Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another successful cake baked!

This last weekend was my husband's birthday. I asked him what type of cake he would like, and he mentioned a German Chocolate cake. My immediate response was no way...pick again. His second choice was a coconut cake. That was a little better.

If you've been following my blog, you know that I'm a "from scratch" baker when it comes to fancy desserts. It's really one of the only ways to bake when you are trying to avoid processed foods and have to cook for a peanut allergy.

After doing some recipe research online, and remembering that I had successfully pulled off the chocolate marble cheesecake he requested last year, I re-considered the German Chocolate cake.  Especially since I found this great recipe that started with a boxed German Chocolate cake mix.  Yes, I was willing to "cheat" just a little, especially this time of year when I'm on over-load.  Well, the problem was, that I couldn't find a German Chocolate cake mix that I was willing to purchase given the list of ingredients.  I did find a Dr. Oetker** organic vanilla cake mix, and after comparing the ingredients thought I'd take a chance.  I also purchased Baker's German Sweet Chocolate bar (unfortunately, no other organic or peanut risk free option in site) to turn my vanilla cake to chocolate.

I mixed the box mix with the buttermilk, oil & eggs per the recipe I found on Barbara Bakes and then had to figure out how to add the chocolate.  The recipe that came with the chocolate instructed to melt the chocolate in the microwave with 1/2 cup of water.  No sooner did I do that when I realized that I just added an extra 1/2 cup of liquid to the recipe.  Already committed, I poured very thin cake batter into my pans and held my breath as I watched my cake layers in the oven through the glass. The cake layers turned out beautifully, but how would they taste?

I did use pecans in the frosting.  Abigail does not have a tree nut allergy, but given the high risk of cross-contamination, the peanut clinical trial guidelines require that tree nuts be removed from the participants diet.  My parents have several large pecan trees in their backyard.  We've talked to our doctor at Duke, and because there is no risk of cross-contamination, Abigail is allowed to eat pecans from their trees.

Here's how the cake turned out.

And how did it taste?  Incredible.  It's the most moist chocolate cake I've had in a really long time!  Yeah, another successful cake baked!  Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband!

**Just a note about the Dr. Oetker cake mix.  There was no allergen cautionary label on the box, and I haven't been able to find any information on their website.  In hindsight, I shouldn't have allowed Abigail to eat a piece until I knew for certain. It's a Canadian company, and they're usually really good about labeling. I'll contact them and find out.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Girl Scout Cookie Rally

Can you believe it's almost that time again?  Abigail is attending a Girl Scout Cookie Rally this morning where the girls will play games, do a craft and sample cookies all for the purpose of getting excited about selling them.  So, here I am, early this morning looking up the ingredients of each of the cookies to see which ones she can sample and which ones she'll have to skip.

There are two cookie manufacturers that provide cookies for the Girl Scouts.  In our region, it's Little Brownie Bakers.  Other areas of the country get cookies from ABC Bakers.  Both have excellent allergen labeling policies.  If you are concerned about peanut/tree nut ingredients and the risk of cross-contamination, you'll need to know which bakery supplies your cookies and/or double check the labeling on the box.  At Little Brownie Bakeries, the Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils and the Thank U BerryMuch cookies are safe for peanuts and tree nuts.  The Dulce de Leche and the new Savannah Smiles may contain traces of tree nuts, and of course, the Tagalongs and the Do-si-dos are not safe for either.  It looks like ABC Bakers has just 3 cookies that are safe which are Thin Mints, Thanks-a-Lot and the Lemonades.  That's a bummer!  At least the Thin Mints are safe!

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of my daughter selling Girl Scout cookies.  However, I do love her being a part of the organization, and we've found a really great Brownie troop in the new area where we live.  I was pleased to find out that her new troop is selling cookies to raise money to go on a mother/daughter trip when they're in 5th grade.  That gives them 4 years (the other girls started working towards it last year) to raise the money to spend a long weekend in Savannah, the birthplace of Girl Scouts.  So, I'll be out there in the cold with Abigail the first of January while she rings doorbells asking if anyone wants to buy Girl Scout cookies.  And, I'll even buy a box...or two.