life’s not always a piece of cake.

On my right hand, I can count the most memorable desserts in my life. 

I ate one of these this past year in 2010. 

During a monthly office visit at a local veterans’ hospital, Janice— a fellow foodie and preceptor—shared with me a slice of her famous three layer German Chocolate Cake.  I took one bite and my tongue felt as if it had instantly entered chocoholic’s heaven.  It was light and buttery.  Smooth but strong.  Sweet and bold.  I knew this was something special, even before realizing how famous this cake actually was.

In a sense, it was the dessert that defined Jan and her cooking style.  A little like Julia and her beef bourguignon. Everyone raved about it.  Each slice sold for $6 at bake sales.  Most people claimed a slice before the sale actually started, just to make sure that they had a peice or two.  

And so, I wanted to recreate this masterpiece.  I wanted to delve head first into chocolate and coconut and pecans and share this same heavenly experience with my family.

I wanted to make this German Chocolate Cake for mom on her birthday.

Unfortunately, life isn’t always a piece of cake.  Because somehow I misread the recipe.  In fact, I misread an entire sentence.  

“Place wax paper on bottom of cake pan.”

Oops.

“Oops” is an understatement.  In fact, if Nicole hadn’t been there, I probably would have broke down into a fit of tears. 

But really, it’s impossible to cry when your sister is trying to console you while also snapping pictures, because “this totally makes good blogging material,” all at the same time.  So instead, I just scraped up the pan, threw everything into the trash, and grabbed my purse.

“Nicole?”  I said matter of factly.  “We are driving to a bakery.  We are going to get mom a beautiful piece of cake.  And then we are going to Starbucks and we are getting a latte.”

I’m not saying that I’m giving up on this cake.  In fact, I’ve just begun.

Valentines Day is February 14.  I will make this cake every single weekend if I have to, until it tastes and looks like that favorite dessert that I remember so well.

In the meantime, I am very thankful for my favorite little bakery down the road. 

And I am very thankful that they make a spectacular German Chocolate Cake.

You know what else I’m thankful for?  A family who loves me through tears and moods and life. 

A family that continues to make me smile. 

A family that is always there for me.

A family that doesn’t take life too seriously.

A family who loves me through all the crumbs and cake. 

Happy Birthday to Mom!  And I promise you the most beautiful of homemade German Chocolate Cakes in the year of 2011.  😉

Question: Have you ever made a major cooking flop?  How did you react?  I’ve noticed that most of my flops have involve baked goods.  And I”ve got to be honest, I definitely overreact in such a situation! 😉 

snow to be expected

Here in New England, we’re experiencing a bit of calm before a storm.  The news stations are claiming that 12-24 inches are expected by tomorrow.  Time to take out the snowshoes!

I figured it would be a good idea to get as much fresh air as possible today before the storm came, and went out for a nice, long walk.

And then I came home to bake a batch of breakfast muffins. 

Excuse?  The upcoming storm.  It’s not such a bad idea, you know, to prepare for any potential electric outages. 😉

Breakfast Muffins—as seen in Moosewood Restaurant’s “Cooking for Health” cookbook, with some tweaking.

I love muffins.  So when I find a muffin recipe that sounds both delicious and healthy, I throw on my apron and I bake a batch. 

These are perfect for breakfast, as they’re not overly sweet and give you plenty of fiber and nutrients to keep you going throughout the morning.  Simply pair with a glass of milk, a dish of yogurt, some fresh fruit and/or a handful of walnuts.

  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 c. oat bran
  • 2 c. finely chopped apples
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. rolled oats
  • 2 T. ground flax
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven 5o 375 degrees.  Spray 12-cup muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and molasses.  Stir in craberries, oat bran, and apples. 
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, stirring in the oats, walnuts (if desered) and flaxseeds.  Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture, just until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin; fill to the brims. 
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: Are you expecting snow where you live?

pumpkin gets personal

One of the things I love most about cupcakes is how personal they are.  I discussed this last week, when I found myself greedily dunking a finger into a white chocolate espresso cupcake in Boston. 

It’s just plain silly that I never thought to personalize the muffin too.

Because, let’s face it, there is a time and a place to purchase—and eat—a cupcake.  They’re one of my favorite foodie pleasures.  Muffins, on the other hand, can be eaten more often: as part of a breakfast, as a snack, or even as a dessert. 

And now that pumpkin isn’t such a rarity in the grocery isles any more, I’ve been going all crazy with it.  Oats.  Smoothies.  Yogurt Messes.

Pumpkin muffins.

If you ever make one…just one!…of the recipes from my blog, I beg that you please try this one.  I’ve tweaked and molded this recipe into what I now proclaim as being my favorite muffin ever.  I know that’s a bold statement, but let me assure you: this muffin can handle it.

Step 1: Mix Dry Ingredients

Step 2: Mix Wet Ingredients

Step 3: Mix Dry and Wet Together

Step 4: Personalize (this is the FUN part!)

There was the plain jane pumpkin muffin, topped with walnuts. 

The dark chocolate pumpkin muffin for the die-hard chocolate fans.

And the “everything” pumpkin muffin which was topped with walnuts, dark chocolate and white chocolate chips.  These are already gone, FYI.  Next time I’ll make the entire batch as “everything” muffins. 😉

Personalized muffins.  Why did I wait so long to do this?

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

  • 1-2/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  1. Combine dry ingredients (up to and including salt)
  2. Combine wet ingredients (pumpkin through raisins.)
  3. Stir dry ingredients with wet ingredients just until moistened (do not overmix)
  4. Spoon into 12 sprayed muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for about 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes.  Remove and place on wire rack.  Cool completely.

Question: What are your favorite flavor combinations in a muffin?