Menu: Panama (& Giveaway)

I’m happy. Not only did I get to dig into an amazing rum cake this week, I also get to give one of you beautiful readers a nice treat. (More on that in a moment.) For now, I need to focus on one very special man – my husband.

This week’s Global Table was Mr. Picky’s birthday luncheon. Happy Birthday, my love! The meal was hearty, delicious and, as always, a bit challenging for him.

I must apologize for the fact that his birthday plate included such offenders as cilantro, olives, capers, plantains, rum, and coffee. He really dislikes all of those things. I promise, it wasn’t on purpose.

At least there was chocolate. And cake! (Not every country serves cake, ya know…)


All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week.

Plantain Chips with Sea Salt [Recipe]
Long slices of green plantain deep fried and sprinkled with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Finger lickin’ and totally craveable. Make a believer out of your picky eater.

Arroz con Pollo [Recipe]
A hearty helping of annato-seasoned rice and browned chicken. The stars of the show are the green olives and capers, which make this variation on a popular Latin dish uniquely Panamanian.

 Midnight Mocha Rum Cake [Recipe]
Lock your lips onto this moist chocolate cake. The flavor deepens with a happy splash of rum and brooding coffee. If you wanted to sprinkle more rum on the cake, after baking it? You’d be totally Panama-tastic.


Today, because I want you all to know the joy of getting your family giddy on Mocha Rum Cake and smiles, I am giving away one Beautiful Anniversary Bundt Pan from Williams Sonoma.

This bundt pan is way nicer than mine.Anniversary Bundt® Pan

She has handles! Perfect for not dipping your oven mitts into cake batter.

(Something I know all too much about, unfortunately.)

She also is nonstick aluminum, making it super-duper easy to slip your cake out, onto the serving dish. Nothing worse than half of your cake stuck in the bundt.

(Something else I know all too much about.)

If there are 100 entries, I’ll give away two, so tell a friend!


UPDATE: *Winner from this week’s Panamanian Menu Giveaway was selected at random by I am officially starving – there were so many great cakes mentioned (and several of them I’d never even heard of).  Congratulations to AnnaClarice, who said her favorite cake in the world was a tie:

“It’s a tie for me. I absolutely love my chocolate sauerkraut cake but I’m also totally in love with my chocolate almond fudge cake (soaked with a little kahlua to make it extra special). I believe both are North American concoctions but extra yummy just the same.”

Please email me to claim your shiny prize, AnnaClarice!

Giveaway Question:

What is the best cake in the world? Don’t like cake… how about the best dessert?

Tell me where in the world it’s from and why you love it so much.

That’s it!

Bonus entries will be provided for those that tweet this giveaway with hashtag #globalgiveaway and/or share it on Pinterest and Facebook.

Leave your answer in the comments below. One winner will be chosen at random and announced in the Monday Meal Review on September 3, 2012. Contest closes Monday morning. There are no sponsors for this giveaway. I just wanted to share some Panamanian love, from me to you. Enjoy!


  1. The best cake is my mom’s red velvet cake, the traditional birthday cake for the family. It used to be just my brother’s cake, but the rest of us appropriated it a while back. For me it has to be with not the usual cream cheese frosting you find in recipes – I thought that was incredibly weird when I first came across it; our cake has a cooked frosting which I haven’t mastered yet. It’s rich and dense and packed with memories – I love that cake.

  2. Kc192 says

    MEDOVIK!! Or Russian “honey cake”. Many layers of soft crumbly goodness alternating with sweet creamy heaven… Despite the fact that most cakes in the world don’t seem to use as much sugar as america this is one super delish eastern European treat!

  3. My sister makes this amazing coconut layer cake that’s SO good. It’s my favourite cake ever. I think it’s a Martha Stewart recipe, so I guess we’ll call it American?

  4. Monique says

    Nothing exotic…..plain old american angel food cake ….my every year birthday cake request!

  5. Ellen says

    My favorite cake in the world is my go to cake for my birthday every year, chocolate sheet cake with caramel frosting. The frosting is the best part! Half an inch thick and completely delicious, I only have it once a year because it’s that special.

  6. Leslie Litz Ryan says

    My family’s (and probably many others) traditional go to cake is the 1-2-3-4 cake, in my family it was a layer cake with jam spread between the layers, later it became a bundt cake with fresh fruit sprinkled throughout, yesterday for my birthday it was made with homemade applesauce and brown sugar cinnamon glaze, very yummy!

  7. Elizabeth Behrens says

    My favorite dessert is Creme Brulée, which originated in France. I like cake, but I don’t have a favorite. Though anything with liquor and chocolate in it is a good start!

  8. As a fellow world cook (I’m on my 83rd country today), my favorite cake is a Hungarian Apple Cake…it’s more like a bread as it is made with yeast but it is wonderful, and not too sweet and it freezes beautifully.

  9. Kentucky Derby Pie……. My family generally makes this just at derby time, they have a very old family recipe, and it has KY bourbon (and only KY bourbon will do) in it!!

    I would love this bundt cake pan, if I win, first thing I will be making is this Rum cake!!

  10. Nicole DeBoer says

    My oldest son and I love “Better than XX” cake. At 17 (and 6’5″ – 280#), I’m glad he still likes to bake with me. Nothing like a football lineman filling up all the space in my kitchen while poking holes in yummy german chocolate cake and pouring on the hot fudge, caramel and home-whipped cream! The cake is beloved by the rest of our tribe as well.

  11. Sandra says

    I am not so much a cake person. My favorite? Blueberry pie. I usually make myself one for my birthday which is Monday. My mom and my oldest daughter make me one if they are around. It’s pure Iowan. I grew up making and eating pies, especially during the summer and fall fruit seasons. Yum.

  12. meganleiann says

    I rarely like cake, but that Guinness Chocolate cake was superb. That’s what I made for my husband’s birthday. Mocha rum cake sounds decadent- in a good way.

  13. Allene says

    Having not yet tried your Guinness Chocolate cake with Bailey’s buttercream (it’s on my list, but I have to time it so I’m not the only one eating it!), I would have to say carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting. I would guess that’s an American cake, but I really don’t know for sure – except that it’s moist, rich, not too sweet, and in all other ways delicious. 🙂

  14. Fran Craig says

    That’s an easy question… Rum cake from Italy… or perhaps it’s just Italian American? The best ones I’ve tried are from Boston’s North End, and the very best from Pace’s Italian grocery. I’ve never made one, but I’d love to see a tried and true recipe for it.

  15. Lemons says

    I am going with Pavlova. There is just nothing else like it and even though New Zealand and Australia fight over who did it first – it is worth fighting for. It’s also addicting.

    I did not get it right the first try – but even the mistakes are awesome so you can’t lose with it. that said – Sasha’s turned outt better than my best effort, lol.

  16. Marie says

    I agree with the others who said Pavlova. I made it for my birthday, and was so happy with the results. Simple, beautiful, and healthy. It’s light and fluffy, and completely delicious. We must have half a dozen cake pans, but it’s never a bad thing to get another, right?

  17. Sicilian Family Favorite- Chocolate or Vanilla Ricotta Cake (or chocolate sour cream, I’m cool with either). Or any cake with chocolate or vanilla ganache. I guess it may not be the cake I’m after…maybe it’s just the custard-like icings and fillings.

  18. My mom’s friend created the best cheese cake recipe ever. It includes cream cheese, ricotta, and cottage cheese, so it’s super creamy and rich. You can’t eat more than a sliver, but it’s delicious. For something a bit less rich, I’m always partial to carrot cake, especially on the rare occasions that it comes unfrosted. Cream cheese frosting is just way too sweet for me.

  19. Rose Nelson says

    My favorite is dessert is tira misu. I love the coffee flavor and the pure richness of it.

  20. Lilly says

    although I am supposed to say the German black forest cherry cake (am from Germany)…I’d probably still go with cheesecake brownies…so yummy! It combines my two favorite (now 2nd and 3rd) cakes and makes them go wooooooosh….flavorwise it’s 1+1=5! Where logic goes bazinga and there’s only goodness left 😉

  21. annaclarice says

    It’s a tie for me. I absolutely love my chocolate sauerkraut cake but I’m also totally in love with my chocolate almond fudge cake (soaked with a little kahlua to make it extra special). I believe both are North American concoctions but extra yummy just the same.

  22. Lyndsey says

    Best cake ever would have to be a nice chocolate cake with vanilla icing. I’d love to try it someday with a homemade buttercream icing. I just need to learn how to make it!

  23. RebeccaD says

    Hi Sasha! My favorite cake of all time has to be Tiramisu…I don’t even know if I can quantify why. There’s something amazing about espresso-soaked ladyfingers. Yum.

  24. I love cakes with fresh seasonal fruit in them I call them summer cakes. But in the winter my hands down favorite cake is dried apricot cake. I go the recipe from a Finnish co-worker in the 70s and it was lost for maybe 15 years but I have it again. The fruit is the main sweetner for the cake. Sometimes I soak the dried fruit in brandy (or rum) for that little extra something. :O) In season, I make fresh strawberry cake and apricot cake. Blueberries are coming along and will be next.

  25. Maybe not my favorite, because there are many, but certainly one I miss, is the Pflaumenkuchen I used to eat tons of growing up in Germany. The Pflaumen are a type of plum that grows there, they are not the big, juicy, sweet things you get in the stores here, but smaller, and quite tart ones. They might be the ones that are used for prunes (I am just guessing). It’s a sheet cake: sweet yeast dough spread out and topped with the pitted plums, and then sprinkled with rock sugar. It bakes up beautifully, a favorite for an afternoon coffee break.

  26. Oooohhhh. Cake! That’s a tough one.

    Every year I make carrot cake for my older son’s birthday which, I believe, hails from Britain (?!?).

    Cheesecake is the cake of choice for my littler son and my husband. We made an eggnog cheesecake for Dylan’s birthday this year.
    My husband prefers his cheesecake plain and white.

  27. Devangi says

    My favourite cake is the one with Chocolate fudge cake topped with ganache and fruits. Love the tartness from berries or fruits with ganache. And, ofcourse I am crazy fan of doughnuts somehow. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I call it a dessert.

  28. It’s a toss-up between Cheesecake (any kind!) and Linzer Torte (from Austria). Cheesecake is more available, and I still don’t have a recipe for the original Linzer Torte.

  29. Joann says

    I would have to say my mom’s strawberry cake. She makes it for me every year for my birthday and it is the best!

  30. Gillian says

    My favorite dessert is Kransekake (your version is very close to mine) my danish grandmother makes it for rare occasions and I absolutely love it.

  31. Kris M. says

    Tiramisu hands down! Italian dreaminess. Mascarpone cheese is the bomb :). I even mix it with whip cream and serve it with angel food cake and fruit for a summer dessert.

  32. Megan P says

    I would have to pick cheesecake, but there are so many varieties I’m not sure if I could choose a particular flavor. According to wikipedia 😉 there is mention of cheesecake and recipes in ancient Roman texts (yay! I learned something new today)

  33. Chantilly Cake from Hawaii, oh, and coco puffs from liliha bakery. Absolutely killer!

  34. dutchgirl says

    Monchou cake, definitely! It’s a sort of cheesecake topped with cherries. It is an absolute favorite in my family.

  35. Michael P says

    Coca (Basque Flan) we have a large population of Basque here so there are several traditional eateries. This dessert blew me away.

  36. Best dessert ever is strawberry shortcakes at the beginning of local strawberry season. Second best is a peach and sour cherry pie in the middle of winter, made from fruit frozen at peak season the summer before.

    Best cake? Entirely context dependent. At Christmas, I like a nice gingery yule log. To bring to parties, I go with a nice cheesecake – either plain New York style, or chocolate with caramel and pecans. Best cupcake: a tray of mini-cupcakes, including straight-up chocolate (with chocolate or chocolate mint buttercream), maple bacon (with maple buttercream), and earl grey with lemon glaze. For my birthday – anything I don’t have to make myself 🙂

  37. Estrella A says

    Cemitas from Honduras! They are similar to Mexican Concha sweetbread, but without the cinnamon. My mother just taught me my grandmother’s recipe for them this week, so it feels like my grandma gets to live on through the food traditions she established.
    Close runners-up: Strawberry shortcake or caramel apples! I never had those growing up as their not at all part of the Honduran food experience, but a friend introduced me to caramel apples about four years ago, and my fiance introduced me to strawberry shortcake a year ago and both times I was literally silenced by how good those tasted.

  38. Samantha says

    I just had the best cake of my life last week, from a place called Sweet Diablo…they claim to have the best chocolate cake in the world, and they’re definitely right.

  39. Diane says

    Definitely “Tres leches” common in several countries in Latin America….

  40. Leslie says

    Wow so tough…which dessert. Well when my middle daughter was studying pastry in culinary school,( she now is a chef) we got to eat her homework. If she thought the texture was off in some pastry or bread she was perfecting in class. She would come home and make the same thing for dinner just to perfect it. She surprised me on my birthday by melding my favorite flavors into a large lovely fruit tart. Flaky pastry, Creme Anglese with fresh vanilla bean, for the base flavor, fresh raspberries and blackberries on top of the tart, and the golden glaze on the fruit had a hint of honey, and lemon zest but was perfectly balanced and did not overpower the rest of the flavors. Plus it was baked with love. Thanks Teddy… that was the best dessert and birthday surprise I have ever received.

  41. Christine Costa says

    My Grammy’s carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is THE BEST CAKE (not just carrot cake) on the planet. And I love all kinds of cake :).

  42. Sleepyheadedmom says

    best cake ever is a Dobos torte form Hungary. The reason why it’s good is because it’s yummy. 🙂 a bunch of thin layers of cake with rich chocolate buttercream in between, topped with a layers of carmel and sometimes nuts are on top too. soooo good.

  43. Samantha C. says

    I think I might have a new favourite cake – an adapted recipe of Claudia Roden’s Orange & Almond Cake. It originated from the Middle East and it is said people in the old days used to make it by sieving the boiled oranges. This cake is easy to make and it has a perfectly uniform texture and is very moist. I also love the intense aroma and flavour of the finely processed orange rind. It goes perfectly with sweetened whipped cream topped with pistachios and it is the perfect cake to share with those who can’t have gluten 🙂

  44. Carolsue says

    A co-worker makes the most delicious “Booze Cake” but won’t share the recipe. It’s kind of like a spice cake with booze — not even sure what kind of booze. But OMG is it good!!!!!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  45. I’m excited for Panama week! My husband was born there, and I want to learn more about that part of his heritage.

    It’s not exactly cake, but I’m wild for Italian tiramisu! I could eat it by the pound, day and night — which is precisely why I’ve never made it myself.

  46. I was at an office potluck several years ago and took a bite of a homemade banana cream pie. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “OMG, I want to smear this all over my body and have Antonio Banderas lick it off!”

    Now, I’m not a particular fan of Antonio Banderas, and it was very uncharacteristic for me to say such a thing, especially in the office. I think it must have been the mind-bending rich, creamy, silky, decadence that suddenly brought the whole image to mind. I never did find out who made it — I could just kick myself. But I’ve been on a banana cream pie bent every since.

  47. Leslie says

    My favorite cake is a white cake with coconut frosting. I really like it when the coconut is fresh!

  48. Pingback: Global Table Adventure | Monday Meal Review: Panama

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