Monday, March 3, 2014

Gen X Devil's Food Cake


Remember Snackwells Devil's Food Cookies? They were low-fat and came in a green box, because they were healthy, duh. They had a thin layer of marshmallow frosting AND a chocolate coating. We ate loads of them in high school and never got skinny. The world is mysterious.

A few weeks ago, I made David Lebowitz's Devil's Food Cake. The texture seemed off to me - it probably tastes better in France. Anyway, I've been tinkering with the recipe and jonesing for those silly cookies ever since.


Sure, I could just go out and buy them in any grocery store. But doesn't everything taste better as a memory? Go ahead and try something you loved as a kid but haven't eaten in a while. I took my crew to Friendly's to try one of the patty melts my high school buddies and I scarfed down weekly. MISTAKE. (At least I didn't finish off the evening with a bottle of Boon's Farm Apple Wine.)

Snackwells were released in 1992, when Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-lot was number 2 on the Billboard charts. Coincidence? Here's a link to the Top 100 for that year, in case you forgot how bad music used to be. Billy Ray Cyrus was more popular than Nirvana? Better than twerking, I guess.

Okay, fellow X-ers, enough nostalgia. Time to bake.


Devil's Food Cake
3/4 cup milk (6 oz/70g)
1 tablespoon white vinegar (1/4 oz/10g)
8 tablespoons soft butter (4 oz/113g)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (3/4 oz/50g)
2 1/4 cup brown sugar (13.5 oz/385g)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon dutch process cocoa powder (3 1/4 oz/90g)
2 1/4 cup cake flour (9 oz/290g)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup hot coffee (6 oz/70g)

Marshmallow Frosting
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar (4 oz/110g)
4 tablespoons corn syrup (2 1/2 oz/70g)
4 tablespoons butter (2 oz/55 grams)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar ( 4 1/4 oz/120g)

Chocolate Glaze
adapted from Alton Brown
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz/55g)
1/4 cup milk (2 oz/55g)
1 tablespoon corn syrup (3/4 oz/20g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (4 oz/115g)
2 cups powdered sugar (8 oz/230g)

2 or 3 8" round cake pans
baking spray with flour
small, heavy-bottomed saucepan


For the Cake:
Stir the vinegar into the milk and set aside. Cream butter, oil and brown sugar in the stand mixer until it's fluffy and no lumps of brown sugar remain. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Sift dry ingredients together, then add to mixer alternately with the milk. Finish with the coffee, scraping up any unmixed portion from the bottom of the bowl. Spray pans with baking spray, divide batter between them, and bake at 350 (325 convection) for approximately 35 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool on racks before frosting.

For the Marshmallow Frosting:
Over a low flame, dissolve sugar in corn syrup. Bring to a boil for two minutes, stirring gently. Meanwhile, whisk the egg white in the electric mixer on medium speed until it is fluffy. Working quickly, pull the whisk out of the whites and pour all the boiling sugar into the middle of the bowl. Return the whisk to the mixture and beat on high for several minutes, until the bowl feels neutral to the touch. One tablespoon at a time, beat in the butter. Finish with vanilla and powdered sugar. You may need just a bit more powdered sugar to make it spreadable. Cover the cake with a thin layer of frosting, and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Nope. Still grainy, keep boiling.

For the Chocolate Glaze:
In a small saucepan, heat butter, milk and corn syrup over low flame until butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and chocolate. When chocolate has melted, whisk in sugar vigorously to remove lumps. Pour a couple of tablespoons of glaze two inches from the edge of the cake and ease it over the side with an offset spatula. If it drips too much, wait a couple of minutes for the chocolate to cool down. Continue working around the cake until you have decorated the whole thing. Smooth the top and refrigerate for half an hour to firm up.


1 comment:

  1. This really takes me back to 1990 when non-fat was the thing, but then they replaced the fat with sugar, and then I kept jogging and kept gaining weight and couldn't figure out why.

    ReplyDelete