May 29, 2013

Self-Medicating with Chocolate Cake

At nearly 40-years-old I’m still trying to figure out life. Above all, I’m trying to figure out how not to be so hurt by other people’s actions. It is my ultimate weakness.

Most of the advice I’ve gotten is “let it go”  & “get over it.” That is the worse advice ever. It’s so much easier said than done. Sometimes, hurt feelings are hard to just let go. A broken heart is hard to get over, no matter how much time as passed.

I’ve had my heart broken more times than I want to think about: my mom’s early death, two failed marriages, numerous severed friendships, family abandonment, betrayal, disappointment. I often wonder if my heart will ever completely mend.

After a couple of rough, emotional weeks, a weekend spent laid up with a sprained knee, three days of sitting on the couch with too much time inside my head (that damned bell jar always hovering just above my head), much crying, overwhelming anxiety, and racking my brain to understand why people act the way they do, I had to finally DO something.

And what do I do in times of emotional crisis when nothing else works? I cook. Particularly, I cook something chocolate cake.

Because chocolate is supposed to heal a broken heart, right?

* * *

I found this recipe for “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}” on Add a Pinch. It’s the first homemade cake recipe that I’ve thought was actually perfect...tender & moist cake, rich & chocolatey flavor without being overly sweet.

It was dark and bittersweet.

Apropos for my mood lately.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting 

Makes a double-layer cake

I made a full batter recipe but used a 10-inch cake pan to make a single layer cake. I halved the frosting recipe for it.

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For the frosting:
1½ cups butter (3 sticks)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Butter & flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  • For the cake: Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl. Stir until combined well.
  • Add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes.
  • For the frosting: Add cocoa to a large bowl & whisk to remove any lumps.
  • Melt butter and pour into bowl with cocoa powder. Whisk together until well-combined.
  • Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  • Add vanilla extract and espresso powder, combine well.
  • If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

More chocolate to soothe the soul:
Bittersweet chocolate tart with pretzel crust
Chocolate bourbon creme brulee
Chocolate sorbet
Chocolate amaretti torte
Chocolate zucchini muffins
French chocolate brownies