My sister, Jennifer, is back with a chocolate cake destined to rock fall festivals everywhere. In return, I took her 3-year-old to the Disney Store. Are we square here? Depends on whether she saved me a slice of that cake. – Rebecca

By Jennifer Rather.

Halloween is a time of quiet desperation at our house. Children to be costumed, navigational points to be plotted so we can hit all of the grandparents’ houses, mass quantities of candy to be hidden so they actually make it to Halloween night. And always, in the middle of it, someone brings home The Note.

You know The Note. It goes something like this: “Please let us know if you will make a cake for the cakewalk at school/church/shelter for wayward shar peis.”

I usually see The Note long after my man cubs have signed me up to make said cake. Since I stay home with their little sisters, the boys see me as having nothing but free time that I can spend with wild abandon! So there’s no buying a cake and slapping it on a plate. They want to lick the beaters and “help.”

Welcome to Jennifer’s No-Fail Cakewalk Cake.

I start with Paula Deen’s Chocolate Pound Cake recipe for two major reasons: Paula Deen can make a cake, and it uses cocoa powder. No double boilers, no 65% cocoa nibulets, just powder. Make it in a bundt pan, and call it wonderful.

Next is the vanilla glaze. You can whisk together powdered sugar, cream and vanilla or – depending on how tired you are – you can use store-bought icing (gasp!). Slap some in a bowl, microwave it for 30 seconds, and pour it over the cake.

The final step is the where the love comes in and makes the men delcare it “perfect-o!” Take some Reese’s Pieces, crush them with a rolling pin, and sprinkle them on top. Peanut butter always goes with chocolate, and some smart somebody already made these Reese’s Pieces in festive fall colors – brown, yellow and orange.

It’s a secret weapon cake for non-Alpha Moms, and it’s always the first to be picked in a cakewalk. I have four years of Fall Festivals as testimony.

And don’t be turned off by the amount of butter, sugar and eggs! Hopefully, it’s going home with someone else.

Cakewalk Cake

Although this cake is dark, it doesn’t have a very pronounced chocolate flavor, so if you want a super-chocolaty experience, you’ll need to top it with a chocolate glaze or ganache.

Adapted from Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook”

    Cake:

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
    Vanilla Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
OR
    Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 small package Reese’s Pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the sour cream, and blend well.
  4. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add the vanilla.
  6. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa.
  7. Add 1/2 the flour mixture to the creamed mixture; beat well. Add the remaining 1/2 flour mixture, and continue to beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. (If necessary, continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes, but do not open the oven to check the cake for at least 1 hour.)
  9. Remove from the oven, and cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a plate. Set aside to cool.
  10. For the Vanilla Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, cream and vanilla until completely blended. If the glaze is too thick, add more cream, a little at a time. Pour glaze onto cake, letting it run down the sides. Set aside.
  11. For the Chocolate Ganache: Measure the chocolate chips into a bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan, and warm it over medium heat. When the cream starts to simmer, take it off the heat, and pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for 5 minutes; then stir until fully blended. Pour or drizzle the ganache onto the cooled cake. Set aside.
  12. Place the Reese’s Pieces in a resealable plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin.
  13. Sprinkle crushed candy on top of the glaze.