03 February 2011

Double Take: Mississippi Mud Cake

A Sweet Ending to a Not-So-Sweet Week

Mississippi Mud Cake. 'Nuf said.

I did it again. I was away from my kitchen for a long time and the first opportunity I had to cook in it, we went out. You see, since the last post, our lives have been kinda crazy. Bender’s passport was stolen (Not intentionally, someone intentionally stole his bag, and his passport just happened to be in there.) so we had to make an emergency trip to the embassy to get a new one since we would be flying overseas in three days time. Amazingly, the embassy was incredibly nice to us even though we didn’t have a copy of his passport page, etc, etc, etc. Passports in hand, we boarded the plane Sunday, excited for our journey that we’d be looking forward to since we randomly planned it one night in September. We would be at our destination for five full days, and we had something planned to do all but one of those days. We’d use the fifth day to relax and revisit one of the four places. The first day, however, things did not go as planned. We woke up late so we decided to stay in town and go to a museum rather than venture out of town to see the popular landmark on the outskirts of town.

The museum was amazing. I’ve seen pictures of many of the popular things in the museum, but to see them up close just takes your breath away. We decided to splurge and go into the special exhibit even though it cost more than the entry to the general museum. The special exhibit was a slightly morbid rather than delightful, but worth the cost and I’m glad we saw it.

The second day we got up, hailed a taxi, and went out to the famous landmark just outside of town. Another dream come true. I’ve always wanted to visit this site, and while it was somewhat crazy because of the culture shock, we both had a marvelous time. I even took a picture of my feet in the sand.

That evening when we returned to our hotel, BBC News let us know that all had not been quiet within the city whilst we were visiting the landmark. You see, that museum we went to on Monday? That was the Egyptian Antiquities Museum (the special exhibit is the mummies). And that landmark we had just visited? The pyramids of Giza. We immediately checked the US Embassy in Egypt’s website, while they were not issuing travel warnings yet, we decided to play it safe and call them the next day. We called the general number, told the switchboard operator our question and were given another number to call. We called it. They only answer questions between 1pm and 3pm. It was 11am. So we went and had lunch at a nearby Italian joint and came back to the hotel to call the Embassy again. No answer. We decided to go out and enjoy our day, but made sure to steer clear of the protest sites. On our way back from the Khan el-Khalili, our taxi driver tried to get onto the Corniche, the fastest route back to our hotel, but he was denied several times by plain-clothed police officers. When we finally got to the bridge to take us back to Zamalek Island, there were amored trucks and policemen in riot gear lined up three deep. We were able to pass with no problems (they were not stopping cars, just waiting for protestors) and made it safely back to the hotel. We turned on the news immediately and saw why our cab driver had not been able to get onto the Corniche. Protestors were having a standoff with policemen. Great.

This cake is ridiculously easy to make, but I managed to make a mess out of my kitchen floor anyway. 

I spent my birthday fleeing a country teeming with civil unrest. And I’m glad I did. The weekend in Egypt starts on Friday, so our goal was to leave before the weekend started and the protests really got started. Boy was that a good decision. Tourists are not targets and at no point in entire experience did I fear for my safety (well, except when we were in taxis, but that has nothing to do with the protests). A week later, the protests have continued and grown, and I hope that a peaceful, reasonable solution is reached in a timely manner. The Egyptians are a wonderful people, deserving of a more democratic form of government. I hope that the protests are fruitful and can lead to a better government.

We did not flee directly home, instead we decided to save our vacation and spent the remainder of our time off resting in Munich. And now we are home. And I had to make my birthday cake. The tradition around this area is to bring in a cake for everyone at work on your birthday. A little backwards from what I’ve grown accustomed to in the US, but it actually makes a whole lot of sense. You get the cake you want and the responsibility does not fall to only one person in the work-place. If you want cake, you provide it. Makes sense to me.

No mini-marshmallows? No problem! Just use a pizza cutter to slice the big ones into fourths. 

Mississippi Mud Cake
from the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, p. , also available online here

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 (10.5-ounce) bag miniature marshmallows
Chocolate Frosting (recipe below)

Whisk together melted butter and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in flour and chopped pecans. Pour batter into a greased and floured 15- x 10-inch jellyroll pan.

Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; top warm cake evenly with marshmallows. Return to oven, and bake 5 minutes. Drizzle Chocolate Frosting over warm cake. Cool completely.

The secret is out... I no longer keep my kitchen immaculate for my cookbook! 

Chocolate Frosting
from the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, p. , also available online here

1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup milk (I added an additional ¼ c of milk to make it drizzle-able)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Beat all ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

 Pecans and marshmallows atop a warm cake.
I don’t have a jelly roll pan, so I subbed with a 9x13(ish) pyrex dish. Like my brownies, the batter was quite thick and I was unsure if I would be able to spread it over the entire dish even though the recipe calls for a much larger jelly roll pan. However, the top puffed up quite a bit during the baking process (I needed to add an additional 8 minutes to the cooking time), so I’m sure it would work quite well in the jelly roll pan, just be patient and spread out the batter well.

I don’t care for nuts baked into things, but I don’t mind them sprinkled on top, so I omitted the pecans from the batter and added them to the top of the cake when I added the marshmallows. My tasters all really liked having the nuts in the dish, but they could also be easily omitted completely.

The last time I had Mississippi Mud Cake was well over 20 years ago. And surprisingly, it tasted exactly the way I remember it tasting. Only my tastes have grown up (Mhmm, Arby’s). A small piece is plenty. Even Bender, who can go through a batch of brownies in two days, found this cake a bit too rich. It’s definitely a once-every-twenty-years cake if you are going to keep it around the house. That being said, I’m sure it would go over marvelously at potlucks and big parties. And kids will love it!

I opted to let my marshmallows cook until they turned brown rather than following the suggested cooking time. As you can see, my potholder came in contact with the warm, gooey marshmallows. 

Great-for-kids: 1 vote
Great-for-one-small-piece-once-a-year: 6 votes
It’s-not-for-me-even-though-I-ate-two-pieces: 1 vote
It’s-really-tasty: 1 vote

The recipe made a LOT of frosting. The picture of the top was taken after about 2/3rds of the frosting was added to the cake. This one has all the frosting. 


  1. If you spread it on a jellyroll, the frosting is just enough. Your marshmallows look like they're ready for the perfect s'more.

  2. Eww. S'more marshmallows are only good once they've been completely charred and have the black part removed!

  3. Everyone likes their marshmallows a little different. I like them toasted to brown crunchiness on the outside with a warm gooey middle.

  4. I use a jar of marshmallow cream it's wonderful


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