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Sample Recipes
from Celebrate with Chocolate
by Marcel Desaulniers, 2002

Mrs. D's "She Ain't Heavy" Chocolate Cake
Peanut Buttery Chocolate Peanut Brittle
Black Mamba Cookies

Mrs. D's "She Ain't Heavy" Chocolate Cake
& "Hasn't Failed Me Yet" Cocoa Icing Cake Recipe

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-ounce pieces
2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Icing Recipe

1-1/4 pounds confectioners' sugar
1-1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 pounds (5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-ounce pieces
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make Mrs. D's "She Ain't Heavy" Chocolate Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly coat the insides of three 9 x 1 1/2-inch cake pans with some of the melted butter. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper, then lightly coat the paper with more melted butter. Set aside.

In a sifter combine the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Sift onto a large piece of parchment or wax paper and set aside.

Place the sugar and the 3/4 pound butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then beat on medium until soft, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Continue beating on medium for an additional 2 minutes until very soft. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add each egg one at a time, beating on medium for 30 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the side of the bowl once the eggs have been incorporated. Operate the mixer on low while gradually adding about half of the dry ingredients, followed by about half the milk. Once these ingredients have been incorporated, about 1 1/2 minutes, gradually add remaining dry ingredients, followed by the remaining milk, mix until incorporated, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle. Don't be concerned if the batter looks a bit odd texturally at this point (because of the interaction between the milk and butter): it will come to together nicely in the next step.

Add the vanilla extract and mix low for 5 seconds; beat on medium for 1 minute until thoroughly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Now the batter looks very thick, a bit like soft serve ice cream, but please don't taste, because the ingestion of raw yolk may not be salubrious. Immediately divide the cake batter among the prepared pans (about 2 1/4 cups in each pan,) spreading evenly (an offset spatula would work best.)

Bake on the top and center racks in the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake layer comes out clean, about 35 minutes. (Rotate the pans from top to center halfway through the baking time.) Remove the cake layers from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature. Invert cake payers onto a cake circles (or cake plates) wrapped with plastic wrap or lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Carefully peel the paper away from the bottoms of the layers. Refrigerate the cake layers while preparing the icing.

Make Mrs. D's "Hasn't Failed Me Yet" Cocoa Icing

In a sifter combine the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Sift onto an extra large (about 12 x 20 inches) piece of parchment paper (or wax paper) and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low speed for 1 minute; increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes until soft. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl and paddle. Beat on medium for 2 more minutes until very soft. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle. Operate the mixer on the lowest speed (stir) while gradually adding about half the amount of dry ingredients, followed by half the amount of milk. Once these ingredients have been incorporated, about 2 minutes, add the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the remaining milk; mix until incorporated about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Beat of medium for 1 more minute until very soft and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and mix on low for 5 seconds; increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until very soft and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the icing until thoroughly combined.

Assemble Mrs. D's "She Ain't Heavy" Chocolate Cake

Remove the cake layers from the refrigerator. Turn one of the layers onto a clean cake circle (or cake plate), then peel off the paper. Use a cake spatula to spread 1 1/2 cups of icing evenly and smoothly over the top and to the edges of the cake layer. Turn a second cake layer into the iced layer, then peel off the paper. Use a cake spatula to spread 1 1/2 cups of icing evenly and smoothly over the top and to the edges of the cake layer. Turn the remaining cake layer onto the second iced layer and gently press the layers into place. Spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the entire cake. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

To Serve

Heat the blade of a serrated slicer under hot running water and wipe the blade dry before each slice. Keep the slices at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Peanut Buttery Chocolate Peanut Brittle

2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 ounce unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-ounce pieces
1-1/2 cups unsalted dry roasted peanuts

Place the sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Stir with a long-handled metal kitchen spoon to combine. (The sugar will resemble moist sand.)

Caramelize the sugar for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with the spoon to break up any lumps. The sugar will first turn clear as it liquefies, then light brown as it caramelizes. Remove until melted and incorporated. Now add the peanut butter and butter and stir until incorporated and smooth. Add the peanuts and stir until combined.

Immediately transfer the extremely hot mixture (be careful in handling!) to a 10x15-inch baking sheet with sides. Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture evenly and as close to the edges of the baking sheet as possible (it should cover most of the surface, unless you dawdled and took too much time in the spreading, which left you with a large lump of brittle rather than a sheet). Harden at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Invert the brittle onto a clean, dry cutting board. (It should pop right out of the baking sheet.) Use your hands to break the brittle into pieces the size you want. Store the brittle, with parchment or wax paper between the layers to prevent sticking, in a tightly sealed plastic container until you are ready to dispatch it.

Black Mamba Cookies

1 pound semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-ounce pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt the chopped semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter in the top half of a double boiler or in a medium glass bowl in a microwave oven, and stir until smooth. Set aside.

In a sifter combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Sift onto a large piece of parchment or wax paper and set aside.

Place the eggs, sugar, and espresso powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium speed for 4 minutes until the mixture is thickened and slightly frothy. Add the chocolate and butter mixture and mix on medium to combine, about 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Operate the mixer on low while gradually adding the dry ingredients; mix until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts and vanilla extract and mix on low to combine, about 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Note that a yummy batter-like consistency is achieved, rather than dough-like.

Using 3 heaping tablespoons of the batter for each cookie; portion 6 cookies, evenly spaced, onto each of 3 nonstick baking sheets. Place 1 baking sheet on the top rack and 1 baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and bake for 18 minutes, rotating the sheets form top to center halfway through the baking time (at that time also turn each sheet 180 degrees). The third baking sheet may be placed in another 325 degree oven or held at room temperature and then baked after the first 2 sheets are removed from the oven. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool to room temperature on the baking sheets, about 15 minutes. Store the cooled cookies in a tightly sealed container.

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