Browsing the archives for the birthdays tag.

Coca Cola Cake

Domestic, Kids

Something really crazy happened to us this weekend. I mean, it didn’t really come without warning, even though it totally feels like there was no warm up or anything and while it is amazing, wonderful news, it’s also kind of intense.

Yeah, we officially have a teenager now. As in, we are the parents of a teenager.

This sweet little bundle…
Is now this wonderful, official teenager…

There’s a lot that goes along with this happening, but for now I choose to just think about how gone the days are of making birthday cakes for him that fit the theme of whatever he’s into. You know, because what he’s into is Call of Duty and it’s not like I’m going to make an MP5K cake, right? Instead, he now joins the ranks of those of us who are looking for flavor.

Dark cola is pretty much blacklisted in our house. I turn a blind eye at birthdays though, so when I saw the recipe for this I had to make it for him.

Coca Cola Cake

Coca Cola Cake via May Flaum

2cups flour
2cups sugar
1/2tsp salt
1tsp baking soda
1/2tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup coca-cola (from bottle is my preference!)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coca cola

Preheat to 350, spray a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking spray and set aside. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In a medium pot, mix up the butter, cocoa, coca cola, and buttermilk. Let that boil.

Coca Cola Cake
Add the boiling mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk, whisk, whisk! Then mix in the eggs and vanilla.

Coca Cola Cake

Pour it into the prepared pan and make the glaze by heating the butter, cocoa and coca cola in a medium pan.
Coca Cola Cake
Now, pour it over the top and try to resist touching it so the glaze has a chance to set up. 20 minutes is enough. 😉

Coca Cola Cake

Coca Cola Cake
Coca Cola Cake
We all ate entirely too much of this, it was that good.

Coca Cola Cake

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LOST Birthday Fete

Crafty, Domestic

If you’re not obsessed with Lost, this post can still be useful – I made the Classic Snowball Cake, which is something I think all domestic goddesses should know how to make. 😉 I have been hooked on Lost for a couple of years, I started watching all the episodes in order after the show had already been on the air for 3 or 4 seasons. Being able to watch so much of the show at once, it was pretty easy to develop an unhealthy obsession. I owed my friend Romi a birthday fete and she’s just as crazy for Lost as I am (and arguably more die hard, as she’s been loyal since ep 1, season 1), so I ran with it and her 2*th birthday was all about Lost. 😀

Dharma Chocolate Bars

The Dharma labels are all courtesy of Max Pictures, who clearly also has a serious love for the show. Dharma chocolate bars were necessary, as Miss Romi loves chocolate. She’s also fond of red wine, so we needed to Dharamize that as well. We all had personalized boarding passes from Oceanic flight 815, except ours were all leaving Sydney and arriving in Toronto – don’t worry, we know the level of geeky we’ve risen to. What’s with the Dharma evaporated milk? Well, I am a baker you know, I always have to have this sort of thing on hand…

Dharma Evaporated Milk  Dharma Red Wine

Instead of talking about the cake first, I’m going to go on about the icing, because the construction of the cake itself will likely steal the show. It’s one of those very simple, but very good (good in this instance refers to deliciousness, not good as in ‘good for you’, just to be clear) quick recipe from Kraft. It is just five horribly indulgent ingredients and takes maybe five minutes to pull together.

Snowball Frosting (I omitted the coconut)
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup cold milk
2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
1 cup flaked coconut

Snowball Frosting

The cake itself is actually a plain chocolate cake, the recipe used a devil’s food cake mix but you can use your favourite chocolate cake recipe of course! For the snowball effect, the cake is made in an oven safe glass bowl.

Snowball Chocolate Cake (I omitted the coconut)
1 chocolate cake, uncooked
1 pkg. (250 g) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1 egg
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Essentially, you whip up a chocolate cake and pour the batter into an oven safe bowl. Mix the cream cheese, egg and sugar, and put that on top of the cake batter. It’ll sink a bit as it bakes. Mine was still visible after it baked, so next time I will knock it down a bit. My concern was that knocking the bowl would make it sink too far but that doesn’t seem likely now.

Snowball Batter  Snowball Cake

The video was helpful when putting this cake together, the only thing I didn’t do the same was sprinkle coconut on top because my sister hates coconut with the burning passion of 1000 suns, and naturally she was on the guest list. The candles are sparkly and have wee stars on them, because grown ups or not, birthdays are for being a little silly. Which is also why there are mini M&Ms on top!

The texture of this cake was amazing, I used my usual chocolate cake which is already pretty fantastic, but made so much better with this cream cheesy center! It’s not overpowering and just sweet enough. It’s two years in a row that I’ve made a cake with both vanilla and chocolate in it. We call it our ‘racial harmony’ cakes. 😉

Snowball Birthday Cake

I also made Salsa Roll Ups, another quickie from Kraft. I end up with a very long ‘must try’ list after trolling that site for too long. I also made turkey-chicken meat balls, but I’ll save that recipe (courtesy of my Dad) for another post.

Salsa Roll Ups
(1/2 of 250-g pkg.) cream cheese spread, softened
3 Tbsp. salsa
2 spinach-flavoured tortillas or wraps (10 inch)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
chili powder

Mix the cream cheese with the salsa and spread onto the tortillas, then sprinkle on shredded cheese. Roll up the tortilla tightly.

Cut the logs into whatever length works for you, you may have to use toothpicks to keep the rolls secure.

Snowball Batter  Salsa Roll Ups

So happy 2*th birthday, Romi!! I’m already plotting next year’s cake (and theme, hmmm). <3

Snowball Batter  Dharam


Eat Your Fruits and Veggies (and Check Your Oil)

Domestic, Healthy

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t eat anything green – unless it was some form of candy or ice cream. This horrified my then strictly vegan father, a hippie powerhouse of health, which very likely amused my mother, who was a Kraft Dinner loving, late night ice cream eating kinda gal (I say ‘was’ because she had a heart attack 5 years ago and now eats like my dad). He was huge on smoothies, but not just the delicious fruity ones, he’d also do the veggie shakes – who does that?! He made his own breads and chocolate cakes and cookies and all kinds of amazing treats as well as wonderful stir fry’s, casserole-type dishes, and soups. I’d eat some of the treats, but mostly I’d turn my nose up at them and eat some disgusting sugary and/or marshmallowly concoction. I didn’t know it then, but most of these creations were hiding a veggie or two. I do it too now, some recipes are from him, some I’ve found online or in cookbooks and others still are from my friends. Gill makes the most amazing black bean brownies, Jessica Seinfield has a chocolate chip cookie recipe with chick peas – it works!

Now? I’m on the phone with him constantly asking for ideas and tricks for substituting healthy options for the more horrible ingredients in my favorite recipes. The easiest change to make was using mashed bananas or applesauce instead of oil in cakes and muffins. Mashed bananas work best with chocolate or oatmeal items and applesauce is a good pick for pretty much everything else because you can’t taste it as much. Usually people don’t notice there is applesauce in it unless I say something, or people comment that it’s moist. Sometimes, if the main taste of the cake is a fruit anyway, I’ll just add more of it’s liquid in place of the oil called for, like in the chocolate-cherry cake I made for our Miss America party (I swear, I will post about this little gathering soon).

My favourite combo is chocolate and banana, there’s just something about it that tastes ‘right’, you know? Here is the recipe I use the most – this was the decoy cake I made for our dear friend Andrew’s 29th last year. It was the decoy for a hilarious cake Gill had done for him at Dairy Queen, where they used an image of Burt Reynolds body on a bear skin rug – with Andrew’s head! Anyhoo….

Chocolate Banana Cake
2 cups white sugar
1 -3/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed bananas
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat to 350. Whisk your sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.


Then mix the eggs, bananas, water, milk, oil and vanilla extract. Add the wet to dry, as usual, till well mixed. Note that this batter looks really runny but bakes up just fine.Pour into your cake pan (10″ round or maybe a medium rectangle) or cupcake liners, and bake for about half an hour. Adjust time for the size of your cake/s or cupcakes.

Other more obvious tips were to use low fat or no fat vanilla soy milk instead of 2% milk, whole wheat flour over white flour in pretty much every recipe (I drew the line at pie crust for lemon meringue, it just wasn’t right), and to use parchment paper or a non stick pan instead of greasing. That’s all fine and the flavour of most of my regulars haven’t changed much.

There have been a few silly attempts at making fundamentally unhealthy food healthy. Like when I tried to make onion rings with crushed Fibre 1 cereal as the coating. Not only was that a bad idea (I guess it wasn’t *that* bad, but it wasn’t exactly a substitute for the taste, or even the texture, of an actual onion ring. The real secret to making decent-for-you onion rings is in the oil! Using french fries as a classic example here, if you fried them in vegetable oil (as most people do), you’re looking at a top temperature of about 300 degrees. The issue with that is most foods (yes potatoes included) don’t have a low insta-cook temp, so they have to sit around in the vegetable oil for a few minutes to cook and while they do that, they of course soak up awful amounts of oil that no amount of paper towel patting will remove. Now, enter higher temperature oils, like canola, saffron and sunflower. These oils have temperature ranges much higher, closer to about 450+, which is perfect for your fries and little shrimp pops and yes, even your deep fried chocolate bars (even I think that’s gross and I looooove Snickers muffins). Most foods will cook within about 30 seconds in oil that’s 450 or 500 degrees. I’m not saying that your canola oil onion rings are going to be totally free from any oil at all, but I am saying that the amount absorbed is negligible and that’s before you’re patted them down with a paper towel! Sidebar, don’t mess around with weird and likely dangerous ways to guess your oil’s temperature. Just use a candy thermometer and know for sure! Second sidebar, make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher when you’re cooking with oil. I know we’ve all used oil hundreds of times with no issue, but a grease fire is unpredictably dangerous and not something to mess around with at all. Also, from experience, keep the fire extinguisher just outside of the range of fire from the stove and not right beside it. ‘Quick, jump through the flames to get to the fire extinguisher!’

I’m still not especially fond of most green foods, but I know better and actually eat them now.