The Perfect Chocolate Cake
This is the story of how I came to have a recipe for THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE.
I am blessed with a husband who is extremely easy to please, at least as far as food is concerned. We will have been married 36 years on the 28th of this month, and in all that time he has never complained or had a negative comment about anything I have made for him. Anything, that is, except chocolate cake.
I love to bake (probably because I love to eat, but that’s another story) and I learned early on in our relationship that chocolate cake is Randy’s favorite. So, since I love to bake and I love Randy, I wanted to make him the best chocolate cake he had ever eaten on the first Valentine’s Day after we were married. I used a delicious sounding Bon Appetit recipe I had been saving and was thrilled at how it turned out. But to my dismay, when I served him my masterpiece, he was underwhelmed to say the least. I was sooooo disappointed because I wanted badly to make him happy and knowing that he was so easy to please about everything else, I was perplexed as to why he wasn’t delighted with the cake I had made especially for him.
“Well it just isn’t quite right”, he said. ”Something is just a little off from how a really perfect chocolate cake should taste.” I decided not to be discouraged but to just try again with another recipe. And try I did. For the next ten years, every chocolate cake recipe I could find in cookbooks or magazines or from well intended friends, I tried! I tried cakes with sour cream, cakes with multiple kinds of chocolate, cakes with a touch of instant coffee that was supposed to make the cake taste more chocolatey (he particularly disliked those). Always the response was the same, “It’s good, but not perfect.”
Finally, one day after chocolate cake # 100 or so, he suggested that I just get a boxed cake mix and try that……the gauntlet had now been thrown down…..I would not be out done by a cake mix!!! I began making chocolate cake nearly every week, it seemed, in search of that elusive “perfect chocolate cake”.
One day I was in Pic N Save, a closeout store we used to have in our area, and saw a little paperback cookbook called “A Family Raised on Sunshine” by Beverly Nye. I perused the pages in hopes of finding some new recipe for chocolate cake I had not yet tried. There was a very simple cake recipe that I knew could not be it, but it was called Delicious Chocolate Cake, so, “What the heck?” I thought. It was all of 50 cents and had a couple of other tasty sounding recipes, so what did I have to lose?
I went right home and made the cake. We finished dinner, put the children to bed, and out of the kitchen I came with yet one more slice of dark, sweet decadence. I handed it to him and waited for the usual critique. But to my shock he grinned from ear to ear and exclaimed joyously, “Robin, this is it! This is how chocolate cake should taste. This is the perfect chocolate cake!” I am smiling right now, as I write, remembering the elation I felt at that moment.
We had plans that coming weekend, to get together with Randy’s parents and siblings (4 sisters and a brother) and their families, and he requested that I make another one of these cakes to take with us because, “My family will all love it as much as I do”.
Saturday came and off we went to our family outing. After lunch, I proudly started slicing cake for everyone. Randy beamed and said he knew they would all love this cake. They did. There was great joy in the Northrup home that day.
“Yes”, his mother said. ”It tastes as good as it always has.” ”What do you mean ‘always has’? “, I asked. ”Well it tastes just like it did when I used to make it. This is my recipe isn’t it?” she inquired.
I was in shock. I love my mother-in-law. She is a warm, generous and loving woman, but with 6 children, (5 of them born within 6 years) cooking was never something she did for enjoyment. She was just happy to get a meal on the table. Making cake would have seemed like the last priority on her mind. In all the years I had known her, I had never known her to bake anything except some slice and bake cookies. It would no more have occurred to me to ask her if she had a recipe for chocolate cake, than it would have to ask her if she was secretly the Queen of England! Now she was announcing that MY cake recipe was really HER recipe!
She went straight to the kitchen and emerged with a box (I had never seen this box before) and she pulled out a dog eared 3 x 5 index card with exactly the same recipe written on it as the one I had found in my Pic N Save, 50 cent, paperback cookbook……IT WAS HER CAKE!!!! It seems that my impossibly easy-to-please husband had the memory of his mother’s chocolate cake ingrained in his taste buds.
Over the years this cake has had a place at more birthdays, anniversaries, showers, memorial services, holiday gatherings and any ole’ Tuesdays, than I can begin to count. No matter who eats it, everyone always joyously says the same thing, “This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten.”
So thirty six years later, as Valentine’s Day approaches, I want to spread some more love, joy and abundant living in this world of ours and bless you with the recipe for THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE. Enjoy!
Preheat oven at 350 degrees
1 1/2 cups melted butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add and mix well:
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 heaping Tablespoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Then add and mix again:
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Line 3 round 8″ cake pans with waxed paper and butter the sides of the pan to prevent sticking when cake is done. Pour batter evenly amongst the 3 pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or just until the center of the cake feels firm to the touch and the sides of the cake are beginning to pull away from the pan. Cool thoroughly and remove from pans. (You can wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at this point if you are making the cake a day ahead or hours ahead of when needed.) Spread icing liberally and smile….perfect chocolate cake is on its way.
1 cup butter at room temperature
8 oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
12 oz. package chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 lbs. powered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Enough heavy cream to soften to spreading consistency
Beat together the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa. With the mixer off add sugar and cocoa to butter and chocolate mixture. Turn on mixer slowly, and beat in sugar/cocoa mixture very slowly increasing speed of the mixer so as not to shoot powdered sugar all over the kitchen. Add cream as needed, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, to create a good spreading consistency.
Yum ~ perfect chocolate cake!