Cow Tipping, Full Moons, and Chocolate Myths

I grew up in the rural Midwest where tales of cow tipping were oft told, but never confirmed.  Is it really possible to tip a cow?  The idea of sneaking up on a sleeping bovine and giving it a shove seems rather shady to me, or at least that’s how I’d feel if someone surreptitiously disturbed my slumber.  (By the way, I snapped this photo at the Iowa Welcome Center, just up the road from the Missouri border on a very windy day.)

Perhaps it was the recent full moon that prompted my musings?  Stranger things have been known to happen when the moon is full.  Or so they say.

Truth be told, it had more to do with homemade evaporated milk than any dark escapade from my youth.  (Waiting for four cups of moo juice to reduce to a cup and a half gives a person plenty of time to think about dairy-related things…  do not attempt this at home.)  Unless, of course, you want to spend two hours stirring and skimming and standing in front of the stove.  I’ll spare you the time — get a can of Carnation; it’s faster.

But, I was in the “moo-d” (sorry…) for German Chocolate Cake and the frosting recipe called for evaporated milk, which I was out of — and which brings me to another myth.

Did you know that German chocolate cake isn’t German?

According to Wikipedia, the inventor of “German chocolate” was a fellow by the name of Samuel German.  In the 1850’s his creation was known as “German’s sweet chocolate,” but like many apt phrases and English words gone by the wayside, the apostrophe and possessive “s” were dropped by the Baker’s Chocolate Company — which ironically doesn’t have anything to do with baking (it was named after it’s co-founder, James Baker) and the product name was shortened to “Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate.”  The rest is sweet history.  Now you know.

To confirm this, I must share a story.  My daughter once asked a foreign exchange student (from Germany) if she liked German Chocolate Cake.  (Blank stare.)  My daughter persisted, describing the cake in detail, after which she asked, “What do you call that in Germany?”  To which her friend replied: “Chocolate cake.”

Mythical or not, it’s one of my favorite desserts.  And this is my never fail, rave review recipe:

German Chocolate Cake Frosting

1 c. chopped walnuts

1 1/3 c. sweetened, flaked coconut

1 c. evaporated milk (trust me, Carnation’s easier)

1 c. granulated sugar

1 stick of butter, cut into chunks

3 egg yolks

1 t. pure vanilla extract

Measure and set aside the walnuts and coconut.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  (Watch so it doesn’t scorch!)  Remove from heat; add walnuts and coconut.  Beat with a wooden spoon until thick.  Cool slightly before frosting the cake, “German” chocolate or not.

Enjoying life one dark, delicious bite at a time,

~ Kim

P.S.  No animals were harmed in the production of this post.

25 thoughts on “Cow Tipping, Full Moons, and Chocolate Myths

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    • Oops, I’m busted. Not a speck of “German” chocolate in it! Can’t take any credit — it was on the back of the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa box… :)
      ~ Kim

  3. What a fun post – loved it! That first photo is hilarious. As for the German Cake, I hate to say I haven’t heard of it like your daughter’s german exchange student. Feeling dah rather than moo but great to hear the history behind it. There are so many different American cakes I don’t know – or they’re known with different names. Too funny!

    • Jill, I’m tickled you stopped by! No need to apologize for hearing about this cake for the first time — if it’s any consolation, I used to spell macarons with a “double o” — macaroons… yikes. :)
      ~ Kim

  4. Duly noted–I’ll stick to the stuff in a can.
    And that’s too bad about the cake not really being German–I always thought it was! Your pictures of the frosting are creating strange feelings in my stomach. I think it’s . . . hunger!!! Which is surprising because I’m rarely hungry this early in the day.

  5. Great post Kim, this is my youngest’s absolute favorite cake! I will show her the recipe and hopefully she will make it for us sometime soon. While I was reading I couldn’t help but think of our Pediatrician whose name is Dr. Kidd. i guess he was born into his profession just like Mr. Baker! Have a great day :)

    • A pediatrician named Dr. Kidd??!! That is too funny! (I’m sure he’s a wonderful baby doc!) Let me know if your daughter tries the frosting — it’s primarily a “one pan” recipe, so it should be Kidd-friendly. :)

  6. Oh my goodness. I adore German chocolate cake. It has long been a favorite and yours looks delish. I have never made the icing for it but hmmmm.

    And there have been tales of cow tipping here in the south too…but no confirmed truths :)

  7. This cake is gorgeous. I am wacky for the topping and you’ve got enough on there to make me happy. I am definitely bookmarking this one! Major yummy.

  8. I had a similar conversation with a family friend who moved to Germany from Florida. She expected to see German chocolate cake in bakeries over there, but coconut is apparently not much used in German baking and very expensive when you can find it in stores. She called me up to complain about having to come back to the States for my dad’s “chocolate cake, plus kokosnuss!” We’ve called it kokosnuss cake in out house ever since. Which still doesn’t make it German, but hey.

  9. What a great looking recipe! That is my husbands favorite.
    I am laughing out loud about what your daughter asked….it’s an innocent question though. Like asking if french fries are french. I bet everyone wonders that from time to time ;)
    Great post!

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