As spring hovers just out of reach, there is a general malaise that takes over in our
kitchen. The traditional wintertime meals are getting rather tiresome, but the new
spring vegetables are not yet here. It is Lent - a time of simple meals , abstinence and
fasting. As winter wanes, there are a lot of cloudy days, we feel the sun's absence and the
depression that accompanies gray days. This depression can be minimized by a luscious
dessert served for no reason other than the need to lighten the mood for the family.
Here are some super desserts to add some cheer to any gloomy day.

West Texas Bread Pudding
 So many bread puddings served across the Eastern block of states reflect the flavors of
New Orleans. This one definitely does not. Don't let the ingredients shock you, it is
delicious. I first discovered this dish in the great TEXAS HOME COOKING by Cheryl and
Bill Jamison. After preparing it, though I found a few tweaks and twitches made it fit my
family's tastes more closely, so here is my version.

1/2 C raisins
1 C brandy
10-12 slices whole wheat bread
1/2 C pecans, toasted and chopped
1 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cups sugar
3 1/2 C water, hot
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
dash of allspice
dash of powdered coriander
dash of ground cloves

1 C whipping cream
1/4 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

 The day before, put raisins into a small bowl and pour brandy over them. Cover loosely
and let stand overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13
inch baking dish. Dice the bread and put it in the baking dish. Add the pecans and cheese
to the bread and toss. Scatter the raisins over the top, drizzling on any brandy that has
not been soaked up by the raisins. Pour the sugar into a large heavy saucepan. Warm it
over medium heat, stirring to facilitate even heating, until is melts and turns a deep
golden brown. Pour in the water, carefully because steam will rise rapidly as water hits
the sugar.The mixture will begin to solidify, Stirring, cook until the mixture is liquid
again. Add the butter, vanilla, and spices to the syrup. Ladle the caramel carefully over
the bread. The syrup should be about level with the tops of the bread. If any bread pieces
are not covered, push them down into the liquid. Bake 20-25 minutes until the syrup is
absorbed and the cheese has melted into the pudding. Beat the whipping cream, adding
sugar and vanilla. Spoon pudding into serving dishes and dollop whipped cream on

 Chocolate is one of those flavors that makes people smile.  And there is a snack cake
that openly acknowledges that attribute....the HoHo is well known in the snack world,
and I knew exactly what the name of HoHo cake referred to when a user asked for the
recipe. Unfortunately I couldn't find it until last week when it was included in a
collection of Mangia recipes Stan Federoff uploaded last week. I made it right away to see
what it is like, and was impressed. I followed  the recipe exactly and here it is. The next
time I do this, however, I am going to use two cookie sheets, lined with greased and
floured wax paper, and make it into skinny rolls before icing it with the  chocolate. I
think it would emulate the snack cakes more closely that way.

Mrs. Lynch's Ho Ho Cake

1 Duncan Hines Dark Dutch Chocolate Cake 
(ingredients specified on box)
5 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 1/4 C milk
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C Crisco
1/2 C softened margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 C evaporated milk, heated to boiling point.
2 3/4 C confectioners sugar

 Bake the chocolate cake blended according to package instructions on a cookie sheet
with edges for 20 minutes. Cool completely. Meanwhile mix 1 1/4 C milk with 4 tbsp.
flour in a saucepan. Cook until thickened. Cool. Mix granulated sugar, shortening,
margarine and vanilla until smooth. Add to the flour and milk mixture. Beat until
smooth. Spread over cooled cake and chill in refrigerator. Mix last four ingredients and
beat with electric mixer until smooth. Pour over chilled cake and filling. Keep in

 I don't think you can go wrong with a nice lemon dessert this time of year, or any time.
This particular dish is very elegant and pretty simple to make. Give it a try next time
you have guests.

Lemon Lady Finger Cake

1 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
1/2 C sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. butter
5 egg yolks, well beaten
5 egg whites beaten stiff
1 1/2 packages lady fingers
Whipped Cream

 Line a 1 quart mold with wax paper and then with lady finger halves. Mix the lemon
juice with sugar and cornstarch in the top of a double boiler and cook over simmering
water until mixture is thickened . Add the butter and stir until melted.  Add beaten egg
yolks, stirring constantly, and cook 2 minutes longer. Stir in grated zest and then fold in
the beaten egg whites, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Pour half the mixture into lined
mold. Cover with a layer of lady finger halves. Repeat layers. Refrigerate overnight. 
Unmold onto a crystal cake plate on a pedestal. Pipe whipped cream onto top and
around bottom edge of cake. Garnish with paper thin slices of candied lemon peel.

The flavor of bananas is always popular in the family. This cake is not a new one. It is
rich and delicious...perfect for a bridge party when everyone wants to splurge just a little.
I have added cherries and nuts to liven up the color a bit, as it is pretty plain.

Banana Split Dessert

First Layer

1/2 box Cinnamon Graham Crackers, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
1 tbsp. sugar

Second Layer

2 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 box powdered sugar

Third Layer

1 16 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Fourth Layer

4 bananas, sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Fifth Layer

1 C whipping cream
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C chopped nuts
1/2 C maraschino cherries, drained and cut in half

Mix the crushed crackers with sugar and butter and press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch
pan.  Mix the 2 sticks of softened butter with 2 eggs and box of powdered sugar. Beat
until fluffy and then spread on crumbs. Spread with the drained pineapple. Slice the
bananas into the lemon juice and toss to cover. Spread on top of the pineapple. Whip
the cream with sugar and vanilla and spread on top. Arrange cherries on top and
sprinkle with nuts. Cut in squares to serve.

 Although it is a little early for St. Patrick's Day, this is a nice dessert to serve after your
traditional Irish meal next month.

St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun Mold

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 C cold water
1/4 C green Creme de Menthe
1/4 C white Creme de Cocoa
1/2 C sugar, divided
1/8 tsp. salt
3 eggs, separated
1 C cream, whipped
1/2 tsp. vanilla
green sugar sprinkles

 Sprinkle the gelatin over water in a medium saucepan. Add 1/4 C of the sugar,  the salt,
and the beaten egg yolks,  Stir until thoroughly blended. Place over low heat and stir
constantly until gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the liqueurs. Chill, stirring occasionally, until mixture
mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.
Gradually add the remaining 1/4 inch sugar and beat until very stiff. Fold in gelatin
mixture. Beat the cream stiff and fold in the vanilla. Fold into the mixture and Turn
into a six cup mold. Chill. Unmold onto a green glass plate and sprinkle with sugar

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