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a german chocolate cake for the birthday boy

27 Nov

Today is Brette’s birthday.


I’ve always felt kind of bad that his birthday gets lumped in with Thanksgiving and sometimes falling on the day of turkey itself. However, he spends his birthday doing something he enjoys, so I get over my bad feelings pretty quickly.


On his birthday, Brette will get up at the butt crack of dawn, get bundled up in blaze orange and sit in a tree hoping to shoot his muzzle loader accurately with an end result of a freezer full of venison.  After sitting in his tree (which is equipped with a heater), he will head into the hunting cabin and cook breakfast for his dad, brothers, uncle, cousin and other hunting fools. They’ll talk smart and tell hunting tales that get taller each year. He will likely laugh so hard he’ll get a stomach ache and he’ll laugh just as hard as he re-tells the stories to me on the way home.

I love that he loves hunting on his birthday and everything that goes with it. I also love that on his birthday I get to sleep in, do some shopping, read, and chill out inside a warm house. Win – win!

At his request, I made one of his favorite desserts to celebrate the occasion; German Chocolate Cake. He has such good taste- this is one of my favorites as well.


I have always followed my mom’s recipe which I thought was an original. As it turns out  – it is the  exact recipe as Betty Crocker’s!  What the heck? It was like finding out that Santa Claus isn’t real. No matter it’s origin, the recipe is pretty full-proof, but there are definitely some steps and it takes some time. It’s worth every minute to put a smile on Brette’s face. Plus, it’s just so dang good!


Quality control.

Classic German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting

from Betty Crocker and Jen’s Mom – I’m pretty sure it originated with Betty.

Notes: You can make this recipe in 3 round baking pans or 2 square pans for a layered cake, or one large 9 x13 pan.

1/2 cup boiling water

1 bar (4 oz) sweet cooking chocolate

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, yolks and whites separated

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

Coconut Pecan Frosting (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 350.

For layered cakes, grease and line bottoms of pans with waxed paper. If using a 9×13, spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over chocolate, stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

In medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In medium bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk. Set aside.

In large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. On low speed, blend in chocolate and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition until batter is smooth. Fold in egg whites.  Divide batter between pans (unless using just a 9×13).

Bake round pans 30-40 minutes, square pans 40-45 minutes, or the 9×13 pan 45-50 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly.

Cool completely before frosting. (if doing layers, remove cakes from pan and peel off wax paper. Make sure all layers are cooled before frosting. (I made my cake the day before frosting it).

Frost layers and/or top of cake with coconut pecan frosting.


Coconut Pecan Frosting

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook and stir (constantly)over medium heat until thick, about 12 minutes. (this step took me 20 minutes as my butter was cold to start with) Stir in coconut and pecans. Beat until thick enough to spread. (I let mine cool for a little bit before frosting.

Happy Birthday to my best friend and favorite person in the world. Get down with your bad self today.


One year ago: Betty Crocker’s thoughts about the day after Thanksgiving…

betty says: russian teacakes

22 Dec

I’ve been making these the past few years- Betty’s recipe of course. They are very easy, and are great dipped in coffee (although I just eat them plain). I have a little laugh every time I read the commentary under the heading of the recipe. Just made mine tonight…still need to head into the kitchen for a final powdered-sugar dipping, and they’ll be all set to go. Here’s the recipe.

RUSSIAN TEACAKES Crunchy, sugared, nut-filled snowballs

This favorite with men came to us from a man. Carl Burkland, an eastern radio executive, often makes them himself at Christmastime. [Himself??? No way!!]

Oven: 400 degrees. Bake: 10-12 minutes.

Mix thoroughly: 1 cup soft butter, 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla.

Sift together and stir in: 2-1/4 cups sifted flour, 1/4 tsp. salt

Mix in: 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts.

Chill dough. Roll into 1″ balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet (cookies do not spread). Bake until set, but not brown. While still warm, roll in confectioners’ sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again.

Happy holidays!!!

betty crocker says… NOT!!!

27 Nov

I don’t have any Betty wisdom for today because we’re out of town and I forgot the Betty cookbook.

I have a feeling though that Betty would have a few ideas about how she’d like today’s housewife to spend the day after Thanksgiving. She’d want you to gaily spend time in the kitchen, boiling your turkey carcass into a soup, and then serve it with cheer to your family. If you got tired, she’d want you to rest on your recliner (but only for 3-5 minutes!!) because you have cleaning to do after all that company you had yesterday.

And then once everything’s cleaned and cooked and served and cleaned up again, she’d want you to snatch the leftover bottles of wine from yesterday’s meal and head out to the hot tub.

betty says: thanksgiving dinner

20 Nov

Betty actually doesn’t have much to say about Thanksgiving dinner, which surprises me. She does say that dessert for the Thanksgiving meal could include Autumn Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, or Old-Fashioned Mince Pie, which would be a “happy choice.”

Betty also asks, “Is your table attractive at mealtime? Linen spotless? Silver and china shining? Glassware sparkling? Table neat and orderly?” (I know Jen will be polishing her silver into the wee hours of Wednesday night.)

Aside from the more formal meals like Thanksgiving, Betty also offers up ideas to make everyday mealtimes more exciting.

Mealtime Surprises

Be flexible! Make mealtime a real pleasure for the family!

Surprise them with a Sunday supper on trays in the living room [yippee!] or on the porch.

Pamper a house guest with Sunday breakfast in bed. [Note to all people who I’ve ever stayed with: Why have I never received a breakfast in bed??] Let the children plan a picnic supper. Or serve breakfast outdoors. [OUTDOORS?? BREAKFAST?!! What a novel idea!!] Make mealtime a time of gay surprises!!!

betty crocker says

13 Nov

Installment two of “Wise Words of Wisdom from Betty”…

I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t record Betty’s mid-20th century version of the food pyramid. Broken down into seven categories, here it is:

Green and Yellow Vegetables: One or more servings a day. Necessary for normal growth [what’s that?], good skin condition, and to prevent night blindness [?????].

Oranges, Tomatoes, and Grapefruit: One or more servings a day of any one of the citrus fruits, tomatoes, raw cabbage, or salad greens. Essential for healthy connective tissue, strong and elastic blood vessels, and to prevent bleeding gums [I’d never heard that one before.]

Potatoes and Other Vegetables and Fruits: Two or more servings a day. Necessary for growth and normal function of the body.

Milk and Milk Products: Milk may be skim or whole, dry or liquid, evaporated or condensed [ew.] Builds strong bones and teeth.

Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs: One serving of meat, poultry, or fish daily. Liver once a week [ew double ew.] Occasionally dried beans or peas can be substituted for meat [but only occasionally!!!] At least 3 or 4 eggs a week per person. Better to have an egg each day. Normal rate of growth and repair of body.

Bread, Flour, and Cereals: Three or more servings a day. Energy and normal growth, healthy nervous system and skin, stimulate appetite [HAHA. I don’t know many folks who need their appetite stimulated.]

Butter and Fortified Margarine: [Yes, this is an actual FOOD GROUP.] Use for a spread and in cooking. These fats contribute food values other than calories. [They do??? What are the other food values they contribute?] Promotes growth [width-wise, I’m guessing?] Builds resistance to disease. [That’s it people! I just discovered the cure to this flu epidemic. EAT MORE MARGARINE!]

Betty Crocker says…

6 Nov

I am lucky enough to have in my possession an old and very worn-looking Betty Crocker picture cookbook that used to be my grandmother’s. I’ve looked through it more than once in search of a publish date, but have never found one. My grandparents married in 1942 (I think. Mother? Confirm.) so I’m guessing based on that date, the style of the photographs, and the way the cookbook is written that it was published in the 40s or 50s. This cookbook is a gem in so many ways. I’ve made a few recipes from this cookbook (all desserts) and have referenced a few measurements from it as well. What intrigues me most about this cookbook is all the writing and description and directions for making one’s kitchen, home, and lifestyle fit into the “Betty Crocker way.” I’ve laughed aloud many a time reading through this cookbook; the cultural references and gender stereotypes really reflect the times in which it was written. I’ve been meaning to blog about this for awhile now, and have decided to take each Friday in November to share with you the wise words of wisdom from Betty and her picture cookbook.

Let’s begin with a few helpful tips from the “Special Helps” section on page 2 of the cookbook.

Betty says: If you’re tired from overwork, Household chores you’re bound to shirk. Read these pointers tried and true and discover what to do.

Wear comfortable clothes and properly fitted shoes while working around the house. (Alongside a picture of a woman vacuuming in a dress and apron.)

For personal outlook…Eat proper food for health and vitality. Every morning before breakfast, comb hair, apply make-up, a dash of cologne, and perhaps some simple earrings. Does wonder for your morale. [But only SIMPLE EARRINGS are required!! And this MUST be done before breakfast!!]

-Do head work while dusting, sweeping, washing dishes, paring potatoes, etc. Plan family recreation, the garden, etc.

If you feel tired, lie down on the floor on your back, put your hands above your head, close your eyes, and relax for 3 to 5 minutes. (Accompanied by a picture of a woman wearing a dress and apron and lying down on her kitchen floor with ZZZZzzzzzzzzzs coming out of her head.) [BUT ONLY LIE DOWN FOR 3 TO 5 MINUTES!!]

-Harbor pleasant thoughts while working. It will make every task lighter and pleasanter. (Accompanied by a picture of a woman dreaming about ballroom dancing, a tropical island, golf, and sailing.)

-Notice humorous and interesting incidents to relate at dinnertime when family is together. (Accompanied by a picture of a woman wearing a dress and apron and noticing a cat stuck up in a tree.)

And finally…

Check up on yourself! If after following all these rules for proper rest, exercise, diet, you are still tired and depressed, have a medical check-up and follow doctor’s orders.