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THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER?

My dessert of the month for September is this scrumptious cake. It is based on my grandmother's recipe, which my family and friends agree is the best chocolate cake they have ever tasted. It is from my newest book, "Jeanne Jones' Homestyle Cooking Made Healthy" (Rodale Press, $27.95).

Although it will never pass for spa food, this cake is considerably lighter than my grandmother's original version. It's a truly satisfying, almost decadent dessert with a really rich chocolate flavor. The frosting alone will earn raves from chocoholic friends. Save it for special occasions, like back-to-school dances and football game tailgate parties. Also, at any time of the year, it is a much-appreciated birthday cake for all of your chocolate-loving friends and family members!

DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup low-fat (1 percent) milk

2teaspoons white or cider vinegar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1cup sugar

1egg

2teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup boiling water

Chocolate Frosting:

1box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar

1teaspoon powdered instant coffee

1/2 cup boiling water

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1to 2 tablespoons hot water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 round, 8-inch, non-stick cake pans with a non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Stir with a fork or whisk; set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vinegar; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, using an electric mixer on medium speed, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat, until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until well mixed. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture and the water.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched.

Remove from the oven; place on cooling racks for 5 minutes. Invert onto the rack. Allow to finish cooling completely before frosting.

To make the chocolate frosting, sift the confectioners' sugar into a large bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the coffee and water to a boil over medium heat. Stir until the coffee is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and add the cocoa and the butter. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until the butter mixture melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Spoon into the bowl with the confectioners' sugar. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot water; beat until smooth. Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake. Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains approximately 403 calories, 13 grams fat,49 milligrams cholesterol, 266 milligrams sodium, 72 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fiber.

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