Soft Drinks In Cooking

Anyone, or, at least anyone who has known me in the last 30 years, knows that my favorite cooking style is that of the “South”  in the USA  that is, a blend of Acadian  African, English, Scottish, Irish, French, Spanish, and Native American cuisines. My two favorites have to be, Louisiana Cajun & Creole, BBQ Smoke Houses, why I have made so many “Chicken Fired steaks” that I just can’t count them any longer.  I have great story about those who should inquire of me next time we meet.

You can be sure that year after year when the best restaurants of America is published the South will have at least 25% of the spots, as in Commander’s Palace of New Orleans Garden district, opened in 1893, this iconic restaurant has been listed in the best of the best, year after year, it has launched the careers of the culinary greats like Chefs Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse, along with the winning of seven James Beard Foundation Awards, coupled with the Restaurant of the year of 2018 and so many more. The South is serious about food, of that there can be no doubt.

One of the greatest gifts the South has contributed to the world is that of the soft drink.  Coca Cola headquarters are in Altanta, Georgia, (well worth visiting) Pepsi is from the South, as is Dr. Pepper. Dr Pepper dates back to the late 1880s. In 1885, in Waco, Texas, a young pharmacist called Charles Alderton invented the soft drink “Dr Pepper,” a carbonated soft drink marketed as having a unique flavor. In 1904, the company introduced Dr Pepper to 20 million people attending the 1904 World’s Fair Exposition in St. Louis. This world’s fair introduced the hamburger, hot dog buns and ice cream cones to the public, ah, the South and its food.

I love using soda in cooking, “Pop” (we say that here in the North,) will tenderize tough meat when used as a marinade, they make great sauces, especially BBQ sauces.  Roast, braise and grill your favorite chicken,beef or dishes in a soda for a special sweet flavor. Just be sure to use the regular beverage and not the diet type, artificial sweeteners turn bitter when heated.

Try baking with Soda, they add an extraordinary addition to the flavor profile of what you are baking.

Coca Cola Roast Beef

2 kg        5 lbs.      round roast

15 ml     1 tbsp    each salt, chili powder

5 ml        1 tsp      Thyme leaves, basil leaves, oregano leaves, paprika, black pepper, chervil, dry mustard

15 ml     1 tbsp    Worcestershire sauce

500 ml   2 cups   Coca Cola soft drink (do not use diet)

Place the roast in a large roasting pan.  Blend the seasonings together.  Pour Worcestershire over the beef and sprinkle with the seasonings.  Pour the coke along the side of the beef.

Bake in a preheated 190°C (375°F) oven for 30 minutes, reduce temperature to 150°C (300°F) and continue to bake for 1 ¼ hours.

Remove beef, rest for 10-15 minutes, slice and serve.

Dr. Pepper  & 7 Up Chocolate cake


For the Cake:

2 cups flour (sifted)

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar (dark)

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup Dr Pepper

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

For the Frosting:

3/4 cup shortening (butter-flavored vegetable shortening)

6 tablespoons butter (unsalted, softened)

4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup Dr Pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Chocolate wafer for garnish

7 Up Filling,

½  cup milk

½ cup Lemon Lime soft drink (7 Up)

2 1/2 tbsp. Flour

1 cup. Butter

1 cup Confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, shake out any excess flour.

Sift together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, and baking soda into a bowl, and set aside.

Pour the Dr Pepper into a saucepan, and add the chocolate chips. Heat on low, stirring often, until the chips are just melted. Pull off the heat, and set aside.

Combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a mixer bowl, and mix on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes.

With the mixer running, slowly pour in the Dr Pepper-chocolate mixture and continue beating until combined, about 1 minute.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes more.

Divide the batter between the two round cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the layers in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and flip the pans over onto a cooling rack. Gently lift off the pans, and let the cake layers cool completely. careful slice each round in half.

Make the Filling

While the cake bakes.

Whisk the milk, soft drink and flour together in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the milk mixture until smooth. Stir in the food coloring until blended and desired color.

Fit a pastry bag with a long, narrow tip and fill halfway with cream filling. Insert the tip into the trimmed cake bottoms and fill each.

Make the Cake

Make the Frosting

Beat the shortening and butter in a mixer bowl until soft and fluffy.

Add the powdered sugar and cocoa, and continue mixing until combined.

Stir together the Dr Pepper and vanilla, and very slowly pour it into the frosting, beating with the mixer on high speed to thin it a bit. Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Set the first layer, top down, on a flat plate. Spread with 1/3rd of the filling. Top with the second cake layer, and spread more of the filling on, repeat with a third later,  then top with the final layer,  spread the frosting on the top and down the sides of the cake, making attractive swirls, top each swirl with a chocolate wafer.

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