Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kansas City Chocolate...Dream?

Before I get to the cake, I have a few more kitchen photos to share. Note that the kitchen is still rather a mess. This is partially due to moving, partially due to this being an "active" kitchen, and mostly due to my being, as my father so charmingly puts it, "one in a long line of bad housekeepers." Oh, well.

So you'll notice the fabulous cabinet Sami built (with the help of a certain Swedish superstore) to go over the island. I haven't optimized storage in the place yet, but it's better.

Another shot of the whole kitchen as it now looks. In about a week, I hope there will be a dishwasher under one of these cabinets! But right now there's a giant transformer under the cabinet that runs my appliances. The Cuisinart passed the test. Haven't hauled out the Kitchenaid just yet...

And another shot of my poor cookbook. I'm not sure it's going to make it out of this experience alive.

OK, on to the recipe, which we could subtitle "Kansas City Chocolate Nightmare, or Maida's Chocolate Cakes Kick Maria's Butt Once Again". (In other words, Alicia is going to love this recipe.) This is another "novelty" recipe--"Hey, cake with sauerkraut! What the hey?" "They used to make soggy pie with molasses--why not now?" and now "This fad of baking a weird liquidy cake so that it comes out with frosting on the bottom swept the nation--must be good, right?"

Let me back up and say that I took a huge risk on this recipe: I doubled it to bring to the two American Section cocktail parties we were invited to Friday night. Last year, I brought Barron's Brownies to such a gathering, and they were a huge hit. What could go wrong?

Lots of chocolate in cocoa form, but not much butter or other fat. Also, lots of water. And sugar. These are the syrup ingredients before the water went in.

You make a brownie-like batter, and then pour a hot mocha syrup over that. And then you bake it. Um, you might want to put something under that cake...

...because that syrup is going to boil over and make your kitchen/apartment smell dreadful.

And after all that, you have a rather funny-looking cake with spotty frosting. And you're going to get dressed up and bring that to some millionaire's house (actually, two separate millionaires' houses) without batting an eyelash.

I got up the courage to try this once I could build up plausible deniability. It was OK, but to me it tasted flat. It has the right texture (chewy cake and gooey frosting), but I found the frosting tasted more of flour than of chocolate. To summarize, there's not enough FAT in this cake. I found a Cook's Country recipe (from the February 2007 issue; you have to pay to see the recipe online) with twice the amount of butter, an egg yolk, and a half cup of chocolate chips. That would most likely taste better.

But here's the recipe. Don't expect to make your reputation as a baker with it.

Kansas City Chocolate Dream

1 c. (4 oz.) sifted flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 T. (0.4 oz.) cocoa powder
2/3 c. (4.5 oz.) sugar
3/4 c. (6 oz.) milk--I recommend whole milk here
1 t. vanilla
2 T. (1 oz.) melted butter
1/2 c. (2 oz.) chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350. Butter an 8-inch square pan. Consider putting it on a foil-lined baking sheet--just saying. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar into a mixing bowl (I recommend actually sifting here because both cocoa powder and baking powder tend to make unappetizing lumps). Add the milk, vanilla, and melted butter and beat, by hand or with a mixer, until light and smooth. Stir in the walnuts and then turn into the prepared pan. Don't put it in the oven yet--make the syrup first:

1/3 c. (2.3 oz.) sugar
6 T. (1.1 oz.) cocoa powder
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) brown sugar
2 t. instant coffee or espresso
1 c. water

Put all of these in a saucepan and bring them to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugars and cocoa. No reason you couldn't also do this in a large Pyrex container in the microwave. While this is still boiling, carefully pour it over the cake batter. You'll have a nasty-looking mess. Carefully put that in the oven (preferably on a foil-lined cookie sheet) and bake for 40 minutes (although my kitchen was smoking and the cake was very done after just 25--and yes, I have an oven thermometer that read exactly 350) until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan. Then put a plate on top of the cake pan and flip it upside down. The cake won't come out, and you'll tap on the pan a whole bunch. Finally, you'll use a rubber scraper to dislodge the cake and frosting. Do your best to swirl the frosting around and make this pretty. Serve anonymously.

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