Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Summer Tradition is Back - Sweet Treat of the Week

Those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer are back (well, at least on the calendar they are ). While summer isn't generally thought of as the best time for baking, it's perfect for me. When summer comes I have a much looser schedule and more evenings free. There are no dance classes, no play rehearsals, and fewer commitments to anything. I can always set aside an evening to bake something.

This is my third summer of baking weekly. The first summer I just baked whatever I felt like baking. Last summer I decided to give my baking a theme. I decided to only use recipes I found on people's blogs. Baking that way was a wonderful experience. I baked things I found on the blogs I read regularly (how can I not bake from Emily's blog after all?) but my regulars led me to other blogs as well. Thanks to the blog-buddies-of-blog-buddies I discovered new blogs, new recipes, and made new blog buddies of my own.

Although I think it was a great theme, I find myself compelled to take Sweet Treat of the Week in a different direction this summer. There is something I need to do.

My brother and sister-in-law gave me this book for my birthday three years ago: Chocolate Chocolate by Lisa Yockelson. They know me well. Chocolate is, after all, one of my favorite things on earth.

This book is so big and so full of chocolate recipes, it's totally intimidating. There are many variations on your basic chocolate cake (layer cakes, cupcakes, and sheet cakes) and then several more variations on frosting. Don't even get me started on the chocolate-coconut cake variations (and the chocolate-coconuts bars and cookies, etc.). There are brownies galore and every type of bar cookie imaginable. How could I make it all? How do some of these endless cake and cookie recipes actually differ from each other?

This is my summer to find out. Each week I am going to make a recipe from this book. I've made a few things out of it in the past, so this summer I will make sure that I make something I have never made before. It's going to be hard to decide exactly what I will bake because I have so many choices, but I will force myself to choose. I will try to make a variety of cookies, cakes, brownies, and bars.

There will be one exception. Next week is my company picnic and I found the recipe I wanted to use in the annual bake off months ago. It's from the blogs rather than from a book. (Any guesses as to who's blog? It's probably not difficult.) I feel a little guilty not baking from the blogs since there have been so many good recipes out there lately, but I feel like I need to conquer this book.

So what did I make this week?

This is a Chocolate Buttermilk Cake. It's a simple sheet cake that uses unsweetened dark chocolate and cocoa in the flavoring and it has buttermilk rather than milk as the liquid. It was a childhood favorite of Yockelson's. It's a very simple cake that I fancied up by using Scharffenberger chocolate. The frosting I can only describe as a combination of fudge and buttercream. It's super rich and dense. As you can see, the frosting layer is as thick as the cake.

Would you like a closeup?

(I will be kind to the author and request you email me for the recipe rather than my stealing it and copying it here.)

The verdict? It was very popular at the office. Half my company was out of the office for a conference today, so there weren't many people around and yet they still managed to finish the large amount of cake I had brought in. I was even asked to make another one for the company picnic.

Personally, I thought it was good, but not terribly special. I'm wondering if the midnight sheet cake would be better, or the sheet cake with sour cream instead of buttermilk.

But the company picnic will be a whole different story


Donna-FFW said...

WOW!! Ive never seen frosting with such a thick layer. Lucky co-workers. Looks decadent!

The Blonde Duck said...

WHY, oh WHY am I allergic to chocolate? WUFFLE!

Cate O'Malley said...

Mmm, it's looks so moist and fudgy, my favorite kind of cake - yum!

Steph said...

I've never frosted something as thick as the cake layer! It looks really moist.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Donna and Steph - I almost think it was a bit too thick, but it was good. Some people love that thick layer of frosting and some people hate it. You never know what kind of reaction you'll get from people when you serve a cake like this.

Cate - Thanks and thanks for stopping by.

Duckie - In what way are you allergic to chocolate. It's not a common allergen. Most people who are allergic to chocolate tend to have allergic reactions to common allergens within chocolate like nuts or soy or else mistook their teenage acne for a reaction against chocolate. Do you get a serious immune reaction from eating chocolate?

Emily said...

Wow, does that look good! I like this new theme and can't wait to see what you make. I love her baking by flavor cookbook.

So you're entering this in the competition, right?

Sue said...

I want that. I want that now! You'll be receiving my email.

Peter M said...

Chocolate cake for's all the rage...really! You don't mess around when it comes to icing?

Colloquial Cook said...

No no no no no, chocolate cookbooks are NOT totally intimidating, they are friendly. In fact they are your best friend :-)