Friday, February 09, 2007

How Do I Love Thee?... As a Do Gooder

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! I love the stuff. There are so many forms of it to love. There is milk chocolate and cocoa powder, there is Baker's German's Sweet which makes such a yummy German Chocolate Cake with coconut, there is semisweet, bittersweet and unsweetened with deep, dark flavors. The semisweet even comes as chips famous for Toll House cookies. There is white chocolate and even chocolate syrup. So many ways to love chocolate Probably more than today's nine if you count all the variations like those flavored with mint or hazelnuts or raspberry. Yum!

So how does chocolate tie in with do gooders? Well, one of my favorite do gooders is Sweetie. He is a director on the local fire board and used to coach soccer. I happen to think that do gooders are great! Then there is my good friend Heidi. She has been active in the community of at least 25 years, serving on school boards, hospital foundation boards, community service boards, and the local open space board to name some of them.

We're going to dinner at her house and I'm bringing one of my favorite chocolate recipes: 86 Proof Chocolate Cake. Don't you just love the name? It's from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts and is a dense, moist, deeply chocolate cake baked in a bundt pan. It travels well and always gets eaten first at pot lucks. It also makes cute cupcakes and mini-cakes.

A month ago I helped to make some in star shaped mini-cake pans for a luncheon of another do gooder organization, P.E.O. This organization has been giving scholarships and loans for over a hundred years to help women reach their dreams through education. The mini-cakes were so cute with pink roses and silver and gold dragees and pink drizzled glaze. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures.

So this is a great cake for do-gooders and everyone else if you really, really like chocolate. The booze? Well, most of the alcohol cooks away in the baking, but the smokey taste (in this case of bourbon) enhances the chocolate. You can use any favorite. Irish whiskey is great for St. Patrick's Day in March. After all, St. Patrick was a do gooder in some people's opinion.

86-Proof Chocolate Cake

dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup dry instant coffee or espresso
Boiling water
Cold water
½ cup bourbon (or Irish whiskey, scotch, rum, cognac, Amaretto, etc.)
½ lb. (2 sticks0 sweet butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
3 eggs (large or extra large)
Optional: confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degres F after putting oven rack 1/3 up from bottom. Butter a 10 cup capacity Bundt or other fancy tube pan. Dust the whole inside with fine, dry bread crumbs that have been mixed with a teaspoon of cocoa powder. Invert pan over a piece of paper and tap lightly to shake out excess crumbs. Set the pan aside.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on low heat (or microwave one minute at a time at half power, stir, continue until melted and smooth). When melted, set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup dissolve the coffee in a bit of boiling water. Add cold water to the 1 ½ cup line. Add the bourbon. Set aside.

Cream the butter in a large mixer bowl. Add the vanilla and sugar and beat to mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the chocolate and beat until smooth. Scrape bowl and beaters often.

Then, on low speed, alternately add the sifted dry ingredients in 3 additions with the liquids in 2 additions, add the liquids very gradually to avoid splashing. Continue to scrape bowl and beaters often.

Pour into the prepared pan. Level the top. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or 15 minutes until a tester in the middle of the cake comes out clean and dry.

Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then cover with a rack and invert. Remove the pan, sprinkle the cake with a bit of optional bourbon if desired, and let cool.

Move to a serving plate and sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar through a fine strainer if desire.

Cake is wonderful as is or can be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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