Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.
All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!
— Lucy Van Pelt (in Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz)
When Life Gives You February
February is typically an unforgiving month of cold winter storms (unless you live in the southern hemisphere), short dreary days, and seemingly endless nights. (Honestly, who came up with the concept of sunset at 5 p.m.?)
Thankfully the days are getting longer, there are only 28 of them (more often than not), and the to-do list is pretty short:
- Enjoy Presidents' Day (???)
- Celebrate birthdays (mine!)
- Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training (yay!)
- Bask in the decadence of Valentine's Day
OK, no. 4 is really important, and it's not too early to start planning.
What Is Your Choice?
Apple Walnut Tart With Maple Custard
I have not yet tried this recipe, but this Apple Walnut Tart with Maple Custard has to be, hands down, the most beautiful pie I have ever seen. Thank you, Pinterest and Hip Foodie Mom.
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake
I love cheesecakes. They are easy to make but look like you fussed for hours. I promise that this one will wow that special someone. This recipe is from the December 2010 issue of Cooking Light magazine and is not available on their website.
Yield: 12 servings
- 4 ounces chocolate graham crackers
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- Cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 (8-ounce) packages block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Wrap outside and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil.
- Place crackers in a food processor; process until finely ground. Drizzle with oil; pulse until combined. Press mixture into bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes; cool on a rack.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
- Place cranberries, sugar, liqueur, and water in a saucepan; boil. Cook 8 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture is syrupy. Cool 20 minutes. Place mixture in a food processor; process 1 minute or until smooth.
- Combine 1 cup sugar and cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Add whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Place 2 egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Fold beaten egg whites into cream cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Spoon cranberry mixture over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife. Place springform pan in a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan. Add hot water to the pan to a depth of 2 inches. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until the center of cheesecake barely moves when the pan is touched.
- Turn oven off. Cool cheesecake in closed oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run a knife around the outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill for 8 hours.
Note: If the cranberry mixture gets too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water and whirl it around in the food processor. You can also make this in an 8-inch springform pan; it'll be very full, so you should bake over a foil-lined baking sheet; cooking time will be the same.
Black Forest Cherry Cake
I loved carbs, but cakes are not at the top of my list. The "cake" part is usually too dry, and the "frosting" part is usually too sweet or feels too much like a mouthful of Crisco.
There is an exception, however—the Bundt cake. And with that admission, I'm probably showing my age. Bundt cakes were very popular in the late 1960s and early '70s. Here's the story of the Bundt pan:
In 1948 H. David Dalquist and his wife purchased the company Northland Aluminum Products, a manufacturer of Scandinavian bake ware. They renamed their product Nordic Ware. A decade later, a group of Jewish women from the Hadassah in Minneapolis, Minnesota, wanted a baking pan similar to what they had used in the Alsace, France. They approached Nordic Ware with their request, and Mr. Dalquist fabricated the first Bundt pan made of aluminum.
Some pans were made for the Hadassah group, and a few more were available for sale to the public. End of story? Yes, at least for a decade
In 1963 the New Good Housekeeping Cookbook hit the book shelves; contained therein was a recipe for a cake . . . baked in a Bundt pan. Suddenly everyone in America wanted one of those pans. They toyed with them; they baked and experimented. And in 1966 the Tunnel of Fudge cake was a finalist at the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest.
Pillsbury received more than 200,000 requests for the pan she used, and Dalquist's company went into overtime production. Today, more than 50 million Bundt pans have been sold around the world.
I've had this Chocolate Cherry Bundt cake recipe for years. I don't know its origins, but since it is chocolate (my favorite) and cherry (my husband's favorite), and requires only four ingredients, it reigns supreme in my recipe file.
- 1 package chocolate cake mix
- 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3 eggs
- Powdered sugar for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat three minutes at medium speed. Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then invert on cooling rack; remove pan and set cake aside to cool. Dust with powdered sugar.
San Francisco Fudge Foggies
Several years ago (OK, more than three decades), a dear friend was in the process of decluttering his life and gave me his collection of Chocolatier magazine. Chocolatier was published for pastry chefs and cake decorators—each issue packed with sumptuous chocolate creations and articles from famous chefs. Sadly the last issue was printed in 2004. This collection of magazines was not a quick read—I pored over each page, carefully digesting (pardon the pun) every word and phrase. What bliss!
In 1986 Chocolatier sponsored the "Great Chocolate Challenge." Barbara Feldman of San Francisco won the Best Overall award for her San Francisco Fudge Foggies. Here's what Chocolatier reported about Barbara's creation:
When Barbara Feldman was asked to bring dessert to a party, she literally took the chocolate challenge. She decided to see mow much chocolate she could "squish into one recipe." The result is as dense as San Francisco fog and has a truly dazzling chocolate flavor. The foggy, a creation that is more than a brownie and beyond a fudge, is destined to assume a place all of its own in kitchens throughout the world.
Yield: 16 foggies
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces (about 2 cups) walnut halves, coarsely chopped
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with a double thickness of aluminum foil so foil extends 2 inches beyond the sides of the pan. Butter bottom and sides of foil-lined pan.
- In the top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering water, melt chocolate, butter, and dissolved coffee, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove pan from the heat. Cool mixture, stirring it occasionally for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer set at high-speed beat eggs for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat 2 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in chocolate mixture until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Stir in walnuts. Do not over-beat. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes, or until foggies are just set around the edges. They will remain moist in the center.
- Cool the foggies in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 6 hours.
- Remove top foil and run a sharp knife around the edge of foggies. Using two ends of foil as handles, lift foggies onto a plate and peel off foil. Invert them again onto a smooth surface and cut them into 16 rectangles.
© 2015 Linda Lum
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 07, 2020:
Devika, thanks so much for stopping by. I'm glad that you found this.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 07, 2020:
Hi Linda Lum I came across this recipe and loved it! Such great ideas and creative.
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 31, 2020:
Denise, you don't know how much I appreciate people like you and MizB who are willing to share experience in creating foods for specific dietary needs. That would be wonderful.
Denise McGill from Fresno CA on January 31, 2020:
I found a vegan chocolate cake recipe that I tried recently calling for 3 spotty overripe bananas, maple syrup, and peanut butter, but it came out very dry and crumbly. So I thought maybe I needed 4 bananas and a little less flour. When I tried that I'm happy to say it came out very spongy and light, the perfect vegan cake. Maybe I should share it sometime.
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 10, 2015:
Thank you CriSp. I appreciate your support. I could have written more, but (believe it or not) some people don't like chocolate. I'm sure I could have filled an entire Hub with chocolate alone.
CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on February 09, 2015:
This is one yummy hub. Valentine or not sweet tooth like me would certainly appreciate it. :)
Up and sharing.
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 04, 2015:
Thank you roadmonkey. If you try any of them, please let me know how they turn out.
roadmonkey on February 04, 2015:
There are some really scrummy, yummy desserts there. Can't wait for Valentine's day to try some.
Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 03, 2015:
Thanks Bill. I agree with you about the weather and the Hawks. You and I are kindred spirits when it comes to loving chocolate--I knew the cake would catch your attention.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 03, 2015:
I have the winter blahs. Between the weather and the Seahawks, I'm trying to find the will to continue. :) These desserts would certainly help my outlook on life. Thanks, Linda. I'll let you know how that bundt cake came out.