Chocolate is the number one item sold for Valentine's Day. Some claim it is an aphrodisiac, that it acts as a stimulant and gives you a high, and that there are many healthy nutrients in chocolate. Skeptics say all such claims are bogus. I know one thing for sure; if there is chocolate on the dessert menu, that is what I am ordering. It makes me happy. I recently visited The Driskill Hotel's 1886 Cafe & Bakery for a late night snack. The hotel's slogan is that every room tells a story. The story that night at the Cafe was the chocolate cake served with homespun vanilla ice cream. The friendly and humorous waiter (a stand up comedian--no joke) said this cake is made with the original recipe from The Heritage Society of Austin. It was not overly rich to the point that you were done after a few bites. Instead the cake itself had a subtle rich chocolate taste, and more importantly it was perfectly moist. The warm chocolate glaze was more intense, but was tamed by the vanilla ice cream and left me wanting more. It was love at first bite. I thought about it for days, just like falling in love for the first time. Lucky for us the recipe is available to the public. Since this recipe makes more than what I needed, I cut the finished cake in half and froze half to eat on Valentine's Day with my sweetheart. (Gina)

1886 Cafe and Bakery Chocolate Cake

   2 cups cake flour
   2 cups sugar
   2 sticks butter
   1 cup buttermilk
   2/3 cup water
   1 teaspoon baking soda
   2 eggs, beaten
   1/2 cup cocoa (I used Navitas Naturals)
   2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar and flour in one large bowl and mix.  In a separate bowl mix together eggs, baking soda, vanilla and buttermilk. In another microwave safe bowl, combine butter, water, and cocoa and heat until butter is melted about 45 seconds.  Pour butter/cocoa mixture and buttermilk mixture into the large bowl of flour and sugar. Stir by hand until well mixed. Pour into 9x12 inch greased pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan while preparing the 1886 glaze.

1886 Chocolate Glaze

   2 cups powdered sugar (sifted with a fork)
   1 stick butter
   1/2 cup cocoa
   1 teaspoon vanilla
   1/4 cup buttermilk (enough to make icing spreadable, I added about 2 tablespoons more)
   1 cup chopped Texas pecans (optional for topping)

Melt butter, cocoa, vanilla and stir to mix. Add powdered sugar. Whisk and slowly add buttermilk until a smooth (if more needed, add a tablespoon more at a time until pourable consistency). Release cake from pan by turning upside down on serving dish or board (cut in half first as I did and freeze). Pour fresh glaze over cake, allowing the cake to soak up the glaze (I made the full recipe of glaze and used all of it on the half cake; I will make a fresh glaze for my saved half cake for Valentine's Day). Optionally, top with the chopped pecans. Cut into 2 inch squares and serve. (Serves about 24 if cut in 2 inch squares)


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