Depression-Era Dark Chocolate Cake

depression-era chocolate cake with whipped cream

This recipe dates back to the Great Depression, when resources were scarce and thrift was a way of life. It has gone by several names— “Crazy Cake,” “Wacky Cake,” and a few others. It’s a cake is made without eggs, milk, or butter. The ingredients list is full of pantry items, and cocoa is used instead of baking chocolate. You’d expect this cake to be dryer or denser than a normal chocolate cake. But it isn’t. It’s moist with a perfectly soft crumb.

sweetened whipped cream

This is my favorite chocolate cake. I love this cake because it is un-fussy. It can go from mixing bowl to oven to table in under an hour, served warm or cool. And I’ve never gotten a single complaint about flavor or texture. In fact, it’s one of my favorite no-fail chocolate cakes. And it improves after a day or two in the fridge. Since it keeps, it can be made ahead, or can be made in a larger batch to keep in the fridge. Wrap it in cling wrap, making sure the plastic is touching any cut edges. Simple toppings like whipped cream and fresh fruit go far, and frosting is definitely optional (but never discouraged).

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Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, from Cook's Illustrated/ America's Test Kitchen

It should come as no surprise that these cookies are featured in my first blog post. These are the cookies that I have been making for years, regularly and often, sometimes for myself and sometimes to fill requests from friends and family members. This is a recipe that I swear by. Sometimes I even keep a little extra cookie dough in the freezer, for those chocolate-chip-cookie-craving emergencies.

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated, and the title is theirs: “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.” And, if you ask me, they are.

Browned butter brings depth of flavor to these cookies. The aroma alone is incredible. The dough is sweet, but balanced by a touch of salt and high-quality semisweet chocolate chips. And while the recipe may have a few more steps than the typical cookie, the ingredients are ones you’ll probably have at home, and the few extra minutes of work are worth it.

Last weekend, the Bay Area was hit with some pouring rain. Rain was much-needed after months of drought, but after a few days of drizzle, the gloom set in. This was the view from my kitchen window:
rainy northern california weather

To make the most of the weather, I went on a rainy-day walk. These cookies made the perfect snack after. I mailed a few to my little sister for Valentine’s Day, and she loved them, too.

Keep reading for the recipe:

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