Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter-Spiced Chocolate Cake

I am all about the savory. Savory pies and appetizers draw me in but once in a while - chocolate comes calling like the four calling birds and I call back, "Yes, I will bake it."  And so it happened with this fudgy chocolate cake spiced with winter. Winter is here - or the meteorologists say it's coming. (Yesterday's prediction was "1-18 inches" will hit the Twin Cities Monday through Tuesday. Dear Meteorologists: How vague can you get?")

I don't do "pretty" very well - but it did come out of the bundt pan very prettily. And since pretty is as pretty does - I don't fret that my frosting efforts don't look as professional as they are in my head. (Years ago when I tried to pipe snowflakes in a Martha Stewart fashion my then young daughter soothed me with, "That's okay, Mom. She's a professional." Le sigh.)

I was pleased with the sugared cranberries. You don't need small motor skills to get those right.

The recipe comes from and I really advise you visit the blog (scroll down for English) because she makes things very, very pretty. Louise provides a lot of the ingredients in grams - some of my amounts are near-approximations.

The cake has a nice dense, chocoholic-almost-not-quite-fudge crumb and the sour cream in the batter keeps it moist for days. It's very helpful to make things ahead of time where you are expecting 36 for a Midwestern Christmas Eve dinner and then turn around and provide an Italian Christmas Day dinner. So yes, make it ahead.

It is of course perfect for Christmas - my internet was out the week before Christmas (tricky when your recipes are online) but really - there's still New Years, Valentine's Day, family celebrations and even snowstorms where this would be welcome at the table.

And it's really easy - nothing to it (until you frost the cake and find your hands consist of ten thumbs). But remembering this cake - we are ending 2015 on a chocolate cloud.

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa
1-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
1 cup sour cream
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the cocoa and spices and whisk until smooth. Add the water and remove from heat. Add the sugar, sour cream, vanilla and eggs to the cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the cocoa batter to the flour mixture and whisk until well-blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes (until firm to touch and slightly puled away from the sides of the pan). Remove from oven, cool twenty minutes. Carefully loosen cake with a knife and invert onto a large plate (really, that was the scariest part of the process. I had a caramel-apple pie ready\y-in-waiting in case it all fell apart). Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: Combine ingredients with in a large bowl with electric mixer or if your arms need a workout - by hand. Spread frosting on cake and dust with cinnamon and/or confectioners sugar. Decorate with lingonberries or cranberries.

I had two days of laughter over the holidays and three generations. It's warming and fuzzy and sweet - and exhausting!

Pino and Pippin entertained my son's cat (Puck) and my sister's cat (Murray-the-cat) for two days.

He was a wee bit Christmassed-out!

Puck is going to be a visitor for awhile. Matthew will be in Germany and after figuring out how to safely get here there, it was decided that she will stay with us for awhile. Both my family and Paul's family have a history of family members taking in our furry loved-ones while we moved around. We will continue the tradition.

Puck is tiny, and affectionate and a little sassy. Just what our fur boys need to be kept in line.

Tonight all is quiet. And we wait. For the 1-18 inches of snow that was supposed to arrive three hours ago.

The fire's lit. There's leftover Chocolate Cake. 

Just as winter should be. I hope your December has been as cozy.


Kitchen Riffs said...

How nice to have a furry visitor! Not all cats get along, but when they do, they're so much fun to watch! We've had two days straight of rain -- but the temperature was in the 50s. So no snow. Yet. :-) Lovely recipe. Happy Holidays!

Angie's Recipes said...

It must be really fun having so many cats in house :-)) The cake looks
splendid, Claudia. I really love that beautiful form.
Happy New Year!

My Little Space said...

Claudia, how are you ! I know its been a while. Life has been pretty hectic. Hope I can blog more often. I have to agree with Angie. The cake looks great. This going to be a late Christmas greeting. Hope you're going to have a fabulous New Year 2016. And may many more good things going coming your way. ((hugs))
Blessings, Kristy

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

What a beautiful cake and those ingredients are the essence of fall flavors. So nice. Hope you and yours had a blessed Christmas and little kitty too! Thanks for all your support in 2015 looking forward to another year of great friends like you to converse with in cyber space Happy New Year!

We Are Not Martha said...

I think you do pretty very well!! Love those sugared cranberries and your pretty tree :)


Ciao Chow Linda said...

I am a sucker for spicy chocolate cookies and cakes and so want to make this -- after I get rid of all the sweets still hanging around. Valentine's Day maybe? The sugared cranberries are a pretty addition - see, you DO do pretty! Your house and tree also look so inviting. And another cat? I can't wait to see all the adventures.

Marcelle said...

Your cake looked wonderful and festive! Those sugared cranberries were a beautiful touch :) I'm sure your son's kitty is loving her new home and I hope your son enjoys Germany :) Happy New Year :)

chow and chatter said...

what a lovely cake happy new year

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Love all of your cats and especially their unique names Claudia. I agree, food doesn't always have to look perfect to taste fabulous . . . but aren't sugared cranberries a pretty garnish! Wishing you and your family a wonderful new year in 2016! Thank you for your friendship throughout the years and for all of your wonderful posts!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Looks like you had a wonderful Christmas Claudia. I am smitten with your adorable cats. What joy they must bring you.

Happy New Year to you and Paul and best wishes for a safe and healthy new year.

Beth said...

Your cake looks sublime! And Canadian meteorologists aren't any more accurate than yours when predicting the weather.

Unknown said...

What a delicious sounding cake - I have copied it to make later! Thank you! Here in tropical north Queensland our meteorologist is just as bad! On Christmas day we were supposed to have flash flooding with 10inches of rain but the sun shone!