then serving plate on top of brownie and very carefully flip it over. Remove tin foil.

Drizzle Magic Shell Chocolate over top. Put in freezer for about 5 minutes to allow shell to harden.

Cut into 1 inch slices to serve.

*Note: I got the idea for this dessert from the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream website and modified it. The result was delicious, but if you don’t have Ben and Jerry’s ice cream you could substitute a different brand of Cherry Almond and Pistachio ice creams.

Here is the link to the original recipe at Ben and Jerry’s.
Spumoni Ice Cream Cake
Spumoni Ice Cream Cake