I have been very blessed to have had two grandmothers that were both fabulous cooks. My maternal grandmother (MaMaw) was from Louisiana and made the best gumbo you have ever put into your mouth. It was so good that whenever my mom and I are at a restaurant that serves gumbo we first ask for a small taste, politely explaining that we know what real gumbo is supposed to taste like. 90% of the time we send it back.
My paternal grandmother was more of a Helen Corbitt/Julie Child type cook. For my birthday she would prepare roast duck and carrot cake. Roast duck, because she was just that fancy and I was just that much of a little miss priss.
One thing we all looked forward to during the holidays was her chocolate cake. So rich and chocolate-y, it was a work of art. It is so wonderful, in fact that it is listed on the desert menu at Liberty Bar in San Antonio. I’ve never been to Liberty Bar, in fact I’ve never even been to San Antonio. I can’t believe I just said that. I’m a native Texan and I’ve never been to San Antonio. I don’t know how that happened. Anyhoo – since I can’t get to Liberty Bar any time soon, I just make this cake for myself whenever I have a hankerin’ for something super sweet.
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder dissolved in 1 cup hot water (allow to cool before incorporating into cake batter)
1 heaping tsp. baking soda dissolved in a little warm water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Here’s where things get a little tricky…the instructions I have from my grandmother are vague to say the least. After the list of ingredients it just says to “Mix & bake at 350”. Good luck with that. Here are my steps.
1. Cream together sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between eggs. Add vanilla and salt. Slowly pour cooled cocoa into batter with mixer on low. Add baking soda. Add buttermilk and flour, alternating and scraping down the bowl in between additions.
2. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch cake pans. Pour batter into pans and bake for 40 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
5 squares Baker unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine sugar and evaporated milk in a heavy pan, bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes without stirring.
Remove from heat, at unsweetened chocolate and stir until melted. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until butter is melted and completely incorporated.
Chill. Beat until thick and creamy.
You can use the icing in between the layers of cake and it is sinfully delicious. This time I decided to use whipped cream in between my layers. It gave a nice, cool contract to the super sweet chocolate.
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
splash of Grand Marnier
Whip in mixer until stiff. Don’t go too long or it will start to turn to butter. Spread in between cake layers and save the rest of serving.