Friday, September 16, 2011

Frugal Fridays - That Chocolate Thing I Do

Years ago I ran across a recipe in a cookbook dedicated solely to chocolate, and it kind of became my ‘signature’ dessert. It made frequent appearances at work, as well as the theater, and soon became my go to recipe for birthday cakes. Since I’m not a big fan of frosting - most especially the sickeningly sweet stuff you see piled on store-bought cakes, I usually bake this in a bundt pan and then drizzle it with some ganache. It’s incredibly moist without being really super dense or overly rich.

At one point I brought it to a dinner party being thrown to entertain work colleagues from England. Later during their trip out, we decided to get together again, and one of them asked if I would please bring ‘that chocolate thing you do’ (naturally with a very charming British accent). From that point forward, “That Chocolate Thing You Do” became its official title.

Now I’ll impart the secret that few people know. This starts with a boxed cake mix.


I know. It’s like the skeleton in the closet. No, I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t beat my children.

But on occasion, I do use cake mixes.

I suppose I could develop something similar completely from scratch, but really, why? This is a good cake. Start with a good brand of cake mix, and you’ll be fine. You can throw it together in less than 10 minutes, and it bakes for 50. Let it cool a bit and drizzle it with chocolate. It’s very low maintenance, low cost, and a huge crowd pleaser. Even better, you can customize it. The original recipe called for Kahlua, but I’ve used Chambord to impart a raspberry flavor, Frangelico (along with a few crushed hazelnuts), and this time, Amaretto.

Now go do that chocolate thing YOU do.

That Chocolate Thing I Do

1 box chocolate cake mix (I like to use chocolate fudge, but - whatever)
1 small box chocolate pudding mix
½ cup water
¼ cup liqueur (you pick)
½ cup canola oil
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
½ package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º and coat a bundt cake pan with butter and flour, or cooking spray.

Empty packages of cake and pudding mixes into bowl of a stand mixer. Measure liquid ingredients and add them to the mixes. Add eggs (lightly beat them if it will make you feel better, but I rarely do) and sour cream. Turn mixer on low to combine ingredients.

Scrape sides of bowl and then turn the mixer on medium. Beat mixture for 4 minutes. Scrape sides with spatula again and then add chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake about 50 minutes, or until skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto serving platter. Cool completely before drizzling with glaze.

Chocolate Ganache

** These are just estimates of measurements. I tend to measure by eye and adjust as needed.

½ package semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp liqueur (whatever you used in the cake)
1 Tbs butter

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and place in microwave. Cook on high for 1 minute, allow to sit for about 30 seconds, then remove from microwave and stir until all ingredients are combined. If it looks like the chocolate is starting to ‘seize’, add a few tablespoons of milk and continue to stir. Drizzle about half of the mixture over cake while still warm, allow to set up a bit, and then go over with the remaining ganache.

Cost -

1 cake mix $ .89
1 pudding mix $1.09
1 package of chocolate chips $ .99
Eggs $ .55
Sour cream $ .99
Oil $ .16
Liqueur (this was a gift and didn’t cost me anything - adjust accordingly)
Milk, vanilla and butter - we’ll call it $ .33 to even everything out

Total spent - $ 5.00 (fed 12 people - 42 cents per person)

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