Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

I am a chocoholic.  I really love chocolate, in all its forms.  I tell people that it is because I am a woman, and it's a chemical attraction, but the plain fact is, chocolate tastes so good that I can not resist it.

I am not alone in this, and this month I offer a few special end of summer chocolate treats for you other chocolate lovers out there.

First, let me say a word about chocolate.  It was first discovered in the Aztec culture by the Spanish Conquistadores.  The Aztecs called it "Chocolatl" and believed that it had special powers.  I think that they were right. Anyway, they drank it hot and unsweetened every morning, and it must have been bitter enough to curl their teeth. They were a tough crew, those Aztecs.

It took Europeans to add milk and sugar, and produce the product that we love today.

Once very expensive and difficult to obtain, chocolate is now readily available and affordable on the shelves of every food market in this country, and many others around the world.  We can have our smooth and sweet velvet comfort food whenever we want it.

For those unhappy folks out there who are allergic to chocolate, or cannot eat it for medical treasons, I suggest that you substitute an equal volume on butterscotch morsels for the chocolate in each recipe, or experiment with fruit jams.  For those of you who don't use eggs, and we are among you at our house, Mom being allergic, and both of us watching cholesterol, use egg substitutes.  For lactose sensitive diets, use Lactaid instead of milk.

This month I offer you:

  • Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake
  • Boston Cream Pie
  • Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Miniature Chocolate Éclairs

Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup less 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup softened margarine
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (or substitutes)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Frosting and Garnish:
  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate shavings optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with waxed paper.  Grease paper and sides of pans.  Dust with flour.

Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, beat margarine, granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs (or the equivalent substitute) one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.

At low speed, alternately beat flour mixture and buttermilk into margarine mixture just until blended.  Divide batter equally between prepared pans.

Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer pans to wire racks to cool for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto racks.  Remove paper.  Turn the layers topside, and cool completely.

To prepare frosting, beat margarine and confectioner’s sugar at medium speed until fluffy.  Add melted chocolate and vanilla.  Continue beating until shiny and smooth. 

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with frosting.  Top with remaining cake layer.  Spread frosting on top and sides of cake.  Let cake stand for at least 30 minutes before sprinkling with chocolate shavings and slicing.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes preparation, 25 -30 minutes baking

Boston Cream Pie

  • 3 large eggs (or substitutes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 6 large egg yolks (or substitutes)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.  Line with waxed paper.

Beat together egg yolks (or substitutes) and vanilla until blended.  Beat in half of sugar until very thick and pale.

Using clean, dry beaters, beat together egg whites (or substitutes) and salt at medium speed until very soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff, but not dry peaks form.

Fold yolk mixture into egg whites.  Sift flour over mixture; fold in gently, do not over mix.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until top springs back when lightly pressed, 25 minutes.  Loosen cake by running a metal spatula around sides of pan.  Invert onto a wire rack. Remove pan, leaving waxed paper on cake.  Turn right side up.  Cool completely on rack.

Prepare filling.  In a saucepan, mix together sugar and flour.  Gradually whisk in milk, then egg yolks, vanilla and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl.  Press plastic wrap on surface.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, cut cake horizontally in half.  Carefully remove waxed paper.  Place bottom layer on a serving plate.  Spread evenly with filling. Top with remaining cake layer.

To prepare glaze, in a saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate;  let stand for 1 minute.  Whisk until smooth.  Gradually pour glaze over cake, allowing it to drip down sides.  Let stand until glaze sets.

Store in refrigerator.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes preparation, 30 minutes chilling, 25 minutes baking

Chocolate Cheesecake

  • 2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons melted margarine
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg, (or substitutes)
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

To prepare crust, in a medium bowl, mix together chocolate crumbs and melted margarine until well blended.  Press into a 9-inch spring form pan.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

To prepare filling, in a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar and eggs (or substitutes) at medium speed until smooth and fluffy.  Spoon 3 cups mixture onto crust.

Stir chocolate into remaining mixture until well blended.  Drizzle over batter in crust to make swirls.

Bake cheesecake for 1 hour.  Transfer pan to wire rack.  Cool completely.

Transfer cheesecake to a serving plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 2 hours.

Uncover cheesecake; carefully remove the side of pan.

To prepare frosting, in a small bowl, mix together chocolate and sour cream. Spread over top of cheesecake.  Chill briefly until frosting is set.

Store in refrigerator.

  • Yields: 1 nine inch cheesecake
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes preparation, 1 hour baking, 2 hours chilling

Miniature Chocolate Éclairs

  • 1 three-ounce package chocolate pudding and pie filling
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 medium eggs (or substitutes)
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare filling, cook pudding according to package instructions.  Chill for one hour.

To prepare pastry, in a heavy saucepan, heat margarine, water, and salt over medium high heat until mixture boils and margarine melts.

Reduce heat to low.  Vigorously stir in all flour at once until mixture forms into a ball.

Transfer pastry to a bowl; cool for 5 minutes.  Stir in eggs (or substitutes) 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a baking sheet.  Drop dough into 12 mounds, about 5 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.

Spread each mound into a 4x 1/2 inch rectangle, piling dough on top, and slightly rounding sides.

Bake until golden, 35 minutes.  Remove from oven; make 1-inch-long slit on side of each éclair.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To prepare frosting, heat margarine and chocolate over low heat, stirring until melted.  Remove from heat.  Stir in Sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth.

Slice éclairs in half.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto bottom half, and replace top half.  Spread tops with frosting.

  • Yields: 12 Éclairs
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes preparation, 45 minutes baking
Note: A wire rack allows air to circulate below and around the food so that it cools without becoming soggy.