Archive for March 20, 2011

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake Recipe

In honor of the season finale of The Bachelor I have decided to give up my Ultimate Chocolate Cake Recipe. Why? Because it is SO (drink) AMAZING (drink)! Seriously,  I know I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, and I know I’ve promised some of you that I would eventually post the absolute best chocolate cake recipe, ever (I don’t mean to brag, but really, this one’s that good), so without further ado…. It sounds complicated, and I’ll admit there are quite a lot of steps and it’s a bit time consuming, but follow the directions and I really think you’ll enjoy the outcome. This is the culmination of years worth of frosting, filling and cake batter experimentation and a combination of several recipes—the result is a super moist, ultra chocolaty cake with a rich creamy ganache filling and the perfect buttery, sweet fudge frosting. Try it. You’ll love it.

Chocolate cake recipe

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup cocoa
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour two 8” or 9” round cake pans (or one 9×13 metal pan).

In a large bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Set some water to boil, you’ll need it at the end.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and brown sugar. Start at a slow speed to get it combined, otherwise the mixture is too dry and will fly out of the bowl. Once they are starting to cream together, turn the speed to high and beat for 3 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating on high for one minute after each egg is added.

On medium speed add a scoop of the flower mixture, mix, add a scoop of the sour cream, mix, add the vanilla and kahlua, mix… continue alternating between wet and dry ingredients until they are all combined.

On low speed mix in the ¾ cup of boiling water. Stop mixing as soon as it is combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s).

Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then run a knife along the edge of the cake to separate it from the pan and turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.


Chocolate Ganache Filling

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces of semisweet baking chocolate, broken into chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
EITHER 1 tablespoon of Kahlua OR 2-3 Tablespoons raspberry jam (your choice)

Place chunks of chocolate in a small mixing bowl.

In a small heavy-bottomed pot bring cream, butter and sugar to a boil (stir mixture as it heats so that butter is completely melted and sugar is dissolved).

As soon as the cream starts to boil remove it from the heat and pour it directly over the chocolate chunks. Cover the bowl with a plate (to trap in the heat) and allow it to sit for a few minutes.  Remove plate and stir the cream/chocolate, in one direction, until chocolate is completely melted.

Place bowl in freezer. Check every ten minutes and give it a good stir until it reaches a thick, frosting-like consistency. It will firm on the edges first, so make sure to stir the firmer edge parts into the still-soft center when you mix it.

Once it reaches the desired texture you can leave it at room temperature.

Chocolate Frosting

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
3 oz semisweet chocolate (I use Nestle’s semisweet baking bars, but others will do—DO NOT USE CHOCOLATE CHIPS)
1 1/8 cups cocoa (I use Hershey’s)
3 3/8 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
7-8 tablespoons milk

In large  mixing bowl melt butter and chocolate on HIGH in microwave for two minutes. Stir until all chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool.

Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa.

When melted butter/chocolate mixtures is room temperature begin stirring in the cocoa/sugar, roughly a half cup at a time. When it starts to get thick switch to a handheld electric mixture and alternate adding the milk, sugar/cocoa/ and vanilla until all the ingredients are combined. Add more milk a tablespoon at a time if you want the frosting to have a fluffier consistency. If you accidentally add too much milk, don’t panic, just add a tiny bit of cocoa and powdered sugar until it firms to the desired texture.


Place one layer of cake on whatever cake tray/plate/server you want to use. Spread on the ganache (it will be thick, so spread gently so you don’t shred/break the cake). Place the second layer of cake on top. Frost with the desired amount of frosting. (Note: the frosting recipe is actually a batch and a half of my original recipe, but I find this is a good amount of frosting to generously frost a cake this size and still have a little frosting left over for eating, bribing spouse/children/significant other/roommate/neighbors into doing favors, etc.)  Cover with a cake dome and store at room temperature, but not in sunlight. (If you don’t have a cake dome, strategically place toothpicks on the top and sides of cake and tent it with plastic wrap until you have the whole thing covered— the toothpicks will prevent the plastic wrap from touching the frosting.)

Eat any leftover frosting or ganache. :)


(Sometimes I have to make a double batch, which yields a large, two-layer sheet cake. Somehow it always disappears….)


The Bachelor – Season 15 – Brad, badly

Snacks served:

Pop chips


Chocolate covered strawberries

Black and white cake

M& Ms

Once again my viewing buddies were unavailable so I lured my husband to the TV with the list of available snacks. Works. Every. Time.

We’re winding down to the end of the season, so the openings are even more condensed summaries now. This week, in addition to giving us a rundown of what’s happened thus far, Brad also decided to show us all that, even without his therapist on hand, he’s very much able to identify  his myriad emotions.

Brad: “I feel so many emotions…excited, anxious, nervous…I have no clue what I’m doing…I’m SCARED (drink), really, really SCARED (drink)…I’m terrified of ending up alone.” All that makes me feel sad and think Brad needs a hug. Then he goes and ruins that sentiment by saying “I need this, badly.” Brad, sweetie, I know you’re having a rough time but I need you to stop ending sentences with adverbs, badly. Thanks. Xoxo

Brad then summarizes the remaining three women with keyword filled nutshells:

“I have a very strong CONNECTION (drink) with each of these women. “

“I’m SO (drink) comfortable with Chantal; I’m SO (drink) myself….”

With Ash…“ she has SO (drink) much to offer. There are SO (drink) many things I like about Ash”. BUT he’s not sure where her heart is… “It SCARES (drink) me a little bit.”

With Emily… “I’m myself, but a much better self” (awww)

On to South Africa… What’s it like?

It’s  “AMAZINGLY” (drink) beautiful. I’m terrified of being alone, but I’ve made a very strong CONNECTION (drink) with these women.”

The following conversation between Brad and Chantal is a keyword laced killer. I suggest teeny sips. Trust me, your liver will thank me later.

On his way to pick up Chantal Brad is “SO(drink) excited.”

Chantal doubles his enthusiasm, “I’m SO (drink) excited to see Brad, I can’t wait. He is AMAZING! (drink)”

She is absolutely shocked to find out that they are going on safari. Seriously? What did she think they were going to do in the middle of the South African wilderness? Outlet shop?  In any case, she’s excited, “Not only do I get to hang out with this AMAZING (drink), AMAZING (drink) man…we’re going on safari!”

Her awe doesn’t stop anytime soon, either.

Chantal:  “It’s AWESOME (drink)…it’s AMAZING (drink)… There are SCARY (drink) things, SCARY (drink) feelings around every corner…”

Brad asks: “Is it weird that I miss your family?” (Um, yeah, sweetie, little bit. Though I guess not surprising seeing as you fell in love with her dad and all…I’m sure he misses you, too.)

He tells her he had “SO (drink) much fun (with her family)…it’s SO (drink) funny how that relates to you.” Wait, what?

Chantal announces that the day has been AMAZING (drink), and she feels AWESOME (drink)  and tells Brad she wants to meet  the AMAZING (drink) family he talks about a lot.

Brad is happy; he feels he and Chantal have their spontaneity back. “I really missed that spontaneity, badly.” (Brad, Brad, Brad, you’re doing it again, badly.)

Brad shows Chantal to their fantasy suite…of sorts. It’s a tree house.  I know this whole season has been about walls being put up and walls coming down, but a fantasy suite with no walls whatsoever? Come on. Swarms of bugs cover the camera lens obscuring the view as they climb the stairs to their secluded yet somehow totally not private love nest. Maybe it’s me, but if I were on this show I’d be looking forward to the one opportunity where you get to actually close the door in the faces of the camera crew and spend a few uninterrupted hours talking  or playing naked Parcheesi (or whatever *cough*) without an audience. This does not seem private in that regard.  At all.

Brad sums it up by saying Chantal O is an AMAZING woman….which leads me to believe that line was taped much earlier in the season as there is even less reason to call her Chantal O now than there ever was (I repeat , Chantal and Shawntel are NOT the same name….and now that Shawntel is gone this would be a really ridiculous way to refer to Chantal.)

On to Emily…well, not literally, not yet at least (*cough*)….

Emily thanks Brad for being SO (drink) sweet.

He tells her she looks AMAZING (drink).

Emily lets Brad know that their day was SO (drink) much fun, SO (drink) romantic.

Brad says “I’m SO (drink) glad you’re having a good time, there’s SO (drink) many things I want to know.

Emily is SO (drink) excited about the idea of “you and I, and Ricky.”

Brad utters my favorite line: “I just wanna do it.”  (*cough*)

Brad’s so excited about the fantasy suite he totally forgets my aforementioned adverb-related request and he says “I want that time, I want it badly.” (I give up.)

At this point Emily tries to tell Brad how she’s feeling and she is so flustered she says the word “know” and “y’know” so many times my head is spinning. Thank God I didn’t name them as keywords for this evening or we’d all be dead by now. She finally gets the words out—she’s falling in love with Brad. Not surprising, the final three often confess their love…Hell, this season several gals said it earlier. What IS surprising? Good old to-hell-with-the-rules Brad says it back. Two weeks ago he told her she was getting a rose at the next ceremony and getting a home town date, and now he’s gone and told her he’s falling in love with her. Get out of town. Did I miss something? Have they changed the rules? And did I really really miss something, because to the best of my recollection he didn’t return the rule-breaking sentiment when talking to the other gals who have professed their love.

Moving right along…

Brad is now ready for his date with Ashley. “She makes me laugh, she makes me SO (drink) happy, I miss her, I miss her BADLY.” (:thud)

Brad says “Today is going to be SO (drink) much fun but it’s also time to fiure out what’s going on between Ash and I.”

Ashley freaks out when she sees the helicopter. Not an “oh goody, a helicopter, yay” kind of freakout—a real holy-crap-I’m-not-getting-in-that-flying-deathtrap- kinda freakout.  Very Bevinesque, if memory serves. I’m not judging, I’d have the same reaction.

Once Brad talks her into going, she settles down. Brad is relieved . “I’m SO (drink) happy, SO(drink) happy to look over and see the smile on Ashley’s face.”

The scared-to-death start to the date is actually the only part that went well. These two are not clicking.

She tells him her family loved him, which makes him “SO (drink) happy” then she tells him she wants to move closer to them…in Maine. I guess no one bothered to tell her that Brad is a busy and successful business owner in AUSTIN. (Which, incidentally, is nowhere near Maine.)

Brad’s trying to be hopeful—he thinks he and Ashley have this “incredible CONNECTION (drink)”. He walks her down a candlelit path, which looks, of course, “AMAZING!” (drink)

There’s a blurry montage of so’s as they have one of the most out of synch convos of all time….so much, so much, so  close, so much.  Ashley says her head is spinning. Mine too, babe. Seriously.

Even the fantasy suite card wants the viewers to imbibe: Welcome to the AMAZING (drink) country of South Africa.”

Brad’s excited to see that this fantasy suite has walls, but he thinks the viewing audience hasn’t been drinking quite enough and decides to remedy that for us. “On one side, I’m SO (drink) happy…on the other said I’m torn…I know I’m falling in love, I know I’m gonna have a fiancé…and SO (drink) I’m SO (drink) excited! Ashley and I from day one have had this CONNECTION (drink).”

There’s another whirlwind grouping of so’s as Brad talks things through with the ever-helpful Chris Harrison and then calls Ashley aside to let her go, badly, I mean privately.

So many thoughts…

So wholeheartedly…

So sorry

So strongly

So strong

So good

So exceptional

Ashley finds this SO (drink) surprising. Me? Not SO much. ;)

After the typical teaser about the WTA and the finale they issue the final blurb:

“The most emotional finale you’ll never see coming.”

Wait. What?

Till next week….