If you have a sweet tooth, desserts are a wonderful thing. I do have a sweet tooth, probably inherited from both sides of my family. In a recent article I wrote about my Grandma Moore’s fondness for sweets; she was my mother’s mother. My father also had an extreme case of sweet tooth. As a matter of fact, I learned early that I had to hide my Easter baskets from him.
But there are distinctions among desserts; some are … better than others. Not sweeter, but more intense. Cakes and cookies are good, but the flavor is more intense when they are in a gooier, more primitive form – cake batter and cookie dough. People have known this for quite a long time. This is why cookie dough is now a staple add-in at ice cream parlors. My college roommate and I kept a roll of cookie dough in our dorm room refrigerator for emergencies. Fluff and the better cake icings also fall into this category (not the super-sweet ones, however!). The nice thing about these “intense” desserts is that you only have to eat a little bit to experience the euphoria.
The moister the cake, the better it tends to taste. Carry this logic to its extreme and you come to cake batter. As a child, I never understood why people bothered to bake the batter. “Sopping the bowl” is one of my fondest childhood memories. Some people call this “licking the bowl.”
There are actually three parts to sopping or licking the bowl: sopping the bowl, licking the spoon, and licking the beaters. If you have three children who have to share, it is interesting to see who will choose which item to lick. Most will choose the bowl, thinking that it will have the most batter, and sometimes they are right (though judicious moms will leave a little extra on the spoon). For certain stiffer and stickier batters, however, I have found that the beaters are the best bet. I can roll my tongue, so I have always aced licking the beaters – nothing is left. My daughters have inherited this talent, and they also know the spoon is a good deal, so I usually get left with the bowl.
I have to pity my daughters a little bit, however. When I was a child, all baked desserts were fair game. Whenever I knew that my mother was baking something, I stuck to her like glue, waiting for “the payoff.” But as the years passed, some desserts became forbidden in their raw form. The culprit? Eggs. Although the risk of salmonella infection from raw eggs has been considerably reduced over the years, I’m not going to run that risk. The result is that some cake batters and cookie doughs are off limits to my daughters. One of the most pathetic duties I have had as a mother is saying “No” to them when they ask to lick the bowl.
The best solution has been to find desserts we love that are wonderful when cooked and safe to eat in raw form. There is one dessert that stands at the very pinnacle: Ho Ho Cake. It has three components and (for me) takes three days to make. And each component is safe to lick from the bowl. Heaven.
The original recipe was shared with my by a generous lady at our church. Her recipe calls for the cake part to be devil’s food cake (a mix will do) and the chocolate fudge icing had raw egg yolks(!). Only the fluffy white “ho ho” part could be sopped safely from the bowl, as it had no eggs. The first change I made to the recipe was to replace the egg yolks with cream. Then, figuring that anything worth doing is overdoing, I replaced the devil’s food cake part with a recipe for “Death by Chocolate” cake (a recipe shared by another wonderful cook I know; to make the Death by Chocolate cake, just cover the cake part of the following recipe with German chocolate icing). The whole cake can probably be made in one day, but each layer has to cool and set before the next layer can be applied. I usually make it during the week in the evenings; hence it takes three successive evenings. However, the work has always been worth it, since the cook often gets a good share of “the soppins.”
Below is a picture of the cake at a birthday party some years back, followed by the recipe.
Ho Ho Cake
1 box German Chocolate Cake mix (pudding in the mix)
1 bar Baker’s German Chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
8 oz. sour cream
1/3 C. oil
1 C. water
6 oz. chocolate chips
Mix cake mix, chocolate, sour cream, oil, and water together. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured pan (I use a 13x8 glass pan). Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. (I leave it in the pan.) Cool completely.
5 Talespoons flour
1 8-oz. stick butter, softened
1/2 C. Crisco shortening
1-1/4 C. milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 C. granulated sugar
Cook flour and milk in pan until thick. Let cool. Place in mixer bowl with softened butter, vanilla, Crisco, and sugar. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Spread evenly over cooled cake to about 1/4 inch from edge of pan. Chill.
4-1/2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 sticks (12 ounces) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons light cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
Melt 1-1/2 sticks butter and chocolate. Let cool. Add vanilla and salt to it in mixer bowl. Heat cream slightly, add, and beat. Add powdered sugar gradually. Beat until smooth; don’t let it get lumpy. Spread evenly over filling.
Keep cake refrigerated.