black forest squares

Black Forest Squares Recipe

Just like bad hair days, not every single food photo I take turns out amazing. This is one of them! But I promise you this tasted oh, so good!

Into The Forest We Go

When the word “forest” comes to mind, I often think about the first forest I ever visited – the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado.

Time warp 1980. It was the year of my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary and in the San Antonio Express News Mom read about a small, charming getaway in south central Colorado called Cuchara (Spanish for “spoon”). The article tugged at her heart and a family trip to Cuchara was going to happen! Since the only vacations I had been on were to the Texas Coast and one trip to Nuevo Laredo where I spent more time in the hotel sick than out and about, I knew we were in for a big treat – even bigger than when the Brady Bunch went camping.

Our Kiker family of five piled into two cars and with our CB radios at the ready we made the 12+ hour drive from San Antonio to Cuchara. Just inside the Colorado state line I remember my first few moments outside of the car – the air smelled so foreign … and fresh! It was like Mother Nature had sprayed air freshener and beauty in all directions!

Resting at an altitude of 8,468 feet, Cuchara had no stop lights and a year-round population about 100 strong. So this was a place you came to unwind. Fishing, horseback riding, hiking, sitting and staring this way and that (literally) – all the things we didn’t do in our usual city life. Mom and Dad rented a cabin at Yellow Pine Ranch – a working dude ranch with everything you’d expect and more. Here along the Cuchara River there was a pond, horses and even a donkey named “Cucklebur.”

San Isabel National Forest

Into The Forest We Go!

The National Forest was expansive and we had fun enjoying the views from our 1970s Toyota Land Cruiser. Mountains, pine trees and quaking aspens were abound and my Dad later referred to this land as “God’s Country.” It came as no surprise that in November of the same year Mom and Dad were back in Cuchara scouting for land to purchase so they could build a cabin in the woods – a joint venture with their friends Margie and Herb from Waco.

That is the kind of effect the beauty of a forest can create! Now let’s make black forest squares!

foodie tips ~

 As my kitchen smarts continue to deepen, I’m reminded that all pans are not alike! Glass and metal pans cook differently and you might find that if you’re cake is a little burned around the edges, you might switch to metal bakeware. Here’s why.

 In the 1970s while whip cream often came from the can, these days I use my gourmet whipper which creates a super fresh whip. When you make your own whipped topping you can flavor the creams but for this recipe we chose to go with the standard recipe.

i. ingredients

1 package | chocolate cake mix
8 ounces | sour cream
1 package (4-serving size) | instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup | milk
¼ cup | crème de cassis … or brandy (I had brandy on hand)
16 ounce can | pitted dark sweet cherries
2 tablespoons | sugar
1 tablespoon | cornstarch
to serve | fresh whipping cream
¼ cup | sliced almonds, toasted

ii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions. Turn batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out of the middle clean. Cool completely in pan.

2. In a large mixer bowl beat together the sour cream, dry pudding mix, ⅓ cup of the milk and the crème de cassis or brandy until the mixture is fluffy. Gradually add the remaining milk, beating until smooth. Pour mixture over the cooled cake and chill.

Black Forest Squares by Betty's Cook Nook

3. Meanwhile, drain the cherries, reserving ¾ cups of the syrup. In a sauce pan combine the sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in the reserved syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute longer. Add the drained cherries, remove from heat and cool.

4. Spread the cool cherry mixture on top of the chilled pudding layer. Cover and chill several hours or overnight.

5. To serve – whip fresh cream to soft peaks. Pipe over cherry mixture in a lattice design. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Yields about 12 squares, depending on size

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Black Forest Squares Recipe

Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe. Ironically it was from a 1980 Betty Homes and Gardens Magazine – the same year we took our awesome trip to Colorado (mentioned above).

From The Cuchara Mountaintop

Over the river and through the wood … we find ourselves above the tree line atop Colorado.

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caramel ribbon brownies

caramel ribbon brownies in their full gloryTricks For Treats

Candy corn. Caramel. Red candied apples. Nothing shrieks “Halloween!” more than these fall-time flavor favorites.

I remember mom making caramel and the caramel tower of power
candy-coated apples each fall. And with a few precious hours before the bewitching hour, I’m on the witch hunt for the red candied apple recipe (just found it!)

In the meantime, let’s tip our hats to buttery, tasty caramel compliments of this Halloween treat recipe that’s sure to scare-up the taste buds!

Foodie Tips ~

  If you’re a wee bit shy of walnuts, try substituting Texas pecans. Yee, Haw!
  Since I’ve made this several times I tried melting the caramels in the microwave in 20-30 second intervals and I think i like that method best.
  I added a sprinkling of toffee bits to the recipe which sent my tastebuds into outer orbit.
  We cut our bars after they cooled.
  Do your taste buds want to fly high? Top a warmed brownie or two with a scoop of ice cream for a super-sugary treat! Textured taste “rocks!”

i. ingredients

24 | caramels, unwrapped
2/3 cup | evaporated milk
2-layer size (about 15.25 oz.) | chocolate cake mix
1 cup | chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons | falfurrias brand butter (unsalted, and melted)
1/2 cup | semi-sweet chocolate pieces

ii. what to do

0. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

caramels present and ready to melt1. In a saucepan, cook the caramels and 2 tablespoons of the evaporated milk over low heat until the caramels are melted. Cover and turn off heat.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the remaining evaporated milk, the cake mix, walnuts, and butter; mix well.

3. Spread 1/2 of the cake mixture in a greased 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking pan or ceramic dish.

4. Bake in your warmed-up oven for 10 minutes.

meet. and greet. the caramel pour.5. Remove the delight-in-progress (D.I.P.) from your oven and sprinkle the chocolate pieces over the hot baked crust… and drizzle the caramel mixture atop. Drop the remaining cake mixture by teaspoons over “all.” If there are some bare “holes,” no worries; they will fill-in during the final bake.

6. Return to your 350°F oven and bake for 20 minutes more or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

7. Remove the magic from your oven … cool … then cut.

Sha-Zam! You just made something they’re gonna love twice; they’ll love the brownie treats plus love you for making them!

Now sit back and relax with a brownie or two for a job well done!

Below is a scan of the original recipe Mom had in her cookbook!

A scan of the originally-clipped halloween treat recipe

Caramel Ribbon Brownies From Betty's Cook Nook