Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Best Chocolate Cake. Ever.

I am not a huge chocolate eater. Don't get me wrong, I like it and - if forced to, can eat it in mass quantities - but it's not one of my vices. Not to worry, husband, as usual, is the yin to my yang. He adores chocolate. Brownies, cookies, truffles - you name it. And the fudgier, the better. If there were a 12-step program for chocoholics, he would need to be on it. Thank goodness, for his sake, chocolate is still legal in most states so he's not planning to give up his obsession any time soon. Even if it was, he'd go underground with his habit in a heartbeat.

With Jason's love of the coveted confection in mind, I decided to indulge his sweet tooth for Valentine's Day. Really, I was just looking for an excuse to make a new, yummy dessert and the romantic holiday seemed like a fine occasion for it. I made it on Friday and, let me tell you, I have never enjoyed a chocolate cake this much. Ever. It's fudgy and rich and out-of-this-world delicious. It reminds me of the cake version of a mud pie, if that makes sense. I like it with a little - OK, a lot - of vanilla ice cream. And talk about an easy recipe. Sheesh! It took me 30 minutes - including set up and clean up - to make this cake.

I tend to shy away from most Paula Deen recipes since she is not exactly a nutrition-conscious cook. It's all about taste with her and more power to her for it. It's just not my cup of tea to include a stick of butter (or two, in this case) in everything that I make. If I am going to splurge, though, I want it to be worth it. This cake is so worth it. Trust me. Better yet, don't trust me and try is for yourself. You won't be sorry.

Paula Deen's Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake
from Food Network Magazine

1 18.25-ounce package chocolate cake mix
(I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake mix)

3 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for the pan
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
(FYI, I did use light cream cheese - aka neufchatel cheese - and it was wonderful)

3 to 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, to taste
1 16-ounce box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped unsalted nuts
(I used chocolate chips instead of nuts. Did I mention my husband LOVES chocolate?)

Whipped cream, for topping (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Combine the cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 cup of the melted butter in a large bowl. Blend well. Pat the mixture into the pan and put it aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the 2 eggs and cocoa powder and beat until mixed. Carefully add the confectioners' sugar and beat until well mixed then slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter and the vanilla. Beat until smooth. Using a spatula, add in the nuts. Spread the filling over the batter in the pan.

Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes, being careful not to overcook it: The center should still be a little gooey. Let partially cool on a wire rack before slicing. Serve with whipped cream (or ice cream).

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