These never-fail recipes can make preparing a sweet treat easy

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

On New Year's Day our family dropped by to wish our friend Mike Shupert a happy 50th birthday. Turning 50 deserved a little teasing and fun, so we could not pass up the opportunity to do just that. While at his home, we enjoyed a delicious piece of Goofy Cake (having no reference to the birthday boy), an eggless chocolate cake that is moist and requires no frosting because it makes a silky chocolate glaze on the top as it bakes. The recipe is a long time family recipe and a tradition at their house and one I just had to pass along to you.

Goofy Cake

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups cold water

Sift dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Bake in a sprayed 9-by-13-inch baking pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

A couple of weeks ago we had a Sunday school open house in our classroom, and everyone brought food to share as we visited and enjoyed some Christmas fellowship. One dish that seemed to be popular was Andrea Schneider's chili egg casserole. This is a light and fluffy egg souffle-sort-of-dish filled with cheese and green chilies. It was a nice change from the heavy bread-and-egg casseroles that are so popular.

Chili Egg Casserole

10 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pint cottage cheese

1 pound shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

1/2 cup flour

2 small cans chopped green chilies

Beat eggs until fluffy. Blend in the rest of the ingredients, except chilies. Gently fold in chilies. Bake in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Bettie Williams, one of my friends from the Senior Center, enjoys cooking and has given me several recipes over the past few years. Last week she gave me two that she enjoys, and I wanted to pass them along to you to use.

Never Fail Fudge

4 cups sugar

1/4 pound butter or margarine

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (20-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme

1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Over medium heat, melt butter in heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stir in milk and sugar. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Continue boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted. Add marshmallow creme and nuts, stirring until well blended. Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares. Makes about 3 pounds.

For microwave preparation: Microwave margarine in a 2-quart bowl on high until melted; about 1 minute. Stir in sugar and 5 fluid ounces milk (small can). Return to microwave, cooking 12 to 15 minutes on high (stir every 3 minutes). Check temperature after 12 minutes. Continue as directed above. If fudge is too soft, chill to firm up.

Although it may seem like Bettie may be on a "never fail" recipe kick, I think it is a coincidence that both of these carry the name "never fail." I think that means they are just really good and worth trying.

Never Fail Lemon Cream Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 tablespoons flour

1 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 egg yolks, reserve 3 egg whites for meringue

2 tablespoons butter

1 baked 9-inch deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar and flour in a heavy saucepan. Add both milks and lemon juice. Stir well. Whisk in egg yolks. Cook mixture over low heat, until boiling point is reached and custard has thickened, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Stir in butter. Pour hot filling into baked pie shell. Spread meringue over filling and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool pie on rack for 2 hours before serving.

Never Fail Meringue

3 egg whites (reserved from filling eggs)

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons marshmallow cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whip egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Beat in marshmallow cream. Beat in powdered sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat in vanilla extract. Spread on pie, making sure to seal edges around crust and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Thelma Brothers, another great friend from the Senior Center, brought in an oldie-but-a-goodie recipe: punch bowl cake. Once in a while it is fun to dig back in the recipe files and pull out one from the past. Recently I had a friend who made the old Watergate cake, and her children had never seen it before and did not know what Watergate was; it turned out to be a great teaching moment for them.

Punch Bowl Cake

1 box yellow cake mix, baked in two layers as directed

1 (5 1/2-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding, prepared as directed

1 (30-ounce) or 2 (20-ounce) cans cherry pie filling

1 (20-ounce) can fruit cocktail

1 (20-ounce) can chunk pineapple, drained

1 (16-ounce) package shredded coconut

1 (16-ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 cup chopped pecans

Place one of the cake layers in the bottom of a punch bowl or large serving container. Cover with half of each listed ingredient. Repeat layers. Chill overnight. Serves 25 to 30.

I have two recipe requests this week. First, Walt Paquin of Cape Girardeau is looking for sourdough starter. Not to be confused with the Amish friendship bread starter, but true sourdough starter. If anyone has a lead, please let me know so I can pass that information along him.

Second, a friend of mine used to live in China, and she and her sister remember having a delicious bread at restaurants that was steamed then deep fried. They referred to it as Silver Thread Bread, but are not sure if that is the right name or not. If you know of someone living in China or a college student here that might be able to find this recipe, thanks in advance for your help.

I am out of room, so will close with wishes for you to have a great week and new year ahead. Until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at smcclanahan@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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