COOK'S CORNER: Desserts can be real treat

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

By Staff
Desserts at my house are rare. We usually only have a cake, pie or ice cream when there is a special occasion. I will break down from time to time and prepare a cake for the weekend, but usually if we are expecting company.
I love to bake and when I do I like to make it something special. With a limited amount of time available for such an enjoyable thing as cooking, I usually rely on a little help. I usually start out with a cake mix and embellish the mix to add unusual ingredients. I have also opted to just get a little creative with the frosting part of the cake.
You can bet if a pie is in the making, I'm using a frozen pie shell or one of those graham cracker-type crusts. The filling will be homemade but I'm not a pastry chef.
I recently used a recipe that had been in my recipe collection for quite some time. I tend to copy down recipes that sound good or interesting and put them into my collection to try at some point in my life.
When I decided to put together a sweet treat for some friends of mine, I rummaged through the box and found a recipe for a Turtle Cake.
I thought it sounded a little complicated but decided to give it a try for the first time last weekend. I may sound complicated to you, but it really is pretty easy except for unwrapping all of those caramels.
Turtle Cake
1 box German Chocolate cake mix
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened, condensed milk
14 oz. caramels
1 cup chopped nuts
4 tbs. butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 box confectioner's sugar
Prepare cake mix according to package directions adding ? can of sweetened condensed milk. Pour into two 9×13 pans to make two layers. Bake according to package directions until the cake tests done. Allow to cool in pan on wire racks for 10-15 minutes.
For filling, in a medium saucepan, place unwrapped caramels, 4 tbsp. butter and rest of sweetened condensed milk and cook over medium heat until caramels are melted. Stir in chopped nuts. Pour over one layer of cake and place second layer on top.
For frosting, in a medium saucepan combine cocoa, milk and a stick of butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted and ingredients are well combined. Remove from heat and add confectioners sugar and blend to combine all ingredients well. Pour over top of cake and spread evenly. Top with chopped nuts if desired.
This recipe makes a good size cake. When you get it made you may find that the filling spills out of the sides. Don't worry. I've found from this recipe that ugly does not mean bad. This is actually a good cake and is a crowd pleaser.
Another recipe you may want to give a try is this next one for an easy dessert. It also sounds a little complicated, but it's worth the effort. This one also starts with a boxed cake mix. This is something that resembles the old Pea Pickin' Cake that everyone I know loves.
Million Dollar Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
2 (8 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Mix and bake cake mix as per package instruction for two 8 or 9 inch round layers. Let layers cool, and then split each layer in half so as to have 4 layers. In a large bowl, whip cream cheese until soft, and then gradually mix in confectioners' sugar. Stir in the pineapple with juice and the drained mandarin oranges, reserving about five mandarin orange slices to decorate the top of cake. Mix in the dry pudding mix. Fold in the whipped topping. Place one cake layer on a cake plate cut side up; spread with frosting. Place another layer cut side down on the first one, and top with more frosting. Repeat until all layers are used, spreading last bit of frosting on top and sides of cake. Decorate with reserved mandarin orange slices. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
This really is a good cake. If you make one, please give me a call. I'll put on some coffee and we'll have a wonderful visit.
This next recipe is a good one, especially with fall coming at us quickly. The recipe uses a cake mix and canned pumpkin. Making this special cake will certainly put you in the mood for many fall favorites.
Pumpkin Cake
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spice. Mix well, and pour into a 9×13 inch pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over the top, then drizzle with melted butter. Top with walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
I do love pumpkin pie so the recipe here is certainly one that will make any dessert time special.
Another thing I enjoy this time of year is boiled peanuts. I have a method of boiling peanuts that has been fool-proof for me so far.
A few years ago when I decided I was old enough to try this old-timey ritual on my own, I ruined many a good peanut trying to come up with a good rule of thumb for saltiness.
I'll give you my tips for a good pot of boiled peanuts and some variations next week.
Remember, if you have a recipe you're looking for or one you'd like to share with the readers of this column, please let me know. I'll be sure to hunt for the recipe you need and I'll give you credit for ones that you share. You can give me a call at 867-4876 or drop me a note by email at
Until next week, Happy Cooking.

Email newsletter signup