Mineral Daily News-Tribune - Keyser, WV
  • Judi Leaming: Celebrating the origins of chocolate cake

  • Here are some delicious chocolate cake recipes that you can create in your very own kitchen. Celebrate chocolate cakes this week with at least one of these.

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  • Doing the research for this column has led me to a lot of very interesting websites.
    When I dug deeply to find information to share with you, my best source turned out to be a brief history of the Baker’s Chocolate Company (courtesy of Dan’s Chocolates of Burlington, Vt.).
    In 1765, a Harvard-educated doctor named James Baker met an Irish immigrant and chocolate maker named John Hannon. With Baker’s money and Hannon’s knowledge, the two of them converted an old mill on the banks of Massachusetts’ Neponset River into a chocolate factory.
    In the mill, they grounded cocoa beans between huge millstones to make thick syrup. The chocolate syrup was poured into molds to make ‘cakes’ of chocolate. These were meant to be grated and mixed with hot water to make a chocolate beverage.
    Because of the difficulty of importing cocoa beans during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, cocoa was rarely used as a food ingredient. It wasn’t until 1828 that Conrad van Houten figured out how to extract cocoa fat from cacao liquor so it could be turned into a solid that could be turned into the reddish-brown powder that we now call baking cocoa. This discovery made the ability to cook with chocolate much cheaper, and cocoa began to be used as flavoring for baked goods.
    Soon after, a young Austrian chef named Franz Sacher was charged with creating a dessert for Austria’s Prince Mettermich. He dared to spread apricot jam between layers of dense chocolate cake and poured a chocolate frosting over it all. This later became known as Sacher Torte, but that’s a story for another day. By the way, National Sacher Torte Day was Dec. 5.
    Here are some delicious chocolate cake recipes that you can create in your very own kitchen. Celebrate chocolate cakes this week with at least one of these.
    $300 Chocolate Cake
    My Aunt Wrenda shared this recipe with my mother in the early 1970s, and it quickly became a “go-to” family favorite.
    2 cups granulated sugar
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup water
    3/4 cup vegetable oil
    4 heaping tablespoons baking cocoa
    1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup buttermilk*
    1/2 cup butter
    4 tablespoons milk
    4 tablespoons baking cocoa
    Pinch of salt
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 pound confectioners’ sugar
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and set aside a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
    For cake: Combine sugar, flour, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl, and mix to blend. Combine water, oil, cocoa and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute. Pour over sugar/flour mixture, and beat carefully just until mixed. Slowly add in eggs and buttermilk just to blend. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. While the cake bakes, prepare the icing because you will be spreading this on the cake while it is still warm.
    Page 2 of 2 - For icing: Combine butter, milk, salt and cocoa in a small saucepan over low heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread on warm cake. Cool before serving.
    *No buttermilk? Stir 2 teaspoons of yellow or white vinegar into 1/2 cup whole milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using.
    McCall’s Perfect Chocolate Cake
    This recipe appeared in a 1982 issue of McCall’s Magazine.
    1 cup unsifted, unsweetened cocoa
    2 cups boiling water
    2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 cup butter, softened
    2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    4 eggs
    1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 (6-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1/2 cup light cream or evaporated milk
    1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
    2 1/2 cups unsifted confectioners’ sugar
    1 cup heavy cream, chilled
    1/4 cup unsifted confectioners’ sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the unsweetened cocoa and the 2 cups boiling water until smooth. Cool completely. Sift flour with baking soda, salt and baking powder. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
    In large bowl, beat softened butter with sugar, eggs and vanilla at a high speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce to low speed, and beat in the flour mixture (in fourths), alternately with the cocoa mixture (in thirds). Begin and end with flour mixture. Do not overbeat. Divide batter evenly between the three prepared pans, about 2 1/2 cups batter per pan. Smooth tops of batter with spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Carefully loosen sides with spatula. Remove cake layers from pans and cool on wire racks.
    Frosting: In medium saucepan, combine chocolate chips, cream and pieces of butter. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat. With whisk, blend in 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar. Place in small mixer bowl, and place this bowl into another larger bowl. Place ice cubes between the outside of the small bowl and the inside edge of the larger bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until frosting holds shape. Set aside.
    Filling: Make filling by whipping cream with sugar and vanilla.
    Assemble cake by placing one of the cooled layers, top side down, onto the serving plate. Spread with half of the whipped cream. Place second cooled cake layer, top side down, onto the whipped cream. Spread with remaining cream. Place third cake layer, top side up, onto the whipped cream. Frost cake using a metal spatula. Frost sides first, covering whipped cream, then use rest of frosting on the top of the cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

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