Monday, April 23, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Oil

You might not think of chocolate cake as summer food, but on several food groups I belong to, the answer to the question, "what dessert can I bring to a barbecue?" is often "chocolate sheet cake." Sure, fresh fruit is nice and ice cream is refreshing, but a chocolate sheet cake is very portable and won't wilt in the heat.

This cake is sturdy - not quite a brownie, but not a delicate, fluffy thing. A square of this won't fall apart when you eat it, so it can be finger food, if you like. I'm not a big fan of frosting, so I sprinkled it with powdered sugar for serving. If you prefer, you can frost it. Y88FP42WTSE3

Instead of a massive cake, I scaled this down so it fits in an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan, whichever you have available. Perfect for the family, or a small gathering. A round pan would also work, but that square pan will allow you to cut nice, even squares.

Instead of butter, this cake uses coconut oil. A few years ago, coconut oil was considered the most evil of all oils. Lately, some people consider it to be one of the more healthy options. I'm not going to weigh in on that debate - there's plenty of information available for you to make your own decision.

But because of its newfound proponents, coconut oil is becoming much more available in stores. If you haven’t used it yet, you might be tempted to do so soon.

And if you don’t like cooking with it, you can use it as a moisturizer for your skin. You can't say that about the bottle of barbecue sauce you tried but didn't like.

I'm not a big fan of shredded coconut, and the flavor isn't the first thing I'd pick for a dessert, but the oil's flavor isn't overpowering. Mixed with the chocolate in this cake, it adds a nuttiness, but most people wouldn't pick the flavor out as coconut.

Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. If the cocoa is lumpy, pass it through a strainer to break up the lumps. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the coconut oil and sugar until it is combined and well-beaten. Add the vanilla, and continue beating until it is incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until they are completely incorporated.

Stir the flour mixture into the beaten mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions. Mix well enough to combine, but don't over-mix. The batter will be thicker than a typical cake batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - about 30 minutes.

Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn it out to cool completely on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, or frost with your favorite frosting.

Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of virgin coconut oil to review. Since I was under no obligation to review it, there was no risk in giving it a try.