Death by Cake – A Blood-Dripping Recipe
Shivering bare branches scrape and scratch at dark windows, clawing their way into frightened imaginations with the terrifying screech of a shrill nail dragged slowly down a chalk-dusted blackboard. The rumbling bass of a thump shakes the rickety home – frightened imaginations become concerned. A couple cuddle closer, warm under a blanket shared near the silent roar of a mature, hours-old fire. Friends sipping from favorite mugs on the steaming, marshmallow filled cocoa decide to sit closer – within hugging distance if needed – as wind howling around outside whistles and whines. A scary story – prose poorly delivered from a too eager to scare story teller – still shocks the on-edge group. Laughter, nervous and fraught with anticipation, barely covers the air of fear floating from one to the other.
Suddenly with a thunderous pop and flash of light the house falls into darkness. The hum of appliances and electronics all whir down and the cheerful facade of laughter and banter ceases. A few quiet crackles from the mellow, dying fire scream out in the silent room – nothing else can be heard. Menacing, screaming branches now cast horrifying, monstrous shadows on the stark walls of the dark room – lit by the occasional flash of light from a marauding storm hovering far above. A ghost of a friend appears suddenly with lit candles, one in each hand, letting a warm orange glow dance about the room in unison with the faint red glow of a now dead fire. A polite inquiry to whom may want more cocoa produces a tray filled with mugs, a bowl of small delicate marshmallows, a variety of chocolate and a kettle of hot milk. Friends huddle around the comfortable tray, their ferocious thoughts quieted with the warm, chocolaty hug of hot cocoa filling their butterfly-filled stomachs – their hands comforted with the radiant glow of heat floating from the mug into their tightly gripped hands.
The unmistakeable sound of glass shattering into a spray of falling shrapnel rings down a dark, empty hall – everyone knows this isn’t their imagination. Whispers, dares and frightened thoughts of concern float about the group. Finally a brave soul agrees to inspect and with little more than the quite tapping of his feet against the cold wood floors, he disappears into the dark hallway, the lone candle’s glow too fades to nothingness. Silence befalls the house. Seconds go by – they are perceived as painfully long minutes. Then a minute goes by. Concerned chatter returns and with little hesitation two more guys from the group – proud in their sexist ideals that they must protect the girls – decide to wander down the same ill-fated hallway. Nothing. Minutes and minutes pass by. The girls wait and wait but all they can hear is the whistling of wind rushing through a broken window somewhere in the house.
The girls wrap themselves in the thickest quilt, grab fire pokers, heavy blunt objects and whatever else their frightened imaginations can turn into a weapon. One girl belts out a nervous laugh – she is quickly reprimanded with a slap of a punch from both friends to both arms. Deep breaths and they begin their slow arduous trek down the dark hall – the dim light from their candle bouncing each way as the wind teases it. A gust of wind then quickly erases the light-giving power of the candle. The hall plunges into darkness. The candle is dropped and panic ensues – one girl runs off, the other two retreat back to the living room.
With a few pops and buzzes from devices around the house the lights magically glow again. Just as the power switches on though an ear-piercing scream rings from the kitchen – as quickly as the scream bounces about the house it is silenced. The girls run to the kitchen. Did she find the dead bodies of their boyfriends? Is it a murderer standing there waiting to devour his victim. Maybe it is a zombified raccoon! The girls swing open the kitchen door with closed eyes, afraid to look, terrified of what they will find awaiting them in the kitchen. With a peek they prepare to jump back. Every tense muscle in both girls’ bodies relaxes. They open their eyes fully, now curious. The screaming princess seems to be fine. And the three guys? What are they huddled around? Are they zombies? Could they be eating a neighbor…
“We found chocolate cake!” one guy rings out, his chocolate muddied face turns away from the decadent dessert only for a moment.
“It’s sooo good!” exclaims another without even turning.
“Sorry. The power came on and scared me,” explains the screamer.
All six now stand around the butcher block island, forks in hand, chocolate cake slowly being devoured. They survived another night. Then a pounding of a knock at the door. The group looks at each other – there is no way they are opening that door.
“Trick or treat!” the the quiet chime of a group of kids barely carries through the house. The group breaths, relaxes, and dutifully takes their rightful place by the door, scary costumes donned, bowl of candy nearby.
One Bowl Chocolate Cake
This recipe will yield enough for one bundt cake though depending on the size of your bundt pan you may have a little extra batter left. This batter also rises a lot so leave about an inch or more of space in the top of the pan when filling it.
1 bundt pan
1 large bowl
1 whisk or wooden spoon
12 ounces sugar
2 1/2 ounces good cocoa powder
5 ounces bread flour
4 1/2 ounces cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teasspon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee
8 ounces butter, melted
1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Butter a bundt pan. If you have a hard time buttering a bundt pan, get the pan very cold, then pour in a little melted butter and move it around with your fingers.
2. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, break apart and smooth out the sour cream in a very large bowl. Add the eggs, mixing in one at a time. Add the buttermilk and mix until homogenous.
3. Sift the dry ingredients into the large bowl and mix until a thick batter forms.
3. Add the vanilla, coffee and melted butter, one at a time, and mix until the batter absorbs all of the liquid. The batter will be very thin – this is a good thing for chocolate cakes.
4. Pour the batter into a bundt pan leaving room in the top of the pan for the cake to rise.
5. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out barely clean (a few straggling crumbs is a good thing – it means the cake will be moist). Mine baked for 42 minutes. You may want to check much sooner depending on which shape of bundt pan you use though.
6. Allow the cake to cool in the bundt pan before removing.
For halloween I decided to serve this cake with a blood-red cranberry caramel sauce. The sauce is quite easy and the sweet and tart notes play very well with the chocolate cake.
Cranberry Caramel Sauce
Since brown sugar is already the color of caramel you must rely on your sense of smell as well as your eyes when watching this sugar. Watch it carefully and never leave a caramel unattended. It goes from perfectly caramelized to burnt in a matter of seconds.
1 food processor or blender
1 heavy-bottom 3 quart pot
1 wooden spoon
1 fine mesh sieve
1 glass or metal bowl
4 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen – thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup water
10 ounces light brown sugar
1. Puree the cranberries in a food processor or blender until they form a puree.
2. Place the brown sugar and 1/4 cup of water in the pot. Heat over high until the sugar begins to boil. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for a few minutes – The color will darken a little and it will smell sweet, not burnt.
3. Add the rest of the water and the cranberry puree to the caramel. Stand back as it may bubble up. Bring back to a boil and keep it boiling over medium heat until it coats a spoon – about six to ten minutes.
4. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve pushing or scraping on the mixture against the sieve to get all of the liquid out.
5. Let the mixture cool slightly. It will thicken as it cools.