Better Than Sex Cake, or, Piña Colada Pudding Cake


Presented without comment, except to say that a mimeographed copy of a recipe labelled simply 'BETTER THAN SEX' and previously owned by my grandmother is probably the best way to explain my 2018 so far. Happy Valentine's Day, friends!


the verdict: 

3 spoons out of five. This cake is really tasty and (these days) unusual, but the whole 'make it the night before, then decorate it right before you serve it' make it a bit of a faff and I can't see myself going through it again. That said, if pineapple and coconut are your thing, this cake is a moist tropical paradise with the texture of a sticky toffee pudding and all the flavour of a beachside cocktail. Make up a different name for it and serve it to your friends, and no one will be the wiser.



The recipe:

Better Than Sex Cake

the directions:

Make cake as directed.
While cake bakes, heat pineapple and sugar to a boil and cook until sugar melts and mixture thickens slightly.
When cake is done baking, poke all over with a wooden skewer.
Once cake is mostly cool, pour pineapple mixture over it and spread evenly.
Allow to cool completely, then spread pudding evenly over cake.
Refrigerate overnight.
Immediately before serving, whip the cream with powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
Spread whipped cream over cake and decorate with toasted coconut.

the ingredients:

1 recipe yellow cake (from ½ of this recipe, or your favourite 8x8 cake)
10 oz (295ml) crushed pineapple with juice
½ c (100g) sugar
2 c (470ml) vanilla pudding (your favourite recipe or, if you're stateside, 1 3.4oz box instant vanilla pudding)
1 ½ c (360ml) whipping cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
¼ c (20g) desiccated coconut, toasted in the oven until brown

Chocolate-Cherry Whipped Cream Cake, or, A Valentine's Day Treat


An unpopular opinion (or three): my three favourite holidays (in order, Halloween, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day) are everyone else's least favourite. What do they all have in common, you ask? Sugar.* Whether in the form of peanut butter (I can't be the only one who associates peanut butter with Halloween, right?), champagne or the darkest chocolate feasible, I'm always a happy camper in the weeks leading up to these holidays.

And If there's any more quintessentially Valentine's Day flavour combination than cherries and chocolate, then I dunno what it is. Add whipped cream to the mix and I'm in, because we all know how much I adore a whipped cream cake. So while this one didn't turn out quite like I planned, it was still delicious- a black forest cake without the 1970s feel, a simple-but-festive frosting, and decadent cherries to round it all out.


This is the kind of cake you could whip out when you have friends coming over and no one has to know how simple it was to make, or the kind of thing you can easily make just because it's a Wednesday night and it's been too long since you had cake. The heart on top is much easier than I thought it would be and totally optional anyway; for bonus trend points and to make the whole process even easier, you can also leave the sides of the cake bald.

This is what the batter will look like if you don't temper it as below- tan with chocolate flecks throughout. Tastes fine, looks like a dark vanilla cake when baked.

This is what the batter will look like if you don't temper it as below- tan with chocolate flecks throughout. Tastes fine, looks like a dark vanilla cake when baked.

After removing the paper template.

After removing the paper template.


If you live somewhere where you somehow have access to fresh cherries this time of year, this would be amazing with homemade cherry filling, but why complicate things? And as for the unexpected surprise I ran into while making this, I really should have seen it coming: you can't mix warm melted chocolate (or even 'melted and cooled') chocolate into a cold liquid batter made of refrigerated cream without the chocolate seizing up. Luckily this didn't affect the flavour, but it did make the cake itself much lighter than a normal cake with this much chocolate in it. (Kind of a fun surprise when you taste it and it's still got a rich chocolate flavour despite looking like a vanilla cake, though!). Lucky for you, I've troubleshot the instructions below so your cake should come out much darker than mine. Good luck!

*And, let's be real, really good outfits.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. Really tasty, but cakes frosted with whipped cream are always best eaten as soon as they are made, which limits the times when this is the perfect option.

One year ago: Party Mix
two years ago: Twice-Cooked Broccoli

the recipe:

Chocolate-Cherry Whipped Cream Cake

the directions:

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Melt chocolate until JUST smooth and set aside to cool.
Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch layer pans.
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, then set aside.
Whip cream until stiff.
Fold in eggs and almond flavouring gently.
In a small bowl, combine well-cooled chocolate with a few spoonfuls of batter at a time, stirring well as you go. (This will help keep the mixture from splitting when you add the chocolate.)
Once mixture is uniform, add another few spoonfuls of batter to your chocolate mixture and stir again until uniform, then add chocolate mixture back into your batter and blend until combined.
Pour into pans and bake 25-30 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out clean and cake has slightly pulled away from sides of pan.
Set cake aside to cool completely.

Filling and topping:

Cut a heart shape from parchment paper and set aside.
Whip cream with almond flavouring, gradually adding powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
Once cake is completely cooled, pipe or spoon a rim of whipped cream around the edge of your bottom cake layer, then carefully spoon about 2/3 of your pie filling into the centre.
Place your top layer, then put a dab of cherry filling in the centre of the top layer to 'glue' your paper heart in the centre of the cake.
Once the heart is placed, carefully cover the rest of the top of the cake with whipped cream.
Peel away the heart gently and spoon the remaining cherry pie filling into the empty heart shape.

Best enjoyed on the day it's made, but will keep 24 hours in the fridge.

the ingredients:
the cake:

3 oz (90g) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 ¼ c (270g) flour
1 ½ c (300g) sugar
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 2/3 c (390ml) whipping cream
3 eggs, beaten well
1 tsp almond extract






the filling and topping:

1 ½ c (355ml) whipping cream
½ tsp almond extract
¼ c (30g) powdered sugar, sifted
1 can (410g) cherry pie filling

Strawberry Charlotte Russe

In further efforts to continue to use up the massive Jell-O stash I came back from the US with, I decided to whip up one last summery dessert as these days are feeling more like Indian Summer than fall here in Edinburgh, and of course because I didn't want to eat an entire charlotte by myself (or even with Judson's help), I sent it to work with him. But I guess I didn't do a good enough job of explaining to him what it was, because the next time I ran into his coworkers at a happy hour a few days later, they all thanked me for 'the pink Jell-O cake', which actually only sounds marginally weirder than what a charlotte actually is.

This is one of those desserts I've always wanted to try (probably because my favourite shop as a kid was named after it) but never really had any idea what it was or how to make it, and the little amount of knowledge I had about it had me thinking it was way too difficult to experiment with. In doing some research before I started this, I learned that this is, in fact, a charlotte russe, differentiated from a regular charlotte by the fact that it's filled with fruit and bavarian cream (itself differentiated from pastry cream by the presence of gelatin) rather than cake or... other stuff. Confusingly, a charlotte royale is also completely different, being surrounded by swiss roll instead of lady fingers.

Lining for the pan

Lining for the pan


It turns out it's not too difficult (as long as you start with pre-made lady fingers!*), but it is a pretty weird dessert so I don't know that I'll be making it again any time soon. It's good if you have a large group you're making it for, because you're not going to want more than one slice of it and it's not a dessert that keeps well.

*Ok, so my grocery store used to sell lady fingers, and I always wondered why because they're a pretty boring biscuit. Of course, as soon as I decided to make this recipe, ALL OF THE supermarkets in Edinburgh seemed to stop selling them at once. I eventually found a single package at my local Scotmid... but when I unwrapped them, it turned out they read 'BOUDOIR' on one side. Why??


The verdict:

3 spoons out of five. Overall, it was totally worth it and I recommend making it if you really love pink... or if you have one last summer fling before autumn starts.


two years ago: Crab Souffle

the recipe:

Strawberry Charlotte Russe

the directions:

Line the sides of a springform tin with parchment or waxed paper.
Cut ladyfingers in half and arrange them vertically around the edge of the pan, flat side down. (Note that I was afraid the charlotte would be so deep that I only cut the ends off. This was unnecessary and meant that I didn't have enough pieces to fully surround the charlotte. If you're using a standard 8 or 9-inch springform pan, you'll only need lady fingers that are about 1 1/2 inches tall, so you can slice the cookies in half without a problem).
Set prepared pan aside while you prepare the filling.
Place gelatin in a large bowl and pour boiling water over.
Stir well until dissolved, then set aside.
Combine strawberries, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
Stir until sugar is dissolved, then add to gelatin mixture.
Gently fold in whipped cream, then spoon or pour carefully into the prepared pan.
Chill until firm, at least 5 hours, but preferably overnight.
Remove the sides of springform pan and the waxed paper.
Decorate top with additional whipped cream and whole strawberries.

the ingredients:

1 pkg lady fingers
6 oz. strawberry gelatin (powdered)
2 c boiling water
1 ½ c strawberries, lightly crushed + additional whole strawberries for decorating
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 c whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks + additional for decorating