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VAL/GAL/PALENTINE DAY RECIPES

Recipe: Stir this chocolate cake in a single bowl, bake it, and frost it for your Val/Gal/Palentine

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting.Sally Pasley Vargas

Makes one 8-inch square cake

There's nothing like a home-baked cake, and chocolate, of course, is the favorite flavor for nearly everyone on Val/Gal/Palentine Day. Novice baker alert: If the idea of baking a cake feels like a steep climb, this dark, moist cake is made with a bowl, a whisk, and a spatula. And you need a square pan to bake it in. Use dark chocolate (65 percent cocoa or higher), either chopped from a block or from a package of chocolate baking bits (don't use chips, also called morsels), along with Dutch process cocoa powder, or regular unsweetened cocoa powder, for a super chocolatey taste. The butter in the batter adds flavor and vegetable oil keeps the cake from becoming dry. Slather the top with an ultra-creamy, easy sour cream chocolate frosting and your Val/Gal/Pal may just give you a chocolate-coated kiss for your efforts.

CAKE

2ounces (about 1/3 cup) chopped bittersweet chocolate or baking pieces (65% or higher)
6tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1cup sugar
6tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 eggs
1teaspoon vanilla extract
½cup hot black coffee
1cup cake flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour
½cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
½teaspoon baking powder
½teaspoon baking soda
¼teaspoon salt

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the sides.

2. Fill a saucepan with 2 inches of water. Have on hand a heatproof bowl that fits on the pot without touching the water below. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat. Set the bowl on the saucepan and add the chocolate and butter to the bowl; stir until they melt.

3. Remove the bowl from the water. Wipe the bottom dry. Whisk in the sugar and oil. One at a time, whisk in the eggs until incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla and coffee.

4. Set a strainer over the bowl. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Sift them into the bowl. Use a whisk to beat the batter until smooth. It will not be very thick.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

6. Set the cake on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and using the parchment paper as handles, lift the cake out of the pan. Set it on the rack. Leave to cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING

¼cup heavy cream
¼cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4ounces (about 1/2 generous cup) chopped bittersweet chocolate or baking pieces (65% or higher)
4tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1teaspoon vanilla extract
¼cup sour cream

1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, sugar, and salt to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add the chocolate and stir until it melts. Add the butter and vanilla and whisk until the butter melts. Whisk in the sour cream. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the frosting is cool and thick.

3. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator. Whisk the frosting until it is soft and creamy.

4. Remove the parchment from the cake and set it on a large plate. Spread the frosting on top. Use the back of a spoon to swirl the frosting. Let the frosting set for 1 hour. Cut the cake into squares or rectangles.

Sally Pasley Vargas

Makes one 8-inch square cake

There's nothing like a home-baked cake, and chocolate, of course, is the favorite flavor for nearly everyone on Val/Gal/Palentine Day. Novice baker alert: If the idea of baking a cake feels like a steep climb, this dark, moist cake is made with a bowl, a whisk, and a spatula. And you need a square pan to bake it in. Use dark chocolate (65 percent cocoa or higher), either chopped from a block or from a package of chocolate baking bits (don't use chips, also called morsels), along with Dutch process cocoa powder, or regular unsweetened cocoa powder, for a super chocolatey taste. The butter in the batter adds flavor and vegetable oil keeps the cake from becoming dry. Slather the top with an ultra-creamy, easy sour cream chocolate frosting and your Val/Gal/Pal may just give you a chocolate-coated kiss for your efforts.

CAKE

2ounces (about 1/3 cup) chopped bittersweet chocolate or baking pieces (65% or higher)
6tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1cup sugar
6tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 eggs
1teaspoon vanilla extract
½cup hot black coffee
1cup cake flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour
½cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
½teaspoon baking powder
½teaspoon baking soda
¼teaspoon salt

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the sides.

2. Fill a saucepan with 2 inches of water. Have on hand a heatproof bowl that fits on the pot without touching the water below. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat. Set the bowl on the saucepan and add the chocolate and butter to the bowl; stir until they melt.

3. Remove the bowl from the water. Wipe the bottom dry. Whisk in the sugar and oil. One at a time, whisk in the eggs until incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla and coffee.

4. Set a strainer over the bowl. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Sift them into the bowl. Use a whisk to beat the batter until smooth. It will not be very thick.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

6. Set the cake on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and using the parchment paper as handles, lift the cake out of the pan. Set it on the rack. Leave to cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING

¼cup heavy cream
¼cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4ounces (about 1/2 generous cup) chopped bittersweet chocolate or baking pieces (65% or higher)
4tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1teaspoon vanilla extract
¼cup sour cream

1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, sugar, and salt to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add the chocolate and stir until it melts. Add the butter and vanilla and whisk until the butter melts. Whisk in the sour cream. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the frosting is cool and thick.

3. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator. Whisk the frosting until it is soft and creamy.

4. Remove the parchment from the cake and set it on a large plate. Spread the frosting on top. Use the back of a spoon to swirl the frosting. Let the frosting set for 1 hour. Cut the cake into squares or rectangles.Sally Pasley Vargas