Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dark Chocolate-Caramel Turtle Cake

There was two things I wanted to do yesterday - go to the gym and make a chocolate-caramel layered cake.   Usually those two things are never together on someone's agenda, they are pretty much the polar opposite of activities.  Most people avoid cake and go to the gym.  Or they avoid the gym and eat lots of cake.  I am not sure which type of person I am anymore.  I wisely decided to make the chocolate cake first, became really hungry, and ended up having chocolate cake for dinner.  D'oh!  After I inhaled a piece I realized at that point there was no way I was going to go the gym anymore. Oh well, there is always tomorrow... right?

So the moral of the story is, make this cake!  I was extremely pleased with how it turned out.  This cake has 4 layers a soft, moist devil's food cake with a creamy, smooth caramel filling.  The entire cake is topped off with a final layer of melted dark chocolate and delicious pecans.  The secret that makes this cake work is you whip chocolate pudding mix into the cake batter before you bake, and vanilla pudding mix into the caramel filling.  Cool Whip is also added to melted dark chocolate to give it a creamy, dreamy texture.

This is not something I regularly make, but every once in-awhile it is always a good idea to bake a cake.  Just go to the gym first!

*The orginal recipe can be found here.  Check out this recipe featured on Kitchen Daily here!


1 package of devil's food cake mix (2-layer size, for 9" pans)
1 package (3.9oz) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 12oz jar caramel sauce
1/2 cup skim milk, divided
1 package (3.4oz) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1 tub (8oz) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
10 oz dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup pecan pieces


First you need two 9" round pans to make the cake layers.  Preheat your oven per the mix's instructions.  Combine cake mix with one package of chocolate pudding mix.  Then add your wet ingredients, mix and bake all per the instructions on the box.  Remove from oven and let cool in pans for at least 10 minutes.  Then remove the two cakes from the pan and let cool for another 10-15 minutes on a wire rack.

In the meantime while the cake is cooking, combine the caramel sauce and 1/4 cup milk in mixing bowl; stir.  Next add the dry vanilla pudding mix and whisk for about 2 minutes. Gently stir in 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP which is about 1/2 of the tub. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until chilled. 

Caramel sauce
After adding vanilla pudding mix and cool whip
With a long serrated knife, cut cakes horizontally in half.  Stack on plate, with spreading 1/3 of the caramel mixture between each layer.  

Lastly, melt the dark chocolate on the stove top over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or in the microwave on high for 2 minutes while stirring occasionally till the chocolate begins to melt. Add 1/4 cup of milk to the chocolate.  Add COOL WHIP to the chocolate and combine evenly.  

Carefully spread the chocolate onto the top of the cake and all around the side of the cake.  It's okay if it is a little messy, perfection is not the key to this cake!  Finish by arranging the pecan pieces on the top!  Enjoy!

I made this cake with Jello-O sponsored ingredients.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sauteed Oyster Mushrooms

Have you ever seen a product/item at the grocery store and are intrigued, but have no idea what you would do with it?   That was me for many years every time I spied oyster mushrooms.  I really wanted to throw them in the cart but always stopped due to fear, anxiety and intimidation.  Seriously.  But there is something extremely unique and interesting about their coral-like stems and their funny shaped tops.  So when I recently stumbled on them at the farmers market, I immediately grabbed them before I could talk myself out of it. 

Are these easy to cook?  What do you do with them?  What flavors go with these fascinating and oddly shaped mushrooms?  After some experimenting, I quickly learned, yes, they are really easy to cook.  All you need to do is de-stem and clean, and they cook rather quickly.  Secondly, I recommend you use them in a simple saute for your first recipe.  When in doubt, I always turn to the tried and true winning combination of flavors of butter, garlic, white wine and parsley.  It can make anything delicious... trust me.  These flavors did not let me down and really allowed the flavor of the oyster mushrooms to come out.

Oyster mushrooms are mild in taste, yet almost have a sweetness to them. This delicious saute is simple and makes for an impressive side dish.  If you are a fan of mushrooms and looking to try something different give these a shot!   Perfect for wow'ing a loved one if I might say so :)

*the photographs show a half portion

6 oz oyster mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
2 tsp garlic, minced
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4-5 tsp parsley
4 tbsp white wine, dry, i.e. Chardonnay
1/4 tsp salt
freshly cracked pepper


In a large saute pan heat butter over medium high heat until melted.  Reduce heat to medium and add oyster mushrooms.  Saute for 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, white wine, parsley, salt and pepper.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes and then serve hot.  Enjoy!