by Stephanie Zonis
12 to 16 servings
Over the years, I've seen a lot of chocolate cake recipes using unusual ingredients, such as beets, sauerkraut, and cola drinks. It has never seemed necessary to me to use any of those in a chocolate cake. But I was looking for a cake recipe this month that would be good for a picnic or barbeque, something that didn't need frosting and could be left in the pan after baking, and I remembered that years ago I had once developed a chocolate cake that used mashed potatoes. It's not as peculiar a concept as you might think; the potatoes add body and help to keep the cake moist without adding any flavor of their own.
If you are going to start from scratch here and boil the potatoes yourself (that's my preference), it's important to note that you don't want to add any salt to the water in which the potatoes are boiled, or any milk, butter, salt, or anything else to the mashed potatoes. Also, you must either use a potato ricer/food mill to mash them, or mash them and then sieve them. If you do not, and just use a regular masher, the potatoes will have small lumps, and the resulting cake will not be pleasant. If you think all of that is too much like work, this cake can also be made using instant mashed potatoes—again, however, make them only with water, and do not add any butter, milk, or salt.
This cake is not too sweet and quite chocolatey. If you want to dress it up, sift on a bit of confectioners' sugar just before serving. It keeps well at room temperature, tightly covered, for a few days, and it freezes beautifully, too. Great for a "take along" dessert for any informal occasion.
1 cup hot, unseasoned mashed potatoes (no lumps!)
1 cup lukewarm water
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
2-1/4 tsp. baking powder
Optional: 2 tsp. instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
Optional: 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs, graded "large"
Optional for serving:
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 inch baking pan, at least 1-1/2 inches deep, with solid vegetable shortening. Lightly flour the pan, knocking out any excess flour; set aside.
Place mashed potatoes into medium bowl. with small whisk, gradually stir in water to form a smooth mixture; do not beat mixture excessively. Cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, optional coffee granules, baking soda, and salt. If using the miniature chocolate chips, place them in a small bowl with about 1 Tbsp. of the sifted dry ingredients and stir well until chips are coated. Set aside.
In large bowl of electric mixer (fitted with paddle beater, if available) combine butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat at a low speed to blend, then beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping down bowl and beater(s) with rubber spatula once or twice. Add eggs, 2 at a time, beating in at a low speed until blended. Scrape bowl and beater(s) with rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium; beat 1 minute.
At lowest speed, add sifted dry ingredients in 3 additions and mashed potato-water mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and beating after each addition just until blended. Scrape bowl and beater(s) occasionally with rubber spatula. Batter may still appear curdled after all ingredients have been added—OK. Remove bowl from mixer.
If using the chips, add them now, along with any remaining sifted dry ingredients in the bowl. Fold in with rubber spatula only until evenly distributed.
Turn batter into prepared pan. Spread level, making sure batter is well-pushed into corners, then run batter slightly higher along pan edges and in corners.
Bake in preheated oven 27 to 32 minutes, turning pan back-to-front once about halfway during baking. Cake is done when toothpick inserted near center emerges with a few moist crumbs still clinging to it. Do not overbake! Remove to cooling rack.
During baking, cake center will rise higher than edges, but center will fall slightly as cake cools. Cool completely before serving. If desired, sift confectioners' sugar over top just before serving. Store at room temperature, covered airtight, for up to 3 days; freeze for longer storage.
Copyright © 2001 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You may: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your computer for your own personal use only; and reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.
This page created June 2001
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