Friday, February 15, 2008

Lover's Fudge Brownies

Lover’s Fudge Brownies
Dorcas Annette Walker

The English Encarta Dictionary defines romance as: a love affair; physical love; when the relationship is idealized, exciting or intense; a spirit of adventure and excitement; a fascination; and a story of love. There are innumerable novels, movies, plays, and poems written about the subject of romance. Thirty-two years ago my romance began when a young theological college student of nineteen proposed to a seventeen-year-old high school senior in the college dining hall. We became engaged on Valentine’s Day. I should have seen the signs that an engagement begun in a dining hall would mean involvement in the kitchen on a daily basis. Dana and my engagement quickly made top headlines in the school news as up to that time college guys only dated college girls. In fact our engagement was discussed during the next school board meeting with the president actually telling Dana that our engagement could not continue! By then not only the entire student body, but all the teachers had gotten involved in discussing our engagement with sides sharply divided. Dana, true to form, told the college president that his engagement to me was between us, not the school, nor the school board. Six months later on a hot June evening we were married. My mother was shocked at our wedding reception when one minister approached her wanting to know how Dana and I had gotten together as not only were our personalities opposite, but our backgrounds were as different as day is night. Unfortunately, we started out our married life being considered the least likely couple to make it on campus. On our twenty-fifth anniversary Dana and I were discussing all the couples that had gotten married around the same time and we were amazed to discover that very few were still married to their original partner. Both of us started out with a goal of reaching fifty years of marriage together. Despite moving twelve times, living far from our parents while raising a son with severe hemophilia and having a daughter that has written medical history by having mild hemophilia, traveling all around the United States as a family with Dana in evangelism, and losing both of my parents to AIDS, Dana and I are still hanging in there. We are like countless other married couples, who refuse to call it quits, turning obstacles into growth and enrichment. It takes two people willing and dedicated to make a marriage work. There are no guarantees in life. My wish is that this season you and your Valentine will have a romantic day with a great year ahead!

Lover’s Fudge Brownies evolved from a couple of recipes. This fudgy, rich, chocolate-tasting brownie with a hidden mixture of cream cheese, cocoanut, and nuts is a chocolate lover’s delight. I baked my Lover’s Fudge Brownies in a heart-shaped pan for my Valentine- who keeps sneaking another piece every chance he gets. Preparation time for my Lover’s Fudge Brownies is only ten minutes and this recipe serves around sixteen.

Lover’s Fudge Brownies

Prepare one box of brownie mix (any brand) like it says.
Pour into a well greased baking dish.
Beat together until smooth:
1 (eight oz) pkg cream cheese
¼ c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Stir in until well mixed:
1 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped nuts (I used pecans)
½ c flaked cocoanut
Layer the cream cheese mixture on top of the unbaked brownie mix. Bake at 350ยบ for one hour or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Garnish with powdered sugar or sprinkle red crystal sugar on top and serve to your Valentine!

Weekly tip: You can freeze cream cheese in the freezer to keep on hand. Just thaw in the refrigerator for twelve hours before using to preserve the creamy texture!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, syndicated columnist, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more information check out:

Sweetheart Carmel Chocolate Cake

Sweetheart Carmel Chocolate Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

It was at my daughter’s house where I got my first taste of what has evolved into my Sweetheart Carmel Chocolate Cake. Even those who aren’t addicted to chocolate like yours truly can’t help but be impressed. What really caught my attention was how easy it was to make. Holidays are times for making memories with friends and family- not slaving in the kitchen wearing yourself out to a frazzle. So treat your Valentine this year to a cake that they will never forget.

Loves comes in many forms and shapes- images of the mind made up of dreams and memories- that only grows sweeter as the years past by. Who hasn’t experienced the excitement followed by the pangs of puppy love as a youngster? We thought our world had come to a stop and we would never be happy again. Then cupids dart hit again and soon we began dating seeking to discover our other half. There is something utterly enchanting in watching young love that lives in the world of dreams and starry eyes or seeing two people pledge their love together. The romance of love only grows deeper as new parents gaze in fascination at their tiny infant. I still can recall in detail many years later the awe that hit me as I looked down for the first time into my newborn daughter’s eyes and felt her tiny fingers grasp my hand. Love’s heartstrings tightened as a young mother trying to keep one step ahead of my toddlers. Then all too quickly the first day of school arrived and love’s dart hit deep. Love sped up in the breathless teen years as schedules were juggled and our horizons were expanded. Only to wake up one day and discover we now took second place in our daughter’s eyes as love bloomed and reached out beyond our home. All too quickly we watched through a misty vision as love multiplied one candle-lit afternoon adding a son-in-law to the family. Then once more the cycle of love expanded when our two grandchildren were born. Love only grows richer seeing the world through small eyes again. No matter what stage of love you experience your life is forever changed and enriched. May you be surrounded by love this Valentine’s Day!

The Sweetheart Carmel Chocolate Cake can be made up ahead of time for Valentine’s Day. Due to the rich moist texture, my Sweetheart Carmel Chocolate Cake needs to stay in whatever pan or dish the cake is baked in as it will easily fall apart. Use your imagination and indulge your sweetheart with a lush topping. Total preparation time for the Sweetheart Carmel Chocolate Cake is around forty-five minutes and this cake baked in a 9 x 13 baking dish will serve fifteen.

Sweetheart Carmel Chocolate Cake

1 chocolate cake mix (any brand)
1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
1 (12 oz) jar of Carmel topping
1 (8 oz) container of cool whip

Bake chocolate cake according to the directions. While still hot, poke holes in the top of the cake with a fork. Pour the condensed milk over the top and then the Carmel topping letting it run down the sides. Cool and ice with the cool whip. Garnish the top of the cake with chocolate curls, chopped nuts, cocoanut, or any crushed candy bar of your choice!

*If you prefer a richer death-by-chocolate taste you can substitute this chocolate icing instead of the cool whip!
Fudgy Chocolate Icing
Bring to a boil stirring constantly:
12 oz pkg chocolate chips
1 (14 oz) can of condensed milk
1 tsp raspberry or cherry extract
Cook for about two minutes until the frosting is shinny and thickened. Take off the heat and stir in the extract. Let cool and ice the chocolate cake using any garnish you prefer!

Weekly tip: Use cocoa to dust your baking dish or cookie sheets when baking a chocolate cake or chocolate cookies!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chocolate Dream Tapioca

Chocolate Dream Tapioca
Dorcas Annette Walker

February is valentine month when all thoughts turn to hearts, love, roses, and chocolate candy. I plan to celebrate this month by indulging in chocolate and sharing chocolate recipes. My love affair with chocolate began as a small girl standing by the stove inhaling the rich aroma of cooking chocolate while watching my mother slowly cooked up chocolate cornstarch pudding. Chocolate pudding was a rare treat. Those were the days before you could run out and buy ready made puddings. I also think a deciding factor that made this dessert a rare occasion was the fact that it took time to cook up a pudding- something that my mother never had enough of as she worked full time, nursed my father who had numerous bleeds, and struggled to keep up with the housework. It was at my grandmother’s house where I had my first taste of tapioca pudding- quite a departure from the regular cornstarch puddings. My kids never were excited over the tapioca or cooked puddings I made and would roll their eyes as they grew older whenever I’d indulge myself. They preferred store bought puddings. Sad to say cooked puddings soon only grabbed my attention when I was sick. There is nothing as soothing for an upset stomach as a homemade cooked pudding. When both of my grandchildren were born I made cooked puddings every time they came to visit me. I still couldn’t convince my daughter the value of homemade cooked puddings- to her it was much simpler to grab a pack of ready made pudding at the store than to stand over a stove cooking up pudding. It did my heart good though to see my grandkids smack their tiny lips over my homemade puddings. Maybe I can instill in this generation an appreciation of homemade cooked puddings.

Tapioca is a flavorless starch ingredient from dried cassava roots native to South America that is processed similar like wheat made into pasta. Tapioca is prepared by boiling the roots for twenty-five minutes then cooled. It is then processed by baking into fine hard dried flakes. The small hard white spheres “pearl tapioca” is made by forcing the moist starch through sieves and then baked. In southern Asia a common way of preparing cassava is by cutting it into slices or wedges and frying it making it similar to our potato chips, wedges, or French fries. In Brazil tapioca is cooked, drained through a sieve, fried into a tortilla shape, and often sprinkled with cocoanut. During World War II’s Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia, many refugees survived on tapioca, which provided them with much needed carbohydrates and protein.

I just recently discovered an old recipe of chocolate tapioca in my pile of cookbooks. I was intrigued with the thought of combining tapioca and chocolate. I experimented around until I came up with what I call Chocolate Dream Tapioca. This elegant lush chocolate dessert will have all chocolate lovers smacking their lips in ecstasy over the smooth creamy taste of rich chocolate. Chocolate Dream Tapioca is an ideal light dessert to round off a classy meal. My Chocolate Dream Tapioca takes about ten minutes (not counting the chilling time) to prepare and this recipe serves four.

Chocolate Dream Tapioca

Mix together with a Wisk in a saucepan:
1 c sugar
1/3 c Hershey’s or store brand Cocoa
4 tb quick-cooking tapioca
4 c milk (I used 2%)
1 egg
Let stand for five minutes. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in:
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavoring
Pour into dessert dishes, cover with saran wrap, and chill. Garnish with cool whip, chocolate curls, and serve!

Weekly tip: Tapioca can also be used as a thickening agent in soups, pies, and gravy’s!