Tag Archives: chocolate

The Prince and the Poison Cake

Every week I learn something new about cooking. Sometimes the truth is not pleasant, as in this true fairy tale about a poison cake.

Poison cake

Poison cake in refrigerator

Once upon a time there was a Prince who was about to have a birthday.  His grandmother decided to make him a special cake for his birthday–a Black Forest Cake.  Since his birthday came in June when the beautiful big black Bing cherries were in season, grandmother had cherries in her refrigerator. And being a grandmother, she always had a lot of chocolate around. She was prepared to make a large chocolate cake and fill and frost it with a cherry icing.

So the grandmother looked at recipes and picked one called an Authentic German Black Forest Cake. She decided to top the finished cake with chocolate covered cherries instead of candles.  She measured and mixed and baked three layers of chocolate cake. At this point in the story, if she had been the wicked grandmother, she would have been preparing a poison cake.  But she was not the wicked grandmother.

While the cake was baking, she pitted a bowl of cherries, briefly wondering if she missed a cherry pit and it wound up in the chocolate covered cherries she was putting on top of the cake if it would cause a choking problem.  She decided she would just give the usual warning about being careful of missed pits.

Then grandmother used a filling recipe from another web site, and chopped some cherries. The day before the Prince’s celebration, grandmother put a small batch of the pitted cherries into a deep container, got out her stick blender and whirred them into a cherry puree.  She mixed butter, sugar and pureed and chopped cherries into a luscious pink filling, which she spread on top of two of the layers of cake, after drizzling cherry juice over the cake layers.

The three-layered cake went into the refrigerator so the cherry juice would have time overnight to soak in.  Grandmother, pleased with her work, sat down with the bowl of leftover filling and ate every leftover bite. The small amount of leftover cherry puree went into the refrigerator beside the cake.

The next morning, Grandmother put the bit of leftover cherry puree on her cereal.  But as she ate, her teeth crunch down on something hard. Uh-Oh.  One of the cherry pits had escaped notice and been pulverized by the stick blender and mixed into the beautiful pink cake filling.

Remembering that she had read that apricot pits are toxic, she decided to check on cherry pits.  She did not intend to bake a poison cake. [She recalled that her ancestors in aprons used bitter almond to flavor baked goods until it was discovered to be toxic.) Sure enough, she read this on Bon Appetit’s website:

Don’t freak out if you accidentally swallow a cherry pit—they’re rarely poisonous when eaten whole—but whatever you do, don’t eat a broken pit. Because aside from tasting really bitter and generally being impossible to chew, the stones of certain stone fruits, like cherries, apricots, plums and peaches, contain cyanogenic compounds—science talk for “stuff that your body can turn into cyanide.” So, how many cherry pits is a lethal amount of cherry pits? After some quick Googling, we found that hydrogen cyanide is lethal at about 1.52 milligrams per kilogram, meaning that it takes little more than 0.1 grams (a dime weighs about one gram) of the toxin to dispatch a 150-pound human. A single cherry yields roughly 0.17 grams of lethal cyanide per gram of seed, so depending on the size of the kernel, ingesting just one or two freshly crushed pits can lead to death.

Since this grandmother did not want to wind up as the wicked grandmother in a fairy tale, she threw the beautiful three-layer cake with filling into the garbage can.  She did this even though, she had eaten quite a bit of the filling the night before, and more of the puree in the morning, and still was healthy. But not being the evil grandmother, she did not want to take a chance on feeding poison cake to the Prince and his family. So she made a new cake.

Not poison cake

Black Forest two-layer cake with chocolate covered cherries.

The moral of the story is: Rather than poison the Prince, throw away the cake and start over again.

For the non-poisonous version recipe for Black Forest Cake, follow this link.

Ohio State Buckeyes–The Guaranteed Winner in PB and Chocolate

Will a plate of Buckeyes affect the outcome of a football rivalry? A guaranteed winner.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State Buckeye Cookies

Are they cookies or candy?  Whatever Buckeyes are–the ones we are baking and eating today are NOT the Buckeye nut.  That nut, related to the Hickory, can be eaten by deer and squirrels, but not humans.  They look kinda like the little cookies/candy on the plate.

This weekend the whole state of Ohio vibrates with excitement. It is the weekend of THE BIG GAME.  The Buckeyes play against “That state up North”.  If that is not enough of a clue for the football clueless, team _e_bers are cautioned against using the 13th letter of the alphabet for a week. (Which can be tricky when you are addressing Coach Urban _eyer).

The rivalry goes WAAAAY back.  In fact, even before the first football game the two schools played, in 1897, way back before 1837 when Michigan became a state, the two states were skirmishing on the political field.  What is now called Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, belonged to Ohio.  A complicated deal traded the city of Toledo and the Toledo Strip to Ohio and the Upper Peninsula to Michigan, after a war of words known as The Toledo War.

Harriette Anderson Joins the Buckeyes

Ohio State University stadium

The Ohio State “Shoe” in 1923–one year after it was built.

My mother was attending Ohio State in 1923 a year after the “Shoe”, the massive new stadium, opened.  The second game in that stadium in 1922 was against Michigan Wolverines and announcers said the crowd was 72,000.  That in a stadium with 62,210 seats!  Crowd sizes measure the enthusiasm even that far back for the rivalry game.

Family Tradition Continues

I arrived at Ohio State in 1956 and promptly joined “Block O” a section of students who made pictures out of cards they held up.  Ten years later, my sister also became one of the Buckeyes.  She has never recovered from the fact that Ohio State’s marching band, TBDBITL–The Best Damned Band in the Land, was all male until AFTER she graduated, so she never got to play her trumpet out on that hallowed field.

Here’s a page with all the skinny  on the rivalry. When I was a student at Ohio State, we won two and lost two, but recently, the state up north as not been doing so well.

Game Time Sweets–The Recipe

But on with the Buckeyes cookies–or candy if that’s your category for this peanut butter/chocolate treat.

According to a December 1972 recipe in OSU employee newsletter, the Buckeyes recipe was invented in 1967 (just seven years after I graduated from Ohio State).  The “original” contains paraffin, which I wouldn’t want to put into the chocolate coating even if I had any on hand. But if you want to try the original–be my guest.

Instead, I surfed for a different version of Buckeyes, and found this slightly lower-sugar, lower-fat recipe on the Smitten Kitchen site.  Rather than repeat it here, I suggest you follow the link to Smitten Kitchen.

However, I must warn you that the volume amounts and the measurements by weight did not compute on my scale.  For instance, I found that a 1-pound jar of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter made a generous cup and a half, which equals 454 grams, not 145, and was definitely enough peanut butter for my taste. I don’t know why she thought 190 grams would be necessary.

Also, the air is dry here in Arizona, which may have accounted for the dough being too dry to form into balls until I added another couple of tablespoons of melted butter.  So play it by ear.

I used dark chocolate chips instead of chopped chocolate.

Finally, getting the dough dipped in the chocolate so that only a little spot of peanut butter filling shows was much harder than I thought it would be. It would be a snap to just cover half the ball, but that doesn’t look like a buckeye to me.  Smitten Kitchen’s methods didn’t work for me. Let me know how you cope with that step.

I’m hoping we will win tomorrow, but on the list of unpredictability–the outcome of the annual Ohio State Buckeye/Michigan Wolverine game stands out.  You never know what will happen.  Wish us luck.

But peanut butter and chocolate is a guaranteed winner. Have a cookie.

Ohio State Buckeyes. Great football team. Great cookie. Fitting pillow.

Buckeyes and pillow

Buckeyes with the never humble pillow for THE Ohio State University alumni.