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Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Thunder!

Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Thunder!

Think about your favorite book from childhood. What do you remember? The smell, the feel of the pages, the way the story made you feel, or all of the above? I want to warn you, if you were read Patricia Polacco’s heartwarming tale ‘Thunder Cakes’ as a child you are about to be struck with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Duckie (aka Amanda) is an unashamed self-diagnosed bibliophile; she has the library to prove it. In addition to that, everyone at Coco and Duckie is a Chocoholic (it’s required). While we were road tripping this Spring on a  stormy day we stopped at the cutest little restaurant in downtown Ames, IA. Not only did they have $5 French 75’s but they also had Thunder Cake on their menu! We couldn’t resist ordering a slice (or two) while we waited out the storm.

Many of Patricia Polacco’s stories come from family lore. She has said that some of her fondest memories growing up were sitting by the stove listing to tall tales told by her elders while eating apples and popping popcorn. If you haven’t read Thunder Cake, it’s a yarn pulled straight from the authors memories of when her Ukrainian Babushka helped her overcome her fear of thunder as a little girl. We won’t spoil the story for you…. but we will tell you how to make your very own thunder cake!


Here are all the essential elements you need for Thunder Cakes.

1) Thunder (not really…you can make thunder cakes on a sunny day, they just taste better when it’s raining…no really, they do!)

2) A Kitchen Aid or other mixer with a whisk attachment. You can whisk the egg whites by hand, and if you do that you are wonder woman with shoulders of steel.

3) A cake pan that has been buttered so well that if you were holding the (inside of the pan) it would fall out of your hands

4) An oven. A kitchen. A sink…. unless you throw away your dishes after one use, and if that is the case we applaud you for never having to do dishes!


1 Cup Room Temperature Butter

1 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Vanilla Bean

3 Eggs – separated

1 Cup Milk

1/3 Cup Pureed Tomatoes

2 ½ Cup Cake Flour

½ Cup Cocoa Powder

1 ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Tablespoon Salt


Once you have gathered all of the necessities the first step is to Mise en place all of your ingredients. What is Mise en place, you ask? It is the French way of saying get all your ducks in a row. So, grab some Mise en place bowls and portion all of your ingredients out.


1) Take your flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and sift them together in a large bowl –  whisk to combine.

2) In the bowl of a kitchen aid beat the butter, vanilla bean and the brown sugar together until smooth – about 3 to 5 minutes of mixing on high speed.


3) Change the speed to medium and add in your egg yolks one by one to emulsify.
4) Follow with the pureed tomatoes
5) Add in your sifted dry ingredients slowly – alternate adding milk and the flour mixture until smooth. Be careful not to over mix, you will get little ‘tunnels’ in your finished cake if over mixed and we wouldn’t want that!
6) Transfer batter to a large mixing bowl. Clean out your kitchen aid bowl and take the egg whites and whip on high until soft peaks are formed.
7) Fold the whites into the batter one-third at a time. Fold gently; the egg whites will add a light fluffiness if all things go smoothly!
8) Bake it! Well, please bake it after you transfer it to your very buttered cake pan that is. Now all you have to do is wait! Enjoy the chocolaty fragrance as it wafts through your home!

Patricia says to frost with butter chocolate frosting but Duckie suggests taking the chocolate up a notch and making a simple yet decedent chocolate ganache. Delicious and totally healthy because dark chocolate is good for you, right?


Duckie’s Dark Chocolate Ganache

200 Grams Ghirardelli 60% Dark Chocolate Chips

180 Grams Heavy Cream

1) Heat the heavy cream on the stove top until it begins to boil.

2) Pour the cream over the chocolate, let sit for one minute then with a rubber spatula begin to mix from the center of the bowl until you have a creamy chocolate concoction! 

Feel free to bring us a slice of your Thunder Cake ;) Happy baking!


Coco and Duckie

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