Friday, February 25, 2011

Chockful of Chocolate

Not everyone knows that you don't put 3/4 of a cup of salt in a cake recipe. You'd think logic would prevail. But I am here to tell you that I learned that lesson the hard way.

No, I wasn't the one using 3/4 cup of salt in a recipe. But I was the reporter who mistakenly typed CUPS instead of TEASPOONS in a recipe long, long ago.

Unfortunately, before I realized the misprint, I know of at least one casualty. When I went on assignment with a photographer from The Hutchinson News, he informed me that his wife had tried the prize-winning chocolate cake recipe from the Kansas State Fair. It certainly wasn't a prize winner in their book. It tasted awful, he told me.

A little investigative reporting revealed the problem: Using 3/4 teaspoon of salt makes sense. Using 3/4 cup did not. But she followed the recipe. And bless her heart, she wasn't the most experienced baker. You've heard the saying, "Don't believe everything in print." Well, she shouldn't have believed me.

I apologized profusely. And I began reading and rereading and rereading recipes again before I published them.

That's not to say I never made another mistake. And I won't guarantee I won't ever make a mistake here either. But, if there's ever any question in your mind about a recipe I publish here, ASK! I check comments on the blog and on Facebook often, so let me hear from you if there's ever any doubt or if you have a question.

When I was looking for a recipe to make the chocolate cupcakes for PEO, I found that long ago recipe for Icewater Chocolate Cake. It was a state fair blue ribbon winner in the 1980s. It's a great recipe - as long as you use the 3/4 teaspoon salt.

If you don't have cake flour, you can make a substitute. I don't usually have cake flour on hand and this substitution works well:

1. Place two tablespoons of cornstarch in a 1-cup measure.

2. Fill the rest of the cup with all-purpose flour.

3. Use in place of the cake flour in any recipe. One cup of substitute is equal to one cup of cake flour.


Icewater Chocolate Cake
1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups ice water
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla; cream until fluffy. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Sift together cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with ice water.

Put batter in three greased and wax-paper-lined 8-inch cake pans OR fill about 24 cupcake liners. For layers, bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. For cupcakes, bake 18-22 minutes or until the cake tests done.

If making a layer cake, let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely. Frost as desired.

I wanted to try a chocolate ganache because that's what I thought the Cupcake shop used. I found a recipe for ganache and it even had photos.

My plan was to pipe it like I'd done the cream cheese frosting on the red velvet cupcakes. But I guess I let it set up too long. It was pretty firm by the time I pulled it from the refrigerator. When I went back and re-read the recipe and comments, it said not to let it get too firm or it would be like "clay." I concur.

So, to "fix" it, I added butter, powdered sugar and some additional milk to make the frosting. Even though it wasn't exactly the plan, it tasted and looked good.

So maybe you'll have more success with the original recipe (click on the word "ganache" above) or here's the version I ended up with:

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (good quality)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups powdered sugar
2 - 3 tbsp. milk (if needed for consistency)

Place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil (I did this in the microwave.) Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate; stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow ganache to cool and set up. Add melted butter, powdered sugar and milk until it's a consistency conducive to piping.

I decorated each frosted cupcake with mini chocolate chips.

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