I grew up in a ‘homemade house’. In large part because we were poor, but also because I was born into a rural heritage of ‘make it do or do without’. My mom sewed most of my clothes, something I didn’t mind when I was smaller, but by high school it was definitely not as cool as Jordache or Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (with the comb stuck in the back pocket, of course!), so I resorted to selecting patterns from Evan-Picone (I’ll bet my mom still has a pattern like this in her vast collection). Although you might not guess we were poor when you considered our menu (broiled lamb chops for Sunday breakfast, anyone?), it was because we grew most of our food and it was abundant. So I came to think that anything ‘store-bought’ or that came in a box was inherently better, sweeter with the magic aura of rarity. I didn’t recognize it was actually the high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. This is also why I am not insulted when the Tartlets ask for store-bought birthday cakes. I understand why they’re ‘better’.
I don’t actually remember many sweet treats from my childhood, although I’m sure they were plentiful. I remember each year ordering large tins (like 20 lb or something) of frozen cherries from Agway and how, when I was sent to get some meat or vegetables from the basement freezer, I would sneak them, one at time, from the tin and let it slowly thaw in my mouth but chewing it up quickly before I got to the top of the stairs. No one would ever know! (Why do kids believe that?!) I remember when my mom started taking cake decorating classes and we ate pretty cakes. I remember ice cream — homemade, from Brownlee’s stand, or Wiencek’s Dairy Bar (dipped in chocolate or cherry). But, with a look at that tag cloud, are you surprised that one of my favorites was the Pillsbury Chocolate Macaroon Bundt cake mix, with it’s separate packages for cake, filling, and frosting? I mean . . . chocolate. cake. Says it all, right? Pillsbury discontinued their Bundt mixes many years ago but, if you are willing to pay for the memory, Nordic Ware offers a gourmet cake mix line at $11/box. I decided to play with making my own.
My first attempt, pictured above, was with a finely shredded coconut and for the center I first beat two egg whites to a stiff peak, added some sugar and almond extract, and folded in the coconut. While it yielded the picture-perfect tunnel, my coconut was freezer burnt (BLECH!) and the texture was far too dry and flaky. The second time I switched methods and used sweetened condensed milk with a couple of egg whites (not beaten) and the extract and coconut. While the second attempt gave a very good texture and taste, it did not form the pretty tunnel. I actually plan to experiment with this a third time.
Chocolate Macaroon Cake
1 box dark chocolate cake mix
1 small pkg instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
1 1/4 c. water
1/3 c. oil
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. coconut
2 egg whites
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 t. almond extract
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 t. almond or vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour Bundt or other tube pan and set aside.
Beat together cake ingredients for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and thick, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Spread 1/3 of the cake batter into the prepared pan.
Stir together filling until well mixed. Carefully spoon the filling on top of the cake batter, keeping it away from the edges and center of the pan. Spread the remaining batter over the filling.
Bake for 35-45 min or until done. Cool for 10 minutes then invert on rack and cool completely.
Stir together frosting ingredients, adjusting consistency with milk or sugar. Drizzle over cake.