There is a certain kind of craving that can only be satisfied by a rich chocolate dessert. There is something in that dark product from cacao beans that is scientifically known to induce a state of happiness in man.
I read in one of Good Housekeeping’s dessert books that unsweetened cocoa powder is the best thing to use in chocolate cakes and brownies, rather than chocolate chips. True, chips have a tendency to turn grainy when improperly handled. The richness of pure cocoa powder can never be substituted. Baking with cocoa powder is almost always fool-proof. The same book advises to use salted butter in baking. I don’t know the reason or science behind it, but I am an ardent follower and that advice has never failed me.
The following is my favorite chocolate cake recipe. It is slightly labor-intensive than simply throwing all the ingredients in a bowl and turning on the mixer. I also have a silky smooth glaze recipe (again made using cocoa powder) to go with it. Now don’t be scared about the sugar when I use the term glaze. It is somewhere between a glaze and fudge topping, but absolutely, sinfully delicious. Need I say more?!!
You will need: (* – see Notes)
For the cake
- All purpose flour – 2 cups
- Sugar – 2 cups
- Baking soda – 1 tsp
- Eggs – 2, large
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- *Buttermilk – 1/2 cup
- Vegetable oil – 1 cup minus 1 tbsp (or half a cup of melted butter and half a cup of oil)
- Water – 1 cup
- Cocoa powder – 1/2 cup, unsweetened
For the glaze (For an even richer cake with more glaze, feel free to double the butter and sugar, and adjust milk accordingly)
- Butter – 4 tbsp
- Cocoa powder – 2 tbsp, unsweetened
- **Powdered Sugar – 3/4 cup
- **Milk – a couple of tablespoons (as per desired consistency)
* Whip a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt and mix with milk to make up 1/2 cup, and use instead of buttermilk.
** Use 1/2-3/4 cup sweetened, condensed milk in place of the sugar and milk for the glaze.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F and grease a 9×13 baking pan.
- Combine the flour, baking soda and sugar together in a large bowl. Use a whisk to combine them thoroughly.
- In a saucepan, add the vegetable oil, water and cocoa powder. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Keep stirring all the while, to make a smooth mixture.
- Add the eggs, vanilla extract, buttermilk and hot cocoa mixture to the dry ingredients and mix till just incorporated. You do not even need an electric mixer. A simple whisk will do the job, as the batter is going to be thinner than a usual cake batter.
- Bake for 25 minutes or till it passes the toothpick test.
- While the cake is almost ready, make the chocolate glaze. In a saucepan, combine butter and cocoa powder and bring to a gentle boil. Add sugar and dissolve it thoroughly. Add milk as per desired consistency (or use sweetened, condensed milk). Combine everything together to make a silky smooth mixture of pourable consistency.
- While the cake is still in the pan and fairly warm, poke holes all over using a fork or knife. Pour the chocolate glaze and smooth all over the cake with a spoon.
- Allow to cool slightly so that the glaze has time to ooze in to the cake, then cut and enjoy! You can have this cake warm (highly recommended) or cooled completely.
The original recipe calls for as much as two to three times the butter and sugar for the glaze. This is totally up to you. If you want a scoop-with-a-spoon-and-eat kind of cake, feel free to double the butter and sugar, adjusting the milk accordingly. The cocoa powder can be kept at 2-3 tbsp maximum, so as not to be too overpowering.
But I have modified the glaze recipe as given above, to just enhance the cake and not overpower it entirely. It also makes it slightly easier to cut and serve, while still being moist and decadent.
I have been making this cake for the past three years to gift to friends at Christmas or as a dessert while entertaining. Though not the best cake that makes for smooth cutting, I’ve never had any complaints! It is so good. Once you’ve made this recipe, you will never have chocolate cake another way, I am sure of that!
How’s that for another installment of my Christmas Baking posts? See how I started a new series without even trying?!!
Check out these delicious, but healthier version of Oatmeal Cookies.
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
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- By Stephanie Lynn