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And the search for the perfect chocolate cake continues. After a slightly disappointing recipe with the Tasty recipe, I decided to go for a slightly more traditional source and found this recipe for Good Housekeeping’s Best Chocolate Cake.
Chocolate Flavor: 9 – YAAAAAASSSSS!!! This is the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve had since THE chocolate cake.
Texture: 10 – Perfect
Frosting: 7 – A teeny bit of a let down with how amazing the cake was, but pretty good.
The “M” word: 9 – I liked these enough that I kept a few back and three days later they were still good.
Effort: 8 – A little more effort than the last recipe, but well worth the extra work.
Overall: 8.5 – Another rave from my testers, and with a different frosting recipe, I think this might be “the one”.
- 2 c. all purpose flour
- 1 c. unsweetened cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 c. Butter or Margarine, Softened
- 1 c. packed brown sugar
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- Prepare cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-in. round cake pans. Line bottoms with waxed paper; grease paper. Dust pans with flour
- On another sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and brown and granulated sugars until blended. Increase speed to high; beat 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to medium-low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla until blended. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
- Spoon batter evenly among prepared pans. If necessary, stagger pans on 2 oven racks, placing 2 on upper rack and 1 on lower rack, so that top pans are not directly above bottom one. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. With small knife, loosen layers from sides of pans; invert onto wire racks. Carefully remove and discard waxed paper; cool completely, about 45 minutes. If you like, wrap layers well and store at room temperature up to 1 day or freeze up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before frosting cake.
- Meanwhile, prepare frosting: (see below) In small bowl, combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until smooth. In large bowl, with mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar 5 minutes or until fluffy. Reduce speed to medium-low; add melted chocolate, then cocoa mixture, beating until smooth and occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. If frosting is too runny, refrigerate until just stiff enough to spread.
- Assemble cake: Place 1 cake layer bottom side up on cake plate; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Top with second layer, bottom side up; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Place remaining layer bottom side up on top. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake.
- Make the frosting: • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa • 1/3 cup boiling water • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar •12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Strawberry Shortcake is a summer dessert staple here in the south. Even more so here in Florida where some of the best strawberries you could ever have are grown in state. Heck, we even have a festival for it. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. However, all this strawberry pride has led to some overly processed sugar bombs that don’t even deserve the shortcake name. I wanted to do away with all that and bring the focus back where it needed to be – on the strawberries.
The base of my dish is a slightly sweet black pepper biscuit. It might seem a bit odd, but the tiny bit of heat you get from the freshly ground pepper goes wonderfully with the sweetness from the cream and the berries. Also, I do acknowledge that there is a bit of sugar in each component of this recipe, but I tried to use it in a way that enhances rather than overpowers. Don’t let the multiple components throw you – the biscuits are the only tricky bit to this recipe; everything else is super simple.
Biscuits (makes 9-12 depending on size)
- 1 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 3 tsp organic sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees F
- Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk together with a fork.
- Pour cream into well in the center of the dry mixture and stir gently with the fork until the mixture begins to come together.
- Turn contents of bowl out onto a floured surface and shape into a rough ball.
- Fold the ball in half and press out with the heel of your hand. Turn 90 degrees and repeat eight more times.
- Pat mixture into large disk approximately 1/2 inch thick
- Use a glass with a greased rim to cut out biscuits (do not twist or the edges will seal and prevent biscuit from rising).
- Once you’ve cut out all of the biscuits you can, place them on the baking sheet and combine remaining dough and make another round of biscuits. Repeat until dough is gone.
- Bake biscuits for 13-15 minutes.
- Place on rack to cool completely before using.
- 1lb ripe strawberries
- 1 heaping tbsp organic sugar
- Slice strawberries
- In a mixing bowl, combine strawberries and sugar tossing to coat the berries.
- Store mixture in refrigerator for 2 hours to allow juices to collect.
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsps powdered sugar
- Chill mixing bowl in fridge for 1 hour prior to making the whipped cream.
- In chilled bowl, combine sugar and cream and whip on high until soft peaks form.
*Do not over whip or mixture will begin to turn into butter.
Assemble components and enjoy!
So there you go – simple, special, and perfect for summer.
Most of the baking I do is for funsies, but right now I am working on recipes to use for an international inspired dessert buffet. I still have a few weeks to figure everything out, but I want to do a trial run of as many recipes as I can before we hit crunch time. While taste is obviously first and foremost, this time around I need to figure out how to make things easy to eat, simple to make, and ideally something that stores well so I am not trying to make everything the day of. The first item I decided to work on was brownie bites inspired by the spice and richness of Mexican Hot Chocolate. I’d found a few recipes online, and while I could certainly cobble together a recipe to suit my needs from scratch, I really wanted something that would tick the “time” and “ease” boxes if at all possible. Enter box brownie mix. I picked one of my favorite brownie mixes (both rich and fudgy like the hot chocolate) and added the spice elements I wanted to highlight, poured it in my mini muffin tin, and checked it every five minutes until the brownies were set. We had a winner! There will need to be a little tweaking to the spice level, but all in all, I consider this a solid option and can check one more thing off my list.
- Ghirardelli Supreme Brownie Mix
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/3 cup veggie oil
- 1/4 tsp of orange zest
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1/4 tsp cheyenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease mini muffin tin and set aside.
- Dissolve espresso granules into the 1/4 cup of water and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and stir until completely incorporated.
- Fill muffin wells half way with batter and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes before gently removing from tin. Enjoy!
* If you choose substitute in another box mix, be sure to choose one without chocolate chips or pieces added. It’ll throw off the balance of spice, and with the bites being so small, you run the risk of the chips burning against the sides of the tin before the brownie is set.
Don’t worry, guys: I haven’t died; it’s just the end of tax season. Well to be more specific, it was the end of tax season. Now I am sitting here, in what remains of my life after pulling 10-12 hour work days, and trying to find the motivation to start working reconnecting with the rest of the world. Step one, put on glitter shoes; step two, use the internet for something other than Facebook. Before things went completely to hell, I did manage to work in another recipe from my new challenge book. I figured since my first recipe was from the “muffin” section, it only made sense for me to try something from the “biscuit” sections this time around. It’s all about balance, people. Okay, also what I have in the fridge, but you get what I am saying.
I went for the very first recipe in the section, and I was very, very pleased with the results. So was Andy. And Stanley who got up on the stove and ate the top off of a biscuit or two before we caught him.
- I only have one teeny issue with this recipe: I had to add a splash more of the cream than it called for, since I just couldn’t get the mixture so come together the way it was supposed to. This led to just a bit over-mixing, which the recipe warns you about. I think with a couple more tries, I will have this down perfectly, and I will be able throw together a batch in next to no time. Andy is already counting the days until he can say goodbye to the canned biscuits forever 🙂
For the last couple of years, my yearly lists of goals have included trying a certain number of recipes from a cookbook I’d purchased. This started in part because I was one of those people who bought books and very seldom used them, and also because I wanted to be more intentional about the things I was bringing into my life (books included). For years 30 and 31, I picked books that would force me to stretch my abilities and push me further out of my comfort zone, but this year I wanted to try something different. With me starting to write recipes of my own, I wanted to go back to the basics and really work on refining my scratch baking. Also, regardless of how I look, I am southern, and I think it’s a bit embarrassing that I bake and I’ve only made biscuits once or twice. So I took to Amazon and found Muffins and Biscuits, and just a few days after my 32nd birthday, I tried my first recipe: Blueberry Muffins. I am hoping to alternate and make their basic biscuits the next time around.
- Yummy, yummy muffins! And the streusel recipe for the topping!? These are great without it, but it really elevates the whole muffin.
- I split the difference between 12 regular muffins and 6 jumbo muffins, and settled on 9 muffins in a regular tin, but just really full. My baking time increased by 5ish minutes, but they turned out just fine.
- Don’t be afraid to really layer in the fruit. I got a bit jumpy, and I didn’t use the full 2 cups of blueberries because everything was looking a bit crowded as I assembled, but they puffed up quite a bit and, while delicious, would have benefited from the additional fruit.