Easy Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Ganache | Pinky's Pantry
Chocolate Ganache is used as a filling, a frosting, or a glaze for cakes and pastries. It’s very easy to prepare. This recipe is wonderful made with a good quality chocolate like Scharffenberger chocolate, but it’s just as good made with chocolate chips.

Make sure the chopping board, bowl, and utensils you use are completely dry because water will cause the chocolate to seize when it’s melted. Also when working with ganache, bear in mind that while it’s warm, it’s liquid and pourable, but it thickens and firms as it cools. If you need to soften it, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and stir.

EASY CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 8 ozs. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (optional)
  1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, heat cream and butter until it just comes to a simmer.
  3. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for a couple of minutes.
  4. Slowly stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Don’t whisk vigorously. You don’t want to whip air into it.

NOTE:

  • This recipe makes enough ganache to cover one 9-inch cake.
  • The ganache may be made up to 1 week ahead. Refrigerate in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before using.

Pumpkin Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Squares | Pinky's Pantry
Fall is pumpkin season. It’s the time when pumpkin farms do a booming business as people flock to them to pick out the pumpkins they want to carve into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween or put on display on their fall table centerpieces. But pumpkins don’t just make great decorations. They’re wonderful for eating, too!

Pumpkins make delicious soups, side dishes, and desserts. I mean what would Thanks-giving be without pumpkin pie? Well, this is an old recipe for the yummiest pumpkin cake you’ll ever bite into! Iced with cream cheese frosting and cut into squares, it’s a family favorite that’s ideal for taking to potlucks and office parties, too. It’s moist and delicious and my cream cheese frosting is the perfect showcase for the rich, not-too-sweet cake underneath it.

PUMPKIN SQUARES

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can (15-oz.) pumpkin
  • 1⅔ cups sugar
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and oil.
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat till well combined.
  5. Stir in chopped nuts, if desired.
  6. Spread batter in an ungreased 9×13-inch baking pan.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting | Pinky's Pantry
I love cream cheese frosting. It’s one of my all-time favorite frostings. The way the tanginess of the cream cheese blends with the sweetness of the powdered sugar is absolutely delicious. Cream cheese frosting is most commonly used to ice carrot cakes, red velvet cakes, and pumpkin bars, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use it on a chocolate cake or some other kind of dessert. I actually have a really yummy pineapple cake recipe that calls for cream cheese frosting.

If your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature, whipping up a smooth and lump-free frosting is a piece of cake (pun intended). If your cream cheese is still cold, you can unwrap it, place it in your mixing bowl, microwave it for 30 seconds, stop the microwave to check how warm it is, then microwave another 30 seconds if necessary. Don’t microwave cream cheese too long because it can burn. Ask me how I know. And I wouldn’t recommend microwaving the butter to soften it. It melts just too darn fast. Ask me how I know that, too.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together.
  2. Gradually beat in powdered sugar.
  3. Continue beating until smooth and fluffy.

Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberry Cream Cake | Pinky's PantryIt’s Bashful’s birthday today. She’s turning 23. Where did the years go? It’s so true that time flies faster the older you get. Like her namesake, Bashful is shy and sweet and kind-hearted. Been that way since she was a little girl. She spoke just fine at home, but hardly said two words outside. Without fail, every new teacher she had would call me at the beginning of each school year to ask if things were alright at home because she never said a word in class. I would have to explain that that was just her way but if they called on her to answer, she would, even if she hadn’t raised her hand. She answered in this tiny little soft-spoken voice, but she answered. She’s all grown up now but when I look at her, I still see that quiet little girl who always stood to one side silently watching the world with big, solemn eyes and a shy smile.

This morning I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday and of course, she asked for her favorite Strawberry Cream Cake. Its always been her favorite and that hasn’t changed over the years. I’m not surprised. This cake is so fabulously good. I make a moist vanilla cake for the base, use sliced fresh strawberries in the filling, and cover it up with a fluffy whipped cream frosting. It’s Yummy with a capital Y!
Strawberry Cream Cake | Pinky's Pantry

STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE

Vanilla Cake:

  • 3 cups all­ purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Spray three 9-­inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper, then spray the paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  4. Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until creamy.
  5. Slowly pour in the sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping periodically to scrape down the bowl as needed.
  7. Then add the vanilla, beating until well-combined.
  8. Reduce speed to low and add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions.
  9. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing tops with a spatula.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Place cake pans on a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  12. Invert cakes, peel off parchment paper, then re-invert so cakes are top side up.
  13. Cool completely before frosting. Trim tops off to make cakes level if desired.

Strawberry Filling:

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, or to taste
  1. Hull, wash, and slice strawberries.
  2. Toss in a bowl with sugar and set aside until ready to use.

Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar, add more or less as desired
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla, optional
  1. Place mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Place whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter or less if you want it less sweet.
  3. Beat until stiff peaks form.

NOTE:

  • If you want really white frosting, omit the vanilla or use clear vanilla extract.
  • If you have cake strips, use them! They really help the cakes to rise up evenly with nice, level tops.

Mom’s Chocolate Icing

Chocolate Icing | Pinky's Pantry
This is my Mom’s chocolate frosting recipe and it’s the best one ever! It takes a little time to make because it’s cooked slowly over medium to low heat until it’s thickened to a spreadable consistency, but trust me, it’s well worth the wait. It’s rich and glossy and absolutely delicious.

Mom always said it was best to use a thick, heavy-bottom pan for this frosting so the milk wouldn’t burn easily. She always reached for her orange Le Creuset cast iron saucepan when she made it. I don’t have a cast iron saucepan so I just use a regular pot and keep stirring constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn. Alternatively, you could cook this over a double boiler.

MOM’S CHOCOLATE ICING

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  1. Using a wire whisk, mix together sugar, cocoa powder and evaporated milk in a small, heavy-bottom saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks with the whisk.
  4. When chocolate mixture just begins to boil, pour one-third of it into the bowl with the beaten egg yolks and mix well. This tempers the yolks which keeps them from turning into scrambled eggs.
  5. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan and combine with the rest of the chocolate mixture.
  6. Return to flame and add butter.
  7. Keep cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes back to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering, stirring till mixture reaches spreading consistency.
  9. Cool completely before frosting cake. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the frosting, or stir it constantly while it’s cooling to prevent a skin from forming on the top.

 

Mom’s Mocha Filling

Mocha Filling | Pinky's Pantry
This is the yummiest chocolate cake filling ever! It’s so good, you could eat it by the spoonful! And we do, believe me. Whenever I make this, I’m constantly swatting hands away while it’s cooling. The family can hardly wait for me to put it on the cake. I have to be vigilant and watch out for fingers sneaking into the pot to scoop out a little mouthful or I end up not having enough filling for my cake! It’s gotten so that now I always just make a double recipe so there’ll be some extra left over for the sneaky fingers to eat by the spoonful after I’ve filled the cake. Keeps everyone happy that way.

Mom always made this filling for her cookie monster chocolate cake, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use it to fill a yellow cake or white cake, or even sandwich it between two cookies! Ooh! The ideas are pouring in!

MOM’S MOCHA FILLING

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  1. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour and instant coffee using a wire whisk.
  2. Add the evaporated milk and butter, and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly to keep it from burning. Don’t be tempted to raise the fire to speed up the process. This burns fast so just take your time and stir slowly so your arm won’t feel like it’s going to fall off.
  3. Keep cooking until mixture begins to boil; then let boil for 3-5 minutes while stirring slowly and continuously with the wire whisk. This takes a little time so be patient.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the filling or stir it constantly while it’s cooling to prevent a skin from forming on the top.

Whipped Cream Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

Whipped Cream Cake | Pinky's PantryEver had one of those days when you had so much to do, but there were a million and one interruptions so you just couldn’t complete a thing? This was one of those days for me.  Every time I’d start on a project at work, someone would come up needing help with something so I had to set the project aside. When I would try to get that person’s request done, someone else would interrupt with a different request. Just when I thought I could finally get back to tackling my original project, you guessed it…… another interruption. By the time I got off work, I felt like I’d gotten nothing done all day even though I’d been running around like a chicken without a head!Whipped Cream Cake | Pinky's PantryWhen I arrived home, I decided to combat the feeling of being overwhelmed and unproductive by baking a cake because that’s just what I do. It’s comforting for me. So I pulled out my recipe box, rifled through my index cards, and found an old recipe for Whipped Cream Cake that I’ve had forever. I don’t even remember where I got this recipe from or when was the last time I made it. I decided to double the recipe and bake two cakes which turned out moist, tasty, and beautifully level! Just begging for frosting. So I whipped up a batch of Whipped Cream Frosting to go with the cake and tinted the frosting pink because I thought it would make it look cheerful and fun. Plus pink is my favorite color.Whipped Cream Cake | Pinky's Pantry

WHIPPED CREAM CAKE

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Sift and measure flour into a bowl.
  2. Stir in salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream until stiff.
  4. Drop in eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add sugar and vanilla and beat again.
  6. Add sifted ingredients little by little to mixture, beating well after each addition.
  7. Pour batter into greased 9-inch round cake pan.
  8. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

NOTE:  I should add that I wrapped my baking pans in cake strips which probably contributed to the reason why they rose so perfectly evenly without a domed center.Whipped Cream Cake | Pinky's Pantry

WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, add more or less as desired
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • food coloring, optional
  1. Place mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Place whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter or less if you want it less sweet.
  3. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. If you want to color your frosting, add food coloring in your choice of color, drop by drop until desired shade is reached.

FROSTING VARIATIONS: You can add 1/2 cup strawberry jam or puree, 1/2 cup raspberry jam or puree, 1/3 cup lemon curd, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (plus 1 or more tbsp. sugar), 2 tsp. instant coffee (plus 1 or more tbsp. sugar), etc.