Emergency Chocolate Cake

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If you have been in touch with the news lately, you will be all to familiar with the topic of war & Syria popping up at least once per broadcast. As grim as the subject is, war brings about some good qualities. People are reminded of the precious value of life, we bond together, appreciate more, and get innovative when times are rough. Such innovation brought this little gem out of World War II. During the war, key baking items like butter and eggs were difficult to come by and even if you managed to get your hands on the stuff you certainly wouldn’t be wasting precious ingredients on a dessert that would otherwise have fed the family for days if properly rationed. So in order to crave the sweet tooth of struggling America, cooks had to come up with cakes that didn’t need the scarce stuff.

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With men at war and women out to work, cooking times had to be short and simple. Desserts like the Emergency Chocolate Cake were loved by homemakers because they were quick and convenient, given the fact that all the ingredients were items already stocked in the pantry. This caused recipes like this one to continue being made even after rationing was a part of the past. Such an easy cake has to have a catch right? For me, not so much. This cake really had a lot going for it. Sure I had to do a little tweaking to boost the chocolate flavor up to modern standards but overall it was moist and delicious. That is if you can get past the fact that the main ingredient supplying the moist, velvety texture is mayonnaise. If you loathe mayo than that is your catch.

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A good way to get past the oddball ingredient is to know what mayo is really made up of. Behind the lardy appearance is just some whipped up eggs and oil, hence why it was the perfect substitute for the scarce butter and egg of wartime. This cake is so moist, tender, and chocolaty it really shouldn’t be subjected to only emergencies. You should try it pronto, especially with how easy it is and everything is on hand already. Before you do though I have just a few quick notes to maximize your experience.

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Keep in mind that the original recipe lacked the additional chocolate and egg that is added here. I prefer this minor tweak as it makes the chocolate flavor more prominent to our modern standards and the extra egg adds just a bit of extra textural support although you certainly could do without the extra egg and chocolate as the original formula. My favorite high quality chocolate that I used was Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate but you could use any brand of chocolate but it is best if you stick to a high quality brand. If you don’t like dark chocolate you can also use semisweet or bittersweet instead. Now I chose to top this cake with confectioners’ sugar since it is simplistic like the rest of the cake, but still adds a touch of elegance and added sweetness. You can however serve this cake with some sweetened whipped cream instead. The following formula makes one 8 inch square cake.

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Emergency Chocolate Cake

 

Ingredients:

  • 7 ½ oz. (1 ½ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 7 oz. (1 cup) Granulated Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 2 oz. (½ cup) Cocoa Powder
  • 2 oz. Dark Chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1 cup Hot Coffee
  • 2/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Confectioners’ Sugar (for dusting) (optional)

 

Formula:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350º. Lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa and chocolate. Pour the hot coffee over the cocoa mixture and whisk together until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Whisk in the mayonnaise, egg, and vanilla. Stir the mayonnaise mixture into the flour mixture until combined.
  3. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top evenly. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 to 2 hours. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares in the pan or for a better presentation, turn cake out onto a serving platter, dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares to serve.

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM KEITH DRESSER

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013

 

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Chocolate Blackout Cake

 

chocolate blackout4As spring approaches here in Florida so does the increase in the number of Spring Break tourists. As I was driving home from work the past few days, I have noticed an abundance of New York State licence plates, so it is only fitting that today’s post focuses on a treat straight from Brooklyn. Chocolate Blackout Cake originated from Ebinger’s Baking Company, which opened its doors in 1898 on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. Arthur Ebinger, the creator of the first death by chocolate cake, named the confection after blackout drills conducted by the Civilian Defense Corps during World War II. As Navy ships were sent out to sea from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the streets of Brooklyn were “blacked out” to avoid silhouetting the battleships against the backdrop of Brooklyn and Manhattan. This cake is meant to resemble the blackout as it has dark chocolate layers which tower high to resemble the Manhattan skyline.

chocolate blackout5To make the cake layers dark and full of chocolate flavor, there are a few culinary tricks that are simple and totally worth it. Start with cocoa powder, and bloom it with some butter in a pan on the stove. Once bloomed, another culinary secret is added which enhances chocolate flavor… that being coffee. Perhaps the best part of all of this little process is not only am I starting the cake batter on the stove but will also finish it there, making for a quicker process, less dishes to clean later, and no messy transfers between bowls! As for the frosting…err I mean pudding (which is probably my favorite part of this whole cake as I am not a traditional frosting fan) the most important part is to ensure it has a velvety rich chocolate taste but also enough stability to cling to the sides of the cake and adhere the cake crumbs to itself. Using half & half plus milk achieves a satiny quality with a bit of sweetness which helps to prevent an over bitterness which can happen when too much chocolate is on the palate. Once the cake is completely cooled and the pudding chilled and set (be sure you allow enough time or  the cake will be gummy and the pudding will run) you can assemble the pastry equivalent of a New York City skyscraper.

chocolate blackout3After I assembled my cake, I realized that I had some extra crumbs and a generous amount of pudding. Since we are in the age of going green and I didn’t want to see any product go to waste, I decided to utilize my extra pudding and cake crumbs in a simple yet innovative way, perfect for parties or even dessert for a weeknight dinner. I shall call them, Blackout Parfaits. To make them you will need parfait glasses of your choice. I own the tall and thin variety but short and stumpy or even a shot glass would work just fine. To neatly fill the glasses, I filled a piping bag with the remaining chocolate pudding and piped it into the glass. For the topping, I used some of the extra chocolate cake layer crumbs and sprinkled them over the piped pudding. It’s as simple and quick as that!

Chocolate Blackout Cake

Ingredients:

*Chocolate Pudding*

  • 1 ¼ cups Sugar
  • ¼ cup Cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups Half & Half
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 6 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

*Cake Layers*

  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ¾ cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Coffee, brewed
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Formula:

  1. For the Pudding: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt, half & half, and milk in a saucepan set over medium heat. Add chocolate and whisk constantly until chocolate melts and mixture begins to bubble, about 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla and transfer pudding to a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. 
  2. For the Cake Layers: Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 325°. Grease two 8 in. cake pans. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Take off the heat and whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and both sugars until fully combined and sugars are dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then slowly mix in the flour mixture. 
  3. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake approximately 30-35 minutes. Cool layers in the pans for 15 minutes, then remove and finish cooling to room temperature on a wire cooling rack for at least 1 hour. To assemble the cake cut each layer in half horizontally. Crumble one cake layer into crumbs and set aside. Place one cake layer on a cardboard round and set on a decorating table. Spread a generous amount of pudding over the first cake layer then top with another cake layer. Repeat with another generous helping of pudding and top with the final cake layer. Spread pudding evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumbs evenly over the top and sides of the cake and press lightly to adhere the crumbs to the pudding. Serve or store for up to 2 days. 

Special Thanks To:

Peter Mendoros – Photography

& Jeremy Sauer

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012


Orange Drop Doughnuts

Old-fashioned drop and fry doughnuts are by far the easiest variety of the doughnut family, so why have they slipped from our modern kitchens??? Maybe it’s the advancements time has made which allowed other doughnut varieties to create more complex appearing confections, such as jelly-filled, bear claws, and crullers. However, drop doughnuts do have one thing over their yeast-raised brethren…simplicity.  The Orange Drop Doughnuts I tested have a delicate texture and are rich with orange flavor yet they didn’t take long hours to achieve.  Their simplicity alone should be reason enough why we shouldn’t completely disregard them but rather resurrect them in our kitchens to learn more about their potentials in flavor and texture.

 Let’s begin delving deeper into drop doughnuts by starting with some history on their origins. Drop doughnuts are a relative of the cake doughnut. Cake doughnuts began as an American trend, starting in the late 1800’s, when the availability of baking powder became mainstream. Cake doughnuts quickly became loved by all Americans as 19th-century cookbooks touted them easier than the rolled and stamped yeast variety. Instead of the tedious rolling and stamping required by yeast doughnuts, drop doughnuts could simply drop spoons of cake batter into hot oil. Fresh doughnuts could now be on the table for dessert or a delicious snack within a few short minutes. But it wasn’t the ease and speed that made these doughnuts so popular. That title belongs to the requests made by returning American Soldiers.

During World War I,  young female Salvation Army officers decided to bring some cheer to the American Soldiers as they fought hard in France. Using limited ingredients, they fried up doughnuts in military helmets to serve to soldiers with coffee. Often trudging through the trenches, these “Doughnut Girls” made sure doughnuts were delivered with coffee to the grateful soldiers. In World War II, the Salvation Army and American Red Cross workers served doughnuts at a rate of 400 per minute to American Soldiers. Upon returning home, the soldiers, called “Doughboys”, brought their cravings for doughnuts back with them. Soldiers raised the demand for drop doughnuts on the homefront and unlike those made in times of war, the wider variety of ingredients allowed for new flavors to be requested. Cinnamon Spice, Chocolate, and Orange became popular flavors in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Betty Crocker cookbooks and magazines began publishing numerous recipes for drop doughnuts during this period of time. Today however, little popularity remains for the drop doughnut. It’s glory days have since gone…until now.

Being a Floridian and in the land of citrus, I chose to try the Orange-flavored drop doughnuts. Most formulas call for extreme amounts of flour, milk and only a little bit of orange juice for flavor. First off, I wanted lots of orange flavor, so using only orange juice instead of milk and orange juice in the batter was key. Also added to the batter was a dash of orange extract and a heaping amount of grated orange zest. To finish off the orange flavor, the doughnuts are rolled in orange-flavored sugar. The next necessary alteration needed to the usual formula was to delete some of the massive amount of flour which creates a very dense doughnut. By adding less flour and a bit of baking powder, the doughnuts were lighter and less likely to fill up your belly faster (possibly not a good thing for waistlines). To add richer flavor without overpowering the already established orange goodness, I used some eggs and a bit of melted butter.

 As the frying began, citrus scents wafted from the kitchen and throughout the house. It was as if the windows were open during those certain times of year we have here in Florida when the blossoms on the orange trees are in full bloom and the smell of citrus fills the air near the groves. Except this was even better a scent as it was mixed with the smell of cake batter and citrus. I will add a few cautionary notes. When frying these doughnuts, be sure to use a spoon to ladle them down into the hot oil. This will prevent unnecessary splashes of hot oil and burns to precious skin. When adding the spoonfuls of batter, be sure not to overcrowd the pan. About six spoonfuls is the max. Once the doughnuts are finished cooking, they should float to the top of the oil. The easiest way to remove them is to use a slotted spoon. This helps remove excess oil and is the easiest way to scoop up the bobbing confections. Placing the cooked doughnuts on paper towels to cool helps remove the remaining oil that escaped the slotted spoon before the doughnuts are covered in the orange sugar.

Formula: Orange Drop Doughnuts

Ingredients:

Doughnuts

  • 2 qts. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Grated Orange Zest
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 tsp. Orange Extract
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted

Orange Sugar

  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Grated Orange Zest

Procedure:

  1. Heat 3 in. of vegetable oil in 4 qt. saucepan until temperature reaches 350°. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl. Whisk in orange juice, orange extract, and then butter, until well combined. Gently stir in flour mixture until combined and moistened.
  2. Using a dinner teaspoon, drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter into the preheated hot oil. Fry the doughnuts, making sure to maintain the temperature between 325° and 350°, until they are crisp and deep brown on all sides, about 3 to 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the doughnuts to a dish lined with paper towels. Let drain and cool for 5 minutes.
  3. To make the orange sugar, pulse the sugar and zest in a food processor until blended. If you do not own a food processor, you can toss the zest and sugar together in a medium bowl until blended.
  4. Once drained and cooled, add the doughnuts to the bowl of orange sugar. Toss until well coated. Repeat with remaining batter, being sure to regulate oil temperature at all times. Doughnuts are best served warm but can be stored in an airtight container.

 

Special Thanks to: The Salvation Army, The American Red Cross, & Bridget Lancaster

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011