New Castle News

February 10, 2014

Culinary Conversation: It’s time for some Valentine’s Day sweetness

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — After only a few seconds of thought, I’ve come to a conclusion.

There’s isn’t anything in the food world much more wonderful than chocolate.

My love affair with chocolate began at a very young age. We were indeed a chocolate-loving family. My mother made lots of homemade brownies, and one uncle adored her three-layer chocolate cake with icing so thick that it must have been slathered on with a trowel. At Christmastime, the majority of cookies stacked neatly in boxes contained some element of chocolate.

Proof enough? I’m a chocoholic.

Studies have shown that a small bit of dark chocolate almost every day is good for you. I like those kinds of studies.

If you peek at the calendar, you know that Valentine’s Day is next week. Chocolate has always been associated with Cupid’s day and it provides an extra reason to start baking up something chocolaty.

Today, you have your pick in Culinary Conversation. There is a pudding cake, cookies, a pie and even chocolate scones.

I’ve saved the best for last. It’s the most wonderful, delicious, moist, no-crumbs-left, chocolate cake I have ever encountered, and it’s a very old recipe.

The pudding cake uses applesauce instead of oil and a reduced-calorie cake mix to lower the fat and calories.

And the double thumbprint cookies look perfect for Valentine’s Day because they are shaped into hearts.

I challenge you to share your very best chocolate recipes at Culinary Conversation. It doesn’t take Valentine’s Day to enjoy a special treat with chocolate as the star of the show.



Chocolate Pudding Cake

Nonstick cooking spray

Coat a 13x9x2-inch baking pan or 10-inch fluted tube pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Add water, thawed egg product and applesauce. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.

Spread cake batter in prepared pan. If using the 13x9x2-inch pan, sprinkle chocolate pieces atop cake batter, then sprinkle with walnuts. If using a fluted tube pan, sprinkle walnuts first and then chocolate pieces.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes for 13x9x2-inch pan or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Bake 10-inch tube pan for 45 minutes; toothpick may not come out clean. If using a 13x9x2-inch pan, cool completely on wire rack. If using a tube pan, cool 10 minutes.



Double Thumbprint Cookies

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, beat butter and oil with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until mixture is combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg substitute and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour.

Shape dough into 3⁄4-inch balls. For each cookie, on an ungreased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, place 2 dough balls side by side with sides touching. Press thumbs into each ball to form indentation in each. Press in center of each with thumb and taper bottom of each cookie with fingers to form a heart shape. Repeat with remaining dough balls, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack. While warm, fill each indentation with jam or preserves. If necessary, snip any large pieces of fruit. Cool completely.



Chocolate Pie

Preheat oven to 350.

For crust, prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Spread in the bottom of a greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden toothpick, inserted near center, comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

For filling, in a medium mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed about 4 minutes or until fluffy. Stir in melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla. Gradually add egg product, beating at low speed until combined. Then beat on medium to high speed, scraping sides of bowl about 1 minute or until light and fluffy.

Transfer filling to prepare pie plate. Cover; chill for 4 to 24 hours. To serve, spread with whipped cream and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Cut into wedges.



Double Chocolate Scones

Glaze:

Powdered sugar (optional)

In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 1⁄2 cup butter or margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients; set aside.

Combine egg yolk and yogurt, add to dry ingredients. Add chocolate pieces. Stir mixture until moistened. On a lightly floured surface, gently knead dough 10 to 2 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Roll or pat dough into a 9-inch circle; cut in 10 wedges. Place wedges 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 375 for about 18 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet; cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes..

For glaze, in a small mixing bowl, stir together the 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, milk and vanilla. Add more milk, 1⁄4 teaspoon at a time until glaze is of a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over scones; if desired, dust top with additional powdered sugar. Serve warm. Makes 10 scones.



Favorite Chocolate Cake

 Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two, 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in water. Batter will be thin. Pour batter into pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove to wire racks. Cool completely and frost.

Chocolate frosting:

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency.

Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Spread between layers and over tops and sides of cake.

(*Not all recipes have been tested.)