This cookbook has been sitting on my shelf for a very long time waiting for me to have need of a chocolate cake and time to make it. I purposefully try not to have desserts at home, so this had to wait for me to have a 2-year-old that wanted to help me make a cake for her daddy's birthday. I have to admit to being a little overwhelmed at first. After all, I'm not a baker. I love to cook; but baking is not my strong point, mainly because I like to improvise and don't know the chemistry of baking well enough to do so. But it made me feel a lot better reading that the author is a former pastry chef and has published several cooking articles and cookbooks. Here's a person who knows what she's doing. Besides experience, she can explain the chemistry behind why she suggests dutched cocoa rather than regular cocoa for her recipes. Plus, she tried all of these recipes before turning them into a cookbook. It must have been fun living in her house for a while.
I originally thought I'd take the wimpy way out and make the most basic of cakes in the book. 3 types of chocolate were going to be involved and I started seeing dollar signs as I realized that the only "baking" ingredient I owned was baking soda. As I started writing a grocery list, my husband became interested what kind of chocolate cake I was baking, and I named off some of the possibilities beyond plain jane:
*peppermint patty cake
*raspberries on the bottom cake
*mint chocolate ice cream cake
*double-glazed espresso and chocolate cake
*banana-butterscotch upside-down chocolate cake
*chocolate whiskey cake
*mocha whipped truffle cake
*chocolate toffee crunch cake
*salted caramel and pecan chocolate cake
*brandied chocolate cheesecake with chocolate-dipped figs
*deep-dish white chocolate peaches-and-cream cake
*fudge-on-fudge raspberry ice cream cake
There was no question. He wanted the banana-butterscotch upside-down chocolate cake. This is probably the last one I would have ever guessed, and I'd only mentioned it because it sounded so strange. But ... oh ... my ... god; it was amazing, especially hot and gooey straight from the oven. He said it might possibly be the best chocolate cake he'd ever tasted. And I'm close to agreeing (although I could do without the bananas). But it's made me want to try the same method with banana bread: butterscotch sauce on the bottom, sliced bananas on top of that, and then banana bread batter (with chai spices) on top of that. See? I can improvise baked goods after all!
I'm itching for an excuse now to try the deep-dish white chocolate peaches-and-cream cake. It looks like a great summer dish.
Anyhow, if you like chocolate cake and want to make your own rather than eating the chemical monstrosities from your grocery store's bakery, I think you'd do well to give this book a try. The instructions were simple enough and the taste was amazing.