Black Forest Cake 2.0 Version

In these difficult days we sometimes need a little cake. This is a quick and easy version of Black Forest Cake, hence the 2.0 my shorthand for easy peasy version. Made with a chocolate mix from Aldi’s. You can use a box mix of any kind you like. It is a lush and sensuous dessert worthy of a special occasion but great when you are in a low place emotionally. The whipped cream and cherries are a real treat together with the dark rich chocolate layers. The sides have grated chocolate on them and the top is a pool of cherry yumminess. I think these flavors together are timeless. I am wondering why I haven’t made it in years. Maybe I was inhibited by the seemingly complex nature of this layer cake. I actually baked it in a single size petal cake pan and cut it into two layers using toothpicks stuck half way up the sides as a guide but you can use 2 8 inch round pans at much less effort.

black forest cakeBlack Forest Cake 2.0 (easy version)

Ingredients:
1 chocolate cake mix plus the add ins. I used an Aldi’s mix; added 3 eggs, ¼ cup melted butter and the milk the recipe says (it says ¾ cup water but I always use milk for added moistness and better texture)…use the gf mix you prefer.

Toppings/fillings
1-2 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 can cherry pie filling
2 cups whipping cream
1/3-1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 oz of dark or semisweet chocolate grated

Directions: Make and bake cake according to box directions. Let cool completely after removing from pan. Put bottom layer on a wide cake plate. Top with brushed on chocolate syrup. Pour cherry pie filling on; do not put to the edges; leave ½-1 inch perimeter to allow for squishing out once you lay the top layer on. Put top layer of cake on. Whip cream to soft peaks. Add powdered sugar and beat just a bit more; not too hard or it will start to turn (to butter). Spread cherry filling over the top center of the cake; about half way out. Then spread the whipped cream over the rest of the top and down the sides. I used a cake spatula to smooth it a bit. I had grated the chocolate by hand while the cake baked. You have to get it on the sides. You can toss it at the cake, blow it on or flick it at the cake with your gloved fingers. Not an easy task. But you get to lick your fingers when you are all done! Put a few cherries plucked out of the pie filling on top around the edges to decorate. Serve cold.

black forest cake slice

Excuse the messy background. We were celebrating my guy’s birthday so I didn’t have time to make things neat. It was a glorious birthday cake for sure!Enter a caption

We actually found it tasted even better the next day. It is far easier to make than it looks. Makes a spectacular adult birthday cake! Enjoy.

Pavlova: A Symphony of Delish!

My sister Elaine makes this dessert all the time. It is a specialty of hers. I think it is her go to company dessert when nothing else comes to mind. When she first described it I was not impressed. I wasn’t even looking forward to it at our family dinner party she throws every summer when I come up to visit. So I was surprised when I bit into my slice of it. Clearly this is a case of the results being far more than a simple sum of the ingredients. It is light, sweet, airy, fruity and basically melted in my mouth. I have had it at her house many times and have made it a few times myself. It is easy to construct and it can be varied in the fruit topping.

The old school classic topping is fresh passion fruit. Elaine mostly serves it with sliced fresh strawberries, perfection! It is decent with blueberries too. I once used a mixture of ripe summer fruits; peach, nectarine, blueberries, mango and kiwi. That was really memorable. Ripe local strawberries would be super tasty too. Go with what is ripe and flavorful when you are shopping for fruit. I used blueberries and raspberries for this latest version but you decide what works for you. No canned fruit though, only fresh will do.

My sister got the recipe from Food network – a 1999 recipe. It is naturally GF so no one will ask where the wheat is! Don’t leave out the red wine vinegar; totally necessary.

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Slice today; sorry it is on a paper plate but it  was luscious!

Pavlova

Ingredients:

1/2 cup egg whites at room temp (about 4-5 eggs)

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2 T light brown sugar packed or white sugar

1 pt. fresh strawberries for top, sliced and 1 cup fresh blueberries

or 3-4 oz fresh raspberries and half a pint of blueberries

or 2 sliced ripe peaches and some raspberries or blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, about 7-8 minutes more.

On a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit a sheet pan, use a pencil to draw or trace a 9 inch circle in diameter. Line the sheet pan with the parchment, pencil side down (you should be able to see the circle). Spoon the egg whites in the circle, using the back of the spoon to smooth the top and sides of the disk. Make it high rather than wide; it will settle after baking. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and slightly cracked on the top and the surface is highly browned to the color of a latte coffee, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door, and let it cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. This ensures a gradual cooling, which protects the delicate meringue.

Whip the cream and brown sugar (sometimes I use white sugar) until stiff. spoon it in the center of the cooled pavlova and spread out to within 1/2 inch of the edge, arrange the slices of strawberry in the middle. Sprinkle the blueberries around the edge of the strawberries. To serve, slice into wedges with a serrated knife.

So make a pavlova and make everyone happy; it is beautiful to look at and even better to eat. Enjoy!

Originally published July 2014. Recipe slightly changed, minor editing to text.