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Strawberry Cake

Next to pineapples one of my favorite fruits is strawberries. I remember growing up and my home ed teacher, Mrs. Burns would sell this extra large cupcakes after school for $0.75 cents. Without fail every afternoon she would sell of this delectable delights of lemon, vanilla and strawberry. So this past Labor Day weekend I decided to re-visit an old friend, the Strawberry Cake. So as our farewell to summer until 2013, we celebrated with a delicious, scrumptious strawberry cake.  It was fresh, fruity and full flavor.  Just like I remembered.

Ingredients

Strawberry Cake

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
  • 1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed; Reserve 1/4 cup for frosting
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup reserved strawberry puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
  • 7 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • red food coloring, optional
  • Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

3. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

4. Time to make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the reserved strawberry puree and the strawberry extract. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth.

5. Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

*Chef’s Note – 1) You can use fresh or frozen strawberries. If you use frozen, let them defrost first and then place in a food processor and pulse until pureed. If you want puree to be seedless just run through a medium-sized strainer to remove the seeds.

2) Some chefs avoid using red food coloring, I did however add some food coloring to achieve that perfectly pink color. If you don’t care about getting the pink color, feel free to leave it out. I used about 5 drops, but you should add them one at a time until you achieve the color you are looking for.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cake

Now you know I love me some peanut butter and chocolate. And any way I can get, I have it. This cake is so rich & so delicious. Don’t forget the milk. You will definitely need it! It’s like having a BIG OLE’ peanut butter cup in your mouth.

Ingredients

for cake:

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Devil Food Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

for frosting:

  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese, soften
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, soften
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, chopped (optional garnish)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (on chocolate cake mixes I love to use cocoa instead of flour) two 9 inch circle cake pans.

2. Place cake mix, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla and oil in large mixing bowl. Blend on low for 1 minute, scrape bowl, and blend on medium 2 more minutes. Batter should look thick and well combined. Lightly coat chocolate chips with flour and fold into the batter, making sure they’re well distributed. Pour batter into greased and floured pan.

3. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched and cake just starts to pull away from sides of pan. Place on rack to cool for 20 minutes.

3. While cake is cooling make frosting. In medium bowl beat the peanut butter, cream cheese and unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, whipping cream and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Beat well and continue to add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time  mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and it reaches your desired consistency. About 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Now for the  assembly, place bottom circle on cake stand or plate. Spread top with 1 cup frosting. Add the second circle to the top. Spread the rest of frosting on sides and top of chocolate cake. Carefully garnish cake by pressing chopped peanut butter cups into frosting. Chill for a few hours, or overnight, before serving. Serve & Enjoy!

*Chef’s Tip – This cake benefits from some refrigeration due to the cream cheese & heavy whipping cream in the frosting. It helps the entire enterprise of cake while melding the layers together. Maybe an hour. Not a lot. Or forget it and just dig into the cake. Perfect slices are for when you need to appear fancy. Get over it and just eat the darn thang. Nobody really remembers how good it looked. Just how good it tasted.

Peanut Butter “Cheese Ball”

Well the time has come and I am ready for some football baby. And what goes perfect with football? Snacks of course. So here is a yummy recipe that takes the savory cheese ball and turns it into something sweet. Like I said before anything with peanut butter & chocolate; I’m All In!

Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips
  • Graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, and/or apple slices for dipping

Instructions

1. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until blended.

2. Spoon onto a large piece of plastic wrap; bring up all four corners and twist tightly forming into a ball shape.

3. Freeze for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm enough to keep its shape. Place peanut butter and chocolate chips in flat dish. Remove plastic wrap from ball and roll ball into morsels to completely cover, pressing morsels into the ball if necessary.

4. Place ball on serving dish; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until almost firm. (Can be made ahead. If frozen overnight, thaw at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.) Serve with graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, or apple slices for dipping or spreading.

*Chef’s Note – Celery sticks and/or carrots make for an excellent dipper for this dip also.

White Almond Sour Cream Cake

[singing] “Happy Birthday To Me. Happy Birthday To Me …”

I’m quite sure that you guess that it’s someone birthday. Well not quite but my birthday is fastly approaching. August the 26 to be exact and who doesn’t celebrate with cake? God knows I do. And one of my favorites and birthday cake of choice this year is the white almond sour cream cake. Some refer to it as the “White Wedding Cake” but no matter what the name is all I know is that it’s GOOD. And Meca likes!

Ingredients

for cake:

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

for buttercream frosting:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soften
  • 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla or almond extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour an 11×13 inch cake pan.

2. Stir together the white cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until well mixed. Pour in the water, sour cream, canola oil, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg whites, and beat with an electric mix on low until all the ingredients are mixed and moistened but some lumps still remain, about 4 minutes.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake in the preheated oven until the top is a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Allow cake to cool.

4. While cake is cooling prepare frosting. Beat shortening and butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk or heavy cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk or cream 1 tablespoons at a time..

5. Spread frosting over entire cake and decorate as desired.

*CHEF’S NOTE – Buttercream is very versatile and the flavor can be occasionally changed by substituting the vanilla extract for other flavors such as almond, coconut milk, or lemon. Also, the frosting can be easily tinted with food paste gel or food coloring.