Chocolate Fix

A while back a friend sent me a recipe by e-mail for a Dangerous Chocolate Cake in a Mug.  A very interesting recipe; “dangerous” because you are only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake.  We tried the cake-in-a-mug recipe which was done in the microwave—and found it edible, but not great.  That started me thinking about how fast most recipes made with America’s favorite food are to make.

For one thing, the microwave is very chocolate-friendly.  I gave up melting baking chocolate in the top of a double boiler years ago.  Yes, it’s true that if you over-cook the chocolate or get even a drop of water in it while it’s cooking, it will seize up and be very difficult to revive.  But the microwave method that I use keeps you right near the microwave, checking and stirring every 30 seconds.  It has always worked great for me.

But for actually baking the entire recipe in the microwave—I say you’re better off to take a few more minutes and bake it in the oven.  The prep is short for many chocolate recipes and the results greatly more satisfactory in the conventional oven.  I must admit, though, it was fun to watch the mug cake cook in the microwave; it rose up over the rim about 2-3 inches, but didn’t overflow.  It did result in a chocolaty tasting cake, but the texture was far too spongy for me.

I greatly prefer my old-time Whacky Cake recipe.  You may have made a version of this cake and called it any number of names, among them Dump Cake and Mix-It-Quick  cake.  Whatever you call it, here is an easy recipe that always turns out great.

Whacky Cake

1 ½ cups sifted flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 tsp. soda
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Cup cold water

Spray a 9x9x2” square baking pan with vegetable spray (Pam).  Sift flour, cocoa, soda, sugar and salt together right into the pan.  Make 3 indentations in the mixture with the back of a large spoon.  Into one, pour the oil, one vinegar and one vanilla. Next, pour the cold water over it all and beat and blend with a spoon or large fork until it’s nearly smooth and flour is not visible.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost with your favorite frosting.

(Note:  I tried this batter in the mug, too—and it was better than my original e-mailed recipe, but still had the spongy characteristic. If you want to try it, spray the mug with Pam and fill mug half full of batter.  Microwave 2-3 minutes until top is not wet).

It was lauded as the best news of the year when chocolate was declared a health food.  The darker the chocolate, the more of the antioxidants that make it healthy you get, calorie for calorie.  If you pair it with other health foods, such as walnuts (or any nuts) or dried fruits such as raisins or dates, you can really feel virtuous eating it (in moderation).  Here are some holiday treats that rate right up there with broccoli and spinach (well, maybe).

Walnut Brownies

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1-oz. squares baking chocolate, melted
½ cup flour
½ cup walnuts, chopped coarsely

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in mixer.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Blend in chocolate.  Stir in flour and nuts.  Bake in sprayed 8x8x2” square pan at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar.

Oatmeal Date Raisin Cookies

¾ cup flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup raisins
½ cup pitted dates, cut into small pieces
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl; set aside.  In large bowl of mixer, beat butter and both kinds of sugar until creamy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.   On low speed, beat in flour mixture, then stir in oats, raisins, dates and chocolate chips.  Using a spring-type scoop or large tablespoon, drop onto lightly greased baking sheets 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Check for over-browning.  Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.  Makes 32-40 cookies.

Here’s one more quick and easy way to have your chocolate fix:

Easy Mocha Mousse

½ lb. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
½ cup double-strength coffee
3 Tbsp. crème de cacao
2 tsp. instant coffee
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar

Melt chocolate in small saucepan with coffee.  Cool, then stir in crème de cacao and dry coffee.  Whip cream, add sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Fold in chocolate and turn into a soufflé dish.  Cover securely with foil and freeze.  Makes 6 servings.

Perhaps you can see the possibilities for the above recipe.  You could use crème de menthe in place of the crème de cocao.   You could refrigerate the mousse instead of freezing and you could definitely turn it into individual dessert dishes instead of a large soufflé dish.

If you would like the 5-minute chocolate cake-in-a-mug recipe, e-mail me.

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