A Tasteful List 2017

September 14th, 2017

Credit where credit is due, Jennifer Biggs of The Commercial Appeal accomplished something recently that I’ve been trying to do for decades – she has uncovered the long-lost recipe for Carl’s Mocha Cake.

From the long-gone Carl’s Bakery on Jackson. From heaven.

To make matters worse, an old friend of mine (I’m talking to you, Julie Denman) sent Jennifer the recipe, evidently hiding it from me all these years. I’m reevaluating our relationship.

In her article, Jennifer said she’s “open to trying it” but “I cannot imagine how Carl’s Mocha Cake can be good. Period.”

In my experience with this cake, after a fifth straight slice, I remain open to a sixth.

Enjoy a found treasure. Thank you, Jennifer, and all is forgiven, Julie.


(aka, Dan’s Favorite Cake In The Known World)


Yellow cake of your choice - four layers preferred

Filling –

20-ounce can crushed pineapple

1 instant lemon pudding (serving four)

1 pint heavy cream, whipped


¼-cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

Dash of salt

3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons milk

1 ½  teaspoons vanilla

Chopped pecans


Bake yellow cake according to your recipe.

Make filling: Mix pineapple and pudding mix and let thicken for five minutes. Fold in whipped cream.

For frosting, cream butter, cocoa, coffee and salt. Slowly cream in 1 cup sugar, then gradually add remaining sugar along with milk and vanilla. 

Spread filling between cake layers. Frost sides and top with frosting and press pecans in the side of the cake to taste.

Eat the whole damn thing in one sitting.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, September 15, 2017, and in The Memphis News, September 16-21, 2017



Presenting the Tasteful List 2017 – alphabetical local favorites in one decidedly local man’s opinion – all good if not good for you. Some are farm to table, some got waylaid by sugar, flour, corn meal and deep-frying along the way, but all of are ours, bless their hearts. 

A/M Breakfast, Andrew Michael; Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, Molly’s; Baguettes, La Baguette; Barbecue Pizza, Coletta’s, Elwood’s Shack, Pete & Sam’s; Barbecue Salad, Bar-B-Q Shop, Central BBQ, Germantown Commissary; Barbecue Sandwich, Bar-B-Q Shop, Interstate, Payne’s, Tops; Barbecue Spaghetti, Bar-B-Q Shop; Beer, Cash Saver, anywhere serving Ghost River, High Cotton, Memphis Made or Wiseacre; Birthday Cake Sno Cone, Jerry’s; Breakfast (anything), Blue Plate, Brother Juniper’s; Boston Cream Pie, Calvary Waffle Shop; Brisket, Elwood’s Shack, Rendezvous; Catfish, Soul Fish; Cheeseburger, Belmont, Caritas Village, Earnestine & Hazel’s, Hog & Hominy, Huey’s, The Bluff, Tops; Cheese Dip, Pancho’s; Chicken Salad, Bogie’s, Calvary Waffle Shop, Deli On The Square; Chips, Las Delicias; Chopped Steak, Mortimer’s; Coffee, Bluff City Coffee, Otherlands; Corn Sticks, Little Tea Shop; Cupcakes, Muddy’s; Deviled Eggs, Bogie’s, Deli On The Square; Dirty Rice, Mardi Gras; Dry Ribs, Rendezvous; Eggplant Casserole, Cupboard; Fish and Chips, Brass Door; Fish Pudding, Calvary Waffle Shop; Fried Chicken, Gus’s, Joes’; Fried Green Tomatoes, Cupboard; Fries, Brass Door, Huey’s, Young Avenue Deli; Guacamole, Las Delicias; Gumbo, DeJavu, Second Line, Mardi Gras; Hoppin John, Little Tea Shop; Hot and Sour Soup, Shanghai; Hot Dogs, Elwood’s Shack, Hog & Hominy; Italian Salad, Bogie’s, Deli On The Square, Fino’s, Pete & Sam’s; Italian Spinach, Pete & Sam’s; Knuckle Sandwich, Iris; Lyonnaise Salad, Café 1912; Miss Mary’s Salad, Frank Grisanti’s; New York Club, Fino’s; Nuts, Peanut Shoppe; Patio Salad, Half Shell; Patty Melt, Huey’s, S.O.B.; Pizza, Aldo’s, Ciao Bella, Memphis Pizza Café, Pete & Sam’s; Po Boys, DeJavu, Second Line, Mardi Gras; Popcorn, Peanut Shoppe; Potato Salad, Bogie’s, Deli On The Square, Fratelli’s, Second Line; Potato Soup, Huey’s; Red Beans and Rice, Half Shell; Salad Sampler, Bogie’s, Deli On The Square, Calvary Waffle Shop; Sausage and Cheese Plate, Rendezvous; Sea Bass, Tsunami; Shrimp and Grits, Sweet Grass; Shrimp Elfo, Frank Grisanti’s; Shrimp Salad, Bogie’s, Deli On The Square; Shrimp Toast, Bhan Thai; Sliders, Bardog, Brass Door, Huey’s, Slider Inn; Steak, Folk’s Folly; Steak Sandwich, Half Shell, Huey’s; Stuffed Avocado, Little Tea Shop; Surf and Turf, Iris; Tomato Aspic, Calvary Waffle Shop; Turkey Burger, Huey’s; Turnip Greens, Little Tea Shop; Veal Saltimbocca, Brooklyn Bridge; Vegetable Plate, Cupboard, Little Tea Shop; Wet Ribs, Bar B-Q Shop, Central BBQ, Germantown Commissary, Interstate; Waffles, Calvary Waffle Shop.

In memoriam:

Barbecue Sandwich, Brady & Lil’s, Little Pigs, Pitchfork; Black Bottom Pie, Dobbs House, Toddle House; Chess Pie, Seessel’s; Chocolate Malt, Wiles-Smith; Club Steak, Bill and Jim’s; Coconut Ice Cream, Tropical Freeze; Crabmeat Justine, Justine’s; Di Niro, Republic Coffee; Fried Shrimp, Anderton’s; Green Pepper Beef, Joy Young; Horseradish Encrusted Grouper, Jarrett’s; Lady Fingers, Seessel’s; Mocha Cake, Carl’s Bakery; Onion Rings, Pig ‘n Whistle; Poo Poo Platter, Luau; Vanilla Soda, Normal Drug Store; Vietnamese Egg Rolls, Saigon Le.

I’m a Memphian, and full of the place.


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