Cherry Garcia Pudding

Cherry Garcia Pudding

I love ice cream. It’s my go to treat on nights when I allow myself dessert. Well, sometimes I’ll mix it up with something else, but 99% of the time, it will still resemble ice cream in that it will have a creamy texture. I’m one of those people whose downfall is creamy and rich, whether it’s something sweet or something savory. Creamy is my friend. But Ben & Jerry are even better friends. Have any of you tried their new “Core” flavors? I tried the salted caramel one (of course) and I have to admit it, I was rather disappointed. It was….boring. The best part was the little chunks of Blondie but even that wasn’t enough to make it worth the calories.
I DO however, love many of their other flavors. My favorite will always be Phish Food. It used to be that running a close second was Cherry Garcia, but now for strangely personal reasons, I don’t eat it anymore. It brings back memories I prefer to forget because they make me mentally queasy; one of those “omg, did I really get involved with someone that disgusting” memories. Yep… from an ice cream lol. I’m strange that way. Doesn’t take much; a smell, a flavor, a sound and I’m transported to other times, some good, some bad.
But I still love the flavor combo, that creamy texture, the cherries, the chocolate and that slight almondy background. I eat other brands of ice cream with it and have *gasp* even found brands that are better than Ben & Jerry’s. But I also love a dessert I began making about 9 years ago that has the same flavor profile. I usually call it “Cherry Garcia Wanna-Be” mousse. But for the sake of brevity, Cherry Garcia Pudding works also lol.

This is a cinch to make. The most time consuming part is chopping the chocolate and cherries and that’s still pretty quick if you have a decent knife. You can have this knocked out and chilling inside of 20 minutes. Then you just let it chill and serve it. This is oh so good. Creamy and rich with all those lovely flavors meshing into puddingish (yes, that too is now a word) perfection.

You know the drill…. git to cooking 🙂

Cherry Garcia Pudding


  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 16 ounce jar Maraschino Cherries, drained, syrup reserved, cherries coarsely chopped (redrain and pat dry the cherries after chopping as they will let off more liquid)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2  teaspoon almond extract (I love the almond flavor so I tend to use more)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 8 ounce container Cool Whip (you can sub sweetened whipped cream, but this is one of those rare cases where the flavor and texture of cool whip works)
  1. In a large bowl, on low speed, beat together the sweetened condensed milk, 3 tablespoons of the maraschino cherry juice (You don’t need any more of it, but it makes an awesome cherry coke, thus why I said to reserve all of it 😛 ), the lemon juice, vanilla extract and almond extract
  2. Gently fold in the cool whip and whipped cream, then the chopped chocolate and chopped cherries.
  3. Cover, then put the mixture into the fridge and chill until thickened, at least 3 hours.
  4. Pour the filling into individual glasses. You can then lightly cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until ready to serve or serve now. Garnish with some extra cherries and chopped chocolate.

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Double Chocolate Berry Meringue Trifle


Double Chocolate Berry Meringue Trifle-001

You know that saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”? Well, life was spitting lemon juice at me every time I tried to make this dessert lol. My original idea was to make mini meringue shells and fill them with the cheesecake mixture and berries. But after three tries to make mini meringue shells and failing each time (meringue too runny, cooked meringues not cooked enough yada yada yada) I then went to just two large meringue shells, figuring I could make something like This amazing dessert. But then I undercooked THOSE a touch and when I went to get them off of the baking sheet, they crumbled. Very tasty crumbles, but crumbles nonetheless. So there went the idea of a two layered pavlova sort of dessert. So what did I do? I made lemonade. No, no, not really. Chocolate meringue lemonade? EWWW. I know I can be a bit out there at times, but not THAT much. Proverbial lemonade, people.

So what is the proverbial lemonade? A trifle. As I stood there ready to either cry or beat on a wall because this would be the third mess up (and I have made meringues many many times before. I have NO idea what my issue was this time.) for this idea. But as I stood trying not to sob, the thought popped into my head… make it into a trifle. So…ummmm… I did. Every once in a while I listen to that voice. Usually it gets me in trouble, like that whole incident with Wal Mart and wearing the underwear on my head or the time I…well, never mind.

I have to admit; the trifle idea is a pretty good one. Is it as pretty as having all of this as elegant little meringue shells would have been? No. Do I care? No. I’m more of a rustic type of a gal anyway. More importantly though- will YOU or those you’re feeding care? Oh, hell no. This is creamy from the cheesecake filling, chewy/crisp form the meringue, tart/sweet form the berries and then creamy again from the whipped cream. All in all, while I hate the eggs I wasted getting to this point, I’m quite pleased with the end result. This makes a lot so is perfect for that Summer cookout while berries are in season or great for a large family dinner.

As usual… you know the drill. Get to cookin’.

Double Chocolate Berry Meringue Trifle

  • Meringue-
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cheesecake filling-
  • 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 egg yolks (optional- they add richness but aren’t necessary if the idea of raw eggs skeeves you out)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Berries-
  • 5 cups mixed berries or berries of choice (I used a mix of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries) rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves, melted and cooled slightly (I like using preserves in many desserts instead os sugar because you get some sweetness but it’s not overpowering plus the berries tend to release less juice using jam or preserves so no liquidy mess)
  • Whipped Cream-
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Make your meringue- Preheat oven to 225 degrees and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on it, add your egg whites, vanilla and cream of tarter. Beat on medium speed until foamy. Turn speed up to high, gradually add your sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Don’t panic if it seems to be taking forever. Some days when I make meringue, it gets to peak quickly. Other times, it may take like 5 minutes. It all depends on the temp of the kitchen, the humidity, the temp of the eggs, etc.
  3. When you have stiff peaks, take the bowl off of the stand and gently fold in your cocoa powder. Don’t mix vigorously or you’ll deflate your whites. When mixed, spread half of the mixture into a circle on each prepared pan.
  4. Cook at 225 for about one hour or until the meringue is cooked throughout (don’t be afraid to stick a knife in there and check; you’ll just be crumbling these up anyway so pretty isn’t imperative. ) and lightly browned. Turn oven off and let meringues sit in the oven for about another hour or until completely cool.
  5. Meanwhile, make your filling- In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone and cream cheese. Beat at medium speed until light and creamy. Add in the sugar (and egg yolks if using) and beat well. Add in the cream and vanilla extract and beat well, until mixture is smooth and creamy. On low speed, beat in the cocoa powder.  If you did NOT use the egg yolks, you may need to add a tablespoon or two more of cream to get this to a more spoonable consistency. Cover and put in the fridge until ready to put together the dessert.
  6. Make your berries-  in a medium bowl (shush… bowls aren’t that hard to wash 😛 ), combine the berries and the preserves. Gently fold together trying not to mush up the berries. Take about a cup of berries and set aside for the top of the dessert.
  7. Make your whipped cream- In a large bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside or refrigerate if not using right away.
  8. To put together- Crumble up one of the cooled meringues at the bottom of a large serving or trifle bowl. On top of that, layer half of the chilled chocolate mixture. On top of that, spread half of the berries. Repeat layering, then top with the whipped cream. Top the cream with the reserves berries. Cover and chill if not serving this immediately and store leftovers in the fridge.

What I REALLY Think Of Valentines Day


Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

I’m not a big Valentines Day person. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy any holiday where you can go to the store and see an aisle set up just for special candy. What’s not to like? But otherwise? Not so much. I think it’s a day where a lot of men (and women somewhat) feel pressured to “be romantic”, “make this a day she’ll never forget”, “buy this, spend more, get diamonds, MAKE HER LOVE YOU!!!!”. And then what happens? You go out, you wait in an outrageously long line for an hour to get a dinner that was haphazardly prepared and served because 99% of restaurant staff absolutely hates working on Valentines Day. Trust me.. they do. By the end of the evening, you’re tired, you’re frustrated and you’re feeling anything but loving towards ANYONE. You get flowers and candy from a man who felt like crap cause he forgot what day it was (“Hello… February 14th, dude… that day meant for lovers world wide to suck up to atone for their sins the other 364 days of the year. Now go buy some dying roses at the grocery store!” hehe) and three days later you have dead flowers and an increasing waistline.

Yeah, yeah, I know. “Cynical much, Janet?” And honestly, it’s not that really. I am a sappy fool. I just don’t want to be EXPECTED to be sappy. Nor do I expect my husband to be sappy because someone, somewhere decided that it was a good day for it. Nope; ain’t happ’nin. So how am I sappy? How is my husband sappy?

I make his coffee at night so all he has to do in the morning when he’s half asleep is press a button. I make baked goods that I know he likes, even if I don’t like them. I give him my last chicken McNugget even though I’m still hungry. I kiss him when he has morning breath. I cuddle at night when sometimes what I really want to do is roll over and read a book, I watch Holmes on Homes when I’d prefer to watch an old episode of Roseanne.

Him? He makes me tea every single morning. Tonight, he is making me grilled cheese and tomato soup because my mouth still hurts from dental surgery. He doesn’t gripe at me when I spend too much at Trader Joes. He rubs my back when it hurts and doesn’t expect it to be anything but a back rub. He gets up with our son (his stepson really; mine biologically) at 6:30 every school day so that I can sleep because I don’t sleep well. He supports, financially and otherwise, my two teen boys even though it’s not his job. he loves my kids as his own to the point that he is not bitching about my daughter and her kids moving back in for 6 months while her husband is in Boot Camp. He was there to hold my hand and help me walk down the stairs when I had my stroke and he still does that when I’m having a bad day physically.

These are my Valentines Day Gifts. I get them every day of the year. I don’t need the calendar and some cheap flowers bought on the fly to know that he loves me. He doesn’t need me in a slinky nighty with a rose between my teeth (though I’m sure he wouldn’t argue) willing to try every position in the Kama Sutra for him to know I love him. We do our damndest to prove it to each other each and every day, in small ways and in big. We talk out our problems, we hold hands in public, we make love when we’d rather sleep, we sleep when we’d rather make love. We share, we love, we STAY… even when it’s not easy. Not just on February 14th.

This recipe makes a large 13×9 pan. Feel free to cut it in half and do it in an 8×8 pan if you’d like. Also, unless you make the glaze alcohol free, this is NOT kid friendly.

Brandied Cherry & Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 6 ounces dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup brandy (can sub 1/4 cup juice and 1/2 teaspoon brandy flavoring)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried coconut flakes (sweetened or not; your choice. I used unsweetened)
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 teaspoons dry instant coffee (optional- helps deepen the chocolate flavor but don’t run out and buy it if you’ll never use it again)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped good quality dark chocolate (I used a Trader Joes Dark Chocolate bar, chopped)
  • GLAZE-
  • Reserved brandy from the cherries
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and then line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray Sprinkle your coconut in another baking pan and toast at 350 until lightly browned. Don’t forget it in the oven and make charcoal. Don’t ask me why I advise this….ahem.
  2. Meanwhile, put your brandy and cherries in a shallow bowl. Stir to mix and then let sit while you make the brownies.
  3. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, using 45 second increments and watching carefully. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the extracts, coffee is using and again mix well.
  5. Beat in the melted chocolate.
  6. In a large bowl, mix your flour, salt, baking soda and coconut. Drain your cherries, reserving he liquid to use in the glaze.
  7. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients.  Mix just until combined then fold in the chocolate and drained cherries.
  8. Spread mixture into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake at 350 until a skewer or toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, with maybe a few moist crumbs on it.
  10. Let cool in pan on rack until cool. For glaze- mix powdered sugar with the reserved brandy (that has now been wonderfully flavored with cherries). If desired, add a bit of red gel food coloring to make this pink…pink is always good. Drizzle glaze over cooled brownies 😀 Lift brownies out by the parchment paper then cut into SMALL pieces. Trust me; these are rich.

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(Mine and my husbands song)