Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Panama Report

We are back from Panama where we took a nice vacation in Boquete, about 300 miles from Panama City and about 50 miles from the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean.

We saw quite a few birds, most of which we not only had never seen before but had not even heard of.

And by popular demand we include Maxine's Mocha Fudge Cake recipe.

Panama Bird List
1. Turkey Vulture 2. Black Vulture 3. Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture 4. Yellow-Headed Caracara 5. Cattle Egret 6. Great Egret 7. Brown Pelican 8. Magnificent Frigatebird 9. Great-Tailed Grackle 10. Bronzed Cowbird 11. Sedge Wren 12. White-Headed Wren 13. Green Violet Ear Hummingbird 14. Long-Billed Star Throat 15. Scintillate Hummingbird (endemic) 16. Brown Violet Ear Hummingbird 17. Social Flycatcher 18. Great Kiskadee 19. Tropical Kingbird 20. Black Phoebe 21. Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher 22. Sulpher-Winged Parakeet (endemic) 23. Barred Parakeet 24. Rose-Throated Becard (dark form) 25. Clay-Colored Robin 26. Black-Headed Nightingale Thrush 27. White-Throated Thrush 28. Louisiana Water Thrush 29. Eastern Meadowlark 30. Spot-Crowned Woodcreeper 31. Tropical Mockingbird 32. Slate-Throated Whitestart (yellow form) 33. Rufous-Collared Sparrow 34. Variable Seedeater 35. White-Collared Seedeater 36. White-Naped Brushfinch 37. Chestnut-Capped Brushfinch 38. Lesser Goldfinch 39. Large-Footed Finch (endemic) 40. Saffron Finch 41. Yellow-Faced Grassquit 42. White-Tipped Dove 43. Rock Dove 44. Band-Tailed Pigeon 45. Hairy Woodpecker 46. Black-Headed Saltator 47. Lesser Elaenia 48. Blue-Crowned Manakin 49. Elegant Euphonia 50. Blue-Crowned Motmot 51. Slaty Flowerpiercer (endemic) 52. Blue-and-White Swallow 53. Southern Nightingale Wren 54. House Wren 55. Crimson-Backed Tanager 56. White-Winged Tanager 57. Blue-Gray Tanager 58. Rosy Thrush Tanager 59. Flame-Colored Tanager 60. Cherries Scarlet-Rumped Tanager 61. Keel-Billed Toucan 62. Nightingale Thrush (heard only) 63. Resplendent Quetzal (heard only) 64. Three-Wattled Bellbird (heard only) Also, many hard-to-identify flycatchers and hummingbirds, plus lots of fast-moving, canopy-loving birds that we could hear but that we found impossible to get a good look at. Wildlife: sloths (one with a baby), monkeys (with young), iguanas, agouti, shiny black frogs with chartreuse spots, a porcupine, a small opossum, and black squirrels.

Maxine's Mocha Fudge Cake
Here is the recipe many of you wanted for the Mocha Fudge Cake that Maxine Walker brought to our Audubonista Potluck in April. Those who were lucky enough to get a piece know that it is shamefully rich and devilishly chocolaty. Don't worry that there is no flour in the recipe; that's the way it is supposed to be.


1 cup strong coffee
1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
2 cups unsalted butter
8 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Butter a round 9" x 3" cake pan with a removable bottom and line with 1 piece of foil, pushing the foil onto the bottom, up the sides and over the rim smoothly and without tearing. (12" foil is ok but you will need two pieces. Overlap them and fold together as smoothly as possible so the batter will not leak through.)

In a large saucepan, combine the coffee, chocolate, sugar, and butter. Stirring all the while, cook the mixture over medium heat until it is about the temperature of hot bath water (130 degrees). Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the beaten eggs. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 1 ½ hours (the center will seem uncooked, but will firm up on its own as it cools). Let cool, then cover, and chill overnight (or up to 1 week).

Shortly before serving, trim away any part of the cake that is not level with the center. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and remove the foil. Whip together the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff enough to spread. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Optional: Leave some of the cream to put into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe rosettes of the reserved cream around the rim of the cake and top each rosette with a strawberry, a nut, or some shaved chocolate.