A chocolate cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting? Why not! Karen Schneider / For the Forecaster

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at iwrite33@comcast.net or 504-0545.

We’re gearing up for St. Valentine’s Day here at the cove and, by request, I’m bringing back our family’s favorite week-night pasta dish. This melding of two recipes – one from wonderful Brunswick friends and one from my daughter Rachel – is the perfect pasta to serve to your loved ones on this year’s weeknight day of love.

Made up quickly and served with a crisp salad, warm bread and perhaps a glass of wine, you’ll still have room for this decadent heart-shaped chocolate cake. Yes, we need more chocolate cake because St. Valentine’s Day is special and the rest of February is, well, very Februaryish. We must find pleasures wherever we can and chocolate cake with pink frosting helps. Always.

Getting down to business: For the cake, the eggs, milk and sour cream all need to be at room temperature and all dairy products should be full fat. This is not the time to skimp.

Don’t have a heart-shaped baking pan? Use two 8-inch pans, one square pan and one round. Once baked, slice the round cake in half and place the two halves on either side of the square cake to form a heart. If you only have one heart pan, you can slice the cakes length-wise to make two layers.

Depending on how you ice the cake (which should be done just before serving) you may have some frosting left over. No worries—pipe it around the serving plates or stick it in the fridge for another occasion. It will keep for a few days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Decorating ideas include sliced strawberries, other berries, sprinkles, grated chocolate, or edible flower petals. Make it like you mean it and don’t forget the love.


Pasta with bacon, onions and red pepper

1 pound bacon, chopped

1-2 onions, thinly sliced

1 large red pepper, thinly sliced

12 ounces angel hair pasta

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper



Olive oil, as needed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta. Cook until al dente and drain, reserving a few tablespoons of pasta water.

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until done but not too crispy. Remove bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and discard drippings, reserving 2 tablespoons in the skillet for sauteing onions and pepper until tender-crisp.

Add pasta and bacon to vegetables in the skillet. Add a splash of pasta water and toss gently. Add a drizzle of olive oil if needed. Serve immediately with Parmesan and freshly ground pepper.

Yield: 4 servings


Chocolate sour cream cake

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups  sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda


2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup hot water


2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of cake pans with parchment paper. Spray the sides with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolk, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in hot water until combined.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cakes.


Place pans on a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool cakes completely before frosting and decorating.

Yield: 2 (8-inch) cakes

Strawberry cream cheese frosting

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, finely chopped, or thawed frozen strawberries

4 teaspoons sugar

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 pinch salt

4-6 sliced strawberries for decorating

Place strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a small saucepan over low heat. Stir often for about 10-15 minutes or until mixture thickens and reduces to about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat and spoon strawberries in a small bowl. Refrigerate to cool completely.


In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese on medium high until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat on medium high for 1-2 minutes until mixture is light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula.

If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too thick, add a tablespoon of milk.

Add vanilla, cooled strawberry mixture, and a pinch of salt. Beat 1-2 minutes until completely combined. Store in refrigerator then bring to room temperature to frost the cake just before serving.

Yield: Enough frosting for a two-layer cake or one heart cake constructed as above.

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