Torta de Chocolate

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Today was fairly boring. I am in the process of trying to find a house/apartment to rent in Cuenca so I spent the day online searching. It looks like we’ll be heading to the city this weekend and searching for a home. I hope we find what we need, a furnished, reasonably-priced, short-term rental. I thought I’d found the perfect home on one post until I read the end.

BEAUTIFUL HOUSE NEAR TRES PUENTES IS CLOSE TO MALL DEL RIO
This comfortable, furnished two-story home close to El Centro features custom-made woodwork, an open floor plan, an enclosed patio and a backyard with fruit trees. Located in a quiet neighborhood near Tres Puentes, the house has an enclosed garage, a finished attic that can be used as an office and two fireplaces. Includes washer / dryer and an alarm system. Rent includes once-a-week maid service and once-a-month gardener service. Includes Wifi Internet. Tenant pays electric and water. Two month deposit required. Minimum three-month rental. Pets and children not accepted. 2 months´rent required as a Deposit. AVAILABLE NOW.

Womp womp! But there’s a maid! Oh well, it was out of our price range anyway. After all, we are unemployed for at least the next 5 months so we need to stay on budget! I’ve even considered renting an unfurnished place for $200-300 a month and just buying a couple mattresses, a couch/chairs, and a cheap table to fill it with, but I think the little things are where it would add up…linens, dishes, cooking supplies. If we knew we were going to stay here I would totally start building up a home full of stuff but we still don’t know our plans 6 months from now.

Anyway, I figured I would share my chocolate cake recipe so that I don’t forget. That’s more entertaining than house hunting. So here it is with some tips if you are cooking in a high altitude region.20130925-224345.jpg20130925-224353.jpg

Mom’s Chocolate Cake borrowed from Food & Wine
© Julie Craig
CONTRIBUTED BY MARCIA KIESEL
SERVINGS: 8 TO 10
•MAKE-AHEAD

This is a real old-fashioned American chocolate layer cake. It’s very moist, very chocolatey, a snap to make and best baked the day before serving. Marcia Kiesel acquired the recipe from her friend Joyce Cole, who got it from her mother.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Chocolate Icing Recipe (I used a different recipe then the one they link you to)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with wax paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into a large bowl. Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture at medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 25 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
4. Set one cake, right-side up, on a serving platter. Using a metal spatula, spread one-third of the Chocolate Frosting evenly over the cake. Top with the second cake and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Variation: I actually baked the cake for 35 minutes in a buttered and floured bundt pan to achieve the 3 shape. My inspiration was this post from enchantedmommy.com. If I were having more people over to eat cake I would have done the same thing she did and bake two bundt cakes but ain’t no way I need that much cake in this house! We’re trying to be more healthy for crying out loud.
To make the 3 I cut the bunt cake in half and cut the cake again where the two pieces met to flatten it out. I then used those two pieces on the top and bottom points of the 3 so it stuck out a touch more. Does that make sense? I did use some icing to stick all the pieces together just like enchanted mommy did.

I can’t say enough how moist and delicious this cake was! I was eating a slice today and I was thinking it would be a good boozy cake too. Maybe sub a little Irish cream for the water? I may have a St. Patrick’s day cake to try out.

For high altitude cooking I followed All Recipes recommendations and decreased the sugar and baking powder and increased the water and baking temperature (which is a whole other issue since ovens are in centigrade here and the temperature increments have nearly worn off my dad’s gas oven). I have always lived at sea level so this is all new territory for me.

Creamy Whipped Chocolate Frosting
I started with this recipe from allrecipes.com but modified it because it was too thick and firm for my delicate, moist cake. I also used heavy cream (crema de leche) I had opened for a soup I’d made rather than opening a can of evaporated milk only to use a small bit of it. I saw someone commented they used 2% milk so I think most any milk will do but to make my version you need cream.

2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter, softened
5 tablespoons + 1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with the 5 tablespoons heavy cream. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy.
3. In the empty sugar/cocoa bowl beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the icing to make it light and fluffy. You can adjust consistency of the icing by adding less or more cream.

I then spread the icing on the cake and decorated it with m&ms. Voila!
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