Chocolate Strawberry Layer Cake

by Jennifer

This was the cake my son and I made to help Ira celebrate her birthday, and to celebrate the appearance of local strawberries.  The cake recipe comes directly from the King Arthur Flour Unbleached Cake Flour box.  The strawberry jam in the middle brightens the cake and cuts the sweetness of the frosting.  This is my favorite chocolate frosting recipe, adapted from Cooking Light.

Cake:

  • 2 cups King Arthur Flour Unbleached Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup cooled brewed coffee
  • 4 large eggs
  •  generous 1/2 cup fresh strawberry jam

Frosting:

  • 6 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 TBS milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Fresh whole strawberries, washed and well-dried
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

For cake:

Prepare two 8” or 9” cake pans by spraying them with cooking spray, lining them with parchment paper and then spraying the paper (to line with the paper, trace the pan on the paper, then cut it out).  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour through sugar.  Place butter in the bowl and, using an electric mixer on low speed, blend the butter into the flour mixture for 1 minute.

With the mixer running, pour in the oil and mix for 1 – 2 minutes, until the mixture looks like wet sand.

Add in vanilla, skim milk and coffee, and mix well.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Divide the batter (it will be thin) between the pans, and rap each pan once against the counter to pop any air bubbles.  Bake for 24 – 28 minutes, depending on pan size, checking with a toothpick to make sure

the cakes are done (toothpick will come out clean).  Let cool on a wire rack, then turn out.  If you make them ahead, wrap well in plastic wrap, then foil, to freeze.

For frosting:

Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth.

Add cocoa, milk and salt, and beat until well combined.  If the powdered sugar is particularly lumpy, sift it or stir it through a fine-mesh sieve,

then add the it to the cream cheese/butter mixture and beat at low speed until it all comes together;  then beat at high speed until light and fluffy.

To make chocolate-dipped strawberries, simply heat some chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl on HI for 1 minute, then stir until melted and smooth.  Dip strawberries into chocolate, then place on parchment or waxed paper and let cool (or place in fridge for faster results).

To assemble cake, place one layer of cake on a serving dish, cover with the strawberry jam,

top with second layer of cake, and frost (sides first, then top).

Decorate top with chocolate-dipped strawberries.  (If you place strips of waxed paper under the edges of the cake while you frost it, you can remove them when you’re finished and keep the serving platter clean.)

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Best Easy Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

by Jennifer

This cake really is easy, and it’s incredibly moist and chocolate-y;  you can make it without the glaze, but honestly, if you’re going to do it, just do it!  Serve alone, with whipped cream, with ice cream….pick your poison.  The cake recipe is an adaptation of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, and I’ll say it serves 9.

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Coat an 8” square pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together, in a large bowl, the flour through salt.

In a smaller bowl, combine the cocoa, chocolate and hot coffee, stirring until smooth.

When it’s cooled down a bit, stir in the mayonnaise, egg and vanilla.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the flour mixture and still just until combined.

Pour batter into the pan (you can give the pan a good rap against the counter to get rid of air bubbles) and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (okay if a few crumbs stick to it).

Let cool on a cooling rack.

Glaze:

  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or a generous 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • 3 TBS coffee
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into tablespoons

Combine chocolate and coffee in a microwave-safe bowl;  microwave on HI for 30 seconds or so, then stir until the chocolate is melted.

Stir in the butter, one TBS at a time;  reheat the bowl for 20 seconds or so if the mixture cools down to much for the butter to melt.

When all the butter has been mixed in and the mixture is smooth,

pour it over the cooled cake.

Refrigerate until the glaze sets.

Mississippi Mud Cake

by Jennifer

This cake, adapted from Cooking Light, is easy to put together, pleases children to no end, and is pretty yummy to most adults, too.  It calls for mini-marshmallows but I only had large ones, which I cut into smaller pieces.

Cake:

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 1/2 cups mini-marshmallows

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk (nonfat or reduced-fat)
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a measuring cup, combine the boiling water and 1/2 cup cocoa and stir well;  set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla;

add the cocoa mixture and eggs and beat at medium speed until combined.

In a separate, smaller, bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat just until combined, then add the buttermilk, again beating just until combined,

and then the rest of the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Transfer the batter to a 9” x 13” pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Scatter the marshmallows on top and put back in the oven, for 2 – 3 minutes, until the marshmallows soften.

To make the frosting, combine the cocoa, evaporated milk, butter and salt in a small, heavy saucepan.  Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently,

until butter melts, then for about 4 minutes more.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Drizzle frosting over the cake.  Let cool, then dig in.

Last-Minute Chocolate Cake

by Jennifer

This recipe is adapted from Ruth Reichl’s recipe in Garlic and Sapphires.

  • 4 oz. good-quality unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup strong black coffee
  • 2 TBS Kahlua
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.

Combine the chocolate, butter and coffee in a medium-size heavy saucepan;  place over medium-low heat and melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves.

Let cool for a bit before stirring in the Kahlua, vanilla and egg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt;

pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir well to combine.

Pour batter into loaf pan;

bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with your favorite ice cream.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Fresh Berries

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Fresh Berries – adapted from Bon Appetit

by Jennifer

After hearing about Meyer lemons for years, and never seeing one, I happened upon them in my local Trader Joe’s the other day.  Excited, I bought two bags, brought them home, and searched my cookbooks and recipe files for all the things I could make with them.  I found exactly two recipes, one for ice cream and one for a delicious-sounding but fairly complicated cake.  So I turned to the Internet and found so many recipes I had to run back to Trader Joe’s to buy more!  Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, have a more floral, sugary aroma, and are in season for a short time, usually January and February.  So far I’ve also made Meyer lemon marmalade, and preserved Meyer lemons….stay tuned!

Serves 6 – 8 (this served less people at our house, but kept quite well for the next night!)

  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • grated zest from 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (if you can’t find Meyer lemons, use regular lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg whites
  • freshly whipped cream (2 cups whipping cream plus about 1 1/2 TBS powdered sugar,  beaten with an electric mixer until soft peaks form)
  • fresh berries (I try hard to buy local, seasonal produce, but in winter, in New England where I live, I aim for either strawberries, which at least come from FL versus another continent, or frozen berries…tonight I defrosted blueberries I’d frozen from the summer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8” square baking dish with cooking spray and place inside a metal roasting pan.  Bring a full tea kettle to a boil.

While the water is coming to a boil, combine, in a blender, the buttermilk, 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, flour, melted butter and salt.

Blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold in the buttermilk mixture, in 3 batches (the batter will be somewhat runny).

Pour the batter into the 8” square pan.  Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the pan.  Carefully transfer roasting pan into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is browned and the center moves very slightly when the pan is jiggled.

Remove dish from roasting pan and let cool on a cooling rack (cake will fall slightly).

When the cake is completely cool, refrigerate it for at least 3 hours.

Serve with berries and freshly whipped cream.   (For freshly whipped cream, beat at least 1 cup heavy cream with an electric mixer on high, until soft peaks form.  You can sweeten it a little, with up to a TBS of powdered sugar per cup cream, depending on how sweet you want it.  If you have leftover whipped cream and want to save it for any leftover cake, spoon it into a paper-towel lined sieve set over a bowl, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.)