When I was young I ate a lot of desserts - mostly pies and anything chocolate.
There are many great cooks in my family and holiday dinners were always a feast of delicious desserts. Grandma Donaldson made a treat we all called "rag bag pudding" - a steamed pudding served hot with a spicy hard sauce. It was very similar to the "figgy pudding" we all sing about at Christmas, except that Grandma's was made with raisins instead of figs. It was mixed, shaped into a ball, and then wrapped in cheese cloth (hence, the rag bag) and steamed for hours. The aroma would fill the house.
My mother is the pie lady. Her cherry pie and her special rich coconut cream pie are "to-die-for." And, as I told you in a previous column, every fall she makes concord grape pie that's so good no one can eat just one piece. Mama also makes the world's best ginger spice cookies.
When I grew up and started cooking for my own family, I quickly realized that baking was a lot more fun than cooking. I mastered pecan pie and apple pie, then I found a special pumpkin pie recipe that gets rave reviews even from people who think they don't like pumpkin pie.
These days, to manage my weight, I don't eat many desserts, even though I still love them. But sometimes I think about all the things I used to enjoy and I feel deprived. So once in a while I remind myself that chocolate is an antioxidant and pies are made with nutritious fruit. Then I give myself permission to experiment developing my own recipes, and, of course, taste testing them.
John loves anything chocolate so I have developed my own special gooey brownies and a chocolate swirl cheesecake. My latest creation is turtle cake, a combination of chocolate, caramel and pecans. I serve it warm topped with whipped cream.
If you're like me, you're drooling all over the page at this point, so I thought maybe you'd like to have my latest stress-buster recipe. Give it a try when you have a houseful of folks to help eat it.
1 Duncan Hines German Chocolate cake mix
14-oz. bag of Kraft caramels
½ cup evaporated milk
1 stick margarine (1/2 cup) melted
1 and ½ cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
Mix cake according to package directions. Pour half in a greased and floured 9x13 pan and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, melt caramels with milk and margarine in microwave. Pour caramel mixture over hot cake, then sprinkle with nuts and 1 cup chocolate chips. Top with remaining cake batter and return to oven for 25 minutes. While cake is still hot, sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips. Serve warm (not hot) topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Enjoy!
E-mail and tell me what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, stressed spelled backwards is desserts!