Perfectly Chocolate, Chocolate Cake
I have this problem where I always get some type of spot on my shirts. I can buy a brand new shirt and after wearing it just once there will be a spot on it. I don’t know how this happens; sometimes (most of the time) it is a complete mystery. Many times the spots are just plain dirt, usually from the dog’s paws, and come out in the wash but more often than not the spots remain. Usually I don’t know this until the next time I put the shirt on and David tells me, “You have a spot on that shirt, you need to change”. I should say that often it’s not just one spot; it’s often many small spots in close proximity. I can only imagine that I splash something on my shirt while cooking or cleaning or eating or… just breathing. Again, it’s very rare that I know how it happens. So back into the wash it goes after a healthy spray of stain remover. After the second wash I check the shirts for any remaining spots and I am convinced they’ve disappeared. Often I am wrong and they are still there but I just can’t see them… that is until I put the shirt on and stand in the light. Again comes David’s most often uttered phrase, “You have a spot on that shirt, you need to change”. In fact I hear that phrase so often it will most likely end up on my tombstone. Next we attempt saturating the spots in grease-removing dishwashing liquid followed by a third re-wash. Sometimes we are lucky and sometimes we are not. Usually “not”. When I look down at these spotted shirts there are marks on them that utterly defy explanation. Not only simple spots that could occur from a splash or a drip of something, but large swaths of something. Now, if I somehow managed to drop a buttered piece of bread, face down, onto my shirt then sure, I could understand. (I’m not going to say that never happens but it is rare).
When I put on a brand new shirt I always try to keep it clean by not touching anything and by making sure I wear a chef’s coat when I cook. I’ll even take off the new shirt and put on an already spotted shirt when I eat. At the end of the day I am absolutely certain that there is no way that I could have gotten any spots or stains but these tactics have little apparent effect. It’s a maddening battle. I am sure the shirt companies are thrilled at my sloppiness though and the people over at the Shout, Spray and Wash, and OxiClean factories will all retire early from the profits they make off of me! Spots don’t just appear on my shirts either.
My pants have the same issues. They just seem to attract dirt. I do have a habit of leaning against things that leave lines of dirt on me and I definitely allow the dog to get up on my lap, leaving his paw prints. Needless to say, I am never surprised when my pants are dirty. I think I can more easily rationalize that for some reason. The thing that gets me though, is when I sit to eat and invariably drop some piece of food from my fork. I instinctively try to dodge whatever is falling only to have it to drop down into my lap (generally after bouncing off my shirt somewhere). So now I have two stains (often connected by lots of little dots in between where whatever I dropped has rolled down my shirt before landing on my pants). This has happened to me more times than I care to mention. These spots are easy to understand. I can look at a shirt and say, “Oh yeah this is the shirt I dropped a piece of bacon on”, or “yep, this is the shirt I dropped a meatball on”.
Unlike the mystery spots that just magically appear without any known cause I try not to get too upset by these easily explained spots. Okay, that’s not entirely true. After years and years of discovering spots on my clothes and years and years of dropping food on myself as I eat, it really gets kind of frustrating. Plus it’s super embarrassing to stand up from the table only to reveal a large grease spot on your shirt, and especially if you’re not at home and able to change. Then you have to sit there trying to hide the spot so you don’t end up looking like you can’t eat properly. And don’t go and rinse it out, or splash cold water on it, because now you have a spot and a wet shirt! In fact there was a time that I wouldn’t eat in public because I just knew that at some point during the meal I would drop something on myself. I actually thought for a while that if I could simply develop a line of clothing that had spots in a sort of Jackson Pollack style, so that any additional spots that were added through food splatters would be hidden, I would never have to buy shirts or pants again. However, even those clothes wouldn’t help me when it comes to bleach spots, which I won’t even go into here, with the exception to say… we don’t use bleach, and yet….
I have to say, when I think about food that drips, one of my first thoughts is ice cream. I can remember as a kid going to the local ice cream store and getting an ice cream cone only to have it start melting down on my hand. The only thing to do when that happens, of course, was to try to lick the ice cream off my hand. This of course meant I had to tip my hand to the side, and on more than one occasion the ice cream came precariously close to falling out of the cone straight onto the ground. I don’t remember if I ever actually dropped any of my ice cream. It seems like that would have been a pretty traumatic experience and I would remember a thing like that… or perhaps it was so traumatic I have blocked it from my mind. Either way I think the thought of dropping my ice cream onto the ground is one of the main reasons that I like ice cream sandwiches so much.
The standard ice cream sandwich is, of course, a rectangle of vanilla ice cream, which is sandwiched in between two thin chocolate “cake” like wafers. This makes them super easy to hold and eat. Whenever I had an ice cream sandwich as a kid though, I would always peel off one of the chocolate wafers and eat that first. This meant that holding the ice cream sandwich became a little more, let’s say… precarious. It’s hard to not stick your fingers into the ice cream when one whole side of wafer is missing. And since the ice cream is a bit cold you have to change hands often to keep your fingers from freezing. This naturally meant I ended up with ice cream all over my hands, and that naturally meant that I ended up with ice cream on my pants and shirt. I am sure that if I were to eat an ice cream sandwich today, this would still happen.
You might be asking what does all of this have to do with chocolate cake? Well it’s simple: Cocoa powder. It’s odd how the smallest amount of cocoa can make the biggest mess. I always seem to drop just the tiniest amount on the counter and then I wipe it up with a towel, which I eventually use to dry my hands, and before you know it, I look down at my apron and Whoop, there it is. Cocoa powder is devious! Sift it too fast and an almost imperceptible cloud will rise and then settle back onto the counter just waiting for you to touch it. Clean it up with a wet towel and it just spreads in a chocolate smear across the counter, then that chocolate just clings to the towel and at some point will end up on your shirt and/or your pants. Just me? Well, anyway, that’s how we get to chocolate cake. But not just any chocolate cake… Hersey’s chocolate cake…. Hershey’s perfectly chocolate, chocolate cake… If anybody knows about chocolate, it’s the Hershey’s people, am I right… can I get Amen up in here... oh, sorry, got carried away. That happens when I start talking about chocolate. I have included both the recipe for the cake and the frosting below and you can also view the original recipe here.
This chocolate cake is the simplest cake you’ll ever bake. The recipe has been around for a very long time and is honestly my “go to” chocolate cake. The cake is super moist, it’s chocolaty, it’s got a simple-to-make chocolate frosting and it’s a one bowl cake to boot, meaning you can make this whole cake in just one bowl. I use my stand mixer but an electric mixer will do just fine as well.
So here is how I make it:
Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
2 cups granulated sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Start by preheating the oven to 350°F, with the rack in the center position.
Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and set those aside for now.
In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) stir together the sugar, the flour, the cocoa, the baking powder, the baking soda and the salt until it’s well mixed together.
Add to the bowl the eggs, the milk, the oil, and the vanilla and mix at medium speed for two minutes.
Stir in the boiling water until fully incorporated (the batter will be thin).
Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick when inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Set the pans on a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans and allowing them to cool completely before frosting.
Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate frosting
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
⅔ cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
⅓ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the butter and add it to a large bowl.
Add the cocoa powder to the butter and stir until it is well combined and there are no lumps.
Add half of the powdered sugar and using an electric mixer beat until combined.
Add in the milk and vanilla and again mix to combine.
Add in the remaining powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
If your frosting is too thick add in just a small amount of milk to make it spreadable and if too thin, add in just a little more powdered sugar to get the correct consistency.
This cake is one of my favorite cakes as it checks off all my boxes. It is moist, it has great flavor, the cake to icing ratio is perfect, and best of all it is simple to make with ingredients you probably already have around the house. When people ask me for a simple cake dessert they can make – this is the one I recommend. I hope you try it and like it as much as I do.