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Chocolate desserts for discerning palates

Thursday, March 06, 2003

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Aztec emperor Montezuma supposedly was so wild about chocolate that he drank 50 goblets of it a day. We're not that crazy about chocolate (although it is on our Top 10 list of comfort foods), but we admit we don't wait around for a special occasion to make chocolate desserts, especially today's recipes, Velvet Almond Fudge Cake and Kahlua Balls.

Velvet Almond Fudge Cake is, as one co-worker exclaimed, like biting into a huge brownie. And here's another plus for Velvet Almond Fudge Cake: It's so easy to make. All you need is boxed chocolate cake mix, chocolate chips, chocolate pudding and sour cream and a few flavorings. If you want to make this cake even more decadent, serve it with freshly whipped cream or ice cream or both. Velvet Almond Fudge Cake was sent in by Susan Cohen of Stanton Heights for Lois Schultz of Andover, Ohio.

Our next recipe, Kahlua Balls, is just as simple as the Velvet Almond Fudge Cake. Kahlua Balls are no-bake cookies. Crushed chocolate wafer cookies (Oreos), walnuts (we used pecans), powdered sugar, corn syrup and Kahlua are mixed together and shaped into balls that are then rolled in powdered sugar. The cookies are placed in an airtight tin in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to blend. These cookies are terrific. In fact, they're so good they'll be gone before you know it. This recipe only makes about 2 dozen cookies, so we suggest doubling the recipe.

Today's second recipe comes from Mary Windstein of Castle Shannon in response to a request from Sandy Sheldon of Scott.

Velvet Almond Fudge Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched slivered al- monds
  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 3.9-ounce package chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

Chop almonds and toast at 350 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of almonds on bottom of well-greased, 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan. Set aside remaining almonds.

Put cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, water, oil and extracts into mixer bowl. Blend, then mix at medium speed for 4 minutes. Stir in remaining almonds and chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 70 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Do not underbake. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Kahlua Balls

  • 2 1/2 cups cream-filled chocolate cookies, crushed (we used Oreos)
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua
  • 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • Additional powdered sugar for dusting

Combine crushed cookie crumbs, walnuts and powdered sugar in a large bowl.

Add Kahlua and corn syrup. Mix well.

Shape into 1-inch balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Place in airtight container and chill overnight. Makes about 2 dozen balls. Store in refrigerator.


Alan Cote of Southborough, Mass., is searching for a different version of the Mardi Gras King Cake, referred to as French style. "This cake is flaky and uses almond paste. It seems more like a phyllo dough layer cake or pastry. I have checked Internet sites and couldn't find anything. My girlfriend was raised in Mobile, Ala., and at this time of year she begins thinking of her family traditions. This cake would be a nice gift for me to make ... ."

Denise Merrill of Greensburg is searching for a cavatappi (corkscrew-shaped) pasta recipe made with prosciutto, pancetta, pine nuts and caramelized onions in a Parmesan cream sauce. "I enjoyed this dish at the Mezzanotte Cafe in Bloomfield."

Kon Tiev of Wantagh, N.Y., writes: "In New York City's Chinatown, there are sidewalk vendors making this little oval-shaped treat called egg cake or waffle cake. I wanted to make some for my son's birthday, but I'm having trouble finding a recipe. Can anyone help?"

Here's a request from Andrea Good of West View: "As I was online looking through the many recipes shared in the Post-Gazette, I remembered a long-lost favorite of mine which I am hoping you or your readers may have. More than 20 years ago when I worked Downtown, my co-workers and I would occasionally have dinner at Josephine's restaurant in Horne's Department Store. The dish we always selected was seafood crepes -- they were heavenly! Any help in locating this recipe would be greatly appreciated."

Marlene Smith of the North Side lost her recipe for a Barcardi Rum Cake that's made in the microwave. Does anyone have a copy of this cake?

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 toaburnett@post-gazette.com . Please include a name, neighborhood/city/borough/township and state and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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