Mom’s Chocolate Cake - Happy Birthday Mom!

     My mother, Phyllis Newell, first made this recipe in the 1970s. The moist, chocolatey cake with the decadent nutty cream cheese frosting was an instant hit and has been a favorite ever since.
    Don’t know the origin of the recipe but the cake seems to be reminiscent of the war era when eggs and dairy products were somewhat limited. Obviously, that is not the case for the frosting.
     Since this recipe came from my mom, it seems only fitting that her only granddaughter, Erin, and I made it in honor of her 86th birthday! We left the nuts out of the frosting and then garnished the cake with chocolate shards.

Mom’s Chocolate Cake w/ Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting & Chocolate Chards
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sifted flour*
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Line two 9” cake pans with parchment paper and spray with pan release.
2.  Combine sugar and cocoa in a large mixing bowl; whisk to thoroughly mix. Add flour, salt and baking soda and blend all dry ingredients thoroughly.

3.  Add the liquids and mix until completely blended.
4.  Pour batter into prepared pans. Use a knife to cut through the batter to release air bubble, or drop pans lightly on counter.

5.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes – toothpick inserted in center of cake should come out clean
6.  Transfer cakes to cooling rack. When cool, run a knife along the sides of pan and turn upside down to release.
7.  Frost cakes with Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting.

Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting: 
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
¼ lb. (1 stick) butter, softened
About 1 lb. (3 ¼ cup) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
1 cup chopped nuts (we like pecans)
2 teaspoons vanilla

1.     In a mixing bowl, cream (mix)  softened cream cheese and softened butter. 
2.     Add enough powdered sugar to make a spreadable frosting
3.     Blend in chopped nuts and vanilla.
4.     Spread frosting on cooled cake (I prefer to freeze or refrigerate cake prior to frosting). For cake frosting tips, go to eHow Food – How to Frost a Cake or watch U Tube’s video – How to Frost a Cake  

Variation: Add Chocolate Shards to the top and sides of the cake . . .

Chocolate Shards
3 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate

1.  Melt chocolate in microwave or in a pan on top of the stove.
2.  Pour the chocolate onto a large sheet of wax paper; spread it into a thin layer, forming a 10x10” square.
3.  Cover with a another similarly sized piece of waxed paper on top of the chocolate; press and smooth to release most of the air bubbles
4.  Roll waxed paper tightly into a cylinder.  Chill until set. At least 2 hour or up to 5 days.
5.  Peel back the top layer of waxed paper.

6.  Transfer the chocolate shards to the top of the cake (or add them to the sides, too, as Erin did).

Sifting How To’s
Flour – I seem to have an aversion to sifting flour! Sifting aerates the flour and removes lumps. Truthfully, I have never seen lumpy flour and since I know that 1 cup of sifted flour contains 3 tablespoons less flour, I simply measure 1 cup of flour and then remove 3 tablespoons! Very easy and it simplifies my life!

Powdered (Confectioner’s) Sugar – Since it tends to be lumpy, I always sift it but not in the traditional way. I simply place a fine wire sieve over the mixing bowl, add the measured sugar and push it through the sieve with a silicon spatula.

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