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A Chocolate Fudge Macadamia Cake w/Grand Marnier, A Christmas Parade in Middleburg & a Giveaway!

Virginia is one of the most beautiful states in the Union. Have you been there? While I may be slightly biased having been raised there (just 6 miles from downtown D.C.), it remains to boast rich history, culture, a stunning countryside and some extremely worthwhile traditions. It’s also made up of super quaint towns and villages that bring about the good ol’ feeling of being an American.

When we first moved to Virginia from little Havana, Miami, we were in for a serious culture shock. So were our neighbors. We were the only non-White family to call our street, “home.” For almost a decade it was like that. With that came a lot of questions and interest about our culture. I remember one New Year’s Eve, at the strike of midnight, the entire family and friends took to the neighborhood streets banging pots and pans–an old tradition of Cuban families. It symbolizes a new year, new beginnings, and celebration of great things to come. A few of our neighbors rushed outside to see what all the racketing was about. They were so clueless. We spent the next day explaining our Christmas and New Year’s traditions.

We’ve not done that parade of pots and pans for longer than I can remember, but it sure would be fun to break out in rythym again and cause jovial entertainment. But it’s  a different neighborhood now.

While our neighbors have come to embrace our rich and very exuberant culture (and delicious), we’ve become an all-American family partaking in all things Americana tradition. Yes, I’m an American, but as a Latina, we still have our own set of celebrations and practices that aren’t part of mainstream America.

One of the nicest traditions we’ve thoroughly enjoyed in central Virginia, in all its American glory, is the annual Christmas parade in Middleburg–a quentessential Main Street town. On the 1st Saturday of December, this town of 120 thousand or so, comes out to ring in the new Season. The highlight of the parade is the march of the hound dogs and the elegant Clydesdale horses, clad in wintry wear and their equestrian owners downing fabulous gear.

It’s an absolutely beautiful thing to experience and enjoy.

This year, my parents and I fought unexpected traffic into the town, battled for parking and stood in the ultra chilly weather while the myriad of local floats made their way down the main thoroughfare.

The iconic displays of local culture made it warmer and offered great conversation pieces amongst parade goers.

We hung out for about 90 minutes and then called it quits. We did get to see the entire parade, which was lovely no doubt, but it was too cold and all of the well-known local restaurants had year-long reservations–so there wasn’t a place to for us to continue warming up.

This restaurant above is seemingly very popular, were sold out and started taking reservations for next year’s parade the day we there. We had little option but to trot back to our car. We opted to eat at a local but good chain restaurant near our house. It was a fabulous Saturday and one full of Americana things.


Given the wintry weather and all the delightful food I’m sure you’re indulging in, it would only make sense to share this chocolate fudge cake with macadamia nuts that my friend Christina and I made. It’s very American and very apropos for complementing a frosty day like the one we spent in Middleburg.

Remember the chocolate mini fudge cakes I made and featured last week!?! Ooh week some cuties patooties were out of this world delicious. I’m not even lying! I ate 6 in about 1/2 day. I reserved the other half of the mix to make this small but totally appropriate for one cake . It’s 6″ so there’s no question I could devour it one sitting.

So I mentioned last week my concern with pre-packed mixes, especially when it’s so easy to make your own. Truthfully, there are not enough hours in the day for me to have made it last or this week. So, it came it totally handy to have my friend LaVern from Cottage Hill Farms share with me her 100% organic mix. I was excited to work with it and was fully satisfied with the finished product. To read about the mini cakes with peppermint icing, click here.

Making the cake was particularly fun because I enjoyed adding elements very popular in my home, namely Grand Marnier–my favorite drink and a perfect spirit to keep you warm during this weather! Imagine that. A distinct and spicy orang liqueur added to a cake mix which is already most makes for an orgasmic experience!

Christina topped it off with macadamia nuts (which I’m kicking myself for not bring any back from Hawaii in October) and a smooth chocolate ganache, which equally tickles my fancy.

When all was said and done, I ate the cake on my own even when the ganache was starting to try… it was just that luscious.

LaVerne’s cake mix’s, while pre-packaged, are the real deal and the closest thing to making your own. She guarantees it and having had two distinctly different desserts with  it, I can say it’s tried and true to the core.

Christmas for me is all about priceless family time (with or without disputes), great eating and service to others.


So, because LaVerne is an absolute doll and hails from Virginia, we’re doing a give away! One lucky reader will enjoy 3 packages of her 100% mixes. The three include Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge, English Cream Tea Scones and Farmhouse Buttermilk Pancakes mixes. You will not be dissappointed with any of these. In fact, you’ll continue ordering from LaVerne ‘s Cottage Hill Farms!

To enter this is what you guys and gals have to do. Gotta twist your arm somehow!?

1. Leave a comment here telling me your favorite Christmas dessert

2. Follow me on Twitter @BrenHerrera

3. Follow Vermont Organics on Twitter @VermontOrganics

4. Friend me “Bren Herrera” on Facebeook.

* Please come back and tell me you’ve done these in a seperate comment with your Twitter name so I know it’s you!

For an additional entry, feel free to go to Vermont Organic’s website and browse. Come back and tell me what you like from their awesome line of products! That will count as an extra entry! For a 2nd additional entry, tweet this give away mentioning “@BrenHerrera gives away Cottage Hill farms chocolate fudge mixes.”

* Please come back and tell me you’ve done these in a seperate comment with your Twitter name so I know it’s you!

Comments will be accepted through Dec. 30th. A reader will be randomly chosen via Random Generator on Jan. 1st. Cottage Hill Farms will directly mail your 3 packages to you no later than Jan. 4th. Good luck and spread the cheer!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Don't forget to check out my debut cookbook!

  • 1 bag of Cottage Hill Farm old-fashioned fudge cake (adapted from package directions)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped


Make batter according to package instructions. Pour into mini cake bundt pans. Bake according to package instructions. Let cool. Make icing. Once cakes have cooled, evenly spread ganache all around cake, cover it all up. Generously sprinkle crushed macadamia nuts throughout.

For Ganache: (*adapted from Joy of Baking)


  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted batter
  • 1 tbsp. Grand Marnier
  • pinch of salt


Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur.

Yields a 9″ cake.

38 thoughts on “A Chocolate Fudge Macadamia Cake w/Grand Marnier, A Christmas Parade in Middleburg & a Giveaway!

  1. Oh…memories of living in Herndon and going into DC every weekend! Love the post, Bren! And…so much fun making the cake with you! ‘Till next time. 🙂

  2. Bren, I really enjoyed this post, especially the story of your family moving from Little Havana to Virginia. Girl, your photos rock! And so does that cake.

    Happy holidays and all the best in 2011.

  3. Wow, this cake not only sounds but looks delicious, love the Grand Marnier in it…and the pictures are awesome! Happy Holidays to you too 🙂

  4. es maravilloso ese lugar sobre todo en diciembre con esa parada todo e tan bonito y alegre .y ese cake de chocolate esta para comerselo gracias por compartir con nosotros tus experiencias tan maravillosa

  5. That cake is gorgeous! We love to make macaroons here, with cherries, or dark chocolate. My daughter even made some minty ones this year.

  6. Rosa: Oh my friend, it’s so absolutely beautiful. It’s really a divine place. Glad to call it home!

    Chris: that’s right! I forgot you used to live down the street! Thanks for baking with me! You know how we do!

    Kay: Thanks for visiting and if you ever happen to be in VA again, let me know. I’m here all the time.

    JoanNova: Thank you hun. One day I’ll write a memoir of how we made it here, not just to VA but to the States… pretty fascinating, like most Cubans’ story. Happy, Happy New Year to you! Hugs.

    Juliana: The Grand Marnier is sooo delicious in it… plus it makes it even more moist!

    Yaime: me alegro que te gusto… te lo tengo que hacer, aunque no sea de la misma mexcla…

    Abi: Sheesh, I haven’t made macaroons in so long but they are so deeelish. And minty. Faint.

  7. This Cake sounds magnifico, I copied the directions, will adapt it to another mix and have it tomorrow for Christmas Dinner. You solved my problem of what to make.
    The story about you and la familia are wonderful, it has made you who you are, be proud. Estas una Mujer muy fantastico.
    We used to throw water out onto the doorstep on New Years but that was dangerous because of the ice so we stopped.

  8. Well I will just have to make this cake! It’s beautiful!

    I met your requirements, following all on facebook and twitter. @rusthawk

  9. Bren’s PUMPKIN FLAN! My new favorite christmas dessert. If you haven’t tried it, put in your order now. Its not too late! The fudge cake looks good. You and Christina are a dynamic duo!

  10. ah, y que bonito esta ese little town. quisiera ir a Virginia… hace demasido tiempo desde que visito…

  11. I would like to take a bite out of that cake. The pic looks great! Also Middleburg looks like a cool place to hang. Have to check it out next time I in VA.

  12. Facebook handle: Gnoe Graasland.

    Adding you as a friend was disabled on Facebook but I’ve ‘liked’ you instead, hope that’s okay?

  13. And for another bonus entry I would love to try those English Cream Tea Scones from Cottage Hill Farms! Good scones are hard to get over here.

    I hope I understood correctly that you wanted me to make separate comments… 😉 I guess it’s obvious I’ve set my mind on those organic mixes! :))

  14. Hi Bren! I love all dessert as you know. Favorite? I guess bread pudding. Love the Virginia post. We’re going to Middleburg this weekend and having New Years Day dinner @ French Hound. I can’t wait. Happy New Year!!

  15. Sue EP: mija, it was so good, i ate i all by myself in two days. i’d love to know how your cake turned out for Christmas! Thank you for enjoying my families story. There’s more to share!

    Ava: Thank you and hope you had a lovely Christmas!

    Sharon: Thank you. Was very sexalicious! So good and if you make it, do tell me.

    Mighty Healthy: awww. thank you for loving my flan. I know ur a fan! I’ll have to make you this dessert since you love GM as much as I do.

    Luis: make it for her! 😉

    Dullah: Ha. You just may get to do that. And about VA, I think you’d love it since you’re into history. It’s truly a beautiful place.

    Dianabol: Thank you for visiting.

    Gnoe: Thanks for visiting and sharing your favorite recipe!

    AJ: ooh red velvet is so yummy though not my favorite. it’s a bit too rich for me. i love the color!

    Ladii: ay que rico. ese no lo he hecho en años!

    Sharon: Sharon!!!!! hey girlie. Bread pudding… yum. I made one a few months ago and really wanted to blog about it but the pictures came out so awful that I couldn’t even do it. And jealous you’re going to Middleburg, but you’re going to absolutely love it. They have awesome shopping and the food!! ooh wee. Let me know how the French Hound is… Happy New Year, hun.

  16. I enjoyed reading this post! I don’t have a favorite xmas dessert put I don’t mind eating those guava puff pastries with confectioner’s sugar on top. Delicious 🙂

  17. You made me finally join Twitter, but I done did it so I could do this. You owe me a piece of music for that video now, damngitall! 😉

  18. My favorite dessert is warm Jamaican rum cake (black cake) with Breyers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Que rico.

  19. It doesn’t get better than chocolate and grand marnier. Love that flavor combo! I think this cake could become my new holiday favorite.

  20. Liza: Thank you! I had fun writing it. That little town in VA is really special and we love going there every year. And ay chica, guava pastries son tan delicisos!!

    Stephanie: yum! i swear i don’t think i’ve ever had choco cookies with dried cherries.

    AJ: yay!

    Dave: yes, yes i did. now all you have to do is keep coming up…

    Angelo: No creeo que he tenido ese postre… sounds super rico, though.

    Eliana: girl, n, no it doesnt… 🙂 sooooo good. i drink GM straight on the rocks so in cake is like icing on the cake…


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