Chocolate for Rachel
Frances Jones Cocoa Cake 2 c. sugar 1/2 c. shortening 1/2 tsp. salt 2 eggs 2/3 c. cocoa 1 tsp. vanilla 1/2 c. buttermilk (make your own: put 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice in the 1/2 c. measure, then add milk up to the top. Let it sit for a minute or two - the acid sours the milk and it starts to curdle a little bit) 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 c. flour 1 c. hot water Mix sugar, shortening, and salt. Add unbeaten eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add cocoa and vanilla and stir. Add baking soda to buttermilk*. Add flour alternately with buttermilk mixture to the sugar/shortening mixture. Add hot water and stir. Pour into greased pan (I've used a 9x13pan, a Bundt pan, and 2 8-inch round cake pans. It's your call). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. *Remember elementary school science project volcanoes? If you make your own buttermilk as I suggested above with vinegar in milk, I ... um ... advise you to transfer the 1/2 c. of milk to a larger measuring cup before adding baking soda, or you'll have a mini-Mt. Vesuvius on your counter. Not that this has EVER happened to me. This is my "fall-back-perfect-every-time" chocolate cake recipe. It's moist and fluffy. And delicious. And easy! And chocolatey. It's one of those cakes where you eat a piece and don't feel weighted down by all that you just ate - it's that amazing. I wanted to post it for my friend Rachel, who is living and teaching with her husband in Guatemala, where access to certain ingredients can be tricky sometimes. Aah, jungle living! Viva el 3rd world! If anyone knows of any resources for her ... like, let's say you know a good cookbook that doesn't use many pre-packaged ingredients, or a website she might like to look at, leave it in the comments and she'll see it. This recipe came to me from a mission guesthouse in Ogbomoso, Nigeria, called Frances Jones Memorial House. The cooks there used to turn out the most amazing desserts (well, entire meals, really) and this one was always a favorite. And since today is Nigeria's 49th Independence Day, it's only fitting that this recipe is from there. Happy chocolate, Rachel!