"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: chocolate cake

“a chocolate cake . . . when the cupboard is bare!”

DSCN0566Today, we woke up to a layer of sleet and light snow on the driveway. Really? It’s the running of the Boston Marathon today – and it’s intermittently pouring rain outside.

Since I didn’t feel like going out to get anything at the grocery store, I rummaged around the freezer for some meatballs I had made awhile ago. Instead of spaghetti, I think I’ll make a combination of Swedish meatballs with farfalle pasta and alfredo (adding parmesan sauce.) There’s still a nice portion of kale to go with it tonight.

For dessert, I looked at a box of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa in the pantry and decided to make half a recipe of a chocolate cake in a 8 inch springform pan and ice it with some chocolate frosting too. Here’s the recipe. Double it to make a two layer cake or bake in a bundt pan.

For a small 8 inch cake:

1 cup sugar, a scant cup of flour, 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa, salt, 3/4 tsp. baking soda, 3/4 tsp. baking powder. Stir all dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add wet ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes: 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 cup boiling water. Pour into a well greased cake pan (mine was 8 inch springform which I sprayed with Pam. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 30-40 minutes or when toothpick comes out cleanly.

For the frosting, I softened 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, added 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa and a scant cup of confectioners flour plus 1/2 tsp. of vanilla. Add a splash of half and half or milk. Beat well until mixed. When the cake is really cooled, spread a layer of frosting on the top.

It took about 45 minutes to make the cake and frosting from start to finish – and now, there’s a nice small chocolate cake for dessert tonight. Also, a pan of dishes to wash. But looks like it’s worth it! For the two of us, I usually make half a recipe of most desserts – and it turns out to be just right and still enough to share with others.

Footnote: We found this cake to be one of the best chocolate cakes ever! It was moist and rich of crumb plus it wasn’t overly sweet. The frosting was just right with a creamy mouth feel from a little extra butter that I added at the last minute. I thought it might last longer, but what the heck – it’s tempting to cut a small slice as you walk by it! A winner and a recipe I’ll go to now that I’ve tried it. LMK if you like it too!


“a birthday cake for the ages”. . .

I don’t know where these ideas/recipes come from but I saw a photo of this cake on line the other day and my jaw dropped. I’ve been baking and cooking for a very long time but what I liked about this one was it’s miniature size (3 X 6 inch cake pans); a chocolate “filling” PLUS a hazelnut chocolate “frosting” PLUS a dark chocolate hazelnut glaze with twirly decorations and chocolate sprinkles. W-O-W!!

Mixing the cake batter. . .

Mixing the cake batter. . .

Well, as it happens, we’re celebrating a family birthday tonight and I am just about ready to take the three six inch cakes out of the oven. They smell heavenly by the way. I also gave in and followed the recipe to the letter. I was going to “cheat” with prepared icing but after seeing the cakes, I had all the recipe ingredients just in case – and I melted semi-sweet baking chocolate and butter for the filling; and then the coup de grace: frosting with butter, cream cheese and Nuttella HAZELNUT (the last jar on the shelf in the grocery store) beaten together. Honestly, it’s SO DELICIOUS! – not too sweet with the cream cheese and highlighted by the subtle hazelnut flavor and creamy smooth.

the "filling" - semi sweet chocolate & butter

the “filling” – semi sweet chocolate & butter

For the glaze, I have a bar of Ghiardelli dark chocolate with hazelnuts which will be melted and poured over the cake after it has been filled and frosted. Amazing, huh? If you’re having trouble with all these filling, frosting and glaze terms, I was too.

the frosting - butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar and Nuttella Hazlenut spread

the frosting – butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar and Nuttella Hazlenut spread

There are two layers of filling: the melted semi-sweet chocolate plus frosting on top but not all the way to the edge of the cakes. The glaze is poured over the top of the unfrosted cake top and then frosting rosettes are added on top of the glaze. Chocolate sprinkles on top (just in case, I guess.)

Cool for 15 minutes, invert on plate and tap gently - Invert and frost the flat bottom side when putting the cake together

Cool for 15 minutes, invert on plate and tap gently – Invert and frost the flat bottom side when putting the cake together

So here is a small tower of chocolate-ness with hazelnut,  rosettes added with a decorating tip that I got at A.C. Moore yesterday along with the 6 inch cake pans. Well worth it!

Happy Birthday, C.!

finished cake . . . the sprinkles got a little away from me!

finished cake . . . the sprinkles got a little away from me!

bunnies! . . .

bunny cakes 2


Well, I think I’ve finally seen it all – as far as baking goes. Months ago, I was browsing through Williams Sonoma’s Easter catalog and came across a 6-bunny “cakelet” bundt pan. I laughed out loud when I saw it and was still chuckling to myself when I clicked the “buy” button. When it arrived, sure enough, there were six little bunny molds in various poses formed in one solid bundt cake pan by Nordic Ware.

The other day, I thought I’d do a trial run and make a box of yellow cake mix and experiment with food coloring to make different colored bunny cakes. They turned out all right but the biggest lesson learned was that I had filled up the batter too high which resulted in towering humps of cake that I trimmed off and around before harvesting the bunny cakes. They went out to neighboring family, all of whom enjoyed these little cakes.colored bunnies

Fortified with experience, I looked online for a chocolate cake recipe that had body and richness. After all, if these were meant to be enjoyed for Easter, why use a box cake mix? I came upon a chocolate sour cream bundt cake recipe that promised to be very rich and full of flavor. It also didn’t require using a mixer either which is a godsend because the portable mixer I have is extraordinarily awkward to use, even though it’s manufactured by Kitchenaid, the emperor of mixer manufacturers.

This recipe just calls for melting butter (kerrygold unsalted); unsweetened cocoa (Ghirardelli), water and salt. Let cool. Mix together dry ingredients: flour, organic sugar and baking soda. Add wet to dry ingredients and whisk together. Whisk in two extra-large eggs, one at a time. Whisk in a container of sour cream. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla.

That’s it. I filled up each opening three-fourths of the way to the top. Baked for 25 minutes until toothpick came out clean. They had still puffed up above the top of the pan but I thought they would settle down by the time they cooled. Fifteen minutes later, I put them upside down on a rack, whacked each one sharply with a stainless strainer spoon and holding my breath, I lifted the pan. They came out perfectly – shiny brown and as cute as could be!

My plan was to let them cool completely at room temperature and then to place them in heavy-duty freezer bags, two coved together in a bag. Then freeze them until they’re hard. Wrap them in bubble wrap and priority mail them to family in MPLS along with Easter basket for granddaughter, Josie. Ditto for my son-in-law to take down to his family on Easter. When they are defrosted, whip up some fresh cream and serve with a bowl of raspberries. Yum!

Ain’t that the berries? Er, ah, bunnies, I mean?


Before mailing the cakelets this morning, I made the bitter chocolate glaze that’s included in the recipe above. Heated up heavy cream, sugar until almost boiling; chopped up a bar of Lindt’s bittersweet chocolate, added light corn syrup and stirred the hot cream mixture into the chocolate to mix altogether. I confess I’m not that much of a chocolate aficionado but this glaze was out of this world! – very chocolatey but not too sweet. I packed a portion of it with each of the cakelet shipments to be warmed and drizzled over the cakes before serving. Hope it all travels well!