Easy Black Forest Cake

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 (8-inch) round cake pans, and dust with cocoa. Set aside.

Step 2

Beat cake mix and next 7 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute; beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Fold in chopped chocolate. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Step 3

Bake at 350° for 30 to 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and chill cake layers at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Step 4

Using a serrated knife, slice cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on cake plate. Place 1/3 cup of the frosting in a piping bag; pipe a ring of frosting around the edge of the first cake layer to create a border. Spread one-third of cheesecake filling over cake inside frosting ring; top with one-third of cherry pie filling. Repeat procedure twice with frosting borders, remaining cheesecake filling, and cherry filling. Place final cake layer on top of cake; cut side down. Spread remaining chocolate fudge frosting on top and sides of cake. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish, if desired. Store in refrigerator.

Step 5

Test Kitchen Tip: We tested this recipe with Philadelphia ready-to-eat cheesecake filling. You’ll find it in the dairy case with cream cheese products. 

Five Reasons Why We Love Chocolate

Five Reasons Why We Love Chocolate

It’s one of the most popular sweets of all time. Women crave it, men hoard it, and Aztec kings were said to have been the first to eat it. But why do we love chocolate so much? Following are just a few reasons why chocolate is so popular and why you shouldn’t give it up completely, even if you’re on a diet!

It melts in your mouth – Chocolate contains fat that’s no surprise. The cocoa butter in chocolate gives it a rich, creamy consistency that also transmits the cocoa’s flavor perfectly. It also has a melting point that’s just a bit lower than the average human body temperature, which gives you that melt-in-your-mouth feeling every time you pop a piece of chocolate in your mouth. Chocolate lovers often describe this melting feeling as a true moment of ecstasy.

Just the right chemistry – According to a study done at the University of Michigan in the United States, chocolate contains chemicals called opioids. Opioids are also found in opium, and they serve to dull pain and give a feeling of well-being to people who ingest them. According to the study, people who eat chocolate produce natural opiates in their brains that soothe their nerves and make them feel good. When the receptors that detected opioids were blocked, that chocolate craving was lessened.

Chocolate also naturally contains “uppers” like caffeine, sugars, and phenylthalymine, which will make your heart pound a little harder, your breathing come a bit more quickly, and give you a feeling of alertness. The effect is not dramatic enough to be uncomfortable in most people; it’s mild enough to produce a pleasant “high,” which is often equated to the feeling of being in love.

Chocolate equals love – Speaking of love, the association might not be completely physiological. Women crave chocolate more often than men do. Women are also habitually given chocolate as birthday and Valentine’s Day presents. In our culture, chocolate is thought of as a romantic gift. It’s outside the realm of mundane, day-to-day food, reserved for special occasions’ and, for women especially, it’s associated with love and romance. That could be another reason why women particularly love chocolate: deep down, it makes them feel loved, cared for, and pampered.

It really is good for you – Recent studies suggest that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains chemicals that lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. Flavanoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to make a difference in cardiovascular health. Until recently, tea was considered the main source for these chemicals. Now, scientists recommend that you have a chocolate cookie or biscuit with your tea so your body gets more of those life-lengthening chemicals. Don’t have milk with your dark chocolate, however, the same studies show that milk can cancel out the healthful effects of eating chocolate by preventing those helpful chemicals from being fully absorbed in the body.

Chocolate does contain fats and sugars that you shouldn’t eat a great deal of, but as long as you eat it in moderation, the science suggests you can add as much as a year to your life.

It’s great for your sex life – Ever since the time of the Aztecs, people have believed that chocolate has aphrodisiac properties. But there may be some deeper truth to those old legends. Recent studies have shown that women who eat a little bit of chocolate a day have significantly more sex than women who don’t. This could be because of those brain-soothing chemicals that are found in chocolate, and that chocolate encourages the brain to release more of as it’s eaten. Chocolate just makes us feel good, which is a key ingredient for a healthy sex life.

But there are more creative ways to use chocolate in the bedroom besides just eating it. Adventurous and playful couples have incorporated it in the bedroom for years. For a sensual treat, make a chocolate fondue and feed your loved one strawberries dipped in the sweet sauce. Give your spouse fine chocolates for no reason, they’re sure to show their appreciation later. If you’re not afraid to get a little messy, use chocolate flavoured body lotions and lubricants’ you can always share a shower to clean off afterwards!

It’s important to remember not to overindulge in chocolate. It does contain high amounts of saturated fats and sugars that can cause health damage and obesity if you take in too much. However, when eaten in moderate quantities, chocolate truly can be a miracle food. Even better, it tastes wonderful, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like some kind of chocolate, whether it’s white, dark, or milk, Hershey or Belgian. So the next time you have to give up something for Lent or take up a new diet, think twice before giving up chocolate. It not only tastes good, its health benefits give you a great excuse to keep on enjoying it.

We Love Cake

We love cake

I love making (and eating!) cakes. I’ve always loved them and the reason for this is not just because they taste great (although they do). It’s because I love seeing that greedy look that comes into people’s eyes when they spy a luscious chocolate cake. I love the way so many people feebly protest that they simply shouldn’t before digging into a slice of cake, licking their plate clean and then asking for seconds.

I also love the way that cakes are a treat. I love that they are special; that people celebrate with cakes; that people use cakes (especially cupcakes) as a pick-me-up when they are feeling down; and that turning up at someone’s house with a cake makes you especially welcome.
I suppose a lot of this goes towards explaining why I set up a cupcake and sweet treats stall at Dingle’s Farmers’ Market, where I make cupcakes like this:

As a result, I’m delighted with the current fashion for baking. I’ve been tuning in to Lorraine Pascale’s ‘Baking Made Easy’ on BBC1 (where she truly does make baking cakes, bread and tarts seem simple). I’ve tried her lemon cream millefeuilles which were delicious.

So, you can imagine how delighted I was to receive an advance copy of ‘Bake and Decorate’ by Fiona Cairns in the post. What a perfect cookbook for me!

Like Lorraine’s TV show, this book aims to show even the most inexperienced of bakers how to create delicious tasting and wonderful looking cakes. From fruitcakes to chocolate chilli cupcakes, Fiona shares techiques and tricks to make it all seem easy.

I’d never heard of Fiona Cairns before and immediately wanted to know who she was. This is her first cookbook but she is a very experienced baker. Her company produces 750,000 (!) cakes a year for the likes of Waitrose, Liberty, the Ritz Hotel, Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason in the UK. She has also been commissioned to make cakes for Bono, Sinéad O’Connor and Paul McCartney. Ooh er!

So, is her cookbook any good? My first impressions are positive and I love the girly cover. I’m also taken by her introduction where she talks about the comfort, pleasure and luxury of baking; how cakes are not essential but are vital for our souls. (She sounds like a woman after my own heart.)

She also brings back some of my first memories in the kitchen; memories of helping my mother bake cakes, hoping I’d get to lick the batter off the wooden spoon. In a family of seven children, this was a hotly-contested treat!

Fiona aims to bring pleasures like this back to our lives. She wants to make baking and decorating cakes as enjoyable as the eating of them and she encourages even the least confident among us to give it a try.

You can start with something simple, like a Victoria sponge or a no-cook chocolate tiffin. Follow the instructions carefully (baking is a precise science) and you’ll soon discover that you can do it.

You can then move on to more elaborate creations. There’s a range of chocolate cakes (because you simply can’t have enough chocolate cake recipes!) including a dark chocolate mousse cake and this wonderful flourless chocolate hazelnut cake:

There are other tempting treats too such as white chocolate and cardamom rosewater sponge, sticky ginger cake with lime buttercream, lemony crunch cake, fruit cakes, pistachio and orange blossom cake and so much more.

There are also cupcakes. I’m eager to try the sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel buttercream and the mint chocolate cupcakes.

And that’s not all. There are also recipes for macaroons, meringues, biscuits and shortbread.

The first half of the book is devoted to baking while the second gives you tips on decorating. This includes everything from how to apply fondant smoothly and how to make crystallised flowers and leaves to how to use gold leaf and lots of ideas for using nuts, flowers, sweets and ribbons.

At several stages in the book, Fiona shares tips and advice. She recommends using golden caster sugar instead of white for flavour (something I always do in my own cupcakes). She says that you should always use ingredients and equipment that is warm or at least at room temperature. And she even gives advice on saving the inevitable disasters.

I’ve earmarkeed several pages in this book already but first on my list are the sticky toffee and salted caramel cupcakes followed by the chocolate mousse cake. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

12 Reasons To Love Chocolate Cake

12 Reasons To Love Chocolate Cake

There are many great cakes baked in the world today. There’s Norway’s beloved National Cake, named the World’s Best Cake by the Norwegians (of course). There’s the colorful Funfetti classic that graces so many of our birthdays. And, the burnt almond torte that makes Pittsburgh one of our favorite cities in America. We love all of these cakes, partly because the more cakes in existence the better place the world will be, but mainly because they taste good.

But no matter how much we love these cakes, at the end of the day all we really want is chocolate. Chocolate cake comes in many shapes, sizes and textures — and we adore them all. Scratch that, we’re obsessed with them all.

And we know we’re not alone. It’s why there is a food holiday dedicated to this single cake — January 27th, in case you want to celebrate with a chocolate cake, which you obviously should. And it’s why we wrote this food a love letter today (and not one for our spouses). Here it goes.

DEAR CHOCOLATE CAKE, we love you.

  1. Delicious
  2. Help us feel better
  3. Moist
  4. Double chocolate
  5. Bundt cake
  6. Chocolate mousse cake
  7. One year old birthday’s are never the same
  8. Black forest cake
  9. Double dutch chocolate cake
  10. Anniversaries… of course
  11. Triple layer cake
  12. Deep and delicous??? Sure why not?