Valentine’s Day is all about the chocolate… right?
In the middle of dreaming up delicious cupcake recipes while I should have been studying, I realized, “WHOA IT’S ALMOST VALENTINE’S DAY!” Okay, this could have been some sort of disaster really, but I remembered in the end. So I realize Valentine’s Day can be a fantastic time for rekindling love, or even celebrating it. However, I think it is a fabulous excuse for indulging in sumptuous chocolate deserts. For me, I love chocolate and strawberries, chocolate and cherries, chocolate and bananas… really the list goes on and on. I really like chocolate with everything.
I know that at least one of you has asked for a really good, moist chocolate cake recipe. And I have a delicious, no fail chocolate cake that is just perfect. I have been using this recipe for quite some time now, and it really impresses. I use it for any recipe where a chocolate cake or cupcake is required. It is also rather versatile. You can change the liquids around if need be. Another great thing about this cake is the fact that it stands up weird shaped cake pans well. It is more of a dense chocolate cake, which is why it is fantastic for weird shaped pans. Wilton’s makes a great ball shaped cake pan. My friend was making a soccer ball cake, and I recommended this recipe to her. It held up fine! So never fear, the ultimate chocolate cake recipe is here! (I am rather embarrassed by how dorky that sounded… let me reiterate: This is a fantastic chocolate cake recipe that will make you the hero of any Valentines Day get-together)
Fantastic Chocolate Cake
3 cups of packed brown sugar
1 cup of butter (or margarine), softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup baking cocoa (If I am making this for a special occasion I will use a really, really good cocoa. Or even cocoa and some melted high quality dark chocolate)
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sour cream (Most of the time I use yogurt instead because I always have it on hand)
1 1/3 cups boiling water
In a large mixing bowl cream your butter and sugar. Then, beat the creamy mixture. Add in your eggs one at a time beating extremely well after each addition. Beat the batter on a high speed until light and quite fluffy. Next, blend in the vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Now, add your dry ingredients while alternating with the sour cream into the wet ingredients. Mix this on low until combined. Don’t over beat. Stir in the boiling water until blended. Pour the batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round pans. (For the longest time I only ever had two cake pans of this size. So, I would bake two pans at a time, and then bake the third afterward) Bake for 35-45 minutes. (I realize there is a 10 minute difference in the baking time. And different pans will also take different times. I recommend testing your cake with a toothpick or cake tester after 35 minutes. If it comes out clean then take it out, if not bake for an additional 7-10 minutes and test. All ovens are different!
Before you even attempt to fill or frost these you must let them cool completely. I know it is all good and fun to get this finished as soon as possible. But really, you shouldn’t take shortcuts with this. Let the cakes COOL (Away from the hands of sneaky children, boyfriends or husbands! It is amazing how little pieces can go missing)
Now you have your choice of filling and your frosting.
A perennial favourite of mine is to make a sweetened cream cheese and spread that on the cake, topped with cherry pie filling. And then the whole cake is covered in delicious chocolate frosting with decorative cherries on top.
I also like to do the same thing as above, but using fresh pureed strawberries instead.
But this Valentine’s Day I want to do something extra special and delicious. I want to fill this cake with fresh-tasting home made banana pudding. Chocolate and bananas were meant for each other, they have the perfect relationship. Chocolate and bananas will never break up. They will continue to live in harmony forever!
Here is a no-cook, no fail banana pudding recipe. It makes quite a lot, but I make the whole thing (because I love it!)
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (or “Cool whip”)
4 bananas, sliced.
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until nice and fluffy. Beat in the condensed milk, pudding mix and cold milk. Mix in the vanilla and beat until very smooth. Fold in ½ the whipped topping. (If you were making just the pudding you would like a nice glass bowl with wafers and place the pudding on top. And then put the whipped topping on top, and then top with sliced bananas)
However, for filling I do this:
Slice the bananas and put them in the bowl. Now with your beaters or stand mixer beat the pudding and the bananas well. Now, chill the pudding. If you find the texture isn’t thick enough for a filling, mix in more of the whipped topping. (This really should stay in the fridge overnight as the bananas will lend their flavour to the pudding, but you do not have to)
Spread the pudding over the layers of the cake. I put a nice amount of it in there, to make it really taste like bananas. You could also spread the pudding without the bananas mixed in, and then place the whole sliced bananas in the middle of the cake instead.
You can then top the cake with a cream cheese frosting covered in toasted coconut, or delicious chocolate frosting.
½ cup butter or margarine
3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate.
3 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup sour cream (or yogurt)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Cool this for at least 7-10 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Now add the chocolate mixture and beat until really smooth. If this isn’t thick enough please continue to add more confectioner’s sugar. I will usually use the original recipe for most of the cake, and save some for piping (for the piping frosting I add a lot more confectioner’s sugar)
Top this with whatever you like! Make it beautiful, add your own finishing touches!
When serving this cake:
Serve a slice on a plate, drizzle the plate with chocolate sauce. Add a dollop of whipped topping or fresh whipped cream on the side. On the whipped topping add a slice of banana. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
A Happy Ending
Now if this doesn’t make your Valentine’s Day I don’t know what will?! Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! And to you single girls out there: Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about celebrating love between two people. Make it about loving yourself! Treat yourself to the things you enjoy. Have the girls over or stay in with a fantastic bubble bath. The choice is yours, just have fun and enjoy it. Everyone needs a “me-day” Ciao!