Sep 26 2011

the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world

the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world

I’ve been sharing all these fantastic birthday celebration treats and this one takes the cake (ha!) as far as ease goes. I am convinced this is the easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world. I even googled “easiest chocolate cake recipe in the world” to see what would come up and I was honestly really disappointed with the results (or pleased, I guess, because I still think I’m right).

The first recipe is from Gourmet and it calls itself “World’s Easiest Chocolate Cake” but just a quick glance at the ingredients proves that it’s not. There are not one but two kinds of chocolate that you need to chop up, there’s the butter that you also need to chop up, 2 eggs that need to be beaten, and it calls for cake flour. Now, we always have a good supply of all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and bread flour on hand because we use them all the time, but I try to avoid buying other flours unless I really need them. Even then, I try to only buy specialty flours from the bulk bins at the grocery, otherwise I find forgotten whole wheat pastry flour that’s gone rancid in the back of the cupboard months later. Anyway, all this is to say that as much as I love Gourmet and as fantastic as that recipe looks (it has bourbon in it too!) I think calling it the world’s easiest cake might be a bit of a stretch.

oil and coffee

This cake from Moosewood, on the other hand, calls for ingredients that I always have on hand. In fact, this was my go-to cake when I was in college because the ingredients are all shelf stable, so once I bought them, I could make the cake whenever I wanted to. And for that reason, it continues to be my favorite fallback recipe for any last minute potluck, dinner party, or just plain ‘ol chocolate craving. I know I won’t need to make a grocery run and it takes just a few minutes to throw it all together (it’s also known as the Six Minute Cake).

Now, if you were paying attention a minute ago, you noticed I said all the ingredients are shelf stable. Which leads us to the surprise of this cake: it’s vegan! I guarentee you, no one, absolutely no one is going to ever guess this cake isn’t full of butter and eggs and all that other good stuff. Which makes this the perfect birthday cake for my friend, Lisa, whose birthday is also in September! Lisa had been vegetarian for several years and then went vegan a few years ago. I’m incredibly impressed with her commitment to it, because honestly, I could never give up cheese and all my dairy-filled baked goods (not to mention these ribs)! This cake, however, would make that healthy lifestyle a little more doable.

easiest chocolate cake in the world

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Sep 19 2011

three layer chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

My dad’s birthday is only six days after mine and when I was growing up that meant that we always had two cakes at our big family birthday parties. There was one for  me that was usually yellow Duncan Hines with chocolate frosting and then his, which was always, always a chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting. It’s his absolute favorite, and I have to say with good reason. It is one tasty cake.

Beating Marshmallow Frosting

There was a moment of crisis one year when my mom discovered that the mix she used to make the frosting was discontinued. We looked up a recipe for marshmallow frosting (known more traditionally as seven minute frosting – read the instructions and you’ll understand why) and I volunteered to make it. What a mistake. I found myself standing over a hot stove trying to whip the whites by hand over a pot of boiling water. It took forever and I had to trade off with my mom a couple of times. It was tedious and I wasn’t so sure I wanted to sign up for that again. But you know what? That’s why I registered for an electric hand mixer.

Marshmallow Frosting on Chocolate Cake

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Sep 15 2011

peanut butter cup ice cream

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Another peanut butter and chocolate recipe? Yup, that’s because the next birthday was Joseph’s. Now, one of the very first things I learned about Joseph was his love of chocolate and raspberries together, so the obvious choice would have been the most amazing chocolate raspberry cake ever, but that is one mondo cake and I didn’t want anything that delicious and that big sitting in the kitchen tempting me. Also, his birthday was on a Tuesday and since we’d been busy the weekend before hanging out with my sister and brother-in-law, I hadn’t had any time to get anything ready ahead of time. I needed something that I could come home from work and whip up quickly so we could go out to dinner and enjoy ourselves.

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

And I know that the traditional thing to do is to bake a cake, but for some reason, ice cream just felt right.  Very close behind chocolate and raspberry, Joseph’s next favorite dessert flavor combo is chocolate and peanut butter and when I found this recipe from Recipe Girl (yes, two chocolate peanut butter recipes in a row and they are both from Recipe Girl – totally coincidental!), I knew I had found the perfect recipe.

Unlike most of the ice creams that I usually make, this ice cream is not custard-based (the French style), meaning it doesn’t have eggs. Which means you don’t have to stand over a stove stirring eggs and waiting for the perfect consistency and then cooling the mixture and getting on with making your ice cream. No. All you have to do for this recipe is mix up some milk, cream, sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla, throw it in the ice cream maker, toss in some chopped peanut butter cups, let it harden a little in the freezer, and you’re good to go. It is so EASY.

Reeses Peanut Butter Pieces

So I came home from work, whipped up the base, churned the ice cream cream while I cleaned up and wrapped Joseph’s present, finished it off with the peanut butter cups, and I was done and we were off for a lovely dinner out (sushi!). When we got home, the ice cream was waiting in the freezer, so all I had to do was scoop some out and stick a candle in his bowl.

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Sep 13 2011

chocolate chip peanut butter pound cake with peanut butter glaze

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze

Ok, so Pixelated Crumb is way overdue for a recipe and I promised you some yummy birthday celebration desserts and I’m here to deliver! August and September are busy months for Joseph and me because they’re full of birthdays of friends and family (including my own!). First up is Mark, my brother-in-law. When I think of Mark and food there are two things that I always think of: pork belly and peanut butter with chocolate. We were visiting them outside Philly right after his birthday, and I knew I had to make him something good for his birthday. Not only is he a really cool guy with an awesome sense of humor,  but he was immensely kind and helpful with all his web skills when I moved Pixelated Crumb to a self hosted site a few months ago. I owe him big time and this cake was my chance to begin to show my gratitude for all he’s done.

Creamy Peanut Butter

Dark Chocolate Chips

And since Mark loves chocolate and peanut butter, the flavor profile of his birthday treat was easy to decide on (pork belly cake just didn’t seem quite right somehow) and this cake from Recipe Girl seemed just about perfect. The cake itself really reminded me of a chewy peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, which I really loved. It’s big and dense and super delicious. I was really tempted to swap out the peanut butter glaze with a chocolate ganache glaze (that’s me, always trying to add more chocolate), but Joseph really pulled for the peanut butter glaze. I’m sure it would be fantastic with ganache, but I have to say, it the peanut butter glaze turned out to be quite a hit (there may or may not have been some fighting over who got to clean the plate off)! Continue reading