Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Have your cake. And eat it, too.

Well, hello.  I'm back!  

(Do you ever feel just slightly awkward after a blog absence?  Like you've just run into an ex-boyfriend you haven't seen in years and the break-up had been your fault and you'd sworn to stay friends but then you never returned his phone calls?  No?  That's just me?  Mmkay...)

I know I was only absent for a week, but it feels much longer.  Not to mention I do believe that's the longest blog break I've taken since I began blogging.  Because, you know, I'm perhaps slightly addicted...

I know I've promised you some awesome picnic goodness as a round-up and finishing-off of the "Life's a Picnic" Party!  And I will get to that very soon, but it will have to wait.  Why?  WELL... it is my birth week!  And I've got plans for you.

First, I have several birthday-related posts for you - including some oldies but goodies.  And some newies but goodies too.  ALSO on the docket is a spectacular giveaway.  Well, I think it's pretty cool anyway.  And on Friday - which happens to be my actual real day of birth - I've got a surprise reveal up my sleeve.  (Were you wondering what that new header was all about?  Well, you'll find out on Friday!)

Since I've missed TWO WHOLE Yummy Mondays, I thought I'd begin with that old birthday standard - the chocolate cake.  My blog break just so happened during a long weekend visit from mr's parents.  We were very excited to have them come out to see us, and to top it off, mr's dad had a birthday on Monday!  So we got to celebrate.  We decided to make this:

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you have short notice for unexpected company?  Or perhaps you planned to make a dessert but forgot to go grocery shopping for needed supplies?  Or maybe you just like to bake SUPER easy cakes?  This cake is definitely for you.  You've probably heard of the concept, actually.  (Although I never had until about 2 years ago.)  I had a chocolate cake craving late one night and mr had the presence of mind to recall a cake his grandma often made - Crazy Cake.  We looked up a recipe online and the rest is history.

Crazy Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cold water

Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together into a 9 x 13 inch ungreased cake pan. Make three wells. Pour oil into one well, vinegar into second, and vanilla into third well. Pour cold water over all, and stir well with fork.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Frost with your favorite icing.

What I love about this?  Sometimes you run out of eggs.  Sometimes you don't have a cake mix handy.  We can just about always make this cake because we just about always have the ingredients on hand.  Plus, it's yummy - and it always turns out.

Now, of course you can frost this with any old frosting.  Canned, tubed, whatever.  But I like to jazz it up a little with something I've concocted out of the old noggin:

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz package of cream cheese
4 oz semi-sweet bakers chocolate
3 T butter
1/2 - 1 1/2 C powdered sugar

Cream the cream cheese.  Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small bowl by heating it in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring it well, then heating it for about 1 minute more.  Make sure not to burn it.  Pour the melted chocolate/butter mixture into the cream cheese and combine.  Add the powdered sugar and mix well.  The amount of sugar you add depends on your taste and the desired consistency of your frosting.  More sugar will be fluffier and lighter in color, and (obviously) much more sweet.  Less sugar will be less fluffy - a little more sticky in consistency, and slightly icing-like.  Just add the sugar a little at a time until you get the flavor/consistency you like.

I love the flavor the cream cheese adds.  But you're all aware of my dairy preferences.  Guess what.  I'm going to include my second favorite chocolate frosting recipe here just in case you don't like cream cheese for some BIZARRE REASON I CANNOT BEGIN TO FATHOM.

The OTHER Chocolate Frosting

2 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar
1/2 cup Butter -- Softened
2 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate -- melted & cooled
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 tablespoons Milk

Beat all ingredients on medium speed with mixer until smooth. Add in more milk as necessary.

And there you have it.  Just frost the cooled cake and serve!  Preferably with enough candles to send up smoke signals.  Because you know that's what my birthday is gonna look like...

PS.  I really don't understand that saying.  You know, the whole "you can't have your cake and eat it too" thing?  I mean, when I have my cake, you better believe I'm eating it.  I don't care WHAT you say.

*Be sure to check just below for all the fun parties I link to!


Ashley said...

thanks for the recipe!!! looks yummy:)

Beth said...

I love this cake too! I wait to mix in the cocoa batter until I make the wells, it makes it into a marble cake which is pretty cool looking if you ask me! We soooo need to get our families together for dinner sometime soon!

Meg said...

Can i just say that you are a HOOT! I am a recent blogger and a crafter myself and came across your blog and cannot get enough!!! :o)

Oh and about the awkward absence...completely with ya on that one! :o)

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