the appetizer:

United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State by Warren Brown, includes recipes like Cassata Cake (Ohio); Sweet Potato Cake (Louisiana); Mud Cake (Mississippi); and Italian Meringue.


Mud Cake (Mississippi)

Yield: One 9-by-13-inch cake

Mud Cake (Mississippi)


The mighty Mississippi captivates everyone who comes to its shores. The river carries more than 400,000 tons of silt, mud, and sand every day, moving an average of 160 million tons of sediment a year—and the mud touches you. The river has been immortalized in such songs as "Ol' Man River" and books by Mark Twain, including Life on the Mississippi. More recently, the name "Mississippi mud" has been used to label brands of coffee, beer, and ice cream sandwiches, as well as recipes for cakes and pies.

The mud's rich darkness makes bakers think of chocolate. It inspires extravagant amounts of the extra-rich brown stuff, which send even the most hard-core chocoholics reeling. I don't mess around with nuts in this mud cake because chocolate really has no perfect complement except more chocolate. The marshmallows on top can be store-bought if you don't have time to make the Italian Meringue. (If you do make your own, you can add 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder to the meringue after you pour in the sugar syrup to keep the chocolate theme going!) Also, notice that there isn't any baking soda or baking powder in this cake. It's supposed to be flat, dense, and intense.

Dry Ingredients
Ingredient Amount
All-purpose flour 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups)
Unsweetened cocoa powder 3 ounces (3/4 cup)
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Wet Ingredients
Ingredient Amount
Heavy cream 2 tablespoons
Unsweetened chocolate, melted 9 ounces
Creaming Ingredients
Ingredient Amount
Unsalted butter, very soft 8 ounces (2 sticks)
Superfine granulated sugar 16 ounces (2 cups)
Whole eggs 2
Egg yolks 2
For the Topping
Ingredient Amount
Italian Meringue 1 recipe
Or mini marshmallows 5 ounces (3 cups)
For the Muddy Icing
Ingredient Amount
Unsalted butter, melted 4 ounces (1 stick)
Cocoa powder 1 ounce (1/4 cup)
Vanilla extract 2 teaspoons
Confectioners' sugar, sifted 6 ounces (about 4 cups)
Bittersweet chocolate. melted 5 ounces
Brandy (opttonal) 1 tablespoon

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and place the rack in the middle position. Generously grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.

2. Measure the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients into separate small bowls. Set aside.

3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on low speed for 3 minutes.

4. Add the eggs and yolks all at once before the mixture creams.

5. Add the dry ingredients and mix briefly—do not fully combine.

6. Stop the mixer, scrape the batter off the beater with a flexible spatula, and gently fold in the chocolate mixture by hand.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Crumbs should stick to a wooden skewer inserted in the center—you do not want it to come out clean.

8. Top the cake with a generous (1- or 2-inch) layer of Italian meringue or marshmallows. Return it to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes longer.

9. Set the cake aside to cool.

10. To make the icing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk slowly to blend. Avoid incorporating air so that the "mud" won't crack after it sets.

11. Pour the icing over the cake and spread it with an offset spatula. Let set and serve—and be sure to provide lots of napkins!


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This page created January 2011