Shrimp and Sherry Cheese Spread
Braised Pork Hash
Baked Cheese Grits
My Mother's Chocolate Pound Cake
Well, it is the first Sunday of 2011. Being born and raised in the South it is only natural that I would make this meal. In case you are not familiar with this Southern tradition, it involves eating black-eyed peas and greens on the first day (in my case Sunday) of the New Year. The black-eyed peas when cooked swell in size, therefore they represent prosperity. The green color of the collard greens represents good fortune. Prosperity and fortune--I can't think of a better reason to eat your veggies. Well, I guess our health is important too:) Continuing with the Southern theme of this menu, I couldn't think of a better dessert than my Mother's Chocolate Pound Cake. I know--pound cake; every one seems to have a recipe. But this one takes the cake (pun intended).
We didn't eat many sweets growing up. Sheer torture I tell you. But when we did, they were really good. This cake is the perfect example. Just looking at that picture invokes wonderful memories; mostly of picnics packed with cold fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, and various pickled vegetables. The cake was never on a cake stand. Instead it was always wrapped in aluminum foil, sliced, and eaten out of hand. Any leftovers were stored under the aluminum foil and left on the counter to tempt the passerby. Me, I was always tempted and I still am to this day.
This cake is not only wonderful in flavor, but it is another make-ahead dessert (love those). In fact, I recommend making it at least a day in advance. This is one of those cakes that improve with age. Chocolate, dense, tender, and moist--so satisfying and so yummy!
I am a seasonal cook, but this is one of my desserts that I make year round. In the Spring, I serve it with a rhubarb and strawberry sauce and a dollop of whipped crème fraiche. In the Summer we enjoy it with berries and whipped cream. And in the Fall and Winter, we eat it as is or maybe with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
As many of my readers know, we break out the linen napkins and light the candles for our Sunday dinners. But for nostalgia reasons tonight, I think we are going to clear the table after dinner, take the cake to the kitchen, slice a piece, then eat it with one hand and the other hand underneath to catch the crumbs. Then I will cover it with aluminum foil and try not to wake up in the middle of the night to sneak a sliver and enjoy it with a tall glass of cold milk (another way I enjoy this cake).
Happy New Year!
May you reflect on the memories of kitchens past and create new ones in the year to come.
Chocolate Pound Cake
yields one 9-inch bundt pan
Note: Cake is always better if made the day before
12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
5 extra large eggs at room temperature
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325º F. Spray a 9-inch bundt pan with non-stick baking spray.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light in color. One at time, add the eggs to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Add the vanilla and beat again until blended.
Add the dry ingredients in thirds alternating with the milk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and blend.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
Source: My mother who received the recipe from a patient of my grandfather around 1966