Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Celebrate July 4th With A "Hershey's Chocolate Cake,” “Classic Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies," & A “Chocolate Strawberry Martini” Plus "Tip Tuesday"

Welcome, we are all invited to a Birthday Party! Next weekend will be the July 4th which is the 240 year of our nations birth! Wishing you, my readers a Happy 4th of July! It’s a Birthday party so we have to celebrate! We're so grateful to live in this country and to celebrate the birth of our Nation. Most of us celebrate with family, picnics, BBQ’s, parades, and showing a great emphasis on the American tradition of Freedom. The most common symbol of Independence Day is the American flag, but other symbols include the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor and Macy’s fireworks display viewed all over the United States. I have to mention “thank you” to the servicemen, women, and animals who have been fighting for our freedom and keeping our country safe. These are the people that our founding fathers would have called our heroes! 

Independence Day, is the anniversary of the publication of the Declaration of Independence. How it all began was in 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress voted for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was first published two days later on July 4, 1776. John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams on how the day should be celebrated. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States.

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, & Ben Franklin
Interestingly trivia: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and Presidents of the United States, died on the same day, July 4, 1826 - exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence.

Fireworks have been used by Americans for July 4th since the nation's very beginning. The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 7th century China, where they were invented. The fireworks were used to accompany many festivities. It is a part of the culture of China and had its origin there; eventually it spread to other cultures and societies. The first recorded display in England celebrated the wedding of Henry VII in 1487. Shakespeare mentions them several times in his plays. As I recall when I was young, my dad would always buy a few packages of sparklers. When it got dark out, he would light them and watch us as we swirled them around in the sky. This was a lot of fun and it made us feel like we were part of the celebration.

Fireworks come in so many different shapes, colors, and sizes such as stars, rotating circles, fish, and even 3D shapes. They are sometimes programmed to music as in Disney World where the fireworks are fired off to music with colors. Fireworks are used in celebrations of theme parks, Olympics, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, and Political events. States such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Delaware ban all consumer fireworks completely. Only legal professional authorities can be approved to operate firework displays. Please be responsible and do not use fireworks unless a professional person is on hand. Please be sure that your pets are safe as well. They do not like the noise and tend to hide.  

Tips On Baking A No Fail Cake:

Why A Cake Fails:
Has A Hump:   
The oven was overly hot when baking started
Too much flour used

Dark Bottom:
Pan too deep or large, keeps top from browning
Dark pans absorb more heat, place on higher oven rack (same with Pyrex)
Pan was warped which caused uneven browning

Has Deep Cracks:   
Temperature too high
Too much: flour or baking powder

Has Fallen:
Temperature too low
Peeked while baking
Removed from oven early
Too much: shortening or sugar or baking powder
Not enough flour

Coarse Texture:   
Temperature not high enough
Batter over mixed
Too much baking powder or flour

It’s Running-Over:   
Pan not large enough
Too much baking powder or sugar

Temperature not high enough  

It’s Tough:   
Temperature too hot
Not enough shortening or sugar
Too much flour

It’s Doughy:   
Temperature too low
Left in pan too long after removing from oven

Light In Color:   
Temperature too low
Another pan too close while baking

Browned Edges:
Oven too full
Tin touching another one or oven wall

Not Large Enough:   
Temperature too high
Not enough baking powder
Over mixed batter
Oversized pan   

Here we are at the beginning of July and the summer is really heating up. However you celebrate, remember to incorporate your holiday traditions with your family and no matter where you are, take time to be thankful for our freedom. I’m sure like most people, you are preparing your menus for the July 4th, celebration. That means grilling meats, cold salads, baked beans, corn on the cob, fruits of all kinds, etc. Now we have to put out the desserts, cookies, cupcakes, and pies, just to name a few. Just like any birthday party, the cake is always the most important part of your celebration. A birthday party with no tasty birthday cake will not make that event complete. Who can resist the aroma of fresh baked cakes and cookies wafting through the house? Whichever you choose to bake, you’re sure to please family and friends with these true classics from Hershey’s kitchen. Beautiful to look at, but it is time to have a slice of this very outstanding cake!

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate” Cake

Yield: 12 servings 

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
“Perfectly Chocolate” cake frosting (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "Perfectly Chocolate" frosting. 

"Perfectly Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups frosting.

Other Variations:
One Pan Cake: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Three Layer Cake: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Bundt Cake: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

Cupcakes: Line muffin cups with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

No one can resist a Chocolate Chip Cookie, so this second recipe is a chocoholic’s dream…can’t just have one……..

Hershey’s “Classic Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies”

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 375°F. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Yield: about 5 dozen cookies.

My third recipe is an alcoholic cocktail that you will not want to miss…. we have to have a drink to toast  “America’s Birthday”…so what better way then with this very cool and refreshing drink. This elegant drink of Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur combines luscious chocolate flavor with the seductive flavor of strawberries to create a delicious smooth cocktail.

Chocolate Strawberry Martini

2  oz. Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur
2  oz. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
2  oz. strawberry nectar
1  oz. milk or cream
2  piece(s) strawberry for garish
Glass: Martini Glass

How to mix together: In a shaker with ice, add Godiva Chocolate, Smirnoff Vodka, strawberry nectar & milk. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a strawberry. Makes 2 servings.

“Please Drink Responsibly”

Till Next Time………………………………...................

Copyright © 2016 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. So much goodness here, I love it, Dottie! My hubby and older son are history buffs so I knew your trivia and was sort of amazed learning it back when. I read the book of John and Abigail's letters to each other since he was away so much and can imagine how they gave their all to celebrating the 4th, and we do the same to this day.
    There is a large park down the road from us where they have a fireworks display every 4th and we can watch it from home. Your goodies look delicious! Love that cake with the yummy frosting and cookies too. And the drink is awesome! I definitely have to try that! :-)
    Thanks for all your work on this great post, I really enjoyed the patriotism! Take care and have a very Happy 4th! Hugs

    1. Dear Pam,
      Thank you for your lovely comment. So glad that you really enjoyed this post. I love that time period of 1776 with John Adams and Jefferson. I have not read that book but want to read it, on the letters of Abigail and John. It was a good book I would think. Where I live they do not have a park near by to have a firework display, but the HS down the road usually has something which I can see somewhat from my house. I am so happy that you enjoyed the recipes, they are tried and true, especially the cake, you can never go wrong with the cake or cookies. The cocktail is a new one but how delicious it is on a hot day and with chocolate no less. It was my pleasure to write this post and share my recipes with all of you. I wish you and your family a wonderful Happy July 4th and a safe one.
      Hugs Dottie :)

  2. Happy Independence Day! It is a pleasure to read your blog Dottie. So much to read especially about history! So interesting. The cake and the chocolate chip cookies look great and the Martini cocktail is perfect to celebrate this important day.
    I wish you a good rest of the week my friend. Tanti tanti baci! Ciao!

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thank you for such lovely words. I am so happy that you enjoy the blog and find it so interesting. I love to do research and I am learning as well as my followers. Yes, July 4th is a big deal here in the states and what better than chocolate anything is a welcomed friend on this Independence Day. I love the cake and cookies, but that cocktail Chocolate Strawberry Martini is a delicious way to celebrate. Thanks again for visiting, and you as well have a wonderful rest of the week...Ciao and Tanti Baci to you as well.
      Hugs Dottie :)

  3. Dear Dottie, The chocolate cake and the chocolate chip cookies would disappear in a minute! They are delicious!
    I hope you have a beautiful long and peaceful weekend celebration.
    I hope that you are feeling better each day. xo Catherine

    1. Dear Catherine,
      Thanks for visiting...so glad that you enjoyed this post on the Chocolate Cake, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. I know they did disappear very quickly here too.. Thanks for your words about the long July 4th weekend..You as well dear friend, enjoy it with your family, be safe and I am doing better every day...
      Hugs Dottie :)

  4. Great tips on baking! And great recipe, too. Who doesn't love a nice moist chocolate cake? This looks luscious -- thanks.

    1. Dear John,
      Thanks for your visit. Glad that you enjoyed this post on tips and goodies for the July 4th holiday. You are correct dear friend, I never met a person that doesn't love Chocolate Cake or cookies. The Martini is so good as well. Have a wonderful rest of the week...
      Dottie :)