Thursday, May 21, 2009

Emergency Chocolate Cake

It's Ascension Day in Denmark and everyone is on holiday except my husband. He's up to his eyeballs in work and planning ahead so he can enjoy his time off the month of July. That means my son Anatole was home with me today. All day. What to do with a 21-month old? The answer is simple: as much as possible.

We started by walking to the Hobro Centrum (city center) to feed stale bread to the ducks. Then it was on to the park to play in the sand box, slide down the big, silver slide, and swing on an old tire. We walked some more and were doing great until we started heading home and Anatole decided to test his mother's patience. We walked near a pond and he pretended like he was going to throw his father's bicycle pants leg clip (conveniently left in the stroller) into the pond. He looked at me and I told him it wasn't a good idea and that he should put it back in the stroller. He turned away and then looked at me again. I shook my head No. The next thing I knew he threw his right arm back as hard as he could and threw it into the water as if he was pitching a fastball. I was perplexed. This was the first time he defied me in public (I know, it won't be the last), and at home we use time out. But we were outside. At the pond. So I did the only thing I could think of. I calmly walked over, picked him up, and carried him to his stroller. Then I strapped him in. Typically he rides strap-free, but this called for restraints. He whined all the way home, but I hope he got the connection that when you throw things into the pond that don't belong there, there will be consequences. I understand that he might have thought it was okay because we threw bread for the ducks, but still. Now some poor duck is swimming around with a pants leg clip around his neck.

When we arrived home, I knew I had a half hour or so to kill before lunch, which would then be followed by nap time (yes!). I asked Anatole if he would like to make Emergency Chocolate Cake with mommy. He looked at me with a smile and said one of his most favorite and well rehearsed words: "locola!" There was my answer. So we pulled out the mixing bowls, baking pan, measuring cups/spoons, and ingredients and went to work. I would be irresponsible if I didn't give one critical warning about this recipe. It contains mayonnaise. A cup of the stuff. I know some of you will stop reading at this point, but I have to tell you this is thee go-to cake when you are out of eggs and butter. Hence, "Emergency." And the truth is, if you can get past the mayonnaise part, it's an extremely easy, moist, and tasty snack cake. And hey, you could make it with mayonnaise from the heath food store, too. The cake making with my son was yet another success in capturing his undivided attention for a full 20 minutes, just like when we made chocolate chip cookies two weeks ago. Only this time the cake was faster to make, which meant...on to lunch!

Photo note: Sadly, these were my best two shots of the cake. The two photos look like different cakes! Although I spread some Sjokade (Norwegian chocolate spread) on this piece, it looks way darker than the cake in the first photo. 

Emergency Chocolate Cake - adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

2c all-purpose flour
1c sugar
1/4c dutch-processed cocoa powder
2t baking soda
1c mayonnaise
1c water
1t vanilla extract
(powdered sugar to dust the top of cooled cake, optional)

1. Lightly coat an 8" square cake pan with vegetable oil spray (side note: I haven't found this in the stores here so I use oil or butter).

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, water, and vanilla until combined. Stir wet ingredients into the dry mix until combined.

3. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, 35 to 40 min.

4. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve straight from the pan or turn out onto a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

We are running out of food in the house and need to do grocery shopping tomorrow. Plus, we are having friends for lunch on Saturday so we need to shop for that. Given our limited food supply, we came up with an easy, vegetarian dinner: a salad of mixed greens, with chopped cucumber, tomato, apple, walnuts, butter beans, and the cherry mustard sprouts I mentioned in the last post. Alan made a potato puree and also prepared a plate of canape (in this case lobster mousse on small slices of bread). I baked a loaf of light wheat bread last night, and by light I mean 1 cup whole wheat flour to 2.5 cups white flour. If you're new to the blog, my husband can't very well tolerate bread that is too wheaty and grainy. Anyhow, we served the mousse on the bread I made, and it was a delicious side dish to our salad and puree. Dessert was a slice of chocolate cake, and I added a cute little candy lion cake topper to my son's piece.

With daycare closed again tomorrow and papa back at the office, I've got to come up with a new plan to entertain my son. Keeping my fingers crossed for nice weather, but maybe no pond tomorrow.

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