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Monday, June 11, 2007

No such thing as a bad chocolate cake

I have so enjoyed all the comments on my SortaWhat, Part Two post. It's really surprising to me just how many mamas lean the "sorta crunchy" way . . . we just don't talk about it. I would love to see those conversations taking place on playgrounds and over coffee instead of being limited to LLL meetings and health food stores.

Anyway, speaking of health food . . . I've got a little recipe to share with you. I realize most everyone is doing their Meal Plan Monday for the week. We are still in packing/moving limbo, so my meal plan consists of going through the freezer and pantry and inventing meals out of what I find inside so we can transport as little food as possible to the new hacienda. But over the weekend, the need to bake consumed me once again, and I turned to this scrumptious recipe I had re-discovered last week.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
(from the Taste of Home 2003 recipe collection; recipe submitted by Elaine Medeiros of Wamego, Kansas)

2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. baking cocoa
1/2 t. salt

1-1/2 c. water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
4-1/2 t. white vinegar
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract

Peanut butter batter:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. plus 1 T sugar, divided
1 egg
1/8 t. salt
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir in water, oil, vinegar and vanilla, mix well. Pour into greased 13x2x9 baking pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, 1/3 c. sugar, egg, and salt until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons over cake batter; cut through batter with a knife to swirl the peanut butter mixture. Sprinkle with pecans and remaining sugar.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before cutting. Refrigerate leftovers.

What? That doesn't sound like health food, you say? Au contraire, my friends. It has peanut butter in it and peanuts are an excellent source of protein, ya know. And did you see that it has vegetable oil? Oh, it is surely health food indeed. If nothing else, it's great mental health food, particularly if you are self-medicating from the stress of a move coupled with the tireless demands of an already-needy-two-year-old who is teething those awful molars.

(As the cake finished cooling on the rack, I discovered The Coach hunkered over the pan in the kitchen - in the dark. He stopped forking cake in his mouth long enough to say, "this is awful . . . you probably don't want to eat any of it. Don't worry about it . . . I'll take care of it . . .")