new years and chocolate cake

We are not ones for resolutions.

Every resolution we have ever made has been broken and forgotten by the wayside of life in favor of its antagonist. Yes, I presume that for every resolution we’ve made, there’s been a candy bar or a couch or an inconsiderate driver or an email overflow that has made us remember the fallibility of resolutions.

Personal betterment for us, it seems, does not come via resolution. It seems instead to be a day by day journey — a growth as malleable and forgiving as one’s best friend.

So we approach this submission not with resolutions or even a reflection on the year gone by. That’s not because it wasn’t a wonderful year. It was actually one of the best, full of beloved people and places [and food!] that will stay with us forever [or at least as long as this little blog keeps a-chuggin’ to remind us of all of our weekly pursuits].

No, all we wish for the New Year is more of the same we’ve been given… time with friends and family, adventures in the kitchen, travel to new and distant destinations, celebrations with the ones we love, escapes to the mountains, bike rides to farmers markets and leisurely walks with the dog, fulfillment in both our personal and professional passions, and as much “fun” as we can pack in at every turn.

To drive this sentiment home, we have spent this final weekend of 2016 doing all of those things and more… in a nutshell, all the things we intend to continue to do well into the New Year.

We’ve hiked the mountains, gorged ourselves with pizza and burritos, walked the dog, biked further than we thought possible, played video games, binged on cooking shows, sang in some beautiful ensembles, roasted and drank some damn good coffee, and even found time to bake a kick-ass cake [while utilizing some much appreciated kitchen-friendly Christmas gifts, I might add].

Which is exactly what we can only hope to do tomorrow too.

 

Because New Years shouldn’t be about putting on a “New You.” It also shouldn’t be a clean slate or even a promise of better times. In our opinion, the New Year is simply a recommitment to life and to living. It’s an opportunity to move forward and grow with every new day we are given.

So what are we doing to celebrate the occasion? None other than our favorite thing. That is, gathering with friends, sharing in a delicious meal, playing games, [hopefully] sitting in a hot tub, and eating cake. This “Stroke of Midnight” Chocolate Cake to be exact.

Who knows if we will make it to the stroke of midnight, but I’m pretty sure we will be eating this “Stroke of Midnight” Chocolate Cake if we do. That’s because it’s as dark as midnight and as chocolate-y as they come. In other words, it’s exactly how we want to usher in the New Year.

So here’s to New Years. To the old you, committing to living life and hopefully making it to the stroke of midnight to usher in a day just as wonderful as the last.


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“Stroke of Midnight” Chocolate Cake
The batter of this cake is chock full of dark chocolate cocoa powder, strong brewed coffee, buttermilk, and instant pudding mix to give it a fudge-like consistency, while the raspberry preserves filling adds a cheerful brightness through it all. We added a salted caramel chocolate sauce to the top for an extra dose of specialness, but it can easily be omitted as the buttercream frosting is divine all on its own.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1-3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 [3.9 oz] package vanilla or chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. strong brewed instant coffee
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting

  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 square bittersweet baking chocolate, melted
  • 5 c. powdered sugar
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling

  • 4 oz. raspberry preserves

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center and add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Beat for two minutes on medium until batter is well incorporated. Batter will be thin.
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
  5. While cake is baking, make the frosting by creaming butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and powdered sugar alternately with the melted chocolate, milk, and vanilla. Beat until thick and at spreading consistency.
  6. Once cake is done baking, cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  7. To assemble, even the tops of the cake rounds with a serrated knife.
  8. When somewhat flat, spread the raspberry preserves on top of the bottom layer being careful not to let it spill along the sides. Set the top layer over the preserves and frost the cake as desired.

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