I had a hard time coming up with a name for these. They really fall somewhere between the categories of cake and cookie. Sturdy like a cookie but soft and thick like cake. Semantics aside, they are really delicious, especially dipped halfway in semi-sweet chocolate. Kind of like a superior version of a snack cake you might find at the convenience store. A high-end Ho-Ho if you will.
As you can see, I used a silicone cupcake/cookie pan with gingerbread people’s shapes to make this batch. I’m not going to pretend my piping skills are stellar, but you must admit they’re pretty cute in their little winter scene. (Okay, you don’t have to but it would spare my feelings.) As long as they are similar in size, any shapes you find should work with this recipe, or you could mini loaf or mini bundt pans.
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Double Chocolate Holiday Cakes
(makes about 2 dozen mini cakes, depending on shape/size)
1 cup butter, *softened
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 tablespoon vinegar + milk to equal 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, melted (I used Ghirardelli 60% chips)
2 tablespoons butter, *softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
*If you need to soften butter quickly, stick it in the microwave on the defrost setting and check it every 10 seconds until it is soft but not melted.
Mix butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Measure buttermilk or the vinegar+milk.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, add 1/2 cup buttermilk, then add the remaining flour mixture and the vanilla extract, mixing well after each addition.
Fill the molds about halfway up with batter. It will rise to the top of the mold as it bakes. For more intricate shapes, use a piping bag to get into all the corners and edges.
Bake in 350 degree F oven for 12 – 15 minutes.
Allow the cakes to cool slightly before turning them onto a cooling rack.
Place 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate (chopped or chips) in a double boiler or a microwave-safe bowl. Allow it to melt over medium heat on the stove or on high in the microwave, checking and stirring often so it doesn’t scorch. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 4oz chocolate until fully melted. The chocolate should be just about body temperature (95 -98 degrees) and have a shiny appearance. If you get it too hot, it will look dull and the cocoa butter will separate so you get unsightly white spots as it sets.
You will have chocolate leftover. Use it as you choose; maybe in a chocolate sauce or peppermint bark. Or just let it harden in the bowl and have your kids and husband chip it out of there (I’m not confirming or denying that’s what happened here).
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Dip the cake into the chocolate, about a quarter to half-way up the side, and shake off the excess chocolate before placing it on the parchment-lined pan. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the icing. Place the butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract and mix with a wire whisk or electric beaters until smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk.
Remove the cakes and check to see that the chocolate is set.
Pipe the icing onto the cakes. Do it better than I did. Lol. Better yet, let the kids do it if that’s an option.
Keep refrigerated; remove 30 minutes or so before serving.
Let them party!
Wishing for lots of laughter for you and your people this holiday season! Remember to have fun, no matter how weird it is this year. Actually, have extra fun because it is weird!
There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor. Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)