This cheerful Pink Lemonade Cake would be the perfect centerpiece for a springtime party. It’s bright pink color is eye-catching and the cake pops with lemon flavor – just like the drink it is named after. This is a chiffon cake, which is a fluffy, moist cake that is primarily leavened with meringue, much like angel food cake. The cake uses both fresh lemon juice and zest to give it a strong lemonade flavor, and it is topped with a drizzle of lemon glaze that makes the flavor stand out even more.
The main flavor in this cake is lemon, as is the main flavor in a glass of pink lemonade. Pink lemonade is regular lemonade that has been dyed pink using either food coloring or a small splash of a reddish fruit juice, such as strawberry, cherry or cranberry. The origins of pink lemonade are unclear, but almost every origin story claims that the color was added to regular lemonade by accident, and that the perky pink kept customers coming back for more. This cake also just has a splash of red added just to give it a pink color, not necessarily to add flavor. You can use a few drops of red food coloring, an “all natural red food coloring” or even a few teaspoons of all natural grenadine (a bar syrup made from pomegranates, although there are many versions that are little more than food coloring and corn syrup). Use restraint with the food coloring, since you want this cake to be pink and not red.
The inspiration for this cake came from a Pink Lemonade Cake printed in a recent issue of Cook’s Country. It looked beautiful and, since I love lemon, I tried it soon after getting the magazine. Unfortunately, it had very little lemon flavor and the cream cheese frosting nearly overwhelmed the tender cake, although it looked very pretty. I still loved the color, but used some of my favorite citrus chiffon cake recipes (Lime and Strawberry Lemonade) to boost the flavor considerably to make this cake a whole lot more lemony.
Chiffon cakes typically keep very well and this cake is no exception. It will stay moist and fresh for many days when stored in an airtight container, so it can easily be made a day or two in advance of when you want to serve it.
Like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day is a day that many people celebrate with gifts of flowers and chocolate, as well as by going out to eat. I prefer to stay in on Mother’s Day and have brunch at home. I know that I’ll get great food when it comes out of my own kitchen and you get to skip the hassle of eating out on one of the busiest days of the year for the restaurant industry. Plus, making the meal itself is a gift to Mom – or, at least, doing all the cleanup so she doesn’t have to can be! This year, I am going with a chocolate themed menu for brunch. There is never a bad time of day for chocolate and if your Mom likes it as much as mine, any one of these dishes is sure to be a hit!
- French toast is one of my favorite brunch items and Chocolate French Toast – served with a drizzle of chocolate syrup, instead of maple syrup if you really want it to be decadent – is a must for chocolate lovers. Add some bacon and make it into a chocolate french toast and bacon sandwich if you want a salty-sweet element to brunch.
- Chocolate Waffles are another very chocolaty brunch item. These waffles are crisp and tender, with a good chocolate flavor from a generous amount of cocoa powder in the batter. These are great with fresh fruit.
- If pancakes are your brunch item of choice, Chocolate Chip Pancakes are the way to go. It is easy to throw chocolate chips into your favorite pancake recipe and those chips will melt as the pancakes cook, leaving you with deliciously melting bits of chocolate in just about every bite of pancake.
- For something that is not at all traditional brunch fare, but is a fantastic item to serve at a celebration, try your hand at Churros con Chocolate. These homemade churros are light and crisp, and are served with a rich chocolate dipping sauce that is a must-try for any chocolate lover. The churros also make a fantastic after dinner treat.
- Banana Nutella Bran Muffins are decadent and healthy at the same time, and are a nice balanced item to add to the brunch menu. If your mom is a real Nutella fan, try making a batch of Homemade Nutella to spread on toast or simply to give her as a gift.
If you’re cooking out, you have a chance to make one of the best summertime desserts out there: campfire s’mores. Campfire s’mores are the original s’mores, where the marshmallows are toasted over and open flame and sandwiched with a piece of chocolate between two crisp graham crackers. Despite the name, you don’t really need a campfire (although it doesn’t hurt). Typically, I opt for a barbecue with the heat cranked up or a fire pit (which more s’mores-loving people are installing in their back yards!) to make s’mores.
To make s’mores, you need graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows and fire-proof skewers. Wood skewers are probably the most traditional, but long metal ones are generally the best choice. You want a chocolate that melts well from the heat of the marshmallow, so a milk chocolates, with their high cocoa butter content, tend to be better choices than dark chocolates for sheer meltability. Jet puff marshmallows tend to give better results than homemade because they hold up to the heat better. Any kind of graham cracker big enough to contain the chocolate and marshmallow goodness will work.
Chocolate is a staple in any baker’s kitchen. Chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, white chocolate – and from the standard baking fare, it is not a big leap to move onto other chocolate candies. I’ve used chocolate malt balls, peanut butter cups and chocolate covered toffees before, amongst other things. While you can cook with a lot of different types of candies, some are always overlooked for baking purposes. Perhaps they’re simply meant to be enjoyed as they are. Perhaps they just haven’t had the right opportunity.
I took a recent opportunity to do a little baking with some Mini Cadbury Creme Eggs, embedding them right in the center of a muffin. It seemed like a fun Easter baking experiment to use the eggs as a filling in one of my basic muffin recipes. I opted for muffins, rather than cupcakes, because muffin batter is thicker and I wanted something that would support the weight of the Creme Egg. Also, since the eggs have a very sweet fondant filling, I figured that a sweet cupcake with a sweet frosting would be too much to pair with the egg. The mini eggs are about 1/4 the size of a typical Cadbury Creme Egg, with a fairly thick chocolate shell and not too much filling. They are the perfect size to fit into a muffin tin and be covered with batter.
I was surprised with how well the muffins turned out, and even more impressed with how good the center looked after baking. The eggs held their shape very well and the sugary fondant inside cooked to a firmer consistency than it had when it went into the oven. This meant that I didn’t get the oozing I anticipated when I cut into a muffin, but it did make the whole thing much easier to eat. The muffin itself is tender and moist, with a good vanilla flavor. It is sweet, but not so sweet that it would be mistaken for a cupcake. The egg center is like a prize – a sweet, chocolaty, edible prize - inside of the muffin, since you don’t expect it until you bite right into it.
Overall? I wouldn’t trot these out at just any Sunday brunch, but they’re definitely a fun way to celebrate Easter. And also not a bad way to prevent yourself from eating a whole batch of Cadbury Mini Creme Eggs in one go, since you’ll have to eat through each muffin to get to them first.