For many, many years I have loved my favorite chocolate cake recipe. But my sister Susie's is even better. This cake is awesome. It's dense, moist, perfectly chocolatey, and, I don't know, but there's just something really sophisticated and steady about this cake. It tasted as good as it did on the third day as it did on the first day. I agree with Susie. This is the
Best Chocolate Cake in the Whole Wide World
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (we used Cacao Barry Extra Brute, which she says is the best)
1 1/4 cup hot water
3 cups brown sugar
2 2/3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
9 oz. butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (warmish) water
Preheat oven to 350 F, unless you have a convection oven. I have a convection oven and we baked this at 315 F and it came out perfectly. Grease and flour (or use cocoa powder instead of flour if you aren't going to frost the sides) two 9" round baking pans, and maybe throw a few cupcake papers in some cupcake tins in case there is more batter than you need. (Note: I use this 6" x 3" cake pan for my little cakes. The baking time is almost twice as long. I slice the cake into thirds when cool.)
Mix the hot water with the cocoa powder and let it sit for a few minutes until the cocoa is dissolved. Combine the brown sugar, cake flour, baking soda, and salt — paddle (we used a Kitchen Aid mixer, but you could use a hand mixer on low) until it is all combined and looks consistent. Add the cocoa water to the dry ingredients and beat on low until combined. (Side note: She was not happy with how fast my lowest Kitchen Aid speed was — we had to put a big dish towel over the mixer to keep the batter from flying out of the bowl everywhere, so be careful.) Cut up the butter into smaller pieces and add to the batter. Paddle for about 3 minutes on low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Beat eggs lightly and mix them with the warmish water and the vanilla. Add these wet ingredients to the batter in thirds until just combined. Scrape down the bowl a lot. Pour batter in the cake pans until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 22 minutes and then check them; a toothpick poked into the center should come out clean. The cake might take 15 more minutes, but you don't want to overbake it. Let the cakes cool in their pans, then remove and frost with Cloudburst Frosting. (Please also read my notes there about this frosting; you have to beeeeeeeeeat it a lot lot.) Decorate to your heart's content! I used crazy-good fresh blackberries and mint leaves.
I also made up this soup. I almost never make up any recipes but I have to confess I was super happy with this one, and everyone else seemed to like it, too (including my brother-in-law, who ate it out of a glass dish that Andy and Susie brought to him at the bar where they were meeting after he got off work to play pinball [in his suit, unless they brought him a t-shirt, too, I don't know]. I just thought the image of him eating this in a bar was so hilarious).
Curried Potato-Shrimp Chowder
2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons good yellow curry (I use Dean and Deluca's)
Salt and pepper
1 quart chicken broth
2 ears fresh corn (you could use frozen; I'm not sure how much that would be, maybe 1 to 1 1/2 cups?)
1/2 pound fresh shrimp, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 or 2 little ripe tomatoes, peeled and de-seeded, then chopped up, just 'cause I had them
*1 can coconut milk
In a large stock pot, fry the bacon until it is crispy then remove it from the pot and let it drain on some paper towels. Pour out the bacon grease and then add the olive oil to the pot. When it's hot, add the onions, carrot, celery, and potatoes and sautee until the vegetables are starting to brown. Add the garlic and the curry powder and the salt and sautee for a few more minutes until it's really fragrant. Add the chicken broth and simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender (I like them quite tender, almost mushy). Add the corn, fresh shrimp, peas, and bacon (thanks for catching this JenW!) and simmer until the shrimp are cooked and the corn and peas are heated through. Add the basil and some chunks of fresh tomato and chow down (at the bar).
Hopefully I got these recipes right [bites nails nervously]! I get very nervous posting recipes!!!
*DRAT: I was just at the store getting ingredients to make this again and realize that I forgot to mention: We also added the thick part of one can of coconut milk, too! You could leave it out but it's really good with it in. I am really sorry I forgot about this!