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Roasted Cherry Chocolate Cake

by Shawnda on May 27, 2012

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies,Cherries,Fruit,Project Pastry Queen

Roasted Cherry Chocolate Cake

This week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe was selected by Amanda of Homekeeping Adventures: Mahogany Cake.

What you’re looking at up there, that’s not really a Mahogany Cake. Mahogany cakes usually have coffee or espresso and I skipped on the coffee this week. Because I was excited that I could afford fresh cherries! And I got that wrinkled brow-squinty eye look when I mentioned that dessert this week would be a chocolate + coffee combo.

Roasted Cherry Chocolate Cake

Cherries showed up in my grocery store two weeks ago at (gulp) $10/lb. I sadly pushed my cart passed, determined not to let a $15 bag of cherries land me in divorce court. Then last week, they were $8/lb. This week – a more affordable $4/lb. Knowing they wouldn’t get much cheaper, I pulled the trigger.

The chocolate cake is moist and just dense enough to warrant using a bundt pan. I did make a few changes to the recipe since I wasn’t using coffee:
– Eliminated coffee/espresso from the cake
– Substituted the candy for 1/2 lb of roasted cherries: I tossed 1 small spoonful of sugar with 1/2 lb of cherries (pits removed and cherries halved or quartered, depending on cherry size) and baked for 20 minutes at 450. Then I tossed the cherries, accumulated juices and all, into the mixer bowl after adding all the other ingredients, mixing for just a few seconds to distribute.
– Replaced the boiling water with 3 Tbsp blackberry liqueur (I was out of cherry) and 2 Tbsp milk (feel free to use all milk if you don’t have a reason to keep blackberry or cherry liqueur around)
– Whipped up a simple chocolate ganache (recipe from Annie’s Eats) for the icing.

Roasted Cherry Chocolate Cake

Rather than getting a layer of chocolate-coffee candies on top of the cake, you get bites of juicy roasted cherries. And it sets up as a beautiful cake.

You can get the full recipe over at Amanda’s blog and see how everyone else tackled the Mahogany Cake here.



PPQ: Texas Pralines

by Shawnda on May 20, 2012

in Candy,Project Pastry Queen

Texas Pralines

I have working internet again. At home. To go along with the other two things I can’t live without: indoor plumbing and Diet Pepsi electricity.

Not that I’d think that I could ever get tired of using Chick-fil-A’s free wifi (hello, Spicy Chicken Biscuits!) but holy cow, was I tired of packing up the entire house just to go use Chick-fil-A’s free wifi. I have no idea how the pioneers did it.

I picked this week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge, Texas Pralines. It’s a food blogger’s dream: photographing blobs of brown.

Which only runs second to a food blog reader’s dream – looking at pictures of blobs of brown. So, you know… sorry. And they might have been prettier blobs of brown if I hadn’t gotten distracted.

But I got distracted. So they’re ugly, delicious little blobs of brown.

Pralines. They’re really just another way for Southerners to work pecans in to dessert, one that doesn’t require a fork. They’re sweet candies studded with chunks of roasted pecans. They’re pretty simple and quick, as far as candy-making is concerned. I used honey in place of the corn syrup for another layer of flavor and added the scrapings of a vanilla bean.

And then I beat the pralines for a minute too long – they should have flowed from the spoon onto the baking sheet instead of just… falling off the spoon. So if you’re going to use a mixer for the final step, don’t walk away to unpause the last 3 minutes of the season finale of Hart of Dixie! While it is your (spoiler alert) typical Zoe train wreck, it can wait for you to finish the pralines.

You can check out how the other PPQ members tackled candy-making this week here. Next week, we’re taking on the Mahogany Cake, a decadent chocolate + coffee combo. And I need to find 5 someones to come help me eat it.

Texas Pralines

Texas pecans make this southern favorite shine.


  • 2 1/2 cups whole pecans (I used halves)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • Scrapings of 1-2 vanilla beans (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 7-9 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. Over medium heat, stir together the buttermilk, baking soda, sugar, honey, and butter.
  5. Clip a candy thermometer onto the pot and cook until you reach softball stage (~234-240F).
  6. Turn off the heat and remove the candy thermometer. (At this point, I transferred it to my mixer bowl).
  7. Beat in the pecans and vanilla.
  8. Beat by hand with a wooden spoon for ~10 minutes (or by mixer for 3-4 minutes), until the candy has lost its sheen and is thick enough to just flow off of the spoon.
  9. Drop heaping tablespoons onto a sheet of wax paper.
  10. Let the candies cool completely and then wrap individually in plastic wrap.
  11. Will keep at room temp for 5 days.


Yields: ~22 pieces

Slightly adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 45 minutes




That is where you’d normally see a picture of this week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge: Nuevo Texas Waldorf Salad, as selected by Emily of She Makes and Bakes.

After a Saturday spent at Texas Beer Fest and with the little one at Grandma’s house for the night, we had planned a lazy Sunday. Sleep in, hit up HEB to pick up the fixins for The Pastry Queen’s Waldorf Salad for lunch, and then head out to Grandma’s to retrieve the kiddo.

What we didn’t plan for? The 6:55am trip to Grandma’s house to pick up a very sick toddler.

What I do have? My first full pound of strawberries harvested in one day from the garden and the very first blueberry of the season.

It was ceremoniously photographed, picked, and then handed over to the wheezing, coughing little one who perked up and managed to squeak out “berry!” between coughs.

I guess blueberries make her happy like cake chocolate margaritas make momma happy :)