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Cake for Breakfast

Remember the Bill Cosby routine from his comedy stand-up about feeding his children cake for breakfast?

“Good morn’, Daddy.”

And I said, “What do you want for breakfast!?”  The four-year-old has the ability to see through and find the wrong thing. The child saw through my body what was behind me. She saw the chocolate cake.

She said, “Can I have the chocolate cake?”

And I said, “Chocolate cake, where?”

She said, “Chocolate cake behind you.”

And I looked… and there was chocolate cake! The child wanted chocolate cake for breakfast! How ridiculous! And I said… and someone in my brain looked under chocolate cake and saw the ingredients: eggs! Eggs are in chocolate cake! And milk! Oh goody! And wheat! That’s nutrition!

“Chocolate cake coming up.” Sliced it for her and served it.

Eggs, milk, and wheat in the chocolate cake. And…I didn’t have to cook. And the other four came downstairs. And when they came downstairs…they saw the four-year-old eating chocolate cake.

And they said, “Dad! Where did she get the chocolate cake?” And they went to the child and said, “How did you get chocolate cake?”

She said, “Dad give me chocolate cake!” And they looked at me and said, “Father… could we have chocolate cake?”

And their father said, “Chocolate cake coming up!!”

And five children sat at breakfast and the morning music was playing and they were eating chocolate cake and singing songs to me: “Dad is great! Give us the chocolate cake!”

Well, I’ve been replaying that in my mind this week.  You see I made a carrot cake for Easter dinner, and I just love leftover carrot cake for breakfast.  I mean, it has carrots, and eggs, and wheat…that’s nutrition!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 9 x 13-inch sheet cake

Cake:
1 cup pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded

Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 – 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

To make cake:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant.  Cool and chop pecans.

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugars at high speed until well blended, maybe 3 – 5 minutes.

Beat in the liquid ingredients.

Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened.

Stir in carrots and pecans.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden and springy to touch.  Let cake cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely.

To make frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light.

Add about 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat at low speed until incorporated.  Add more confectioners’ sugar if needed.  Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.

Frost cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

The flavors of this moist cake improve with time, so it is actually better to bake and frost the cake in advance.  The cake is best served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

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She’s A Firecracker

I have a  friend.  (Yes, I have more than one friend, smarty-pants, but today’s entry is just about one in particular.)  Anyway, I have this friend.  Her name is Wendy.  I’m jealous of her long lean legs and her beautiful red hair.  And, her charmingly cute kid.  And her fierce skills at first base.  Wendy is smart and funny and one of the kindest people I know.

But, watch out…she’s a firecracker.  She uses that intelligence and humor and sparks fly out of her mouth.  Those sparks can catch some folks off guard, but I love it, even when it is directed at me.  Wendy makes life fun and she reminds me to laugh at myself and to see comedy where it is not always obvious.  And, she reminds me that someone is always watching and reading and what I am doing is not a waste of time and energy.

Thanks for being my friend and a great audience member, Wendy.  I’m glad I got to help you celebrate your birthday.  I hope you liked your cake.  Kisses.

Red-Headed Firecracker Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze
Serves 8 to 10

For cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups of peeled, cored, and diced apple

For glaze:
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

For cake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8- to 10- cup Bundt pan.

Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, ginger, and cayenne in medium bowl.

Whisk canola oil, brown sugar, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend.

Add dry ingredients and fold until blended.

Fold in diced apples.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake about 40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on rack for about 10 minutes.  Invert cake onto plate or rack.

For the glaze:
In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugars.

Cook the mixture, stirring, until bubbly, maybe about a minute.  Stir in the heavy cream.   Bring to a boil.   Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Then, spoon the glaze over completely cooled cake.  It is quite messy, so you may not want to glaze it on your serving dish.

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90 Hours in NOLA, Part III – Twelfth Night & King Cake

One final highlight from New Orleans…our visit coincided with the start of the Carnival or Mardi Gras season, and we were able to see some festivities marking Twelfth Night, a festival to celebrate the Epiphany.  (In Christianity, Twelfth Night – January 6th, is the celebration of the night the three wiseman visited the baby Jesus and concludes the twelve days of Christmas.)

Doesn’t he look like he’s thinking of Baby Jesus?

That evening we learned about two annual celebrations for January 6.  The first honors Joan of Arc’s birthday with the Krewe De Jeanne D’Arc’s parade around the French Quarter.  A young woman portraying Joan of Arc wore a breastplate and carried a battle sword.  Other members of the krewe dressed in medieval style and some rode horses and passed out medallions.  The second celebration takes place Uptown on the St. Charles Streetcar line.  The Phunny Phorty Fellows ride the streetcar for the duration, tossing beads, singing, and enjoying refreshments.

Twelfth Night is also the beginning of king cake season.  This cake takes its name from the Christian biblical three kings.  Catholic tradition states that their journey to honor the Christ child took twelve days.  The season for the king cake extends from the Epiphany to Mardi Gras day.

The cake comes in a number of styles, the most simple is a ring of twisted brioche-like bread dough with a cinnamon-sugar filling and topped with icing or sugar in the Carnival colors of purple, green, and gold.  The cake usually has a small trinket (a bean, nut, small plastic baby, or another symbol) inside, and the person who get the slice of cake containing the trinket has various privileges or obligations.  In New Orleans, traditions holds that whoever finds the trinket is considered “king” of the party, but must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

I collected a couple of recipe books and food essays while in New Orleans, and I used them as a guide to bake my own king cake.

King Cake
Makes 12-inch cake

Dough:
1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
2 1/4 tsps active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm (not hot) milk
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp orange zest
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs

Filling:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pecan half

Frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 to 2 Tbsp milk
food coloring for purple, green, and gold

For the dough:  Before starting, I lightly warmed my mixing bowl in the oven because our house was so cold and I wanted to create a good environment for my yeast dough.  Pour warm water into the warmed bowl and sprinkle with yeast.

Stir in warm milk, butter, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and orange zest.

Add 1 cup of flour and blend well.

Stir in eggs and add enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, less than 5 minutes for me. Add more flour if the dough is sticky.

Put dough in large greased bowl and flip the dough to grease both sides.  Cover with towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size.  It took me about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

For filling:  Once dough has doubled in size, punch down.  Transfer to floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll into a large rectangle.  (Mine was about 14″ x 24″.)

Brush with melted butter.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the dough.

Then, roll it up tightly from the long side, like a jelly roll.

What you do next depends on what shape you want for your cake.  I decided to cut the roll in half, lengthwise and then twist the halves into a ring or wreath shape.

Transfer the cake to a greased baking sheet.  If you are using a dried bean or pecan half, now is the time to push it into the underside of the dough and hide it in the cake.  (Plastic charms go in after baking.)

Cover and let it rise again in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

You may want to remove the cake from the baking sheet and let it cool on a wire rack.  If you are using a plastic charm, push it into the underside of the cooling cake.

For the frosting:
In a small bowl mix together powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth.

Divide among three bowls and tint one mixture purple, one green, and the other gold.  Mix well and drizzle each color over the cake.


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Red Velvet for the Holidays

My friend, Kate, (also known as my brother’s girlfriend) asked me to make something she could bring to her work holiday party.  At first she wasn’t sure what she wanted, and I think initially I overwhelmed her with possible options.  After reviewing the other submissions, we decided a cake would be the best bet, and I thought a red velvet cake with white frosting would look especially festive.  Add some mint flavoring and top it with crushed peppermint and then it is holiday party-ready…

What are your favorite holiday party treats?

Minty Red Velvet Cake with Best Ever White Frosting
Makes 8-inch two-layer cake
Modified from Pastry Queen Christmas

1/4 cup red food coloring

4 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round pans.

In a small bowl, blend red food coloring and cocoa into a creamy paste.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Then, add cocoa paste, and beat again at medium for about 4 minutes.

In a medium bowl, sift together flours, salt, and baking soda.

Pour buttermilk into your measuring cup and add extracts.

Starting and ending with flour, alternate between flour mixture and milk, add to the creamed butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed after each addition only until ingredients are combined.

Next, add sour cream and vinegar and beat on low speed until combined.

Divide batter between greased and floured cake pans.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until cakes feel firm to the touch and a tester comes out clean.  Be careful not to overbake or the cakes will be dry.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling.

Let cool completely before frosting.

Best Ever White Frosting

3 egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla

Put all ingredients in a double boiler.  Start beating the ingredients with your electric beater at the same time you turn on the burner.

Beat until the frosting stands in stiff, glossy peaks.  This varies in time, as some eggs whip faster than others.

The frosting will come out shiny and fluffy with a consistency like marshmallow.  Spread on the cake with an offset spatula.

Happy Holidays!

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Guest Post: Jewish Apple Cake

This guest post is from my smart, athletic, and witty friend, Wendy.  Our group of friends is always excited when Wendy brings this cake to gatherings.  It is delicious.  I made it just this week with help from my mom and husband and it made the house even smell delicious.  Enjoy.




Dear Katie,

You asked that I share with you my recipe for Jewish apple cake.  I’m really excited to participate, so … thanks for asking.

I make this apple cake every Thanksgiving for my boyfriend Dave and his family. I also tend to make an additional one that I can eat all by myself — and sometimes share with my friends Katie and Brian.

It’s a fairly simple recipe. The only trick is to pick the right kind of apples.  I usually start with at least two granny smith apples.  They’re tart and firmer than many other types of apples, so they hold up well in baking and tend not to get too mushy throughout the cooking process. Fuji, Gala, and Rome apples are also excellent options.  Many times, I’ll use two or more different types of apples in the cake to make a more interesting flavor.  In my opinion, the more apples, the more moist the cake and the more delicious the final product.  The recipe, for example, calls for 3 apples.  But I usually use four or four plus!

Here are the ingredients:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups of white sugar
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 (or 4 or maybe five!) apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (I use a bit more than 2)
5 teaspoons of white sugar (go heavy on this, too — it’s sugar!!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 10 inch bundt cake pan. 

Combine the cinnamon and the sugar together.  This creates such a wonderful smell.  Just remember … tigers love pepper.  Hate cinnamon. 


In a separate bowl, mix the slices of apple in most of the cinnamon sugar mixture, coating each slice in the mixture. Set aside.  Save a small bit of the mixture for later.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and 2 cups of sugar. Stir in the vegetable oil, beaten eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.  Mix well.


Line the bundt pan with a layer of the cinnamon sugared apples, and then pour some of the batter on top of the apple layer.  Keep creating layers of apple slices and then pouring batter over it.  Make sure to keep some apple slices for the very top layer.  When the apple slices are gone, look in the bowl in which they were resting.  There should be some apple cinnamon-sugar juice in the bowl, which is a great addition to the cake.  Simply pour the sugary liquid on top of the cake.  


Bake the cake at 350 degrees for about 70 minutes.  The cake should be moist, but should not stick to a toothpick that is poked into it.  The toothpick should come out rather clean after poked into the cake.

The cake should slide out of the pan if you greased it properly.  Coat the cake with the remaining cinnamon sugar.  Or you can use powdered sugar.  Or you can use both.


This cake is a great fall treat, and a tradition for my new family.

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Eating Dr Pepper at the State Fair of Texas

Moving East has made it difficult, but I’ve gone to the State Fair of Texas almost every year I’ve been alive.  I love it.  To deepen my fair experience, I decided to enter one of the baking contests.  The contest offering the largest cash reward was sponsored by Dr Pepper.  In honor of the company’s 125th birthday celebration, they asked contestants to bake a birthday cake using Dr Pepper.

How could I miss this opportunity?  Bake a Dr Pepper cake, one of my favorite drinks, for the State Fair of Texas, one of my favorite events?   I decided to modify the recipe for my favorite birthday cake to use both Dr Pepper and Dr Pepper syrup.

Well, I didn’t win, but it was a fun experience.  I got to see a part of the Fair that I’ve never seen and learn a bit about the culture of cooking contests.  I’m not sure if I like them, but I plan to enter more.

The winner of this contest was awarded $1250, and had her cake deep-fried by the Fry King of Texas, Abel Gonzales.  Crazy, huh?

Gonzales took the winning cake and cut it into cake balls.  In order to provide some stability in the fryer, the cake balls were frozen solid using liquid nitrogen.  Before frying they are dipped in flour and a pancake-like batter with Dr Pepper.  After a few minutes in the deep fryer, the fried Dr Pepper cake balls were served with whipped cream and strawberry Dr Pepper sauce.

Here is Abel Gonzales reviewing the cakes.  He was planning his strategy for how to dismantle the biggest one.

This is another winner.  It is a cooler made of cake!  She spent almost two hundred dollars on molds alone!

Well, my cake wasn’t a winner, but it still tasted good.

Dr Pepper Chocolate Birthday Cake
Makes one 9×13-inch sheet cake, or two 9-inch round cakes
For Cake:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup butter
1 cup Dr Pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
5 Tbsp cocoa
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Dublin Dr Pepper syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Blend flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. 
In a medium saucepan, boil together butter, Dr Pepper, vegetable oil, and cocoa.  Stir to blend.  Pour over flour mixture and stir.
Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and Dr Pepper syrup.  Mix well.
Pour into greased and floured pans.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.
For Frosting:
½ cup butter
6 Tbsp milk
4 Tbsp cocoa
1 ½ tsp Dublin Dr Pepper syrup
¾ to 1 lb powdered sugar
In a medium saucepan, melt butter, milk, and cocoa.  
Stir to blend.  Once butter is melted and ingredients are well blended, remove from heat.  Quickly stir in Dr Pepper syrup.  
Then, gradually add powdered sugar, stirring to remove lumps, until reach desired consistency. 
For Dr Pepper Glazed Pecans:
2 cups whole pecans
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup Dublin Dr Pepper
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup white sugar
Combine ingredients in medium skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until liquid evaporates.  
Spread out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  
Roast in preheated oven at 300 degree F for about 20 minutes.
I used the nuts to garnish the cake, along with maraschino cherries.

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Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Now that we have a working oven again, I’m back to my usual baking antics.  This was inspired by a pint of fresh blueberries and a partial container of light sour cream in our refrigerator.  I turned it into a coffee cake because I don’t have any muffin tins in my rented kitchen.

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Cake:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar.

Add egg.

Stir in sour cream and vanilla.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients of baking powder, salt, and flour.

Gently fold in blueberries.  Poured into a greased and floured baking dish.  I used a 9×9 square dish.  The batter will be thick.

Blend together brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon.

Sprinkle the mixture over the batter in the baking dish.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  This is great warm out of the oven or at room temperature.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday

My husband’s favorite flavor combination is chocolate and peanut butter so it was pretty easy to figure out what cake to make for his birthday.  He appeared to have enjoyed it as he helped himself to three slices that evening and ate it again for breakfast the next morning.  Just as well – it doesn’t keep well past about three days.

This is a really easy cake to make, and it transports well, so you can take it to a party or into the office.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
¼ cup cocoa
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter (I prefer natural)
Cocoa Frosting
½ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup cocoa
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine first 3 ingredients; set aside.  Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat; whisk in cocoa and next 3 ingredients.  Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture until smooth.  
Pour batter into a greased and floured 13×9-inch pan.  Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.  
While the cake is cooling, start on the cocoa frosting.  Bring first 3 frosting ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  
Once the cake is cool, spread the top with peanut butter.  (I softened the peanut butter in the microwave so that spread more easily.)  Cool completely.  
Spread cocoa frosting over peanut butter.

Slice and enjoy.  You will feel like it is your birthday no matter when you eat it.

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A Simple Cake that is Simply Good

When I was a kid, I thought a cake had to have chocolate frosting to be good.  Now I know that is not necessarily true.  Sometimes, simple ingredients and a plain-looking cake can actually be quite tasty.

Case in point…the plain loaf cake I made for our dinner on Sunday night.  It is a very straightforward recipe that you can vary according to your tastes and menu.  I served it with fresh strawberries and nearly everyone had second helpings.  You should plan accordingly.

Plain Loaf Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (need some to butter pan, too)
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 lemon (you’ll use both zest and juice)
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cup cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the inside of a 9×5 loaf pan and then line with parchment or wax paper.  Make sure the paper lies smooth and flat at sides.

Cream the butter and sugar.  Zest the entire lemon and add, blend.  Add the eggs one a time and start to add a little bit of the flour in between, mixing.  Gently mix in the rest of the flour, and finally add the juice of the entire lemon.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with sugar (I probably used 1 1/2 Tbsp).  Bake for 1 hour or until cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.  Remove to wire rack and let it cool for a bit in the pan before you turn it out.

Variations:  You could add poppyseeds, nuts, or chopped chocolate.  You can also vary the juice/liquid. Try an orange, or a flavored liqueur.  You can play with the liquid amounts, but I would stay in the range of 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup.  Try serving it with different types of fruit, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, etc…You get the idea.

The recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess.  The variations are mine.
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Best Ever White Frosting



Our good friend Virginia turned thirty this weekend, and I wanted to make her a special birthday cake so she knows how much she means to us. I chose a red velvet layer cake topped with fluffy white frosting and my husband added fresh strawberries. I wasn’t too pleased with the cake, but the frosting turned out better than expected.

I’ve tried for several years to recreate the white frosting my Aunt Ruthie made, and finally feel I was successful. I’ll keep working on the red velvet cake recipe and post it sometime in the future. This white frosting would work with just about any kind of cake. I had some left over and I used it to frost some chocolate cupcakes the next day. Enjoy!
3 egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup Karo white syrup
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla (you could use another flavoring like almond or lemon extract or even coffee)
Put ingredients in double boiler over cold water. Start beating with electric beater and turn on the burner at same time. Beat until it stands in stiff, glossy peaks. This varies in time, as some eggs whip faster than others.
The frosting will come out glossy and fluffy almost like marshmallow. You could also add a few drops of food coloring and fold it in gently, if you wanted a color other than white.
The birthday girl seemed to enjoy it. And, I think Aunt Ruthie would be proud….

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