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It was one of those days. My hubby worked late all week, which meant that my kiddos were climbing the walls, asking every 5 seconds “Where’s Daddy? Where’s Daddy? Where’s Daddy?” I think I’ll hear that phrase in my sleep. I made supper, but the kids picked at their plates and wouldn’t eat. The baby “helpfully” cleaned her plate by throwing everything gracefully to the floor. It rained all day long, so we couldn’t go for a walk. We were prisoners in our own house. And the mad house was getting crazier by the minute.
To stave off impending insanity, I started thinking about my all-time favorite comfort food: chocolate. It’s hard to beat good, old-fashioned chocolate cake. With its light, moist “crumb” (say that word without laughing. I dare you. Exactly– it isn’t possible.) and creamy, dreamy icing, this cake is a sure-fire way to banish those rainy day blues. So invite your equally stir-crazy friends over, to escape the rain. Pour big cups of coffee and slice pieces of this decadent beauty. Let the kids wear themselves out, using up all that energy on playing with each other, instead of using your curtains as superman capes. Take a deep breath. Sip your coffee. Have a bite of chocolatey goodness. And feel the sanity returning. 😉
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Classic Chocolate Cake
(adapted from Good Housekeeping magazine)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups half and half (you may substitute heavy cream or whole milk, if you prefer– each will change the texture slightly, but either one will work just fine)
Chocolate Icing Ingredients:
(adapted from Allrecipes.com)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup cocoa
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 + 2 tbsp. half and half
To make cake, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, oil, and vanilla; beat well. Add in the dry ingredients and milk (cream, half and half, or regular milk will work fine– use what you have), beating just until combined. Divide batter into 3 (9 inch) round cake pans that have been greased and lined with parchment rounds on the bottom (this helps the cake to come out of the pan without breaking, when it’s finished). Bake at 350 for roughly 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and cool completely before frosting.
To making frosting, mix dry ingredients and softened butter together and mix on mixer’s lowest setting while you slowly pour in wet ingredients. When all ingredients are combined, beat quickly for a few seconds just until light and of frosting consistency.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
Do you prefer chunky or creamy? In this case, I hope it’s creamy . . . cause’ we’re about to cream some ingredients!! 😀 “Creaming” just basically means to mix your softened butter and sugars together on medium high speed until they are light and fluffy. Don’t you wish you could just whisk yourself and make YOURSELF light and fluffy? Yessss . . .
Next add in your oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. I like to scrape the sides of the bowl (with the beaters turned off, obviously) and beat one more time, to make sure that all the butter is combined and isn’t sticking to the side of the bowl like some crazy ex-girlfriend.
Wow. Look at that. Isn’t that seriously the prettiest, silkiest batter you’ve ever seen? To get your batter to look like this, mix in the dry ingredients, just until combined, and then mix in the remaining wet ingredients. You can use half and half, cream, or even plain milk as your liquid. Of course, the more “wicked” your cream, the more decadent the dessert. But, hey . . . you can use plain milk and call this a health food. I won’t judge. Proteeeeeeiiiiinnnnn . . .
Next, line 3 9″ cake pans with a parchment round on the bottom (just trace around the pan on parchment paper and then cut out the perfectly sized circle. You’re so smart.), spray the sides and parchment, and divide the batter equally between the 3 pans. I used to always have such trouble “dividing the batter equally” between x number of pans. I would eyeball it, inevitably get way too much in one, and then have nothing left for another, so I’d try to pour some into another pan . . . it got really messy. Oddly enough, I solved this problem by using a cookie scoop (the one I have is here), which is one of those awesome, all-around workhorse tools that I took way too long to add to my kitchen gadget arsenal (mostly because I am poor, and my kitchen is as small as the average state tax refund).
But finally I got one (OK, more like 4 or 5, in all sizes), and I just love these suckers– they make everything so beautiful and uniform– they have taken my cookies from pitiable lumps to the envy of the school bake sale ladies. They make my cupcakes all perfectly uniform with a perfectly crowned top (no more cupcakes lopping over the sides of the pan and not wanting to come out of the muffin tin, because they have “grown” to it). And now, they help me to get my cake batter exactly even in each pan. I basically just give “one scoop” to each pan, until I run out of batter. And voila . . . perfectly divided batter. Use a knife or offset spatula to spread the batter evenly to the edges of the pan, and stick the cakes into a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the center of the cakes spring back when touched, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
When your cakes are done (I usually rotate pans halfway through baking to make sure that they bake evenly), flip them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling, and then focus on your delicious chocolate frosting. To make the icing, mix your butter and dry ingredients slowly while pouring in the liquid. Once everything is combined, give ‘er a good whipping for a minute or so, until the mixture looks like GAWGEOUS chocolate icing, and you’re ready to roll.
Ice your cake. Oooh and Ahhhh. You just made a cake. From scratch. And you didn’t use a mix. You entertained your kids through what seemed like a decades-long monsun. You kept your friends from going stir-crazy, and you didn’t even have to start construction on a giant Ark. You wonder woman, you.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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