chocolate cake

My Bat Mitzvah Chocolate Cake

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Today is the anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah. It took place a LONG time ago! In the 1950s to tell you the truth.

Back in the day Bat Mitzvahs were not such a thing. In fact, I was the first girl from our newly established synagogue to reach this momentous occasion.

I have to confess, our rabbi mentioned the notion when we first joined the synagogue and I told my parents I wanted to learn some Hebrew and prayers and do whatever I had to, not so much because I had any particular religious feelings, nor was it because I wanted a big party -- the big themed events we see today didn't exist back then -- but because my two older brothers had Bar Mitzvahs and I couldn't understand why a girl wouldn't be treated equally.

My mother always said that when I was born I came out a feminist.

Still am. (So was she.)

Girls are equal to boys, women to men. Let's not even contest that one.

Still, my brothers did have a Saturday Shabbat service Bar Mitzvah and I was only allowed to have one on Friday night. I was content with that, it was a start.

We had a small party at home. I was allowed to invite one friend, and of course my family was there -- aunts, uncles, cousins, including my cousin Leslie, who, to this day, is like a sister.

I remember my dress: white with red and black lines. 

I don't remember what my Mother made for food.

But I do remember dessert. Because I made it: a dark chocolate cake with fudge frosting.

I didn't keep the recipe. I don't actually know whose recipe I used. I just remember what it looked like and that it tasted fabulous and that I made the cake for my own Bat Mitzvah.

So today I celebrate with Chocolate Cake. This one is a riff on the famous Hershey Black Cake with a few changes to make it dairy-free, less sweet and more to my tastes (you can change the frosting to dairy using 12 tablespoons of butter in place of the coconut milk and coconut oil). 

This is a good cake for a festive occasion, even one's own Bat Mitzvah.

Black Chocolate Cake

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • water
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup strong, cooled coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 3 9-inch cake pans. Pour the lemon juice into a liquid (pitcher) measuring cup and add enough water to measure one cup. Set aside. Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix at low speed to combine the ingredients. Add the eggs, the lemon-water, coffee, vegetable oil and vanilla extract and beat the ingredients at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, or until well combined and smooth. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the layers onto a cake rack to cool completely. Frost and serve.

Makes 8-10 servings

Frosting

  • 1-1/2 cups dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt

Place the chocolate chips, coconut milk and coconut oil in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth and uniform. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Let cool, whisking the ingredients occasionally. Refrigerate until firm enough to be spreadable.

 

Banana Chocolate Cake

My grandson wanted to bake a cake with me. I think he actually liked the licking-out-the-bowl part the best and I actually was most thrilled that he came up with the idea about combining banana bread and chocolate cake.

I looked through my recipes for endless variations of banana bread. And chocolate cake. I fooled around with them, combining this and that from several of the recipes and came up with the one here. It's dairy-free, so his sister, my 3-1/2 year-old grand daughter, could eat some too. And we added some chocolate chips, just for good measure.

He did like the licking-out-the-bowl thing.

He also told me the cake was too dry. But I think that was because the temperature indicator on my oven has been cleaned so often for so many years that the numbers have disappeared and I can only estimate the proper cooking temperature. I do have an oven thermometer but that also needs "updating." so I don't know if the cake baked at exactly the right temperature.

Also, I forgot to set the timer.

Anyway, everyone else declared the cake delicious. Even my grandson said it was and would want it again when I finally decide what oven I want to get to replace the old one.

So here it is, the creation.

Banana Cocoa Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch (8-cup) bundt pan. Mix the flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the shortening and sugar at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until well blended. Add the bananas and blend them in thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and blend them in thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and beat until batter is well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes 16-18 servings

 

 

Chocolate Roll with Jam and Strawberries

So you think chocolate is delicious?

Okay, I grant you: chocolate is delicious.

But in my opinion, the most delicious thing in these photos isn’t the dessert, it’s the kid. My grandson, age 2-3/4.

Here he is putting the final touches on a chocolate roll cake. I prepared the batter. He licked the bowl.

These photos are proof of how easy it is to cook with children, even one who is 2-3/4. Remy was able to spread the strawberry jam on the baked cake. I sliced the strawberries. He placed them over the jam. 

He did a pretty good job don’t you think?

We rolled the cake together and plopped it onto a big serving dish.

Okay, the cake has some cracks in the surface. That sometimes happens to rolled cakes. So we covered it up somewhat: I held the strainer filled with confectioner’s sugar and he tapped it with a spoon, causing the white sprinkles to come down like snow and give a nice finish to our work.

No one cared that the cake didn’t look perfect. The time we had together was perfect.

Delicious.

You can do it with a kid in your life using my recipe. It would be a good Mother’s Day project. 

 

Chocolate Roll with Jam and Strawberries

 

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

3 tablespoons cold, strong coffee or orange juice

5 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup strawberry jam

1 pint strawberries, sliced 

confectioners' sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 15-1/2”x10-1/2” jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving several inches hanging over each of the short edges. Lightly grease the portion of the paper that fits inside the pan. Melt the chocolate and coffee together in the top part of a double boiler (or a bowl that fits into a saucepan) set over barely simmering water. Mix the ingredients well and remove the top part of the pan from the heat. Let cool. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed (or use a hand mixer), beat the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla extract together for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend it in thoroughly. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Mix about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold the remaining whites into the chocolate mixture until the mixture has an even color. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it to make it even. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven. Cover it with a slightly dampened kitchen towel. Let cool. Loosen the cake by pulling the overlapping ends of parchment paper. Invert the cake onto a clean sheet of parchment paper or kitchen towel (use the towel if you will be filling the roll later; keep the cake rolled inside the towel and set it aside, then unroll the cake to proceed).

Spread the jam evenly over the top of the cake. Top with the strawberries. Roll the cake starting on the long side. Place on a serving platter, seam side down. Dust (using a strainer) with confectioner’s sugar. Makes 8-10 servings

 

Chocolate Yogurt Pound Cake

"This is just like room service!"

That, from my almost 6-year old grand daughter Lila (who apparently already knows about room service!?!) after I let her have her dinner in the family room and watch TV.

This is something I didn’t allow my own two daughters.

But honestly, after 35 years I was a little out of practice. And, like bike riding, you may not forget how, but you also may not race through the streets or peddle yourself up a steep hill quite as often or as easily either. 

So, when the kids came for a visit, sans parents, from Friday through Sunday, there were occasional, let’s say, concessions. If my daughter Gillian, their Mom, is reading this now, I say, don’t worry. These kids are terrific and 2 meals in front of the TV won’t harm them.

As you can see from the photos we did lots of stuff like draw, have a pedicure, blow bubbles outside, ride bikes, have a fashion show. We also frosted a birthday cake for their cousin Nina’s birthday party on Saturday (although the top decoration, an Ariel rice-paper scene, was store-bought).

The little one, Remy, age 21 months talks a blue streak although sometimes it’s difficult to understand his pronunciations. However, one of the new words he learned this weekend was “chocolate cake,” which he mentioned to his parents as soon as they walked in the door Sunday night.

"Tzockickcake!" he told them, with his tongue literally licking his lips.

When a kid is this young you can’t depend on “what happens at Grandma’s stays at grandma’s.”

I had baked the chocolate cake for a Hadassah Tea and was cutting it into slices. There were a few not-so-lovely pieces that I didn’t include on the platter I sent over for that event. Remy had a small sliver of the leftovers. He liked it, that’s for sure.

Can’t say I blame him. Smart kid!

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Yogurt Pound Cake

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix at medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending each one in. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the yogurt, until the flour mixture and yogurt have been used and the batter is well blended and smooth. Gradually add the boiling water, beating slowly, for 2-3 minutes or until the batter is smooth and well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 65-70 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake rack to cool completely. Makes 12+ servings

Chocolate Cake

Wasn’t it just New Year’s Eve? Wasn’t it just the new millennium? The new century? 
 Is everyone’s life going as fast as mine is? 
 It’s already March. We’ve come through a long, cold, snowy winter where I live, a rainy, blustery, drenching winter elsewhere. I don’t even know if we’re through with all that stuff. But the word March sounds hopeful. At least to me. It’s the beginning of a month that ends with spring, crocuses, warmer temperatures, sunshine. 
 March 1st is also the start of National Ghost Writer’s Week, paying homage to those who write, often magnificently, for people who can’t, but they don’t get the writing credit. The people who can’t write get all the credit. 
 I actually know someone who’s a ghost writer. So, in his honor I give you a recipe for Chocolate Cake, one of his favorites. 
 Btw, if you haven’t seen the movie Ghost Writer, do so. It’s terrific and so is Ewan McGregor, the ghost writer in it. 
 Chocolate Cake 
 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate 
 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder 
 1 teaspoon salt 
 1-1/2 cups sugar 
 3/4 cup butter 
 1-1/2 cups milk 
 3 large eggs 
 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 3 9-inch cake pans. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix gently to combine them. Add the sugar, butter and half the milk and beat the ingredients at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, or until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs and beat them in. Add the remaining milk, chocolate and vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes or until smooth. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the layers onto a cake rack to cool completely.  
 Chocolate Frosting 
 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate 
 1 cup unsalted butter 
 2 cups confectioner’s sugar 
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
 Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Place the butter and confectioner’s sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes or until well blended. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and the vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. Enough for one 9-inch chocolate cake

Wasn’t it just New Year’s Eve? Wasn’t it just the new millennium? The new century?

Is everyone’s life going as fast as mine is?

It’s already March. We’ve come through a long, cold, snowy winter where I live, a rainy, blustery, drenching winter elsewhere. I don’t even know if we’re through with all that stuff. But the word March sounds hopeful. At least to me. It’s the beginning of a month that ends with spring, crocuses, warmer temperatures, sunshine.

March 1st is also the start of National Ghost Writer’s Week, paying homage to those who write, often magnificently, for people who can’t, but they don’t get the writing credit. The people who can’t write get all the credit.

I actually know someone who’s a ghost writer. So, in his honor I give you a recipe for Chocolate Cake, one of his favorites.

Btw, if you haven’t seen the movie Ghost Writer, do so. It’s terrific and so is Ewan McGregor, the ghost writer in it.

Chocolate Cake

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter

1-1/2 cups milk

3 large eggs

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 3 9-inch cake pans. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix gently to combine them. Add the sugar, butter and half the milk and beat the ingredients at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, or until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs and beat them in. Add the remaining milk, chocolate and vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes or until smooth. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the layers onto a cake rack to cool completely. 

Chocolate Frosting

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Place the butter and confectioner’s sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes or until well blended. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and the vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. Enough for one 9-inch chocolate cake

Devil Dogs

A few days ago, because of the snow, it took me 50 minutes to drive from my house to the highway, a distance that usually takes about 6 minutes. This kind of ride is incredibly frustrating, especially if you actually have to be somewhere, which I did. And even though I had given myself what I thought was ample extra time, I was late anyway.

To avoid total anxiety and angry thoughts during the drive I decided not to tune in to talk radio, which I sometimes do just to see what the crazies are saying. And I didn’t turn on my music CDs because I’ve heard them a little too often lately and keep forgetting to change them.

I started to play those mind games you play when you’re bored. Like “if you could only take 10 books/films/music, etc. to a desert island, which would you choose?” Or, “who was the most influential person of the 20th century?”

Only I wasn’t feeling that I could handle an intellectual challenge so my thoughts turned to this: if Americans are so in love with chocolate, with practically everyone I know saying they are “chocaholics” then how come Twinkies were always more popular than Devil Dogs?

Personally I preferred Devil Dogs as a kid, even though I have always been more a vanilla loving person than a chocolate one. But I also have to say that the last Devil Dog I bought was when I was about 9 and when I opened the package and ants started crawling out I threw it away and have not eaten once since.

I’m not sure why Devil Dogs were called that. As I recall they don’t look like Devil’s food cake, which is like chocolate cake, but redder in color for a variety of reasons (usually made with cocoa instead of melted chocolate, more baking soda, and so on). But it got me thinking about making a devil’s food cake. I don’t have a great recipe of my own, so I’m going to try a few from other people and see what turns up. If I wind up with a recipe I like maybe I’ll even make my own homemade Devil Dogs.

My first try will be this one from Smitten Kitchen:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:rD816Uxgr98J:smittenkitchen.com/2008/02/homemade-devil-dog-ding-dong-or-hostess-cake/+devil’s+dog+devil’s+food%3F&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Fudge Day

Today is National Fudge Day. I was 14 when I first tried to make some, one of the first recipes I ever tried to cook.

Unfortunately, real fudge is almost impossible to make correctly. You have to get the mixture to the right temperature and get sugar crystals perfect otherwise you wind up with a granular mess that crunches like sand in your mouth.

That’s the kind of fudge I made. My recipe improved after a few tries, but with so many good candy shops out there, if I want fudge these days, I buy it. 

I once found out that fudge was first made by a student at Vassar College. Not to be outdone, there was a competitive version by a student at Wellesley College and later, two students there baked a chocolate cake with fudge frosting and it was forever after known as Wellesley Fudge Cake.

I tried that too, with much greater success than the candy. I changed the recipe over the years until I wound up with a version I like.

The cake is much easier to make than fudge, so here’s the recipe, a really rich and delicious cake with creamy, sweet but also tangy frosting. Tasty on Fudge Day or anytime.

Wellesley Fudge Cake

Cake:

2 cups cake flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 large eggs

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 9-inch cake pans. In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk and shortening and beat the ingredients with a hand mixer (or standing mixer) for about 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes (scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice). Spoon the batter into the two prepared cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester or the tip of a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack to cool completely. Frost with Fudge Frosting.

Fudge Frosting

12 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 cup dairy sour cream

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in the top part of a double boiler set over barely simmering water. Stir the melted chocolate and remove the top part of the double boiler from the heat. Add the sour cream, salt and vanilla extract and whisk the ingredients until smooth. Let cool slightly until the mixture is spreading consistency.

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