Posts Tagged ‘Penzeys’

Shortcut Dobosh Torte

Today’s post is in honor of my dad, Grady. Today would have been his 78th birthday. My mom’s writing encouraged me to start this blog. But it was my dad’s love of food and cooking that inspired me to cook. 

Dad (aka Poops) was not a fan of desserts but he loved this Shortcut Dobosh (Dobos?) Torte. Growing up, I made it for Father’s Day and his birthday almost every year. After reading the Wikipedia link for Dobos Torte, I am not convinced this is a true Dobosh Torte, but it certainly is a fast version. The secret to this quick torte/cake is pancake mix! I know it sounds odd, but it makes a nice torte. The cake layers are dense and spongy, yet light and airy at the same time. I have no idea where we acquired the recipe – it’s another faded clipping in my mom’s old photo album cookbook. It’s been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. I’ve made a few changes over the years, but it’s roughly the same recipe.

Back in 2006, Penzeys Spices, published a cooking magazine, Penzeys One. Each issue had a theme and they asked readers and catalogue subscribers to submit recipes matching the theme. For this particular issue (Volume 1, Issue 4), Penzeys issued a call for recipes from folks named Smith. Well, I’m a Smith so I submitted a few recipes. This torte recipe was selected (along with my Roasted Rosemary Walnuts recipe). They wrote a nice article and included a few photos. If you click on the photos, at the end of this post, you might be able to read the article if you are inclined. Or, if you want, you can even order back issues of the magazine. They are $6 plus $2 shipping. You can usually get back issues at Penzeys retail shops, too.

Hope you will give this recipe a try, even though it sounds odd since it’s made with pancake mix! Enjoy…

Shortcut Dobosh Torte (Print recipe)


5 eggs

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla (Penzeys of course!)

1 cup sugar

1½ cups pancake mix (We use Bisquick. I wonder if the gluten-free mix would work?!?)



2 cups whipping cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder (Penzeys :)

pinch of espresso powder (or instant coffee), optional 



2 squares (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate, shaved or grated

¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, salt, and vanilla. Beat until thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Fold in the pancake mix. Pour into two* greased and wax paper (or parchment) lined 9×1½ inch round cake pans.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Then, remove the cakes from the pans. Peel off the waxed paper or parchment paper. Let the layers cool completely on a cookie rack.

Now the tricky part…using wooden toothpicks as guides, split each cake into two layers (so you end up with four even layers). My layers were usually lopsided. So I came up with a different method…

*I pour the batter evenly into three round cake pans. So no slicing of the layers is needed. It doesn’t matter if the cake is three layers or four layers. You could even use two pans and keep them whole. You would have extra frosting that could be used to frost the sides. So it would be a 2-layered cake instead of torte. It would still taste good!

Please use the method you prefer (which might be limited by the number of round cake pans you have!).

Make filling by combining whipping cream, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Whip until creamy and thick.

To assemble torte, place cake layer on serving plate cut side down (if you sliced your layers). Spread with 1 cup of filling; sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of  the shaved chocolate. Repeat for the remaining layers.

Garnish: Sprinkle toasted almonds and grated chocolate on the top layer. Serves: 10-12.

Post 10/13 – My Must Haves in the Kitchen

January 15, 2012 8 comments

I am taking a little break from writing recipes and doing something different.  I’ve been compiling a list of some of my favorite things in the kitchen.  I imagine this list will grow and evolve over time.  I would love to hear some of your must haves, it you want to share.  Missing from my list is a knife.  Most cooks would list this as a must have, I use them often, but I don’t have one I like enough to include on the list.  Kinda sad.  Must remedy this one day. 

In no particular order, here are a few (actually 25!) of my favorite things in the kitchen:

1.  KitchenAid hand blender – one of my favorite kitchen tools!  They are so handy.  Gotta be careful though, if you start too fast, you can sling food all over the kitchen.  Also, a helpful tip…it does not work for mashed potatoes.  Unless of course, you’re looking for a new glue or cement substitute!  It does however, make a great sweet potato purée.

2.  Penzeys spices – My sister Anne got me hooked on Penzeys ( years ago. The company used to be mainly mail order (unless you lived Wisconsin), but now there are shops all over the country. Even in Birmingham, AL!  Yahoo!  Some of my favorites:  Aleppo Pepper, Black and Red Spice, the Double Strength Vanilla, Buttermilk Ranch, Shallot Salt, and too many more to name.  They have gift boxes that make wonderful gifts for weddings, housewarmings, etc.

3.  White vinegar – It is a useful cooking ingredient and it is great for cleaning.  We buy it in bulk in a 5-liter jug.

4.  Cast iron skillet – My mom’s cast iron skillet is a cherished family treasure.  I use it just for cornbread.  I have more cast iron cookware that I use for other things, but this one is special.

5.  Company – I love company when I cook, especially when it is Matt.  We have a great time cooking together.  We are sometimes joined by our adorable side-kick Will.  He’s our almost 15-year old rescue Sheltie.  My Dad would be rolling in his grave if he knew we let a dog in the kitchen (a huge no-no when I was a kid).  Will sleeps in the corner on his little rug; he’s a pack animal, and he loves being with us.  Here’s a blurry photo of him actually sitting on his rug.  He hardly ever sits like a normal dog! While I was taking the photo, he started to lie down, thus the bluriness.  I’m just glad we have a photo of him sitting.  It makes me smile.

6.  Salt – Yes, I know too much salt is bad for you.  But I can’t help it; I like salt in moderation.  We have several different types of salt:  Kosher (my stand-by), Maltese sea salt (I saw them collecting it when I was there), Celtic grey salt, Hawaiian red salt, Maldon sea salt flakes, Alder smoked salt (perfect for finishing a simple grilled fish), and Murray River pink salt.

7.  Apple cider vinegar – Great for so many things, especially salad dressings and Katie-Ade (a “gross” drink that I make when I’m fighting a cold: garlic, ginger, honey, cayenne, and apple cider vinegar).

8.  The Baker’s Catalogue – King Arthur Flour in Vermont has a great catalog and website (  They have excellent recipes, kitchen tools, and ingredients.

9.  Crock pot – Such a convenient, almost magical invention…you can put in steel-cut oats and a few other ingredients (a future post), cover it, turn it on low, and you have a delicious breakfast when you wake up the next morning.  Or in the morning, you can fill it with beans, water, seasoning, and veggies and have a hearty veggie dinner when you come home from work.  Probably shouldn’t admit this, but we have three crock pots (small, medium, and large)!  We combined two households when we got married and then inherited another when my Mom died. 

10.  Sieves – We have a small one, big one, and a conical one with a stand. 

11.  Pyrex measuring cups – We have a set of three (1 cup, 2 cup, and 4 cup).  You can use them for so many things.  I love the large one for making microwave iced tea.

12.  Wire whisks – We have a tiny one, medium one, and a long-handled one.  Hmmm, I’m sensing a pattern here.  Ah, gotta love merging kitchens, hand-me-downs, and wedding gifts!

13.  KitchenAid stand mixer – I’ve had it since 1990 and it still works the same!  For our wedding, two years ago, we got a pasta attachment for it, we love it! 

14.  Coffee grinder – We have one for coffee and one for spices!  Perfect for making your own curry seasoning blend or spice rub.

15.  Wooden rice paddle – Bought it from our friends’ yard sale.  Didn’t know what it was at first, I just thought it was a short, squatty wooden spoon.  Had no idea how handy it was.  Not just useful for rice, I use it for lots of things.

16.  Kitchen shears – We got a nice pair of kitchen shears as a gift, thanks to my MIL!  What a difference sharp blades make!  Now, our old shears are relegated to opening packages and snipping herbs.

17.  Latex-free gloves – Kind of dorky but I find them useful.  Especially with all my allergies (including latex).  They are especially helpful when working with hot peppers.

18.  Kitchen scale – Great for portion control and useful when converting European recipes into American recipes. 

19.  Olive oil – There has been talk recently in the media about olive oil fraud.  Scary what manufacturers can pass off as olive oil.  Please be aware of what you’re buying.  We use the “fancy” organic stuff only for finishing a dish.  The best olive oil I’ve had was grown and produced by our friends Claudio and Grazia in Levanto, Italy.  We had it for breakfast it was so good!  For every day, we use the Extra Virgin Olive oil in the large 3-liter can from Earth Fare, Whole Foods, or Costco.

20.  White cotton dish towels – Did I mention I’m a messy cook?!?  Just today, I ended up with melted chocolate on my elbow and on helper dog’s snoot (yes, I wiped it off with a dish towel before he ate any, thank goodness).

21.  Candy Thermometer – Sometimes you just need one…the “drop a blob” in cold water method I used as a kid is fine for some things, but other recipes need more precision.

22.  Metric Wonder Cup – Awesome for measuring liquids in almost any unit you can think of.  It has teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, milliliters, and cups!  I remember Alton Brown recommending it years ago.  Glad I bought one, it’s very handy!

23.  Dutch oven – Crock pots are nice, but sometimes you need something else.  Something that can go from stove to oven.  So, we have a heavy, red, 6-quart Mario Batali Dutch Oven and we use it often.  I love it except when I’m rehabbing broken hands (Did I mention I’m clumsy?  Yep, I’ve done this a few too many times!).  Then I can’t lift it and Matt helps me.

24.  Cuisinart food processor – I used to function fine in the kitchen without a food processor.  I relied on my handy-dandy mortar and pestle (wish I still had one), but the electric food processor sure makes easy work of some tasks.

25.  Citrus reamer – If you want to get lots of juice from a lemon, lime, or other citrus fruit, a hand-held reamer works great.  Mine is wooden.  Love it, especially when making lemon curd and limoncello (more future posts!).