Sunday, July 8, 2012

Maple Bacon Stout Chocolate Cake

Ok darlings, this is the one I promised you.  I made this while we were down at the beach, which means I was working in a less-than-stellar kitchen that was mid-grade when it was made in the 80's.  Aside from the insanely tilted burners, the poor calibration of the burners (no matter what, I couldn't get stuff to not burn on the bottom of the pan!! grrrr...), and the "lacking" of enough stuff it is actually a decent little kitchen.  What I'm trying to say here is that whenever I make something good at the beach it is automatically entitled to an "Oh DAMN!! That is GOOD!!" status just because of what I'm (literally) working with.

Every year at the beach we have a birthday night.  It started because one of our friend's birthdays tends to be that week but we decided we were ALL worthy of having our birthdays celebrated since we aren't able to get together the rest of the year.  Really it may just be more of an excuse to party bigger.  So ... birthday night gets planned and executed by me because I have a nearly 20 year history of fixing birthday cakes at this beach, in this kitchen.  (*Brief history flashback - this is where I would turn to the camera and we'd do an awesome photo montage - we stay in a timeshare that belongs to my Dad.  One of my brother's birthdays tended to also fall on a day we were at the beach and, because I am so awesome and my stepmother could boil water [though in that kitchen I couldn't blame her], I made his cakes.  They rocked.  They set me up for a groovy career path for a while.  Someday ask me about the bikini cake.*)

Being the beer snobs that we are we stopped at a local beer store down there before checking in.  What we found was enough to make me literally "EEK!" and grab up two bottles.  Rogue's Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale.  You can only get this in North Carolina or Oregon.  The clerk advised eating something that was either a maple doughnut or bacon when you drank it - hence the idea for this cake.  (*PS - dear awesome clerk lady from Chip's Wine & Beer Market in Moyock, I dedicate this to you!!)  She knows her stuff and without further rambling here is my much promised recipe.

Maple Bacon Stout Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:*1 Devil's Food box mix cake (ok, you know I don't normally use box mixes, but it is the beach and you already heard about the kitchen so give me a break, will ya?)
*10 slices bacon
*1/4 cup + 2 TB maple syrup (NO Mrs. Butterworth's!! Get the real stuff!!)
*1/2 cup oil
*1/2 cup water
*1/2 cup Southern Tier's Imperial Mokah Stout (also scored at Chip's Wine/Beer)
*2 eggs
*One 16 ounce tub Duncan Hine's Creamy Homestyle Milk Chocolate icing (again, give me a break for not making it from scratch)

Here's what you need.

1) Mix up the cake batter pretty much as it is called for, adding the 1/4 cup maple syrup and beer (which is not on the back of the box!).  Instead of using 1 cup water I used 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of the awesome Mokah Stout.  Truth be told, if I hadn't already drank the rest of that bottle, I would've used 1 cup Mokah Stout and no water, but it is hard to hold onto a beer like that for cooking with.2) Cook up your slices of bacon.

See??  Even with my "from home" pan the bacon is trying to burn.  Stupid beach burner.

3) This is actually worthy of being a separate step - don't let your bacon get all crispy!!  I'll be honest that this was something I wasn't sure on till after it was all said and done, but you want your bacon chewy, not crispy. 
4) Grease up your 13x9 inch pan.  Since I didn't want to use olive oil and since we were being supremely decadent, we actually used some of the bacon grease to grease the baking pan.  We simply dipped a paper towel in it and rubbed it around like you would do with Crisco (though it wasn't laid on that thickly).  It worked perfectly and before you decide to freak out remember, this cake is not for wusses.
5) Pour cake batter into pan.  Break-up/chop up bacon, leaving pieces that are 1 - 1 1/2" long (roughly the size of your thumb from joint to tip).   This may seem big but you'll appreciate it when you eat the cake.
6) Bake per directions on box.  Which, was something like 325 or 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Read the box, I don't have it here with me to remember.  Cook till a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
Out of the oven & covered in icing!
7) Now for the icing!  Ok, you're using store bought icing which is a snoozer, but here is where we're going to make it fun.  Let the icing warm up some under those stove lights and mix in the extra 2 TB maple syrup.  It'll be yummy.  Spread it on the cake while it is still warm and it will melt out deliciously.

Here is the finished product, with the beer to go with it.  The lady from Chip's Wine & Beer Market was right, you definitely want to eat and drink at the same time.  If you have a piece of bacon in your mouth while you're drinking the beer all the better.  The beer is REALLY smoky.  Like "I think I might be drinking a campfire" smoky.  But it was good, and it was awesome and how often are you going to get to have both of these???

The cake itself was awesome enough that I brought it down to the beach to share with our lifeguard friends.  It isn't fair that they have six packs and great tans and get paid to sit on a beach all day, so I must tempt them with insanely delicious Maple Bacon cake. 

Lifeguard Ben approves!!

So, give the cake a try and let me know what you think.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  This cake even got thumbs up from one of our friends who declares that she hates sweets and cakes and chocolate.  So, if that doesn't seal it for you, what will. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Caribbean Rum Punch

This is an adult drink and contains alcohol so if you’re under 21 please close your eyes and don’t continue reading.

I like my drinks to be seasonal. We all have our favorite drinks, but why not vary it up some according to the season and weather outside? Here is a terrific recipe that I found online at I have added my own tweak to it of course, but let me tell you, this is a really good drink. It is smooth, perfect for Summer, and a delight to drink. I will warn you though to watch how fast you drink these. You can have a couple and be fine, but if you start drinking too quickly this drink will sneak up on you. It isn’t called a “punch” for nothing! So, as always, drink responsibly.

Caribbean Rum Punch


*1 cup fresh squeezed and strained lime juice – You’ll need approximately 5-6 limes for this.
*2 cups simple syrup – You can use store bought or make your own, I’ll share my recipe for this below.
*3 cups amber/dark rum
*4 cups orange-pineapple juice – I bought the generic Kroger variety for this and it is delicious. You can use all orange juice or a mixture of other tropical-esque juice as you see fit, but the orange-pineapple is delicious!
* 4 splashes bitters
* A good splash (approximately a TB or two worth) grenadine syrup
* ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

*For Serving – Either a large punch bowl will work or if you intend to keep it longer, you’ll need a gallon jug.


1. First, like I said I make my own simple syrup because it truly is simple to make. Simply heat up equal parts water and sugar in a pot on the stove, letting it cook down just a little so that it is more than just dissolved sugar in water. I get this going on the stove while I’m mixing together the rest of the punch.

2. Mix lime juice, rum, orange-pineapple juice, bitters, grenadine syrup, and nutmeg in either the punch bowl or gallon jug.

3. If you’re container is glass, you’ll want to let the simple syrup cool down before adding it to the rest of the punch to make sure the glass doesn’t break. Once it is cooled, add simple syrup and blend well.

4. Serve immediately over ice or refrigerate and serve later.

*Special Notes - Now, if you've ever had a cocktail made by me you know that my drinks tend to be strong, so please pay special attention to my following "heads up" because it isn't something you'll likely hear me say often --- Do NOT mess around with the booze-to-everything else ratio here!!!!  I made this mistake while trying to finish off the end of a rum bottle.  I thought I could add a little more juice to balance it out.  It wasn't bad, it just wasn't GOOD.  Totally drinkable, but not "hey bitches, check THIS drink out" drinkable.  Get it?  So, follow the recipe if you know what is good for you.

See?  It fills up almost a gallon jug!  So, oh hell yes, this IS the Summer drink!!