Starry Starry Night Chocolate Cake

September 2nd, 2011

OK.  There is a story here.  My Mother was an artist.  She never had any formal training, but her talent was evident from an early age.  I remember as a child loving the smell of linseed oil and the vibrant paint colors on her palette.  She was a typical housewife of the 50’s, but there was never anything typical about her.  She was a joyful person who loved her husband and her two beautiful (excuse the narcissism) children.  But there was always her talent that she could not hide even if she wanted to.  Her art teacher in high school  encouraged her to attend college and hone her exceptional skills.  But she had fallen in love with my Father who was a brave Marine during WW II.  Their life together was one of the most beautiful love stories that I have ever witnessed.  She was happy.  But she was also creative.  Imagine Van Gogh’s painting of Starry Starry Night.  That is what I thought of when I made this cake which is very similar to something my Mother used to make.

My Mother embraced all styles of art but her talent was in realism.  She painted what she saw and wanted it to look as realistic as possible.  I have never seen anyone with a more precise eye to detail than my Mother.  Because I have four of her paintings I can marvel at her brushstrokes and the way she made flat canvases come alive with images.  Her portraits are amazing.   Here are three that are in our living room.  In the case of Andrew Jackson she copied the portrait by Thomas Sully.  I always wondered why she had never completed it, but this was the way Sully had left it.  It is also the image that is on the twenty dollar bill.

The only one of her paintings that I don’t have, that I would love to have, belongs to my Brother Bill.  He has her Hemingway.  It is, in my opinion, a masterpiece and I applaud Bill for grabbing it first.  “Right!”

Mom was also a talented cook.  What I am today I credit to her example.  She cooked food, as she painted, with both creativity and love.  My SIL Barb recently sent me this recipe for chocolate cake.  Barb said  “Do you remember your Mom’s Blackbottom Cupcakes?  This is a cake recipe that is very similar.”  It is a recipe that I’m sure you can find on the internet as a Blackbottom Cake, but I choose to call it Starry Starry Night Cake in honor of my Mom.  She would have appreciated it’s beauty and loved it.


1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. water
1/3 c. oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla


1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips

Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Pour into 9×13 inch greased and floured pan. Combine cream cheese, egg, salt, sugar and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto batter in pan. Swirl knife through batter to create a ribbon effect.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and confectioners’ sugar if desired.  Mom would have sprinkled it with plain sugar.
Printable recipe
I will see you after the holiday weekend.  We have lots of family visiting.  Have a fun and safe holiday.  More recipes are coming from our cookout.

Meals to Make us Feel Better

March 18th, 2020

Tuna Tostadas 2

We are all aware that these are hard times.  Social sacrifices are necessary.  Everyone should be hunkering down at home to avoid getting, or spreading the Coronavirus.  Grocery stores are out of stock on many items.  But meals don’t have to be boring.  That can of tuna in the pantry doesn’t have to be made into a tuna sandwich or a tuna casserole.  Why not make Tuna Tostadas?  It does require a can of pickled jalapeños and carrots, but I bet that is one item that will not be depleted on the grocery shelves.  The crunchy fried corn tortillas also gives this dish pizazz.

Pappardelle-with-Pine-Nuts-2VPappardelle with Pine Nuts, Prosciutto (or Bacon), and Brown Butter is another satisfying meal which relies on some pantry items and special items like Prosciutto and pine nuts.  Substitute bacon and slivered almonds if you like.

Margarita-Braised Chicken Thighs

Margarita Glazed Chicken Thighs are a fun way to spark up mealtime.  Especially with a margarita on the side.  Keeping an upbeat attitude is good for us.

Garlic-Rosemary-Baguette-2v (1)

Baking bread is a rewarding pastime at any time.  But it is especially so when you are housebound.  The kneading, slow rising and aromatic baking is soothing to the soul.  This Rosemary-Garlic Baguette recipe is easy.  Make several and share with your neighbors.


Julia Child’s Scalloped Potatoes are a classic.  With simple ingredients you can transform the lowly potato into a gourmet treat.  Nobody does it better than Julia.  Also, if you haven’t read any of the books about Julia Child you can find them on Amazon.

Mom's Black Bottom Cake

Starry starry night chocolate cake is special to me.  It is an easy chocolate cake that reminds me of my artistic Mother. Go out and look at the stars. Stay kind to everyone Be safe and healthy.


© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.