Two phone calls this week reminded me that all of us still want to talk to a human being when calling a business.
When people call looking for me, they are often surprised that they get a live person. I understand; too often we end up leaving a message and/or listening to a recording. It can feel like a cold, impersonal world out there sometimes.
I try hard not to let that happen when readers call with cooking questions. I think of that contact as a perk working as the food editor: I get to talk about food! But, I also want them to know that if they do leave a message and number on my direct line (618-239-2664), I will call them back.
I bring this up because my status at the News-Democrat has changed. I happily call myself “semi-retired” now, but basically I have cut my hours from 40 to 20 a week, focusing on writing about food, as well as my shopping column. What that means is that I am only in the office Tuesday to Thursday. If you call and miss me, it might take me a little longer to get back to you. The important thing is, I’m still here.
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In my free time, I plan to do more innovative cooking at home, which may result in some new recipes and ideas, which I will gladly pass along — if they work out. Heck, you’ll probably hear about disasters, too.
Yes, Valentine’s Day is three weeks away, but baking with chocolate is always a good thing. Who needs a so-called special day to do that? Not me.
I came across these two recipes for chocolate cake; they’re about as different as they can be. The first, 4-Ingredient Chocolate Raspberry Cake, is flourless, so don’t go thinking an ingredient is missing. Chocolate, eggs and chocolate frosting come together for a cake that’s outta this world rich, creamy and delicious. Make sure you follow the directions carefully.
The second recipe is a decadent poke cake that uses a box cake mix, then adds all the extras. It’s a simple cake to make and will disappear no matter where you put it down. I especially like the idea of melting chocolate chips with condensed milk, then pouring the mixture over the cake.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 618-239-2664 and follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.
4-Ingredient Chocolate Raspberry Cake
1 (13-ounce) package dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup creamy chocolate frosting
8 eggs, room temperature
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and frosting together until smooth. Spoon into a stand mixer and add 2 eggs at a time until all eggs have been combined. Turn to high and beat for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and well-combined.
Spoon into a 7-inch round cake pan that has been lined and rimmed with parchment paper. Place this cake pan into a large baking dish and carefully fill the outside baking dish with 1 inch of water. Be careful to not get any water inside your cake pan.
Bake 50-60 minutes, or just until the center of the cake sets. Remove and refrigerate until the cake is completely cool. Gently remove the cake from the cake pan by turning it upside-down on a serving platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with raspberries just before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.
Chocolate Poke Cake
1 (15.25-ounce) box devil’s food chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients listed on box
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mini chocolate chips
1. Bake cake according to box directions in a 9-by-13 cake pan.
2. Once cake comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the top of the cake. (A chopstick works well.) Don’t poke all the way to the bottom.
3. Place sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
4. Whisk chocolate and milk until smooth, microwaving more, if needed to melt the chocolate.
5. Pour chocolate mixture over the cake and spread to fill in holes.
6. Set cake aside to cool, about an hour, then refrigerate until completely cooled.
7. To make whipped topping, whip heavy cream until it begins to thicken.
8. Add powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla extract and whip until stiff peaks form.
9. Spread whipped topping evenly over cooled cake.
10. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over cake and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.