Mystery Mocha Cake and Apple Pan Dowdy–A Couple of Easy Recipes That Make Me Remember Grandma

Getting started with the first cake–I love the wide peninsula in my kitchen that allows me to have all the utensils and ingredients right at hand.

Now that the new AC is in and working extremely well, the house is so comfortable that I decided to do a little baking, knowing that the oven’s heat couldn’t compete with the consistent coolness throughout the house.

Tomorrow is the last day for one of the people at work.  Though she hasn’t been with us all that long, a couple of us decided to do a little something to show our appreciation.  On Friday, I promised to bring an upside-down cake, but after looking at my recipes, I decided to make a couple of old-fashioned cakes, both of which are of the upside-down cake style, because when the cake is baked, the sweet, gooey part is on the bottom.

Mystery Mocha Cake and Apple Pan Dowdy are recipes passed down, at least from my grandma, but they might go back further.  Both of these take very basic ingredients, most of which can already be found in the pantry.  They are delicious on their own, warm or cold, but adding a scoop of ice cream or dab of whipped cream won’t hurt!

I’m never afraid to substitute or experiment with a recipe, so this morning I used cake flour for both recipes, put in half and half instead of milk, and added all-spice, cinnimon, and a splash of orange liqueur to the Appla Pan Dowdy.  Learning how your particular oven bakes is also important.  Though the Mystery Mocha Cake needed just about the time suggested on the recipe, the Apply Pan Dowdy took almost double the 30 minutes, maybe because of the extra liquid and that I had used a silicon pan.

Grandma’s Apple Pan Dowdy

4 apples peeled and sliced

1/4 c. brown sugar or maple syrup

1 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup melted butter or margerine

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease a round or square cake pan.  Place apples in pan and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Mix rest into batter and pour over apples and bake for 30 minutes.   This recipe makes about 9-12 servings.

Mystery Mocha Cake

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 square (1 oz.) unsweeted chocolate (or equivelent amount of chocolate chips)

2 tablespoons butter or margerine

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 cup cold, double-strength coffee

Sift first four ingredients together into a mixing bowl.  Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave about 30 seconds.  Blend butter-chocolate mixture into dry ingredients with an electric mixer.  Add the vanilla to the milk and mix into the batter.  Pour the batter into a greased pan.  Combine the brown sugar, white sugar, and cocoa; then sprinkle over the batter.  Pour the coffee over the top.  Bake at 350F for 40 minutes.  This recipe makes 9-12 servings. 

Mystery Mocha Cake and Apple Pan Dowdy look so tempting right out of the oven. I’m not sure I can hold off trying some before I take them to work.

Sex in a Pan–Decadent and Easy!

In the 80s and 90s, I lived in a great little garden complex over in Montrose (Houston, Texas) on Burlington Street. There were 32 apartments, all of which overlooked the swimming pool and small courtyard in the middle. It was a great little complex, friendly and close-knit, and for a lot of those years, it was about 80% gay and about 20% straight and whatever. Everybody worked, but because the bars were close, a lot of us went out in groups and often hung out at the pool and had barbeques together.

Unfortunately, during that that time, AIDS started picking off people, almost like a sniper, and one by one, our group got smaller and smaller. Of course, a few people did move to other places. I lived there for fifteen years, and by the time I left. it was about 10% gay and 90% straight. The straight people were cool, the type that you still find in the area, but it just wasn’t the same atmosphere. I finally moved, not because I didn’t like my neighbors, but because there had been a small tornado which came through the neighborhood, and it had torn off part of the roof. The company the owners hired made cheap repairs and my ceiling started leaking. Even though my part of the building hadn’t been damaged by the tornado, the entire roof had been replaced with crappy materials and workmanship.

Anyway, when we used to have our parties and get-togethers, my friend Neil sometimes made this great dessert. He didn’t call it “Sex in a Pan”, but I’ve seen others call it that. I don’t remember him calling it by any special name, but I loved it, and I’ve made it on my own over the years. It’s super easy to make, and you end up with a decadent dessert that everyone will talk about. ^ou make it in steps, so you do need to have a little time, but even then you can watch your favorite TV shows or do laundry at the same time because it doesn’t require a lot of attention. If you are a complete “choco-holic”, you can use the chocolate version of almost all of the ingredients.

Sex in a Pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

–The Base

1 Cup chopped pecans, 1 Cup flour, 1/3 Cup butter, 3 Tablespoons sugar

Combine these ingredients well, and press them evenly into 9″X 12″ (approximately) glass or metal baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, take it out, and let it cool for at least 30 minutes.

–The Filling

8 ounces of cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 small container of whipped topping

Mix these together and spread over the cooled base.

–Topping Layer One

2 Cups milk, 1 small package instant chocolate pudding, 1 small package instant vanilla pudding

Mix these together (electric mixer is best), and spread over the filling.

–Topping Layer Two

Other 1/2 of the whipped topping, semi-sweet chocolate, chopped pieces of maraschino cherries, chopped pecans

Add the final layer of whipped topping; then sprinkle with shaved chocolate and other delights of your choosing!

Refrigerate for a couple of hours for the entire dessert to set. If you want, you can add the final sprinkles of chocolate, cherries, and nuts right before serving. To serve, cut into squares, and gently lift them out with a spatula. This serves 12 if you have guests. It also refrigerates well, so if you have any left over, you can pig out on it later!