This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s birthday and I wanted to share with everyone the cake I baked to commemorate this special day and tell the story of my mom and I and our love of food. I have been thinking for a while how best to participate in Jeni and Inge’s blogging event Apples & Thyme which is dedicated to all the women relatives in our lives that helped influence the way we cook and eat. I have discussed often the influence my family has had on my cooking here, I have shared some of my Nana’s signature recipes here and here. I have also posted other family recipes like my Aunt Theresa’s Zucchini Cake and my Aunt Sylvia’s Easter Bunny Breads. But this time I wanted to talk about my mom, the person who taught me how to really experience and LOVE food and who I have shared a great passion for food with all my life.

I grew up near Washington DC and that in itself greatly influenced my food philosophy. My mom and I always tried different restaurants of various cuisines and really relished in all the variety that surrounded us. It was our way of experiencing the world and other cultures through our palates instead of a plane. We then always took those flavors and creations home with us in our memories and re-created it at home to suit our needs. Therefore my food philosophy and relationship with my mom has always been about trying new things and re-inventing old favorites with a twist. I have learned a lot when it comes to cooking from my mom. She is very exacting with the way she cooks which makes her a great baker and decorator. I am more of a cooking with a whim kind of a person. Through watching her I have learned that some dishes take patience and practice and in the end you appreciate it all the more.


My mom loves volcano cakes. We were having 8 people for dinner and I didn’t want to make 8 individual volcano cakes (which is usually how you do it) because I wanted her to be able to cut a cake as per the tradition. So I decided to make up my own version. It would not be the same, but the main characteristics of chocolate volcano cake – the rich dark chocolate taste and the gooey gushing chocolate were retained for my version to feed a crowd. To me this was the best treat I could give my mom for her birthday! And it was another baking challenge for me, which made it even more special to serve my mom who is a great baker. So thanks mom! My version was served with a whipped cream icing and a Strawberry-Lavender sauce. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!


Here is how I did it:



1 Devil’s Food cake mix baked into 2 circle rounds
½ jar of hot fudge sauce (get the richest one you can find)
¼ cup of Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate Syrup
1 TBS Godiva Liquor
1 pint of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 bag of Whole Frozen Strawberries
2 cups of sugar
2 TBS dried Lavender
2 cups water



First bake the cake according to the package directions. A little tip – when dusting the cake pan with flour use a little of the cake mix so it just bakes into the cake. Let cool completely. Meanwhile defrost the frozen strawberries in a colander and set aside.
Prepare the simple syrup (you will be using the majority later to make Lavender Lemonade). Add the sugar, water and lavender to a small sauce pan and heat through so that the sugar dissolves and the lavender releases its flavor essence. Strain once cool and set aside.


The day you are serving the cake, using a melon baller, scoop out about 12 holes on the bottom cake layer.


To make the filling:
Mix together the hot fudge sauce, Godiva Liquor and the special dark syrup and spoon the mixture into the holes.


If there is leftover, spread it over the layer and allow it to sink into the cake. Leave the cake out at room temperature until you are ready to ice it.
In a blender mix the thawed strawberries and ¼ cup of the simple syrup. Put in a squeeze bottle for later.


In a bowl whip the cream until it has formed soft peaks. You will use this to ice the cake on top and on the sides (it will drip down the cake giving it a beautiful effect). If you want to put it in the fridge at this point, do so.


When you are ready to serve, drizzle the plates with Strawberry-Lavender sauce and place a piece of the cake on top.