Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Miss me yesterday? Normally I post on Wednesdays and join a bunch of blog parties… but I decided to switch things up. Typically, today I would be be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. But… the challenge ingredients didn’t work well with our current dietary habits so I decided to skip out this month. You should stop by and check out the challenge though, there are, as usual, some delicious and fantastic recipes posted!

Today, I’d like to wish my wonderful, loving, best friend and boyfriend Bryan a very Happy Birthday!

Bryan — Thank you for being so wonderful! … and eating all my failed attempts at baking your favourite cake. Love you immensely!

To celebrate his birthday I’ll be making yet another attempt at making his absolute all-time favourite cake (His mom’s recipe). The pictures come from my last, and most successful, attempt at making the cake so far. My brother and I served the cake at a birthday lunch we hosted for Nana back in August. The cake went over really well despite the fudgy texture.

Nana, her sisters, and my brother Matt getting ready to enjoy their chocolate cake! (For Nana’s birthday gift, Matt and I hosted a lunch for these lovely ladies. They all loved it and had a wonderful afternoon!)

The recipe may look simple enough. But you see, I’m a terrible baker. It never seems to come out right.

At first, I tried to make the recipe, but changing some of the directions (I tried to melt/boil ingredients on the stove-top instead of in the microwave). I tried to fiddle with the ingredients (using only lard instead of adding some butter and vice versa). Less sugar maybe? Usually I get the cake right. It should be fluffy (not fudgy, which is what happened last time). The frosting is generally the tough part. It frequently comes out soupy (it should be thick). What I’ve learned… mother knows best when it comes to her own recipe! Stick to it.

What makes this cake so amazing? It’s chocolately (cake and frosting). It’s fluffy. It’s oh so sweet. And when Bryan’s mom makes it, it’s one of my absolute favourite desserts. But most important, this cake reminds me of Bryan’s wonderful and welcoming family and my trips to New Mexico.

Bryan’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar  – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.60
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup lard (Crisco)  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 milk added to 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice)  – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 eggs  – approximate cost $0.50

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine  – approximate cost $0.50
  • 6 tablespoons milk  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 pound or 454 grams icing sugar  – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup chopped pecans  – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the cake batter.
    1. Stir together sugar, flour, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Bring butter (or margarine), lard, cocoa, and water to a boil. (NOTE: Bryan’s mom melts the ingredients in the microwave. She also notes that she uses margarine and butter-flavoured Crisco sticks. I melt the ingredients in a pot on the stove. I have used butter and a generic brand of lard)
    3. Stir butter mixture well.
    4. Slowly add the dry flour mixture to the butter mixture.
    5. Mix well using an electric mixer.
    6. Slowly add (while continuing to mix):
    7. Buttermilk (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that you can use milk added to one-half tablespoon of lemon juice as a substitute — I use this recommendation)
    8. Vanilla
    9. Eggs (NOTE: Bryan’s mom notes that she uses one-half cup of egg beaters)
    10. Bake in 11×13 oblong pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Prepare the frosting.
    1. Bring butter or margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil in the microwave. (NOTE: For whatever reason, this direction is a must! I’ve tried melting these ingredients in a pot on the stove many times. Each attempt was unsuccessful, resulting in a liquidy frosting that never stuck to the cake. Use the microwave and the frosting will turn out thick every time.
    2. Mix well with electric mixer.
    3. Add icing sugar, vanilla and chopped pecans.
    4. Mix well with electric mixer.
  4. Pour icing over HOT cake.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 15 servings (approximate cost: $0.52 per serving).

Belated Valentine’s Day Post

Valentine’s Day was as fantastic as we planned. Not everything went according to plan (I made numerous last minute changes to our menu), but we had a wonderful evening together nonetheless. The evening began with a romantic round of Super Smash Brothers Brawl in which we battled our favourite video game characters for an hour or so while dinner was cooking. We played on a team against two computer-controlled characters. See… we did something co-operative, that’s romantic and coupley, right? Whether or not this is your ideal way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we very much enjoyed the night in together, away from overly-crowded restaurants and prices that make us think we might need to drop out of school to pay for our dinner (Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit about the price of eating out once in a while).

The dinner, however, was one to remember for a while. Rib-eye steaks, roasted potatoes and carrots, and asparagus with a miso sauce. By the time we got half way through dinner, we decided that dessert (red velvet cheesecake) would have to wait until another day.

Rib-eye steaks au jus

These were some of the best steaks we have ever had at home. We don’t have a barbecue, so we tend to avoid making steak at home and prefer to enjoy it when visiting friends and family. The steaks were a bit on the expensive side, but I don’t regret splurging on an occasion! Also, the steaks were large enough that we enjoyed them over two meals.

The au jus recipe is adapted from a recipe at Steamy Kitchen. Despite making a few changes… it was so flavourful! I enjoyed the au jus more so that that which you would get at a typical pub. I wish I made more. For dipping with bread. For hot beef sandwiches. One of us may or may not have licked our plate clean before cleaning up the meal. I want more…

Ingredients

  • 2 rib-eye steaks (bone in) – approximate cost $12.00
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 carrots, sliced into quarters – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 whole head garlic, broken into quaters (leave the skin on) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/4 cup of butter– approximate cost $.63
  • 1/2 cup red wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 cup water

Method

  1. Freeze the steaks (Yes, seriously, I was trying out a tip from The Kitchn).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Heat butter in a frying pan and sear the frozen steaks (approximately 4 minutes per side).
  4. Combine beef bouillon and water in a bowl, stir until well-combined.
  5. In a large roasting pan, combine seared steaks, onion, carrots, garlic, and beef bouillon mixture.
  6. Bake for 1 hour (steaks will be medium to medium-well)
  7. Remove steaks to a cutting board and let stand while you prepare the jus.
  8. Strain the roast mixture into a pot, discarding the vegetables and keeping the liquid.
  9. Heat until the liquid boils and add the red wine.
  10. Boil jus mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  11. Pour jus over steaks and serve.
Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $4.47 per serving).

Potatoes and carrots roasted with thyme

Yummy, yummy, yummy! These roasted vegetables were great as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 10 small red potatoes, halved – approximate cost $2.00
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a 9×13 roasting pan.
  3. Toss until the potatoes and carrots are well coated with thyme, sea salt, and oil.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the vegetables once after about 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $0.99 per serving).

Asparagus with miso sauce

Another recipe I am saving. I’ll be making this again when asparagus is in season in June. There’s nothing like buying asparagus fresh from a local farm. It is one of my very favourite vegetables.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.34 per serving).

Red velvet cheesecake

This cheesecake is very sweet and very rich. I had three bites and that was enough for me. Bryan’s first words after taking a bite were “Mmmmm this is fantastic!” If you like cheesecake and sweets, this recipe is a keeper. Make sure to plan ahead, there is a long period of time in which the cheesecake must cool.

Makes about 12 servings (approximate cost: $1.28 per serving).

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