RECIPE: Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

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We had some treasured friends over a few weeks ago, and the them for dinner was "Supper Club". My husband asked that I make just a simple, decadent, old-fashioned chocolate cake for dessert. I have a tried and true chocolate cake batter that's been in my repertoire for a couple of years, being used in my cake pops. There is a healthy dose of hot water and buttermilk to make things really moist in this cake. But what of the frosting? I didn't want to make a butter-cream, which I think is too sugary sweet and takes a whole pound of butter (hi! Obnoxious?) So going to the recipe archives, I found a great frosting I have used for my daughter's birthday cakes using chocolate bars, making things creamy and dreamy. You can make this frosting a couple days ahead, stored in the fridge, and just let it warm up to room temp and whip it before using. 

So there you go. Chocolate on chocolate.
Simple. Decadent. Perfect.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Rich Chocolate Cake Recipe:
nonstick cooking spray & parchment paper
1 1/2 cups good quality unsweetened cocoa
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups water

Milk Chocolate Frosting:
20 Tbsp. butter, softened to room temp.
1 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup dutch process cocoa
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. milk chocolate bars, broken up, melted and cooled to 85˚

Heat oven to 350˚.  Spray 3  8"cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. (You will have extra batter, so spray a 8" x 8" brownie pan as well. You can freeze this cake for later use, like cake pops or an after school treat.) Cut parchment paper to size and lay along the bottom of the pans. Spray again, and sprinkle pans with cocoa powder. Set aside.

Mix flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. With a paddle attachment on a stand mixer, mix the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in the dry ingredients slowly. Then add hot water. Scrape the sides and blend a few minutes more until smooth.

Pour the batter in the prepared pans, and bake for 45 minutes on the middle rack. The cake should spring back to the touch and toothpick comes out clean. Pop out cakes from the pans to wire racks after sitting in the pan for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Make Frosting:
In a food processor with the blade, process the butter, sugar and cocoa together until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides with a spatula as you go. Next, add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until it is smooth and creamy again. Once your melted chocolate is at 85˚, pulse in the melted chocolate until it is all well combined with the butter mixture. Pulse until creamy and fluffy.

You can use it immediately. But I have refrigerated the frosting for a few days, and just let it sit out to room temp for a few hours until it begins to soften. I then whip it with a hand mixer to bring it "back to life."

Fill the layers and frost the cake. Eat it all up with a glass of milk, because this is old-school deliciousness baby!

Cake batter adapted from

VIDEO: Culinary Herbal & Floral Series #2: How To Make Infusions & Simple Syrups

Pin It Hi all! Here is my second installment of my herbal/floral video series in celebration of my two year labor of love, "Savoring Sweet" (on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and soon on GoodReads for only $2.99!).  Here I show you how to make an alcohol infusion and an herbal simple syrup. The infusion is made with rhubarb and lavender, inspired by a cocktail I enjoyed at my favorite gastropub downtown called Farmhouse. I also show how to infuse herbs in a simple syrup, a mainstay of mixology, dessert garnishes and fruit salads.

These are two indispensable techniques when venturing into the world of herbs and florals in sweets and desserts.

Now I am going to get some gin and basil to make some yummy cocktails for tonight with that rhubarb lavender concoction.


VIDEO: Culinary Herbal & Floral Series #1: How To Make Herbal Extracts & Sugars

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Hi all! Some of you may or may not have known, but my labor of love for 2 whole years has finally hit the e-bookshelves! You can buy my little self-published ebook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks,  Kobo, and soon on GoodReads for only $2.99! 

I thought to help promote the book and share my new herbal and floral obsession, I would make a few how-to videos about this culinary art that's enjoying a revival. 

Here is the first installment, where I show you how to make an herbal extract and an infused sugar. These are two indispensable techniques when venturing into the world of herbs and florals in sweets and desserts. Now if only spring can come, and we can get growing some fresh herbs and flowers. That's when the real magic happens.

INFOGRAPHIC FUN: The Science of a Happy Relationship, just in time for Valentine's Day!

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SO, one of the brands I have worked with a a blog brand ambassador off and on is Happify. They have a social gaming app & platform that's like a brain game, but is all around the science of happiness. I have to admit, I have not been that diligent about playing...maybe that explains my winter doldrums? Or maybe it's the 4 feet snowdrifts or incessant snow storms Chicago has been hit with, or a thing called a polar vortex? But I digress.

Happiness and relationships, something many of us need help with every day. Whether it's arguing over who takes out the garbage or fitting in date night away from a feisty toddler, we can all use some help now and then. And this great infographic delivers. Take a peek. Maybe you can use some insights for

Yes. News Flash. It's Valentine's Day tomorrow. SO start by going shopping at lunch to keep that relationship happy. That's a pretty good start. ;)

Link to a bigger view is here.

RECIPE: Double Chocolate Stout Cake with Silky Vanilla Frosting

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Chocolate and beer, what can be better?
Chocolate and wine? Hm. Maybe. But that's for another day.

Today I have beer. And chocolate. Together.

This impressive cake gets some really nice earthy punch from the a double chocolate stout I found at the store. I also recommend using Dutch process cocoa, as it is smoother and creamier and works nicely with the stout. The original recipe uses very dark cocoa, but it's hard to find. And after I did some research, I thought it might have been too bitter. This cake was creamy with a subtle bite to it that the stout creates. It all works very nicely together. And add the creamy vanilla frosting around it and it's some good eating.

Double Chocolate Stout Cake with Silky Vanilla Frosting
Makes one 8 inch round, three-layer cake 

Cake Layers
About 1 1/2 cups (11.5 fluid ounces) chocolate stout or dark beer (I used Young's Double Chocolate Stout Ale)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into slices
1 cup sifted Dutch-process cocoa
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
3/4 cups milk
4 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cups butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
dash of salt


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 3 8-inch round pans (2″ deep) with non-stick cooking spray, line bottoms with parchment paper circles, then spray circles, and set aside. Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan and heat on medium heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the sifted cocoa powder until smooth. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a fork. Set aside.
 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer on a low speed, and add the cooled cocoa mixture, then mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients slowly and combine on low-speed until blended, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, and then mix for another minute.

Divide batter into prepared pans evenly. Place cake pans on middle oven rack side-by-side, but about 2″ apart and bake until toothpick inserted into centre comes clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Let cakes cool on wire racks for ~10 minutes, loosen edges with a dull butter knife, then gently remove from pans to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting.

 In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over a medium heat. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out and into the milk. Toss the pod in the milk as well, and heat the milk up until just a simmer. Whisk in the flour, and cook until very thick. Whisk as the milk cooks. Then take off the heat and let cool completely. Do not skip the cooling. The frosting won't come together. It will be greasy and separate. Once cooled, pull out the vanilla pods and discard.

With a stand mixer, whip the butter until creamy. Next add the sugar and whip until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour/milk mixture gradually into the butter, and whip as you go. Finally add the vanilla extract and a dash of salt. Whip until all combined.

Dab a bit of frosting on the bottom of your cake platter as "glue" for your cake. Place the bottom layer on top of the frosting on the platter. Layer some frosting on top of the first layer, and place the next layer on top. Continue filling the layers. Spread a thin layer of frosting along the sides and top as a crumb layer. Then generously frost the whole cake.

*Chocolate Stout Cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour and

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