Today, gentle readers, I’m pondering the meaning of being Southern. When things are going well, we celebrate with a cake. When things are not going well, we mourn, with a cake. The Practical Cook has eaten a lot of cake, but this remains a favorite. There is nothing healthy about it, it borders on cloying sweetness, and it is all chocolate, all the time. If you’re short on time, and you want a cake that will sell at a bake sale, be eaten at a church supper, make a party festive, or cheer someone up for a while, this is the cake for you.
The Practical Cook’s Mom’s Scotch Chocolate Cake Recipe
Let’s start with the secret, which my mom repeats emphatically when sharing the recipes: hot frosting on a hot cake.
1. Make a Devil’s Food (or other Chocolate) Cake as a standard 9 by 13 sheet cake. The recipe calls for a cake mix cake. That’s what I used here, slightly doctored (added some plain yogurt for richness, a teaspoon of vanilla, a tablespoon of cocoa powder, and milk instead of the water that was called for, oh, and some grated semi-sweet chocolate). If you have a beloved scratch-made chocolate cake and want to use that, go for it.
2. About 5 to 7 minutes before cake is due to be done, start making frosting.
Scotch Chocolate Frosting Recipe:
1 stick unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa
6 Tablespoons milk (whole if you’ve got it, but skim works too)
pinch of salt
Melt butter in saucepan, add cocoa and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Take off the heat.
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box confectioner’s sugar (around 3 cups, sifted)
**Note: Do not skip the sifting, or you will be cursing my name. Lumps are homey in gravy or mashed potatoes, but undignified in frosting.
Mix thoroughly. Will be glossy and fudgy. Immediately pour hot frosting on the hot cake (that should be cooling on the rack at this point).
Top with toasted pecans or serve plain. As you can see, I split the difference. (The nuts will cut the sweetness even more!)
Oh just check out the gloss on that frosting. It is a very sweet cake, best paired with vanilla ice cream, black coffee, or cold milk. In the test kitchen, I’m going to try a version with cayenne and one with cardamom. Stay tuned.
Alas, that’s enough of that for now. Coming up tomorrow, we’ll travel to West Africa with Mafe, a Senegalese stew. It’s a one-pot wonder that’s a hit with every member of Team Practical Cook.
Until then, let me know what you take to special occasions: a cake, pie, casserole? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com