Archive for April 13th, 2011

April 13, 2011

devil’s food cake revisited


I had a craving for this cake last weekend.  I originally created it for the Mr.’s birthday last year, and the recipe is pretty hefty in size, making either a 3 layer cake or 36 cupcakes. That makes sense when you’re hosting 40 people, but not so much for a random day in April.

Much as I’d like to believe everyday I wake is cause for celebration, I came to my senses, and have Allison Fishman to thank. I’m completely smitten with her new cookbook You Can Trust a Skinny Cook.


Piles of cookbooks are commonplace around here. Every day a new one arrives, and while many have some interesting recipes, very few make it to my permanent bookshelf. I just don’t have the space in this 2-bedroom Brooklyn shack.

Allison’s is a keeper.

So much so, that I wish she could come tuck me in every night and read a chapter to lull me to sleep. I often fall into slumber thinking about recipes, so while a cookbook seems an odd bedtime story, for me it would be like a cup of steamed milk for the mind.


What I love most about Allison’s book is her sense of humor and understanding of our relationships with food. Unlike healthy cookbooks that preach about why processed foods are bad, You Can Trust a Skinny Cook focuses on why cooking for yourself is a good thing. She doesn’t make you feel bad about what you shouldn’t eat, she gives you the necessary tools to eat what you should—quick, easy recipes made with real ingredients. Allison also has one of the friendliest, honest voices I’ve ever come across in a cookbook. Though we’re only twitter pals, I can see we’d be great kitchen buddies too.


So, what does any of this have to do with that devilish cake pictured above? Well, Allison does have a flourless chocolate cake in her book, but I had this hankering for frosting. I might rewrite my will to have a bucket of chocolate ganache buried with me to help pass the time in my afterlife.

Fresh off reading a few chapters of Allison’s book, though, I realized I didn’t need to make a 9-inch three-layer chocolate cake to satisfy my urge. A few bites would mean I could have my cake, eat it too, and not kick myself with guilt. Instead, I scaled my own recipe back by two-thirds and made a petite 6-inch, two layer cake, and only frosted the top and filled the middle. This was a huge sacrifice because the frosting slicked up the sides is my favorite part. I systematically eat my cake, saving the sides for last. I also have a method for eating gummy bears, so maybe I just have issues.


While I haven’t cooked anything from Allison’s book yet, I’ve been around enough recipes to know if they will work on read, and I have no doubt about her’s. More importantly, Allison inspired me, and that is what I, and I think most veteran cooks, look for in a cookbook.

Recipes I can create on my own, no problem.

The ability to see the way I eat and cook in a different light is what makes me giddy as a school girl these days.


Jennie’s Master (mini) Recipe for Devil’s Food Cake

makes 12 cupcakes or two 6-inch cake layers

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for coating pans

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cups milk

3 tablespoons brewed coffee

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and well combined (take a look at the pic above again).

Meanwhile whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Mix the milk, coffee and vanilla in a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.

Line cupcake tins with recycled paper muffin cups or grease two 6-inch cake pans. Place parchment circle in bottom of cake tins and dust sides of pan with additional cocoa powder.

Add the eggs to the creamed butter mixture, and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour and milk mixtures to the butter-egg combo, and mix on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds (this may take longer is using a hand mixer). Scrape down the bowl well, and beat on medium-high speed for 15 seconds more, until batter is well-mixed.

Fill cupcakes 2/3 full or evenly divide batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes and cakes for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tin or invert cakes, leaving parchment circle intact and let them finish cooling completely on the rack. This is also a good time to get started on the frosting.

Rich Chocolate Frosting

makes enough to frost one 2-layer 6-inch cake or 12 cupcakes

3 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon corn syrup

Place the chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl. Combine cream  and sugar in a small pot and heat until very hot, just before it reaches the boiling point. Pour over chocolate. Add corn syrup and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Let cool for another minute or two to use as a glaze —simply dip the cupcake tops in and decorate with sprinkles, or let cool completely, stirring occasionally to use as a thick frosting, which is better for filling and frosting layer cakes, but is divine on cupcakes too.