Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chocolate Lover's Bundt Cake

The little man had a daycare picnic this week, and we were supposed to bring a dessert. Which was convenient, because if there's anything the little man loves, it's dessert.

This tried-and-true Betty Crocker recipe is perfect for picnics because it travels well, doesn't need to be refrigerated, and sure is purty. It's a cinch to make -- just to be sure to grease that ol' Bundt pan very well, and get in all the nooks and crannies.

Chocolate Lover's Bundt Cake
Serves 16

1 pkg. butter-recipe chocolate cake mix
1/2 c. chocolate milk
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
3 eggs
16 oz. sour cream
1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding mix
2 c. chocolate chips

3/4 c. chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

I read a tip once about how if you're making a chocolate cake, you can grease and flour the pan using cocoa instead of flour, to avoid any unsightly flour streaks on the lovely, brown surface of your cake. I tried this. Cocoa just doesn't seem to sweep around the pan like flour does, so I gave up and switched to flour. Just thought I'd mention that. Carry on.

2. Combine cake mix, chocolate milk, butter, eggs, sour cream, and pudding mix.

Although you can use a mixer for this task, it's just as easy to grab a whisk and stir everything together. That allows you to multitask and talk on the phone while baking your cake. Note that this sequence of events does not, however, allow you to photograph the cake-mixing process. My apologies.

3. Stir in chocolate chips, and spoon batter evenly into Bundt pan.

4. Bake cake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the trusty toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then invert the pan onto a cooling rack or serving plate, and remove cake from pan. Cool for 2 hours.

5. To make glaze, heat chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until mixture is smooth, and then pour over the cake.
Feel free to store this baby, covered, at room temperature. And while it's heavenly when it's all nice and warm, it's even better the next day!

Giveaway winner

According to, the winner of the $40 gift card is ... #10, Faith! Congratulations, and thanks to those who entered!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fun product reviews, and CSN Stores giveaway!

I recently had the opportunity to review a few products, thanks to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program.

Marx Foods Palm Leaf Plates
First, and by far my favorite, was the Marx Foods Palm Leaf Plates.

The plates produced by this friendly (and earth-friendly) company are made of naturally discarded materials, and are both disposable and biodegradable. Note that I work for a company that used to supply disposable, biodegradable dishware in our kitchenettes, so I consider myself an expert on these typically second-rate disposable dishware options.

But these plates are fabulous. They're incredibly sturdy, so much so that I actually felt guilty disposing of them. And they have higher, rounded edges that really help keep food in its place. Even nachos.

Admittedly, they're a bit weird-looking. It almost looks like you're eating off balsa wood plates. But I highly recommend them for your next gathering. They're sturdy, unique, and definitely a conversation piece.

Eggo Real Fruit Pizza
I received an incredibly elaborate package one evening, complete with huge box, dry ice, and the works. Inside was ... two boxes of Eggo Real Fruit Pizza. (It probably would have been more cost-effective and environmentally friendly to issue a few coupons.) The pizzas come in two flavors: strawberry granola and mixed berry granola. And they can be either nuked in the microwave or baked in the oven. They look pretty healthy, with a whole-grain crust, and a yogurt, granola, and fruit topping. I'm sorry, dear Eggo people, but it didn't work for me. The prevailing flavor was the yogurt, and otherwise it was just kind of dry and chewy. (P.S. I still love your toaster waffles.)

Buitoni Premium Frozen Meals
We received a coupon to try one of the new varieties of Buitoni Premium Frozen Meals, from the folks who've been making refrigerated pastas and sauces for years. We tried the Braised Beef & Sausage Ravioli. The meal was incredibly simple to make, with both the pasta and sauce cooking in just minutes (perfect for a weeknight). The pasta was nice and thick and flavorful, although I wasn't terribly wild about the filling. The hubby thought his was quite good, though. We'll definitely try this again in another variety.

CSN Stores giveaway!
I was recently contacted by Jess from CSN Stores about sponsoring a giveaway for a $40 gift certificate toward anything from dining room furniture to children's toys and games on or any of its more than 200 sites.

What would you purchase with your $40? Perhaps some new Le Creuset?

A lunch bag or three to send the kiddies back to school in style?

Some stylin' new dishes for the pets?

TO ENTER: Simply leave a comment telling me what you would like to buy with your $40 gift certificate. The deadline is Friday, August 20. (Please include a name, as well; anonymous entries will not be counted. Yes, Mom, I'm talking to you.)

Please note that the giveaway is open only to residents of the U.S. or Canada, and that additional shipping charges or international fees might apply for Canadian addresses.

Happy shopping!