Add Flair to Halloween Cakes by Starting with Cocoa

Digging around in my stack of ancient cookbooks, I ran across the  Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook. It includes a couple of great Halloween-named cakes — Devil’s Food and Black Magic cake. But before we get into the recipes, I thought it would be nice to share the substitution guidelines Hershey included in this 1979 cookbook.

For baking chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon shortening or oil equals 1 square (1 ounce) baking chocolate.

For pre-melted unsweetened chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon oil or melted shortening equals 1 envelope (1 ounce) pre-melted unsweetened chocolate.

For semi-sweet chocolate: 6 tablespoons cocoa plus 7 tablespoons sugar plus 1/4 cup shortening equals one 6-ounce package (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips or 6 squares semi-sweet chocolate.

For sweet cooking chocolate: 4 tablespoons cocoa plus 4 2/3 tablespoons sugar plus 2 2/3 tablespoons shortening equals one 4-ounce bar of sweet cooking chocolate.

Why all the fuss about cocoa? It is convenient because you can store it almost indefinitely in the pantry, even after the can has been opened. Also, you can spoon it directly into the mix of your recipe without pre-melting, which saves time and clean-up. Cocoa is also less expensive for cooking, so it’s a money saver.

Devil’s Food Cake

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1/2 cup boiling water

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Combine four, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add alternately with buttermilk to create a creamed mixture. Add boiling water and beat until smooth. Pour batter into wax paper-lined 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until done. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan and remove waxed paper. Cool completely before frosting.

(To make sour milk, use 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar plus milk to equal 1/2 cup. This is a fine substitute for buttermilk in most recipes.)

Hersheys recommends frosting your Devil’s Foood with Fluffy Vanilla frosting.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

1/2 cup butter or shortening

5 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 to 5 tablespoons milk

Cream butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining powdered sugar alternately with milk, beating to a spreading consistency. Makes 3 cups of frosting.

Black Magic Cake

1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup strong coffee

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl then add remaining ingredients. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely, then frost.

 

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