Add Flair to Halloween Cakes by Starting with Cocoa

Digging around in my stack of ancient cookbooks, I ran across the  Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook. It includes a couple of great Halloween-named cakes — Devil’s Food and Black Magic cake. But before we get into the recipes, I thought it would be nice to share the substitution guidelines Hershey included in this 1979 cookbook.

For baking chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon shortening or oil equals 1 square (1 ounce) baking chocolate.

For pre-melted unsweetened chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon oil or melted shortening equals 1 envelope (1 ounce) pre-melted unsweetened chocolate.

For semi-sweet chocolate: 6 tablespoons cocoa plus 7 tablespoons sugar plus 1/4 cup shortening equals one 6-ounce package (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips or 6 squares semi-sweet chocolate.

For sweet cooking chocolate: 4 tablespoons cocoa plus 4 2/3 tablespoons sugar plus 2 2/3 tablespoons shortening equals one 4-ounce bar of sweet cooking chocolate.

Why all the fuss about cocoa? It is convenient because you can store it almost indefinitely in the pantry, even after the can has been opened. Also, you can spoon it directly into the mix of your recipe without pre-melting, which saves time and clean-up. Cocoa is also less expensive for cooking, so it’s a money saver.

Devil’s Food Cake

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1/2 cup boiling water

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Combine four, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with buttermilk to create a creamed mixture. Add boiling water and beat until smooth. Pour batter into wax paper-lined 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until done. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan and remove waxed paper. Cool completely before frosting.

(To make sour milk, use 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar plus milk to equal 1/2 cup. This is a fine substitute for buttermilk in most recipes.)

Hersheys recommends frosting your Devil’s Foood with Fluffy Vanilla frosting.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

1/2 cup butter or shortening

5 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 to 5 tablespoons milk

Cream butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining powdered sugar alternately with milk, beating to a spreading consistency. Makes 3 cups of frosting.

Black Magic Cake

1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup strong coffee

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl then add remaining ingredients. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely, then frost.


Cooking with Campbell’s makes Dinner Easier

I think every cook in America probably has a few favorite dishes that have a can or 2 of Campbells soup in them. I certainly do. So I was very pleased the other day when I bought a handful of old cookbooks at a garage sale and the garage owner threw in a couple of little cooking booklets. One is from Campbells.

So I opened it up to see what treasures might be inside. Mind you, I’ve been to the Campbell’s website and even tried a few dishes from there and have been somewhat disappointed. The recipes tend to turn out a bit bland for me and I wind up adding spices before serving them.

However, I found a couple in this booklet that sound delicious!

This first recipe is from Christina Hurt of Ada, Oklahoma. That caught my eye because I’m in Oklahoma. This recipe won the second annual 20 minute recipe challenge grand prize! Way to go Christina!

Paprika Chicken with Sour Cream Gravy

1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken or 98% fat free Cream of Chicken soup

1/4 cup sliced green onions

8 ounces sour cream

Mix flour and seasonings. Coat chicken with flour mixture.

Melt butter in skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned. Add soup and onions. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes or until done. Stir in sour cream. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice if desired. Serves 4.

Hearty Lasagna Soup

This recipe also looked delicious, but a little bland, so I’ve upped the spices a bit.

1 pound ground beef

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 14-ounce cans beef broth with onion

1/2 white or yellow onion, diced

14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed

1 1/2 cups uncooked mafalda or corkscrew pasta

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef in skillet and pour off fat. Add broth, tomatoes, onions and seasonings and heat to a boil. Stir in pasta. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Stir in cheese. Use additional cheese if desired. Serves 4.


44 Uses for WD-40

I received an interesting e-mail the other day and decided to share it. It’s all about WD-40 and its many uses! We mostly use WD-40 to unstick things that are stuck or to make something stop squeaking. But it is good for so many other things.
According to the e-mail I received, WD-40 stands for Water Displacement #40 and was the results of research into a rust preventative, degreaser and solvent for rocket parts in in the 1950s at San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. The winning formula was the fortieth try, thus WD-40.
44 Uses for WD-40
1. Protects silver from tarnishing. 
2. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
3. Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
4. Gives floors that ‘just-waxed’ sheen without making them slippery.
5. Keeps flies off cows.
6. Restores and cleans chalkboards.
7. Removes lipstick stains.
8. Loosens stubborn zippers.
9. Untangles jewelry chains.
10. Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11. Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12. Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13. Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14. Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15. Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.
16. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17. Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes.
18. Removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor! Remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
19. Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly! Use WD-40!
20. Gives playground gym slides a shine for a super fast slide.
21. Lubricates gearshift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.
22. Rids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.
23. Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows making them easier to open.
24. Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25. Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.
26. Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
29. Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.
30. Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31. Removes splattered grease on stove.
32. Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.
33. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34. Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35. Removes all traces of duct tape.
36. Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain and stiffness.
37. Florida ‘s favorite use is ‘cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers.’
38. The favorite use in the state of New York, WD-40 protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
39. WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a little on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time. It’s a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants that are made for just that purpose. Keep in mind though, using chemical laced baits or lures for fishing is not allowed in some states.
40. Use it for fire ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41. WD-40 is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag.
42. Spray any lipstick stains on clothes with WD-40 and wash. It will remove even lipstick that has been washed and dried into the clothing.
43. If you spray WD-40 on the distributor cap, it will displace the moisture and allow the car to start.
44. Removes the glue under labels on jars.
Did you ever wonder what’s in WD-40? The main ingredient is fish oil.