27 January 2012

National Chocolate Cake Day Today! 2 Recipes

From Denny:  Like anyone had to inform the chocolate hounds that today is a special day. We all know we sure don't pay much attention to any other holiday - excepting Valentine's Day - 'cause only chocolate holidays rule. :)

What are the goals of National Chocolate Cake Day?  The Obvious:  bake and decorate a wonderful chocolate cake and then enjoy it with a few friends! Now that's what I call a plum assignment.

First off, everyone should have at least one basic good Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake in their bag of magic baking tricks.  This will make you a big hit at family or sports gatherings - read that at tailgating too.

People can cut the small or large size they desire.  Of course, the cake can end up looking like a bit of a messy disaster that way so usually most cooks choose to pre-cut the pieces.  I usually cut mine into long fingers like 1-inch x 3-inches.  The dieters (and the diabetics who are supposed to behave but can't) can slice that in half - and the Hungry Jacks can take two.  Everyone is happy!

Then try the Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake where cinnamon is added to a basic chocolate and buttermilk cake.  Chocolate and cinnamon are natural pairings and the result is wonderful.

Chocolate Desserts - Cook's Country Magazine. Best Chocolate Recipes Ever. 2011. 
          Cook’s Country Chocolate Desserts 

imple Chocolate Sheet Cake 
1-1/4 cups (6-1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour 3/4 cup (2-1/4 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 ounces unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1-/12 cups (10-1/2 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. 
Line a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. 
Sift together flour, cocoa and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Place chocolate and butter in the top half of a double boiler over barely simmering water and stir until melted together. Do not let boil.
Whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl.
Whisk chocolate into egg mixture until combined. Combine buttermilk and baking soda; whisk into chocolate mixture, then whisk in dry ingredients until batter is smooth and glossy. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until firm in center when lightly pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out barely clean, about 35-40 minutes.
Let cool on wire rack until room temperature, at least 1 hour; serve, or ice with frosting if desired.

Creamy Milk Chocolate Frosting
 1/2 cup heavy cream
 1 tablespoon light or dark corn syrup
 Pinch salt
 10 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled
Combine cream, corn syrup, and salt in liquid measuring cup and microwave until simmering, about 1 minute, or bring to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. 
Melt chocolate in top half of double boiler. Add hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Melted chocolate might seize at first but keep whisking and it'll smooth out. 
Pour into food processor, add confectioners’ sugar and process to combine, about 30 seconds. With processor running, add butter 1 piece at a time; process until incorporated and smooth, about 20 seconds longer.  Transfer frosting to medium bowl and let cool at room temperature, stirring frequently, until thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.

Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake

From:  The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe

The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe

The Pastry Chef's Baking blog - "This is one of the few cakes where I'd advocate including the nuts since they're part of the glaze, not the cake itself.  In the glaze, the crunch of toasted pecans adds the perfect flavor and texture complement to the sweet glaze.  The cake batter is easy to make but a bit thin so strain the batter as you pour it into the pan if you have any flour lumps.  Flour lumps do NOT go away in baking.  The cake has excellent flavor and a soft, moist texture.  The glaze makes it rich and chocolaty and the pecans add a nice crunch.  Oh, and if you notice from the picture, I went off recipe and didn't bake in a tube or Bundt pan but used a couple of 8" pans.  No particular reason why but I ended up liking it this way better since it gives more surface area for the glaze." - Carol Ramos

Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate-pecan glaze

1 cup pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup high-quality dark cocoa powder, such as Scharffenberger
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted then measured)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


1.     Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9-inch tube pan or a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with butter, sprinkle lightly with flour and tap over the sink to remove any excess.

2.     Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth.  Add the water and whisk until smooth.  Be careful not to boil the mixture.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Add the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to the warm cocoa mixture all at once; whisk until smooth.  Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt all at once; whisk until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.  If there are lumps, strain the batter as you pour it into the pan. 

3.     Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; the cake is done when it has pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan and feels firm to the touch. 

4.     Let the cake cool in the pan about 20 minutes. 

5.     Meanwhile, make the glaze: Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the 350 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.  Chop the pecans.

6.     Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.  Add the milk, cocoa, and powdered sugar and whisk until glossy.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt and pecans.

7.     Loosen the cake with a knife or spatula and overturn it onto a serving plate.  Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, covering it thoroughly.  Don’t worry if some of the glaze pools inside and around the cake.  This cake will keep up to 3 days, covered, at room temperature and glaze just before serving.

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