The Call of The Wild…And of The Chocolate

The Chocolate Cake

The capacity for being sneaky has existed for as long as mankind.  The only being with the ability to think beyond its instinct brings with it the power to choose mischief over conscientiousness, naughty over nice, and chocolate over vanilla.  The question of whether or not people are inherently good, or inherently bad is as old as the question of birth order between the chicken and the egg.

 If you do not believe in the inherent tendency of mankind to be naughty, you probably haven’t had children yet.  You have never looked headlong into the eyes of a three-year old, vehemently denying that he ate the chocolate cookies, even though the crumb evidence is all over his face.  And the floor.  And sitting in the waistline of his snappy-bottomed pants.

You have probably never heard the tell-tale sound of the crinkling of the candy bag, stepped into the kitchen, and witnessed your 18 month old sitting on top of the refrigerator eating chocolate candy buttons (don’t believe what the ads say–they DO melt in your hands).  You couldn’t have predicted how agile or crafty your man-cub would be.  That he would open the dishwasher and stand on the door to get up on the counter-top.  That he would then walk 6 feet to the counter-top microwave and use it as a step-ladder to climb on top of the refrigerator.  That he could ever reach the basket of goodies that you safely stowed at such heights. 

Max eating ice cream--with his whole body

It may not be your fault, but it IS your problem.  You are dealing with a creature of superior cunning and an endless capacity for mischief.  You are dealing with an early human, whose sole instinctual drive is for pleasure.  He (or she) is capable of great conniving and manipulations to achieve this.  Some early humans resort to tantrums.  Others will shift the blame–(“Daddy wanted these…”).  Still others will use the annoyingly successful method of tugging on your heart-strings.  The quivering lower lip.  Big tears that sit in the bottom of the eyes, but never quite fall.  They will feign great heartache at being denied the treat.  Eventually, you will cave-in to this tactic.  You won’t be able to resist that sweet face.

Your efforts to resist my charms are futile. Cookie, please!

This is neither your fault, nor that of your little cookie thief.  You are both victims of a preternatural drive for an endorphin rush, and chocolate delivers a bigger dose than the other treats in your pantry.  This is the reason that chocolate is so popular on Valentine’s day–it contains lots of feel-good chemicals, which is exactly what kind of chemicals you want to consume on Valentine’s Day.

Luckily, research now suggests that dark chocolate (65% or higher in cocoa content), taken in sensible amounts, actually has other benefits.  It contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants blah blah blah blah..improved cholesterol, blah blah blah, lower blood pressure…..

Long story short: 

–chocolate is tasty

–even toddlers know this

–regular consumption of dark chocolate can be healthy (but no so for milk chocolate)

–don’t pig out on it (calories still count)

Also, women tend to crave it more than men, because it balances our hormones, which is also why you may tend to crave it on a regular, monthly basis (don’t let him tell you that you’re crazy)……It also gives us a sense of serenity.  Which you really need when chasing your early human up the side of tall refrigerators all day.  Served with a glass of red wine, you can double both the antioxidant qualities, and the serenity inducing ones.  That isn’t intended to be medical advise, though, so don’t turn into a wine lush.  Like everything else, moderation is the key.

Here are some favorite chocolate recipes


THE Chocolate Cake–
Makes 3, 10″ layers, or 2, 13×9 cakes (cut recipe in half for a 2 layer, 8″ cake)
  • 4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 4 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 dutch process cocoa powder
  • 4 C sugar
  • 2 C vegetable oil
  • 2 C hot coffee
  • 2 C whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1  C sour cream

Preheat oven to 325*……

Mix together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix milk, oil, coffee, vanilla and eggs together in a medium bowl.  Add to dry ingredients and mix just until well blended.  Mix in sour cream until fully blended.  Batter will be fairly loose. Pour into pans, and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out just clean.  Cool on wire rack.

This cake is super with Old Fashioned 7 Minute Frosting, Cream Cheese Frosting, or Dark Chocolate Buttercream (below)


Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 4 sticks softened butter
  • 2 t. salt
  • 4 pounds powdered sugar
  • 4 T strong brewed coffee
  • 1.5 cups dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk, or more

Beat butter until creamy.  Slowly add in salt and half of the powdered sugar.  Add coffee.  Beat in the rest of the sugar, milk and the vanilla.  If the frosting is too stiff, add a little more milk until a good spreading consistency is achieved.

Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes
Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Orange Buttercream
Makes 30 cupcakes
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • ¾ dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 T ground ginger
  • 2 t allspice
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 1 C hot coffee
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 t vanilla
  • ½  C sour cream

Mix together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix milk, oil, coffee, vanilla and eggs together in a medium bowl.  Add to dry ingredients and mix just until well blended.  Mix in sour cream until fully blended.  Batter will be fairly loose. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out just clean.  Cool on wire rack.

Frost with Cinnamon Orange Buttercream, and garnish with chopped crystallized ginger


Cinnamon Orange Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 T orange juice
  • 1 T fresh orange zest
Beat butter until creamy.  Slowly add in salt and half of the powdered sugar.  Add juice.  Beat in the rest of the sugar and the orange zest.  If the frosting is too stiff, add a little more juice or milk until a good spreading consistency is achieved.
You will find three of my other favorite chocolate cupcakes on an earlier posting located here:

Categories: BAKING, Cupcakes, Food, Gourmet, Holiday, Texas


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22 Comments on “The Call of The Wild…And of The Chocolate”

  1. Suzanne Banfield
    2011/12/20 at 2:59 pm #

    Mopderation, shmoderation. I want a plate-sized piece of that cake! And the wine to wash it down with!

    • 2011/12/20 at 3:21 pm #

      You know, there is a reason we hit it off in school! 😀

      A slice of this cake, when made the full size, IS the size of a plate. Seriously. It’s like 6 inches high, and 5 inches deep….

  2. 2011/12/20 at 7:14 pm #

    Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes? I don’t even like cupcakes – because I don’t know how you’re supposed to eat them. Do you eat them from the top and get frosting on your nose, from the side and get it on your cheek? Anyway, I want one of those Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes! I’m willing to get frosting all over my face for one of those!

    • 2011/12/21 at 9:38 am #

      I prefer the “get it on your nose” method. It seems a more straightforward use of the excess frosting! 😀

  3. 2011/12/23 at 2:48 am #

    Those cupcakes sound outrageous!!! I would eat he whole batch 🙂

  4. 2011/12/28 at 2:49 pm #

    Oh mannnn. This looks good!

  5. Maggie @ kitchie coo
    2011/12/28 at 4:20 pm #

    Oh, I loooove this post! Just the vision of an 18 month old child sitting on top of the fridge inhaling M&Ms makes me laugh out loud. Yes, when it comes to chocolate, nobody should be held accountable for their actions!

    • 2011/12/28 at 9:27 pm #

      Kids create the best stories, ever. No need for fiction with them around!

  6. 2011/12/28 at 8:04 pm #

    What a mischievous grin on your cutie pie!!!! And I must try your chocolate cake recipe….mmmmmmmmm.

  7. 2011/12/29 at 4:58 pm #

    That is too funny about your little one!! And Omg, that cake looks like pure heaven!!

  8. 2012/02/11 at 2:35 pm #

    hehehe…. your parenting reflections made me smile! The recipes were just a nice chocolaty bonus.

  9. 2012/05/26 at 5:06 pm #

    The chocolate cake looks divine, but its the cinnamon orange butter cream frosting that’s really got my attention. Yum!

  10. 2012/05/26 at 8:05 pm #

    Love your posts . . . and that cake looks HEAVENLY!!! 🙂

  11. 2012/05/26 at 8:10 pm #

    I love your food and your food photos. I take outdoor shots because they don’t make me hungry like yours! Thanks for following my site.

  12. 2012/05/26 at 10:33 pm #

    These recipes scare me! My mouth waters when I look at them!

  13. 2012/05/26 at 10:52 pm #

    Chocolate is always good. That is a verified fact. I love the epic steps your son took to get the candy buttons from atop the fridge. You have to give him points for determination.

    • 2012/05/26 at 10:57 pm #

      oh, yes, I do….he is 14 now, and just as determined—also just as athletic! it is a comedy of teenage antics and energy…

      • 2012/05/26 at 11:01 pm #

        I can only imagine…I have three sons, all 5 and under, and everyone I meet tells me ‘I ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’

  14. 2012/05/27 at 5:45 am #

    Mmmmm…. Chocklit…

  15. 2012/06/03 at 9:44 am #

    I love your posts- so witty yet thoughtful. No cunning kids of my own just yet, but hopefully in the next year or two. Thanks for the warning! Oh, and THE chocolate cake looks amazing!

    • 2012/06/03 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks! I love the writing as much as the cooking. Sometimes more.

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