Basic Chocolate Cake

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups hot water
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
tsp. baking powder
tsp. salt
lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Set the oven at 325 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch round cake pan with 3-inch-high sides (use a springform pan or a layer pan from a professional bake shop). Cut a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Butter the pan and dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a bowl, stir together the cocoa and water; set them aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set them aside.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugan on low speed for 5 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Beat in the vanilla.
Beat the dry ingredients into the batter alternately with the cocoa liquid, beginning and ending with flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
Using a knife, cut around the sides of the cake to release it from the pan. Turn the cake out onto the rack and then carefully invert it onto a cake stand.
Using a long serrated-edge knife, slice the cake, horizontally, in half. Spread the bottom half with milk chocolate cream or bittersweet chocolate ganache. Place the other half of the cake on top of the filling.
Frost the cake with bittersweet chocolate ganache while the ganache is still warm.

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
Ganache will glaze a cake, and it can also become a filling for a baked tart shell.

2 cups heavy cream
1 lb. high-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

In a heavy-based saucepan, scald the cream.
Remove it from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Continue to stir until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth. Use warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 3 cups.

Milk Chocolate Cream
Use this to fill basic chocolate cake or a fully baked 12-inch tart shell.

1 cups heavy cream
lb. high-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

In a heavy-based saucepan, scald the cream.
Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Continue to stir until the chocolate has melted and the cream is smooth.
Let the cream cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
With an electric mixer, beat the cream on high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Do not overbeat, or the mixture will separate.
Makes about 3 cups.

Chantal’s New York Cheesecake

Original Recipe:
15 graham crackers, crushed
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 cups white sugar
cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
cup all-purpose flour

Healthier Alternative:
Use 2 (8 oz.) packages vanilla yogurt to replace 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese (and optional yogurt) with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.
Makes 12 servings.

Apple Pecan Topping:
4 cups chopped peeled apples (about 3)
cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 + cups packed brown sugar

In cheesecake recipe above, replace 1 cups white sugar with 1 cup packed brown sugar.
Mix remaining cup sugar, apples, pecans and cinnamon; spoon over batter.
Let the cream cool to room temperature. Bake as directed above.

Chocolate Cakes with Liquid Centers

cup butter
4 (1 oz.) squares bittersweet chocolate
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
cup white sugar
2 tsp. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Butter and flour four 4-oz. ramekins or custard cups.
In the top half of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate until chocolate is almost completely melted.
Beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until light colored and thick.
Beat together the melted chocolate and butter. While beating, slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour and mix until just combined.
Divide the batter between the four molds and bake at 450 degrees F for 6 to 7 minutes. The centers of the cakes will still be quite soft. Invert cakes on serving plates and let sit for about 15 minutes, then unmold. Serve immediately with fresh whipped cream, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

cup butter or margarine
cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
cup sour milk or buttermilk ( cup milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
4 Tbsp. cocoa
2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups grated zucchini (1 zucchini = ~3 cups)
cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
cup walnuts
Beat together butter, oil, sugar, and eggs. Combine with remaining ingredients and pour into a 9x13 ungreased pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts on top. Bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes.

Fresh Fruit Cheesecake

7", 9", and 10" Springform

1 cup2 cups2 cupsflour
2 Tbsp. cup5 Tbsp.granulated sugar
11large orange, zest of
tsp. tsp. tsp.salt
122large egg yolk
6 Tbsp.12 Tbsp.1 cupcold, unsalted butter, in small pieces
1-3 Tbsp.3-5 Tbsp.4-6 water

16 oz.32 oz.40 oz.cream cheese, room temp.
10 Tbsp.1 cups1 cupsgranulated sugar
245large eggs
cup cup2/3 cupcream
tsp. tsp.1 extract
11 large orange, zest of

cup1 cup1 1/3 cupsraspberry jam
2 cups4 cups4 cupsfresh fruit
cup1 cup1 cupssliced almonds

Pineapple Chocolate Pudding Cake

Pineapple Chocolate Cake:
1 can (1 lb. 4 oz.) crushed pineapple
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
tsp. salt
tsp. cinnamon
tsp. nutmeg
1 pkg. (2 oz. bittersweet + 2 oz. unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
cup raisins
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

Grease a 9-inch tube pan; line the bottom with brown paper.
Drain pineapple thoroughly; there will be a generous cupful. Reserve cup of the pineapple syrup.
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a mixing bowl. Stir in the chocolate, pecans and raisins. Add the slightly beaten eggs, drained pineapple, reserved cup pineapple syrup and the melted butter. Stir enough to moisten all the flour. Turn into the prepared tube pan.
Bake in a moderate (350 F) oven 1 hour and 10 minutes. Place cake in pan on wire rack to cook for 15 minutes. Loosen edges and center with a spatula or small knife; turn out onto parchment paper. Turn right side up. Allow to stand on rack until cold. Cover tightly, and store, 12 hours before serving.

Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
cup soft butter
2 eggs lightly beaten

Melt chocolate, and let cool slightly. Mix in butter and stir well, then eggs. If frosting appears "separated" let cool a few minutes, or put into the fridge for a minute. Then beat till fully mixed and shiny. Pour over cake like a glaze.

Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake

2 cups Oreo chocolate cookie crumbs
1 cup finely chopped pecans, divided
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 bag (14 oz.) caramels
cup milk
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 squares Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate

Mix crumbs, cup of the pecans and butter; press into bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-in. springform pan.
Place caramels and milk in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 3 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Pour of the caramel mixture into crust. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Cover and reserve remaining caramel mixture in refrigerator for later use.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over caramel mixture in crust.
Bake at 300F for 65-70 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around side of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing side of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Microwave reserved caramel mixture for 15 seconds just before serving cheesecake; drizzle over cheesecake. Sprinkle with remaining cup pecans. Melt chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cheesecake. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.
Makes 16 servings.