German Chocolate Cake

Lately I’ve been pretty excited for plums, peaches and nectarines. I wasn’t quite expecting to be baking a decadent chocolate cake in the middle of August, but life and family like to change plans. Anyway, I’m glad they do because I finally get to share here one of my all time favorite desserts.

German chocolate cake IS the birthday cake in my family as both my dad and I choose it almost every single year (oh, how my mother must have suffered). This year was my dad’s turn. And, since my parents were traveling the weekend before his birthday, the responsibility of said cake passed to me.

There really is no better way to make German chocolate cake than in the traditional layer cake fashion. My mom once tried to make it into a bundt cake. We soon realized the ratio of filling to cake was much too low. The three layers allow for optimum filling coverage. Not that I’ve studied the subject extensively or anything…

And although it’s traditional, this recipe has a bit of a twist in that it replaces the lighter, sweet chocolate cake with more of a decadent dark chocolate cake. This mixes nicely with the sweetness of the filling. I’ve tried different filling recipes, but keep coming back to a modified version of the classic.

    German Chocolate Cake

    makes one 8-inch 3 layer cake

  • Ingredients

  • cake layers
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached cake flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) strong, hot coffee
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups pure cane sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • filling
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 seven ounce package (about 2-2/3 cups) sweetened coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

  • Directions

  • make the cake layers

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter pans and dust with cocoa powder (instead of flour which leaves white splotches on the chocolate layers), shaking off the excess.

    In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate. Remove from heat and cool. Quicken this step by cooling chocolate in the refrigerator.

    In a medium bowl, sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together coffee and buttermilk.

    In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping sides of bowl down after each addition. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the coffee/buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a spatula, fold in the melted chocolate.

    Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Batter should fill pans about half to two-thirds of the way full. Smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer cakes to a wire cooling rack for 20-30 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and remove pans and parchment to let cool completely.

    make the filling

    In a large saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, evaporated milk and vanilla until well blended. Add sugars and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 12 minutes, until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat. Mix in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature.

    assemble the cake

    Trim tops of cakes to level out surface, if necessary. Place first cake layer on platter or cake stand. Spread one third of filling on top. Add second layer and spread another third of filling on top. Follow with final layer and top with remaining filling.

Posted in Cakes | Tagged , , , | 194 Comments

Blackberry & Marshmallow Semifreddo

BlackberrySemifreddo1 One of my favorite things about summer is blackberries. I visit the farmers’ market each Saturday to claim my share. I usually have to arrive early, due to short supply, and hurriedly seek out the blackberry growers first. Then I buy quarts and quarts for eating, baking and freezing (for when they are no longer available).

BlackberrySemifreddo2 A local custard joint, Andy’s, also has a seasonal dessert that includes blackberries. I can’t resist dropping by to get my vanilla custard concrete with blackberries and then I add marshmallow. I love this combination. And the blackberries are only available for a few weeks so I have to go every week to get my fill (I would never think about going twice a week…).

BlackberrySemifreddo3 I was really excited by this recipe for Blackberry Semifreddo because of the blackberries and the ice cream-like style. Semifreddo is a great dessert because you get the consistency of an ice cream without needing an ice cream maker. And because I can’t resist the combination, I added homemade marshmallow. This dessert is so refreshing and light for summer. And the blackberries shine through like you are eating them straight from the bush.

    Blackberry & Marshmallow Semifreddo

    semifreddo adapted from Gourmet
    makes 8 servings

  • Ingredients

  • marshmallow
  • 1 packet of gelatin (1/4 oz packet)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • semifreddo & sauce
  • 1 lb fresh blackberries
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled

  • Directions

  • make the marshmallow

    Put the gelatin in a small bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of cold water. Let the gelatin sit until it becomes spongy.

    In a small saucepan stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of corn syrup and 1⁄4 cup of water. Don’t begin heating, just set aside. In a medium bowl add the rest of the corn syrup. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, begin to whisk the syrup on low speed.

    Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. Stir the gelatin to ensure it is completely melted. Then slowly add the gelatin to the corn syrup mixture. Keep mixer on low speed.

    Begin to heat the sugar mixture on the stovetop on medium to high heat. Stir continuously. Use a candy thermometer to watch the temperature. When the thermometer reaches 235 degrees F, remove the saucepan from the heat.

    The corn syrup mixture will be thick by this time. Turn the mixer up to medium for one minute, and then slowly add the sugar mixture. Begin mixing on medium-high for 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt. Mix on high for one minute. The mixture will be very fluffy. Set the marshmallow aside.

    make the semifreddo and sauce

    Prepare a 5×9 loaf pan with parchment paper. Cut two pieces of parchment paper, each wide enough to cover the bottom of the pan and extended over the sides vertically and horizontally. Ultimately you will use the parchment paper to lift the semifreddo from the loaf pan. Alternatively, you could serve the semifreddo in individual dishes. In that case, no additional preparation of those dishes in necessary.

    Puree the blackberries in a food processor, blender or, my favorite, the Magic Bullet. Pour the puree into a mesh sieve and using the back of a spoon or ladle push it through the sieve, separating the juice from the seeds. Divide the juice evenly in two bowls.

    In one bowl, make the sauce by adding 2 tablespoons of sugar. Juice the lemon and stir in 1 teaspoon of juice. Cover and chill.

    In the second bowl of blackberry puree, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.

    In a small saucepan, add about an inch of water and heat to simmer.

    Using an electric mixer beat the eggs, salt and 1/3 cup of sugar on medium to high speed for 5 to 8 minutes. The mixture will turn a pale yellow and will double in size.

    Place the bowl over the simmering saucepan and insert a candy thermometer into the mixture. Beat with a handheld mixer or whisk vigorously until the thermometer reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from heat and chill mixture until it is cool. Softly, add in the blackberry puree. Mix until blended.

    Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Be careful not to over beat. Softly, fold the cream into the blackberry mixture. Once well combined, carefully add three to four spoonfuls of marshmallow to the mixture. You can add more or less marshmallow according to your preference. Stir just until the marshmallow is distributed fairly evenly.

    Pour the semifreddo into the prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer. It will be ready to serve in two hours. Serve within two days.

    When semifreddo is frozen (it will still be a bit soft) and you are ready to serve, run a butter knife between the loaf pan and the parchment paper to loosen the semifreddo. Using the edges of the parchment paper, lift the semifreddo from the pan and transfer to a plate to remove the parchment. Serve with the blackberry sauce on a platter cut in slices or on individual plates.

Posted in Ice Cream | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

Rhubarb Oat Muffins

I know for most people rhubarb season starts in the early spring. For me though, I just can’t think of rhubarb at any other time than right now. That’s because every year, around the middle of the summer, we head north up to my grandparent’s home where there’s always a fresh supply just-picked rhubarb and baked goods featuring the vibrant reddish green stalks.

In fact, my grandpa has quite the garden full of it. I am quite enamored with his rhubarb and his many other plants, the fresh raspberry jam is a whole other post…I guess that it makes sense for a retired farmer to have such a prolific garden. Anyway, one of my favorite times is to see him out in the garden, picking rhubarb and so naturally telling stories and chuckling.

So this recipe is one that comes from my grandma, from the abundance of rhubarb she’s faced with each year. I’ve tried to adapt it and improve upon it many, many times. So many, in fact, that I actually lost the original recipe. I’ve finally got the original back, and this time I modified it with oats and oat flour in a way that I’m definitely loving. Especially since baking with different flours has been on my mind lately after purchasing Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours.


    Rhubarb Oat Muffins

    adapted from my grandma
    makes approx. 20-22 muffins

  • Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups rhubarb (I prefer the redder kind), stalks chopped into about 3/4-inch segments
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • streusel topping
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • Directions

  • make the muffins

    Line two muffin pans with muffin liners, and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees F.

    In a medium bowl, mix together by hand brown sugar, oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, gently incorporating just enough until ingredients are combined together. Be careful not to over-mix. Then, add in rhubarb and the pecans.

    make the streusel topping

    In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. The topping should be slightly wet and form a coarse, slightly sticky meal. Adjust butter amount if needed.

    finish the muffins

    Pour the batter in lined muffin pans, filling each cup about 3/4ths full. Sprinkle the topping over each filled muffin pan. Place muffins in oven and immediately drop oven temperature to 400 degrees F (dropping the temperature like this will help with their rise since oat flour tends not to rise as well) . Bake at 400 degrees F for 11-13 min., or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once muffins have cooled slightly, remove them from the muffin tin and place them on a cooling rack.

Posted in Muffins | Tagged , , , | 41 Comments

Strawberry Chocolate Galette & a Giveaway

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I have a weakness for frozen custard. Although, this post is not one about making frozen custard (someday, I hope!). There’s a certain place in town called Andy’s that has a custard blended with chopped chocolate and strawberries that is one of my favorites. I quite love the combination because I am indecisive and it solves the problem of deciding between a fruit or chocolate dessert.

So, when I saw the fresh strawberries at the farmer’s market recently, I knew I had to make something with this flavor combination. I chose a galette honestly because it’s much less work than a pie. I’ve been making this particular recipe since last summer and have made a number of tweaks along the way. I do hope my friends aren’t getting sick of it by now. Something tells me they don’t mind. It’s funny that after I started making this again this year, as I was catching up on my blog reading I realized that I’m not the only one that thinks fruit, chocolate and galette really do make a good combination.

And on to the other part of this post, our very first giveaway! We’ve been meaning to do a giveaway for all you lovely readers for a while now, and we’ve finally got our act together. This give away comes from the fine folks at CSN stores. They’d love it if you’d visit their site that carries twin beds. In return for this mention, we get to giveaway this lovely Le Creuset Cherry baking dish (size 12″x9.5″) to one lucky reader. Why’d we choose this? Neither of us have this particular bakeware, but I own two Le Creuset pieces and absolutely love them.

1. Comment on this blog post
2. Get an extra entry by tweeting about this giveaway. Mention @sharedsugar in your tweet so we can be sure to count you.

You may enter until this Thursday, June 17th until 12pm CST. A winner will be chosen through We’ll post an update to this blog entry announcing the winner on Friday, June 18th by 12 pm CST. UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed.

And the winner is…Jean Jean Vintage! Thanks so much to everyone who entered.

    Strawberry Chocolate Galette

    pastry from adapted from Ina Garten
    makes approx. 6-8 servings
  • Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick very cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3-5 tablespoons ice water
  • raw sugar
  • ganache
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup) heavy cream
  • filling
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • egg wash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

  • Directions

  • make the pastry

    Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Place ingredients in the refrigerator to chill. Once chilled, remove ingredients from refrigerator and add butter. Quickly cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until butter chunks are about the size of peas. Slowly mix in the ice water, being careful not to overwork the dough. Form the dough into a ball, adding a little more water if the dough is too crumbly. Once a ball is formed, flatten it to a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. If desired, chill your rolling pin at this time as well.

    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough and place on a floured surface. Roll into approx. an 11-inch circle and transfer to the baking sheet.

    make the ganache

    Roughly chop chocolate and place in a bowl. In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil over medium heat. Remove cream from heat and pour over chocolate. Let stand for about 5 minutes and then stir with a whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Spread ganache on pastry, about 1 inch from the edge.

    make the filling

    In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch. Using a slotted spoon, pile strawberries into the center of the pastry. I avoid using the leftover juices because they can tend to run and make the crust soggy. Spread strawberries about a 1/2 to 1 inch from the edge of the chocolate ganache. Fold about 1 inch of edges of pastry around the filling, overlapping as needed.

    finish the pastry

    In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water. Using a pastry brush, apply egg wash to the surface of the pastry. Then, sprinkle raw sugar on the pastry crust.

    Bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden yellow. I love to serve the galette warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

Posted in Pies and Tarts | Tagged , , , , , , | 204 Comments

Toasted-Coconut Custard Tart

CoconutTart1 I can tell I am getting older (aside from the more obvious indications such as birthdays each year). There are all of those foods that I just could not and would not eat as a kid – tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, pecans and coconut. I’ve given many of these “grody” foods a second chance and things have changed. Although they aren’t always my food of choice, I have learned to love them paired with the right sidekick. So it goes with coconut and rum.

My mom is a fantastic baker. She loves making desserts for the family and we love eating them. She always makes all of our favorites but she rarely makes her favorites. So for Mother’s Day, she got to pick. I was up for making any dessert she wanted, after all, that was the least I could do. She said she loves pies. Well pies aren’t my favorite but I could make her a pie. Then she said she loves coconut cream pies…well I am not really a coconut kind of girl. In fact, I avoid any dessert with coconut. Maybe I could find a dessert in which I could do half coconut, half no-coconut, like pizza. No dice. So I decided to go for it; coconut all the way.


I found this recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Honestly, everything I have made from this cookbook has been quite delicious. And secretly, this tart recipe inspired me because I have a new tart pan and have been waiting for the right recipe break it out, so I gave the recipe a whirl.


Dorie did it again. This recipe turned out beautifully and very delectable, even with the coconut. The tart dough is a bit crunchy and slightly sweet. The custard is smooth and creamy. The coconut and rum pair like a couple dancing on the ballroom floor, back in forth with flavor. Then the whipped cream tops it off with another little punch of vanilla rum causing you to crave the next bite. The rum is strong but all of the other ingredients look it right in the eye. I was sold and so were the other non-coconut lovers at Mother’s Day and most importantly my mom loved it. So if I didn’t know then, I know now to listen to my mother, she is usually right.

    Toasted Coconut Custard Tart

    adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
    serves 8-10

  • Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons cold butter, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • custard
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
  • topping
  • 1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • shredded sweetened coconut, lightly toasted to top it off

  • Directions

  • make the crust

    Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Then line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment.

    Mix the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the pieces of butter and pulse the ingredients using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. The flour should combine with the butter and begin forming small balls. In a bowl break up the egg yolk then add it in increments, mixing in pulses after each addition. Keep pulsing for 10 second each until the ingredients begin to mix. Mix until the ingredients could be formed into a ball of dough. Don’t over mix.

    Using a floured surface, carefully knead the dough just enough to get all of the extra dry ingredients combined. Evenly, lightly press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Reserve a small amount of the dough to repair cracks in the crust after baking. Freeze the crust for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the extra dough. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and press the buttered side down against the crust. Bake on a baking sheet for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and press down the crust. Fill any cracks or thin spots with the extra dough. Bake for 8 more minutes until the crust is lightly brown. Let cool. Cover until ready to use.

    make the custard

    Bring the milk to a soft boil. In a large saucepan whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt until well combined. While constantly whisking, pour 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture. Continuing to whisk, slowly pour the remaining milk into the eggs. While still whisking, heat the mixture over medium heat until it begins to boil; let boil for up to 2 minutes, until it thickens. Mix in the rum and vanilla. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add the bits of butter. This should make the custard very smooth. Stir in the toasted coconut. Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the custard and cool in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. You can also store the custard overnight until ready to use.

    make the topping

    With a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Add the powdered sugar and mix until firm peaks are formed, but be careful not to over mix. Fold in the rum and vanilla. If you like a lighter rum flavor, I would omit it from the whipped topping.

    To put it all together, lightly whisk the cooled custard and pour it into the crust. Spoon the whipped cream all over the tart and spread evenly to the edges. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top of the whipped cream.

Posted in Pies and Tarts | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments

Mascarpone Swirled Brownies

The first year we were married, Food & Wine magazine mysteriously showed up at our house without us signing up or paying for a subscription. Maybe it was an anonymous wedding gift or a newlywed promotion, I’m not sure. It’s funny to think we got a food centric magazine back then, because at the time I hardly knew anything about cooking beyond how to throw a Bertolli dinner in a skillet. I remember looking through the recipes in the Food & Wine, thinking they looked about as easy a calculus problem.

After our mysterious subscription expired, I was decluttering and decided to pitch the magazines as I had little use for them. However, considering I have a serious sweet tooth, I just couldn’t part with some of the dessert recipes. And, I’m really glad I had such great sense at the time.

The other night I was looking through our recipe binder and came across one of the saved Food & Wine recipes. It’s funny because upon a second look, this recipe is really not difficult at all. These mascarpone brownies are like a classed up version of the traditional cream cheese brownies. They’re simple, but a little more unique.


    Mascarpone Swirled Brownies

    from Food & Wine Magazine
    makes 9 brownies

  • Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups pure cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese

  • Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a saucepan over low heat, melt semisweet and unsweetened chocolate with butter. Once melted, remove from heat, and whisk in 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture until batter is smooth.

    In a separate bowl, whisk the mascarpone cheese with the egg yolk and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking pan. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture on top. Then add the other half of the brownie batter. Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture on top. With a knife, swirl the batter together a few times to acheive a marbled effect.

    Bake brownies for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Brownies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Posted in Brownies and Bars | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments
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