On Sunday, Agastya and I went Valentine cookie decorating with Dani Fiori who designs couture cookies for the likes of Martha Stewart and Real Simple magazine. There were bottles of pink and white and lavender royal icing all around us on red tablecloths. We were given cute owls, love-bugs and hearts to decorate with tiny candy decorations in the trademark pink theme. We enjoyed making eyes for the owl and feet for the bugs, and creating a special “VB” valentine for daddy that was sprinkled with sugar and festooned with a fistful of tiny hearts.
Nothing appeared out of the ordinary until someone pointed out that Agastya was the only little boy in a class that was full of girls and their mothers. “Why not,” I thought. Agastya goes to afternoon tea with me, helps me shop at our local grocery store and undertakes all manner of crafting activities. In turn, he’s insisted that I build train tracks for him, kick ball or play repairman to the scooter on which he whizzes around. I’ve tried to get him to agree to a doll house but we have settled instead for Tidmouth Sheds and a three-tier garage. It’s been a give and take.
Here is the recipe for our Valentine’s Day chocolate cake that was made in the same spirit of partnership. Our recipe comes from the back of the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder box, one that my friend Sonal recently discovered. This cake is the ideal chocolate cake – easy to make, with none of the fuss of extra ingredients like sour cream. It’s slightly dry and hence perfect for devouring with mouthfuls of hot tea or smearing with cream and jam / dousing with buttercream frosting. Extra note: children love this cake.
Basic chocolate cake
Ghirardelli ‘s Grand Fudge Cake recipe, slightly adapted
1 cup all purpose flour
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp or 1 stick butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar less 2 tbsp
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8″ or 9-inch square or round pan. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and keep aside.
2. With a hand mixer on a medium setting, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Turn mixer down to a low setting, and add the egg and the vanilla, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
3. Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with milk after each addition. Combine well with a spatula but don’t over-mix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-45 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake emerges clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes and upturn.