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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Kitchen Mailbox: Earthquake Cake, with chocolate and cream cheese, is out of this world

Thursday, January 25, 2001

By Arlene Burnett

They stood in line to get another slice, which is a good indication that our recipe today, Earthquake Cake, is a winner.

Before one of our co-workers took her first bite she asked, "What is this?" After the first bite her comment was "This is great."

Cooking term
of the week

Leavener, or leavening agents -- Baking soda, baking powder and yeast are leavening agents. Leaveners are used to lighten and increase the volume of baked goods.


Earthquake Cake is not what you would call pleasing to the eye -- here's why: The main ingredients of this cake are a packaged cake mix, cream cheese and powdered sugar. The cake batter is poured into a 9-by-13-inch pan, and the cream cheese and powdered sugar are combined and spooned over the cake batter. When the cake is baking, the cream cheese mixture sinks into the cake, making cracks and crevices throughout; hence the name Earthquake Cake.

What can you say about a chocolate cake with gobs of cream cheese, nuts and coconut? Only this -- absolutely delicious.

If you're not fond of nuts or coconut, leave them out. The cake will work without them. One more comment: When a recipe calls for margarine, we always use butter, as we did with the recipes today.

When Rosemarie Helmick of Canonsburg requested a recipe for Earthquake Cake, she described it as "sinful and heavenly." We agree.

Janice Stair of Monroeville first tasted this cake while visiting Peculiar, Mo. "I think this cake is misnamed -- it looks more like volcanoes!"

Ruth E. Lint of Perryopolis sent us a recipe for Mexican Earthquake Cake. It's the same cake but with a different name. Ruth writes, "Who thinks up these things?" We would love to know.

Regarding Rosemarie Helmick's description of Earthquake Cake, Jolynne Dougherty of Carnegie remarks. "It's funny Rosemarie Helmick calls this recipe heavenly and sinful, because it came from a church cookbook." A sense of humor keeps us healthy.

Our first recipe was sent in by Ruth E. Lint.

Earthquake Cake

1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Sprinkle nuts and coconut on bottom of pan. Mix cake mix as directed on box. Pour over nuts and coconut. In separate bowl, mix together the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix well and drop by spoonfuls over batter. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

This recipe was sent in by Louise Parisi of Scott.

Earthquake Cake II

1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup coconut
2 cups chocolate chips
1 package devil's food or chocolate cake mix
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with waxed paper or parchment paper (we lightly greased the paper). Spread pecans, coconut and chocolate chips over pan; set aside. Prepare cake according to package directions. Pour cake batter over first layer. Melt together cream cheese and butter (we used the microwave). Combine powdered sugar with the cream cheese and butter mixture; mix well (we used an electric mixer). Spoon over cake batter. Bake for about 50 minutes.

Note: The next time we make this cake, we'll spread the chocolate chips on top of the cake and do away with lining the pan.

This last recipe was sent in by Jolynne Dougherty of Carnegie.

Earthquake Cake III

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut
1 box German chocolate cake mix
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened (1 stick)
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle pecans and coconut into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Prepare cake mix as directed. Spoon batter into cake pan. Melt margarine (we used butter) in a saucepan. Blend in cream cheese; beat until smooth (we used a wire whip). Add sugar one cup at a time and beat until creamy. Spoon over batter -- do not stir or mix the cake. Bake for 45 minutes.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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