Cocoa Fudge Cake and A Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

When David, my oldest son, was 8 or 9 years old his school printed and sold a fundraiser cookbook with recipes submitted by the students, parents and church members.  I was in charge of compiling the recipes and knew which students hadn't contributed to the book.  I knew they would be disappointed when the cookbook was printed and their name wasn't next to any recipe so I urged as many as I could to bring a recipe from home so they could see their name in print.  I still have a tattered copy of the old book and have used it many times over the years and have fond memories of the children who are credited with each recipe.   This Cocoa Fudge Cake has David's name next to it in the book and I smile every time I see it there.  He liked this cake and I believe I made one of his birthday cakes from the recipe.

The recipe originally came from the red Betty Crocker Cookbook from the 1970s and holds it own to any modern recipe out there.  It isn't as rich as the Fabulous Fudge Cake but you don't always want a complicated or fancy cake especially if it's going to be used in a dessert.   And it's great if you don't have baking chocolate on hand when the mood strikes to bake a chocolate cake.  I always have cocoa in the cupboard as it can be a good substitute for chocolate in most recipes.   The cake is almost as fast to make as a cake mix.  Tack on an extra 5 minutes and you've got a nice homemade cake to fancy up as much as you'd like.  I'm experimenting with a new dessert and needed a thin chocolate cake layer on the bottom so I made half the recipe but only needed half of that.  So, I'm going to make some kind of fancy dessert with the rest of the cake.

The cake flour will give you a finer crumb but I've usually make it with the all-purpose flour as I always, always have that in the cupboard.  I don't think most people would even be able to tell the difference, especially once the cake is frosted or used in a trifle or some other dessert.  I don't buy buttermilk because it's hard (impossible) to get in town so I just sour the milk with lemon juice or vinegar and that works just as the buttermilk would.  The original recipe just dumped everything in the bowl and mixed but I find you must at least sift the cocoa and cake flour as they contain small lumps that are almost impossible to beat smooth, even with a good stand mixer.

Cocoa Fudge Cake
2 cups cake flour or 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cups cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk or soured milk*
½ cup shortening  or butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour or line with parchment paper a 9x13-inch pan or two 8x2-or 9x2-inch round layer pans. 

Measure and sift all dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer.  Add all remaining ingredients. Blend on low for ½ minute, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Beat on high for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl when needed. 

Pour the batter into prepared pan(s).  Bake 9x13-inch cake 35-40 minutes or the layer cakes 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.   Don't over-bake the cakes as they will dry out.  Cool cakes on rack 10 minutes and then invert on the rack, removing the paper if used.  Cool completely before frosting cake. 

*To sour milk add 1 ½ tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to a 2-cup measure.  Fill with milk to the 1 ½ cup line.  Let sit about 5 minutes or until curdled.  Use as you would buttermilk.

Before mixing everything together, sift the flour and cocoa together.  I used cake flour and as you can see from the picture there were lumps left in the sifter.  Just push them through to get all the flour in the bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix all together for about 3 minutes.

Because there are only two of us at home I made half the recipe. I divided the batter between a 7x11-inch pan and an 8x8-inch pan. I was experimenting with a new dessert with the square cake but alas the experiment was a flop (which we ate, anyway).  All was not lost because I used the oblong cake to make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake 

I fancied up the Cocoa Fudge Cake with a few additional ingredients.  I made the filling by combining equal parts of peanut butter with Chocolate Ganache and mixed that with whipped topping/cream.  To that I added chopped Crispy Crunch bars.  I just eye-balled the amounts for the size of the cake.

To make the layers I cut the oblong cake in half lengthways and then cut each piece sideways to produce four thin layers.  Fill the layers with the chocolate peanut butter cream.  Cover the top and sides of the cake with sweetened whipped topping/cream.  I had a little of the filling left so I put that on top of the cake.  Decorate the top with chopped Crispy Crunch bars.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 A simple Cocoa Fudge Cake dressed up for company.

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