Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Favorite Chocolate Cake

I know that "favorite" is a strong word. But I mean it when I say that this is my favorite chocolate cake.  Last fall, I was on a very low carb diet. It worked, but at the end of 8 weeks, I really, really wanted chocolate cake. When my chocolate cake craving was at it's peak, friends invited us over for dinner. That's when I discovered this cake. I've made it at least 4 times since November- which is a lot for a cake this rich.  It is a simple recipe- it's the one off the back of the Hershey's Cocoa can. I had the "Special Dark" cocoa the first time I made this, and loved it, so that's the type of cocoa I've been using. The cake is almost black inside because there is so much cocoa.  The recipe calls for vegetable oil. I decided to use coconut oil because it makes more moist baked goods. Just make sure you melt the coconut oil first....otherwise you will be mixing forever. I also use the frosting recipe on the back of the can. You don't even need a mixer for it since the butter is melted.  Once this frosting is cooled in the fridge, it is really hard to work with. I like to bake the cakes in the evening and wrap them in plastic wrap overnight. Then I mix up the frosting in the morning and frost the cake as soon as I've made the chocolate frosting. To add a little something extra, you can be creative with toppings. The one pictured has shaved white chocolate on top. I've considered trying a peanut butter frosting recipe for the middle of the cake. I think my next experiment will be toasted coconut on top. My husband doesn't like coconut, so I guess that means more cake for me!

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (whole milk)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Frosting (recipe follows)

1) Heat oven to 325 (cakes cook more evenly at 325 than 350). Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2) Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer, on medium speed 2 minutes (start on low, otherwise you'll have cocoa powder all over your kitchen...true story). Stir in boiling water. The batter will be very thin. Pour into cake pans.
3) Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
makes 2 cups of frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
2/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of milk, if the frosting is too thick. Stir in vanilla.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rainbow Veggies

My friend Kayla sent me this recipe a few months ago.  Once I made it, I was kicking myself for not making it sooner! It was really easy and tasted amazing.  I served it with a sweet pork tenderloin (recipe coming soon, I hope). The leftover veggies were really good with eggs and sausage the next morning. This wasn't the most kid-friendly side dish for my kids. My daughter loved the purple potatoes and my son ate enough bell peppers to get a second serving of pork. My kids tend to me more into broccoli, carrots, spinach (my son), corn, peas, sweet potato, winter squash, and green beans. This was the perfect side dish for my husband and  I- especially since everything except for the purple potatoes is in season in Florida right now, so it was cheap and really fresh. The original recipe called for vidallia onions. I accidentally left them out and thought it turned out great without them.  I may add cauliflower next time since I've recently discovered how amazing roasted cauliflower is! The biggest change I made from the original recipe was the cooking time. It called for cooking everything together for 40 - 45 minutes. I knew that in my oven the peppers would burn and the squash would be "mushy." Since we prefer crisp peppers and squash, I changed the cooking time a little bit.  I will definitely make this again while these veggies are cheap and in season!

Rainbow Veggies
Serves 3 adults

1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
4 – 6 small purple potatoes (I used what was in a bag of mixed potatoes)
Olive oil

1) Heat oven to 400.
2) Quarter the small potatoes and cut other veggies to roughly the same size.  
3) Toss the potatoes in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with seasoned salt. Bake for 15 minutes. 
4) Add remaining vegetables, 1 more tablespoon of olive oil, and season with more seasoned salt. Bake for 15 minutes.