Monday, November 12, 2018

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sheet Cake: Guest Post by Judy Clemens

My mystery and chocolate worlds collide again. Today I welcome back Judy Clemens aka JC Lane. J.C. Lane is the author of the thriller Tag, You’re Dead. Judy also writes mysteries as Judy Clemens, including the Stella Crown series and the Grim Reaper mysteries


Chocolate and peanut butter are a popular combination in my family, whether it’s chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cup pieces, chocolate cookies with peanut butter in the middle, or a chocolate peanut butter banana milkshake we’ve been making since the kids were little. I cut this recipe out of a magazine years ago and re-discovered it while doing some kitchen renovations this year. The cake tastes as amazing as it looks – moist and dense – and the frosting is heavenly. The chopped-up crunchiness of the peanuts tops it all off.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sheet Cake


2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup baking cocoa
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tesp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
In a small bowl, combine water, butter, peanut butter, and cocoa; bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. (I heated mine in the microwave. You could heat it on the stove if you prefer.) Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until blended; add to flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Transfer to prepared pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Prepare frosting while cake is baking.
In a large bowl, beat the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Add more milk, if necessary, to get it to spreading consistency.

Remove cake from oven; place on a wire rack. Immediately spread with frosting and sprinkle with peanuts. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

WWII & Chocolate: Veterans Day

It's Veterans Day, and the perfect time to link to this great article on Chocolate Bars in the Second World War by Sean Jacobson on the Smithsonian website. I've also posted some chocolate ads from the time.

HOT FUDGE SUNDAE CAKE: National Sundae Day

Today is National Sundae Day! For me, there is only one sundae--a hot fudge sundae!

The classic Hot Fudge Sundae is a creation of vanilla ice cream, hot chocolate sauce ("hot fudge"), whipped cream, nuts, and a single maraschino cherry on top. A Hot Fudge Sundae can be made with any flavor of ice cream, but vanilla is preferred!

There are many variations about the origins of the Hot Fudge Sundae. According to Wikipedia, a frequent theme is that the dish arose in contravention to so-called blue laws against Sunday consumption of either ice cream or ice cream soda (the latter invented by Robert M. Green in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1874). The religious laws are said to have led druggists to produce a substitute for these popular treats for consumption on Sunday. According to this theory of the name's origin, the spelling was changed to sundae to avoid offending religious conventions. Since I grew up in Philadelphia, I remember the Blue Laws, although at that time they pertained to alcohol and not ice cream.

In support of this idea, Peter Bird wrote in The First Food Empire: A History of J. Lyons and Co. (2000) that the name 'sundae' was adopted as a result of Illinois state's early prohibition of ice cream consumption on Sundays, because ice cream with a topping that obscured the main product was not deemed to be ice cream. However, according to documentation published by the Evanston, Illinois Public Library, it was the drinking of soda, not the eating of ice cream, that was outlawed on Sundays in Illinois.

Other origin stories for the sundae focus on the novelty or inventiveness of the treat or the name of the originator, and make no mention of legal pressures.

You don't really need a recipe for a hot fudge sundae. I gave the ingredients above. However, like anything else, it's all about the quality of the ingredients. Hot Fudge Sundae Cake is a great variation on this traditional treat, and it can be made in a pan in the oven or in a Slow Cooker. See recipe HERE.

Following is a recipe adapted from Betty Crocker for Hot Fudge Sundae Cake in a pan. It's an easy one bowl/pan recipe. What's especially delicious about this cake is that as the cake bakes it separates into a chocolate cake and a dark fudgy sauce. Now that's what Hot Fudge Sundaes are all about! Add the ice cream and you're all set.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons DARK unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa
1 3/4 cups very hot water
Vanilla Ice cream

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Mix flour, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt in ungreased square pan, 9x9x2 inches. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla with fork until smooth. Stir in nuts. Spread in pan.
Sprinkle brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa over batter. Pour water over batter.
Bake about 40 minutes or until top is dry.
Spoon warm cake into dessert dishes. Top with ice cream. Spoon sauce from pan onto each serving.

Rather have Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes? Check out Joy the Baker's recipe and photos.

Want Hot Fudge Sundae Macarons? Barbara Bakes has the perfect recipe!

Cake photo: Betty Crocker

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Veterans Day Toll House Cookies: Vintage Ad & Recipe

This Vintage Nestle Ad for Toll House Cookies in Good Housekeeping 1943 seems appropriate for Veterans Day. Toll House Cookies: "Make up a batch of those golden-brown, crunchy Toll House Cookie and send to that soldier boy of yours.' And these are still terrific cookies for the Veteran in your life, as well as our men and women still in in service. Recipe below.