MOIST Chocolate Layer Cake with Buttery Mocha Frosting (& Story of My Daughter’s Unforgettable Birth)

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Today is my daughter’s 30th birthday!  Sadly, Rachel lives too far away to celebrate with in person  today (she is in Texas,  and I am in Colorado). So I’ve had to make do with texts, Facebook posts, emails,  phone calls, Twitter and now, a blog in her honor!

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I have great stories about each of my children’s entrances into the world, but Rachel’s birth story wins the Most Exciting Award, hands down.

She was born three days after Christmas.  From December 23 to December 28, I  was the proverbial pot waiting to boil, only in my case my visiting family  was waiting for me to give birth.  It was the coldest winter on record in Texas and ice had frozen inside the windows.  After enjoying my two sons who were age 3 and 5, I could not help dreaming of a baby girl.  Ultrasound pictures were rare in those days, so we did not know the sex ahead of time.

Because my previous home births had involved long painful labors, when I woke up with contractions this third time around, they weren’t terribly painful.  So I decided to just lie still, on my side,  in the peaceful darkness and labor quietly by the light of the Christmas tree.  I didn’t want to wake my husband, parents or sister who were visiting us over the holidays, until I was sure I needed help.  This plan went surprisingly well, until I felt something like the urge to push.

I decided to wake up my husband with this news.  His eyes grew large as he announced, “Becky, I see the baby’s head!”  This set off a Three Ring Circus with my Dad manning the wall phone in the kitchen talking to the midwife, then shouting directions to my mother who was standing in the living room, who relayed them to my then-husband standing at the end of my bed, like a baseball catcher. My college-aged, organized little sister, who is not fond of feeling out of control was, I believe, hiding in the guestroom taking notes in her journal under“Things I Must Never Ever Do.”

The ice on the highways was so thick, and I’d waited so long to sound the “Baby is Coming!” alarm, that the midwife could not possibly get there before the baby’s entrance.  Rachel slipped into the world and soon, into my arms, fairly easily.  However, she was not breathing on her own, so I reached into our “Home Birth Kit”,  grabbed a suctioning bulb and went to work.  It wasn’t long before she took her first beautiful breath. We looked in each other’s eyes and made friends immediately. I named her Rachel Praise, after my sister Rachel.  Interestingly, the two Rachels in our family both prefer less-crazy, less-messy lives than I’ve lived. Lives where they keep schedules, know what day it is, give birth in hospitals and don’t mind “bothering” other people when they go into labor.  However, all three of us love to laugh and ended up writing books of family humor.  (My sister’s latest is The Well-Lived Laugh –ebook download is just $1.00 this week,  and ours is We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.)

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As soon as I could stand and walk, I scooped up my new daughter and headed to a store, with her big brothers dressed in cowboy boots and hats trailing behind. I walked in and bought 3 lacy bonnets. Before the days of hair bows on stretch lace, it was a frilly bonnet that would say to the world, “Baby GIRL here!” and I wanted the world to know my beautiful newborn was a SHE.

Besides remembering the story of Rachel’s birth (as I do every year on this day in some way),  I decided to have a piece of this incredibly moist and buttery, made-from-scratch homemade chocolate cake in her honor.  In fact, I had it for breakfast… because these are the kinds of sacrifices mothers make for their birthday girls.

This cake is a variation of the famous recipe on the back of Hershey’s Cocoa.  The frosting is extra rich, soft and fluffy – made with lots butter and melted chocolate.

 You are most welcome to join us in celebrating Rachel’s birthday today by whipping up this cake.  Then stand back and watch people swoon.  Seriously it is the kind of chocolate cake that provokes moans not unlike those of Meg Ryan’s in the movie,”When Harry Met Sally”.

Happy Birthday, Dear Rachel!  I am so glad you were born.  So proud of you as a wife and mother.  So thrilled that we got to write a blog and book together this year.  So many good things have happened in the world, because you were born.

 Now, let’s eat cake!

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MOIST, Chocolate Layer Cake with Buttery Mocha Frosting

Ingredients (Adjusted for High Altitude,  See “Normal Altitude*” measurement adjustments below)

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons sugar*

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa

1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder*

1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda*

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk*

1/2 cup light oil such as sunflower, canola or light olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water mixed with 1 T. instant coffee (or 1 cup strong hot coffee, brewed)

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F.

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.  I use Pam spray.  Then cut a circle of wax or parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan.  Re-spray the top of parchment with Pam lightly.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Carefully, stir in hot coffee, with the mixer on low, or use a hand whisk.  The batter will be very thin. Pour batter evenly  into prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with fluffy mocha frosting.

  • Normal Altitude Measurements:  2 cups sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup milk
  • Vegans: substitute milk with soy or almond milk; use Earth Balance Butter Sticks in place of dairy butter, and Ener-G Egg replacer for eggs.

Buttery Mocha Frosting

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or morsels  (Vegans use dairy-free chocolate chips)
1 cup  (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (really important this be at room temp)  (Vegans use Earth balance butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 – 5  Tablespoons Strong coffee, cooled

Carefully melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or use the microwave but watch carefully, only nuking 10 seconds at a time, just until you can stir it smoothly.

Beat the butter until it is light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, the melted chocolate,  and then add one tablespoon of coffee at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy and will spread easily, but don’t whip it.  Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

This cake is best served at room temperature.    If I make it a day ahead, I put it in the fridge and then let the cake sit at room temperature for several hours so the frosting will soften up to serve the next day. My favorite way to handle leftovers (if there are any) is to cut slices and wrap them individually, very well,  in plastic wrap.  Then when I want a piece, I unwrap it and put it on a place, and microwave it about 15 seconds to soften.

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Double Chocolate Veggie Nut Bread (Zucchini, Carrots & Applesauce)

  • huevos rancheros, choc veggie bread 033(Becky, the Mama.)

Yes, you can have your moist, dark, chocolate cake-bread, and enjoy your health, too!

This recipe began stewing in my mind when my sister-in-law Gail came to visit.  Every morning, without fail, she has the same breakfast: a chocolate chip chocolate muffin and a Starbuck’s frappucinno.  I am not a big fan of breakfast foods, in general, but those double chocolate muffins …. oh man, they looked and smelled and tasted soooo good!

Since Gail’s muffin’ lovin’ visit,  I’ve been in search of a moist, super chocolately bread or muffin that I can feel good about eating, even for breakfast.  I came across a Cooking Light recipe for chocolate zucchini bread that used squash and applesauce to substitute for most of the oil. It was quite moist and… pretty okay, but a “fer piece” (as they say in Texas) from that perfect dark, rich, chocolately bite I was looking for.

So I started tweaking and baking like one of those OCD chefs from America’s Test Kitchens.  By the time I was done, I’d changed every ingredient and added more, and made the recipe entirely my own. I don’t like the taste of baking soda so I switched to baking powder. It wasn’t chocolately enough so I used dark Hershey’s cocoa, added ¼ cup Hershey’s syrup and doubled the chocolate chips. I added a cup of chopped walnuts.  I substituted ½ the zucchini for grated carrots because that’s what I had in the fridge.  (Actually I just put all the veggies in the food processor and whirled them.I’ve no patience for hand-grating veggies and I value my knuckles.)

When the finished loaf came out of the oven, fragrant with rich chocolate aromas, I took one bite and said, “Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”  Chocoholics rejoice! You have seriously got to try this recipe to believe how good it is.  No one will suspect it has 1 ½ cups of veggies and 1 cup of applesauce & only 3 T. of oil and ¾ cup sugar – in two loaves.

Valentine’s Day is coming up and this would make a fun breakfast or snack or dessert for yourself or your kids or your Honey Pie.  Just garnish it with a few heart shaped strawberry slices and serve it with all the love in your heart. 

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Double Chocolate Veggie-Nut Bread

Creaming Ingredients

¾ c. organic sugar

3 T. olive or canola oil

2 large eggs

¼ c. Hershey’s chocolate syrup

1 t. vanilla

 

Sifted Dry Ingredients

2 cups unbleached or whole wheat white flour

2 T. Hershey’s dark cocoa powder (you can use regular cocoa as well, just won’t be quite as dark a loaf)

3 T. plus 1 t. baking powder

½ t. cinnamon (more if you like a stronger cinnamon punch)

½ t. salt

 

The Goodies!

¾ cup grated or ground squash, any kind (zucchini, yellow, butternut, pumpkin….)

1 c. applesauce

¾ cup grated or ground carrots

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 T. flour

Directions:

Using a mixer cream all the “creaming ingredients” together until eggs are very well beaten and mixture is smooth.   Sift together all the ingredients from the “Sifted Dry Ingredients” list.  Use food processor to grind/process carrots and squash, or grate them by hand.   Alternate adding squash-carrot mixture and sifted dry ingredients to mixing bowl.   Mix until well incorporated.  Put chocolate chips and chopped walnuts in a small bowl and toss with 2 T. flour (this helps them not fall to the bottom of your bread, keeps them floating evenly throughout the loaf).  Stir these final goodies into the batter, by hand.

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(In the picture at top above, I had frozen grated yellow squash and zuchinni from the night before, and just tossed it back in food processor with a couple of large carrots. Next pic is batter awaiting the bowl of floured walnuts and chocolate chips.  Finally my super-long bread pan, found at an estate sale.)

Pour batter into two well greased and floured loaf pans.  (Note: I baked my bread in one super-long baker’s loaf pan, a find at an estate sale.  But I’ve never seen another bread pan like it, so just use two regular bread pans instead.)

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Bake at 350 for 55 minutes. Let cool to warm and carefully run sharp knife around edge to loosen and remove from pan.  Let cool some more and then slice with a sharp serrated knife to serve. After first day, store in fridge (otherwise the moist veggies and fruit could start fermenting)  and either nuke for a second or heat slices in skillet with a little butter.

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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Double Chocolate Veggie Nut Bread

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Tu

 

 

 


Pineapple Coconut Cloud Cake

Granny’s Pineapple Coconut Cloud Cake

(Becky, the Mama)

My mother, whom my kids and grandchildren call “Granny,” discovered and whipped up this low fat, low calorie light-as-a-cloud cake one summer to rave reviews. It was love at first bite – for those watching their waistlines, and for those who had no need or desire to do so. What our family couldn’t believe, when Mother shared the recipe, was how ridiculously easy it is to make. The cake itself is only two ingredients: an angel food cake mix and a large can of crushed pineapple. Stirred together with nothing but a whisk or a spoon.  Honestly, a toddler can make this cake. And many a tiny grandchild has sat on my kitchen counter and done just that!

Because it is so easy with so few ingredients,  it is perfect for vacation, condo, or beach house cooking.  Today was foggy, damp and chilly at the beach where we are vacationing in Oregon, so it seemed the perfect time to bake a cake indoors.  As I was setting up a spot outside on the porch where I wanted to photograph the cake after it was made,  I looked up and saw this face in the window.  If you can’t read Little Boy Facial Expressions, let me interpret:  “Nonny, I’m ready for cake!”

Someone is eagerly watching his Nonny arrange the cake through the window!

I motioned to my grandson Georgie to come out on the porch where he helped me arrange sand dollars around the cake, then looked on admiringly at our handiwork.

George is more than ready to EAT his piece o’ cake after helping me decorate around it.

Finally time to eat cake!  And all declared it worth the wait and helping cheer us until the sun comes out again!

Granny’s Pineapple Coconut Cloud Cake

 

Serves 12

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

1 Angel Food Cake Mix

1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple

3 cups whipped topping (My mom loves Dream Whip which she makes from a box.  I’m a real cow’s whipping cream kind of a girl. Cool Whip is the most convenient for occasions when there may not be a mixer handy.  (Coconut milk whipping cream is also great… use the fat that floats from the top of two cans of full fat coconut milk and whip,  then sweeten just as you do whipping cream.)

Shredded Coconut (about 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top)

Optional: Toasted, sliced almonds

Directions:

In a big bowl stir or whisk together one box of angel food cake mix and large can of crushed pineapple with juice.

Pour into a large rectangle ungreased pan.

Smooth fluffy batter in a big rectangle pan

Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

To cool, turn the cake upside down propping up on 4 cans or cups of equal height, at corners.

Prop angel food cake upside down on 4 cups or cans of equal height

When completely cool, frost cake with whipped cream or topping, garnish with flaked coconut. (If desired, toasted sliced almonds may also be used.)

Serve and enjoy. Keep in fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Pineapple Coconut Cloud Cake

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-x2

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake (Vegan-Friendly)

Moist and rich Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake

When my little sister  (also named Rachel — my daughter is her namesake) was about eight years old, she went along with my mother to visit a little girl from church who was in the hospital.  (The child had been very ill, but was on the mend and would have a full recovery.)  Apparently the child looked painfully thin to my sister, because Rachel took one look at her then announced to my mother and all standing around the sick bed, “They just need to give that girl some CAKE!”

From that day forward, whenever anyone announced they were feeling poorly, someone in my family would inevitably advise, “All you need is some CAKE!”

I can see why my little sister thought cake would cure anything that ailed a body.  My mother was a champion cake-baker back in the 70’s before she had to get serious about cutting out sugar for her health.  Most Saturdays would find her frosting a homemade coconut or Italian Creme or carrot cake.  We kids would salivate around the kitchen counter in anticipation.  We would eat the cake in small slivers, because our theory was that three thin slices had less calories than one thick slice.

One of the cakes Mother made frequently was called Wacky Cake (some call it Depression Cake) because the ingredients were always on hand (it does not have any milk, butter or eggs) and you simply stir it up in a bowl (no mixer). You don’t even have to grease the pan.  My brother always requested this cake for his birthday with a simple vanilla icing.

My husband had out-patient surgery this morning,  and after I made him a healthy vegetable stew,  I remembered my sister’s advice and decided give him some cake!  In searching for vegan-friendly desserts for Mother’s Day this weekend, I remembered Mom’s old stand-by, Wacky Cake.  My favorite cake is German Chocolate so I created a vegan-friendly  coconut-“butter”-almond  frosting for this cake, but used chopped almonds instead, to give it a bit more crunch.  Success!!  Though I cannot claim that this cake is healthy,  it is delicious, and it is vegan.  I couldn’t resist eating a piece of it while still warm, moist and falling apart.  Heavenly.   If you have vegans in your family, or anyone who cannot eat dairy or eggs, this is a wonderful recipe for a special occasion,  and both the cake and the frosting are super easy.

Warm Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake (Vegan)

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 c. chopped almonds (I used food processor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix flour, sugar, and cocoa powder and baking soda with a wire whisk. All the rest of the ingredients and whisk again. Pour in an ungreased 9 by 11 inch pan.  Spread evenly. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. (The almonds on top will naturally “toast” and give the cake a delightful extra layer of crunch under the frosting.)

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until wooden pick comes out clean.  While cake is baking, make frosting below.  While cake is warm prick all over with a fork and pour frosting over all.

Coconut Almond Icing

1/2 cup organic coconut milk  (If the coconut milk has separated in the can, use mostly the cream that rises to the top of the can.)

1/3 c. Earth Balance butter

1/2 cup organic sugar

3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

1/2 c. chopped almonds

Mix all of the above, except coconut and almonds,  together in a saucepan. Bring to boil and while stirring,  boil for a full minute. Take off heat.  Add coconut and almonds. Pour over cake and spread evenly.  Serve warm, room temp or cold!  It is delicious anyway you slice and serve it.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title:  Chocolate Coconut Almond Cake (Vegan Friendly)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-hJ

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