My sister and her sister-in-law, Jessie, came for a short visit, so I wanted to make something special for them—something I was sure they would like even though I’d never made it before. In perusing Jo Hiestand’s Cider, Swords & Straw, celebrating British customs cookbook, I found two recipes I had to make: Midnight Chocolate Cake (pp.360-361) and Eggnog Cranberry Tea Bread (p 368). As expected, they were both great hits.
My altered recipes are below, but go to Jo’s cookbook (http://www.johiestand.com/) for the original recipes and for more information on fall British customs—as well as her intriguing British mystery series.
Midnight Chocolate Cake
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup emmer flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cup almond milk
¾ cup butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (made with brandy)
2 large eggs, separated, preferably at room temperature
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup water
2 sticks butter, softened
2 square unsweetened chocolate; melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
[your favorite chocolate butter frosting—I used the one on Hersey’s cocoa can]
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease 2-9 inch round cake pans; coat lightly with flour.
— In large bowl, combine dry ingredients: flours, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking poweder, and salt.
— Mix almond milk, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter.
— Blend wet ingredients in with dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
— Pour into cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of cakes comes out clean.
— Set on wire racks for 15 minutes; remove pans and allow to cool on wire racks.
— Wrap cakes in saran wrap then tin foil and put in freezer over night or at least for a couple of hours
— After frozen cut each cake into 2 horizontal layers- this is much easier after the cake is frozen. However, you can skip freezing the cake and simply slice each one into 2 horizontal layers, the freezing just make this part easier.
— You now have 4 cake layers.
— In electric mixer bowl, beat egg whites to peaks
— Gradually sprinkle in ¼ cup powdered sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved and white stand in stiff peaks.
— Melt butter with chocolate together in microwave, stir well. Let cool slightly
— In a separate bowl, gradually mix remaining sugar with egg yolks, water, butter, melted chocolate and vanilla.
— Fold in egg white mixture, using rubber spatula.
— Spread the filling between the cake layers. I felt the need to use 3 toothpicks to hold the layers in place because I didn’t make the cake surface flat. That is, I forgot to slice off the slight dome that forms with a cake bakes; having a nice flat surface on each side of the cake makes for a more symmetrical final presentation.
— Frost the entire outside of the cake with your chosen chocolate frosting.
Enjoy with ice cream or whipped cream along side of slice of cake.
Eggnog Cranberry Tea Bread
I pretty much followed Jo’s recipe for this fun spoon bread. The only changes I made were the substitution of
- 1 ¼ cup emmer flour for the all-purpose flour and
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour for the whole wheat flour.
Also, after the 45 minutes of baking time recommended, my bread was still so unbaked that I added another 23 minutes and increased the temperature to 375 degrees. Your oven may vary, just be sure to use a toothpick to poke into the center of the bread when you think it’s done. The toothpick should come out clean.
ENJOY! We all need a special dessert or sweet bread at some time. Try these, you’ll be happy you did.