Tuesday, April 20, 2021

CHOCOLATE PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE: National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day

Today is Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day! Pineapple Upside Down Cake is so Retro. Here's a way to bring it into 2021: Add chocolate! The following recipe is easy and terrific. It's from Home Cooking Adventure. Want to save time? Use a chocolate cake mix and add coconut.  Want to use fresh pineapple in your Chocolate Upside Down Pineapple Cake? Try this one from Serious Eats

Want to know more about the history of Pineapple Upside Down Cake? Go to: Kitchen Historic



Pineapple Topping 

1/4 cup unsalted butter 

1/3 cup light brown sugar 

6 or 7 pineapple slices, canned 

Chocolate Coconut Cake 

1 cup 

All-purpose flour 

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/2 tsp salt 

1 tsp baking powder 

1/3 cup unsalted butter, soft 

2/3 cup sugar 

3 eggs 

1 tsp coconut extract 

3/4 cup coconut milk 

3 oz semisweet chocolate, melted 


Preheat oven to 350F. 

Grease a 9 inch pan and line with parchment paper. 

In small saucepan melt butter over low heat, add sugar, and cook until sugar dissolves. 

Pour mixture in prepared pan and arrange the pineapple slices. Set aside until you prepare chocolate cake. 

In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl mix butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, coconut extract and mix to combine. With mixer on low, alternate adding gradually flour mixture and coconut milk until all is well incorporated. Add melted chocolate and mix to incorporate. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs. 

Cool in pan for few minutes minutes, then invert onto a serving platter. 

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Monday, April 19, 2021


Today is National Amaretto Day. Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavored Italian liqueur. Interestingly enough it isn't always made from almonds. It's primarily made from apricot pits and spices. The original version was made in Saronno, Italy. Amaretto is Italian for "a little bitter." Here's a link to a Homemade Amaretto recipe from Chow.com.

I love this recipe for Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake. I've adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, but I've added more 'heavy' ingredients. My feeling, if you're going to do it, go all the way.

Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

6-10 chocolate wafers
Cooking spray
1 cup sugar
1 cup cottage cheese
12 ounces cream cheese
6 Tbsp DARK unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup Amaretto
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp dark chocolate, chopped fine (or mini-chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 300°

Place wafers in food processor, and pulse until coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs into bottom of  8-inch spring form pan coated with cooking spray.

Place sugar and next 8 ingredients (sugar through salt) in food processor, and process until smooth.
Add egg, and process until blended.
Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan, and sprinkle with finely chopped dark chocolate.
Bake at 300° for 55 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched.
Remove cheesecake from oven, and run knife around outside edge.
Cool to room temperature.
Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

Topping Ideas
Fresh Fruit (strawberries or raspberries)
Cherries soak in Rum
Whipped Cream (or Amaretto Whipped Cream)

Sunday, April 18, 2021

CHOCOLATE & ANIMAL CRACKERS: National Animal Crackers Day

Happy National Animal Crackers Day! The original animal crackers of my childhood didn't have a lot of flavor, but even now when I think of them I remember their unique taste during zoo and circus visits. Those trips were always exciting, and animal crackers were an important part of the experience. I remember the red cardboard boxes with pictures of animals in cages (the new packaging has them roaming free) and little flat strings to carry your box.

Today there are many different brands of animal crackers -- vegan, chocolate, chocolate covered, covered with icing and sprinkles, and so many more. There are the original Barnum's Animal Crackers, and I really like Barbara's (all natural) Snackimals Double Chocolate and Snackimals Chocolate Chip.

Want to dress up your store-bought Animal Crackers today to celebrate National Animal Cracker Day? Dip the animal crackers in Chocolate:

Chocolate Dipped Animal Crackers

Melt a good dark chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave.
Dip animals and let cool on waxed paper.
You can either dip most of the animal (and use forks or special dipping tools) or just dip the feet as I did with the Walker Scottie Dogs with Muddy Boots. I like Trader Joe's Animal Crackers for chocolate dipping.

Want to get fancier? Healthy Happy Life (Lunchboxbunch.com) has a Chocolate-Covered Vegan Animal Cookies post with great photos and recipes.

There's even a Website devoted to Animal Crackers: www.animalcrackers.net/  Here you'll find a variety of recipes for animal crackers  such as Homemade Animal Crackers, Oatmeal Animal Crackers, Classic Animal Crackers, Cheese Animal Crackers, Chocolate Animal Crackers, and many others. Animal Crackers have been a snack since the mid nineteenth century. Today they are made by numerous well known companies, such as Keebler, Nabisco, or the Stauffer Biscuit Company. Although store bought varieties can be great, you might want to try some homemade animal crackers.

Recipe adapted from AnimalCrackers.net

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Organic Toasted Rolled Quick Oats
1/2 Cup Softened Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 Cup of Cold Whole Milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In blender, mix organic toasted rolled quick oats, with flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt.
Pulse until base mixture is completely ground up into delicate powder, and color and texture are even and consistent.
Pour this mixture into mixing bowl, and stir in cold whole milk and softened real butter. Stir until dough becomes stiff, adding any extra milk if you need to.
Roll animal cracker dough into ball on clean flat surface, then flatten out into quarter inch thickness.
Using animal cracker or other cookie cutters, make as many shapes as you can with dough.
Place your finished shapes on lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, or until crackers are crisp.
Cool on wire rack for half an hour.

Waiter, there's an Animal Cracker in my soup! Animal Crackers make a great starch for soups and stews.  I've posted a recipe for a great Chicken Mole Polano made with Animal Crackers.  Or try this recipe for White Chocolate Mole with Animal Crackers.

Want a sweet chocolate soup with Animal Crackers? O. K., this is more of a dessert. This recipe was originally found on the Hershey's Cocoa Box.


3/4 cups half-and-half
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa
1 egg yolk

Heat half-and-half. Pour into bowl, leaving about 1/4 cup in saucepan or cup.
Add sugar, vanilla, cocoa to pan and mix until it is a syrup. Add egg yolk and stir over low heat. Gradually stir in preheated half-and-half. Stir until blended and thick. Pour into bowl.
Top with animal crackers.

Here's a link to several other Cocoa Soup recipes. All go well with Animal Crackers!

Enjoy this video clip of Shirley Temple singing Animal Crackers in my Soup!

Saturday, April 17, 2021


Can you ever have enough recipes for Chocolate Cake? I don't think so. Here's another Retro recipe from the 70s from Hershey's for Hershey's Prize Chocolate Cake. This recipe uses cocoa, and, of course, specifically Hershey's cocoa. If you have a cocoa you favor, feel free to use it instead. And, don't miss the note: How to Bake with Cocoa. FYI, I usually decrease the amount of sugar in this recipe.