mississippi mud cake


One of my fondest memories of college was getting care packages.  I mean the climbing trees to get into bars thing was cool too, but that’s a different post.  I am talking about that time when you are sitting on the floor in your tiny dorm room, and you cut open that brown paper wrapped package with your address written in Sharpie marker, to reveal whatever goodies are packed inside.  On several occasions, my grandfather sent me a care package of his delicious brownies.  These were not just any brownies.  Take your best brownie, and then top it with 1 solid inch of chocolate fudge with walnuts.  These brownies were so insanely good, and highly sought after by fellow dorm-mates when news of the dessert delivery spread down the hall.  I could blame the occasional delivery for my freshman fifteen, but I think that was more the Dr. Pepper, Oreos and daily microwaved helping of nachos.
I mentioned in another post that I am not the best baker in the world.  That would probably be the main reason for me not trying to duplicate my grandfather’s brownies.  I would hate to ruin the memory of them.  But after trolling through a holiday issue of Southern Living, I saw the pictures of this Mississippi Mud Cake and the fudge-like layer on the top, and it immediately sent me back to my grandfather’s brownies.  It had three components, a brownie cake, marshmallows and chocolate frosting.  I decided to give it a shot.  They were awesome.  I say were because of the speed in which I kept eating them.  Mid-life fifteen here I come!

chopped pecans

mississippi mud cake (from Southern Living August 2007)

1  cup chopped pecans
1  cup butter
1  4oz. semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
2  cups sugar
1 1/2  cups flour
1/2  cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4  tsp. salt
4  large eggs
1  tsp. vanilla extract
1  10 oz bag miniature marshmallows
Chocolate frosting (recipe follows)

get started on the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8-10 minutes until toasted and fragrant.  Microwave butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe glass bowl at high for 1 minute or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.

chocolate

sifting

In a large bowl, sift sugar, flour, cocoa and salt together.  Whisk eggs and vanilla together and add to dry ingredients.  Pour melted chocolate and butter mixture into large bowl with cocoa mixture and stir to combine.  Pour batter into a greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch dish or pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with marshmallows.  Bake 8-10 minutes more until marshmallows are golden brown.  Drizzle warm cake with Chocolate Frosting and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

marshmallowsgolden marshmallows

chocolate frosting

1/2  cup butter
1/3  cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3  cup milk
1  16 oz. package powdered sugar
1  tsp. vanilla extract

get started on chocolate frosting:

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted.  Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and beat in powdered sugar and vanilla extract at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

mixing in powdered sugarchocolate frosting

note:  Recipe says this makes 15 servings but depending on how you cut it, this could serve 4 nicely – kidding.

banana chocolate chip cake with peanut butter frosting


banana chocolate chip cake with peanut butter frosting

I don’t bake.  Actually I should say that I don’t bake well. Salt gets forgotten, butter gets neglected to get to room temperature, or my personal favorite was my choice to use a removable bottom cake pan when making my grandmother’s gooey biscuit cake (think monkey bread), and I open the oven to find all the yummy brown sugary syrup had oozed on out of that pan and formed a hard slick on the bottom of my oven.  So it is ironic that my first post is of a cake. However, as I stated in my ‘about page, I like to challenge myself.  Chalk it up to being stubborn.  So memories of dry cookies and purple-green blueberry muffins banished, I decided I was going to try this recipe.  I tore it out of the Bon Appetit October 2012 issue because…oh hell, just look at it.  It’s like a perfect storm of all good ingredients.  So armed with a Stuart Smalley-like mantra of ‘I can do this’, I dove into making this cake.  A short word on a few changes I made – one deliberate and one not.  One – I used regular sized chocolate chips as that is what I had in my cabinet, and two – I used two round cake pans because I didn’t read the recipe all the way through.  Classic Erin.

banana & chocolate chip cake with peanut butter frosting (adapted from Bon Appetit October 2012)

cake:

2  9 inch round non-stick cake pans
non-stick spray (either canola or baking)

3  cups all-purpose flour
2  tsp. baking soda
2  tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2  cups sugar
1  cup unsalted butter, room temperature (go figure)
1/2  cup packed brown sugar
3  large eggs
1 1/2  tsp. vanilla extract
2  cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1  cup sour cream
1  10 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, save some for the top of cake

mashed bananabanana batter

frosting:

2  cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2  cups powdered sugar
1  cup unsalted butter, room temperature (again)
2 1/2  tsp. vanilla extract
chocolate chips

banana cake slicebanana cake

get started on the cake:

Preheat oven to 350.  Coat cake pans with non-stick spray.  Line bottom of pans with parchment and coat with non-stick spray (although I skipped the paper step).  Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions.  Occasionally scrape down sides and bottom of bowl to fully blend.  Beat in vanilla.
Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed, just to blend.  Add bananas and sour cream; beat just to blend.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Divide batter evenly among pans; smooth tops.   (I chose to drop each pan flat on counter because I saw it on a cooking show and always wanted to do that!)
Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  (I had to add 10 more minutes because of my larger pans).  Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto racks to completely cool.  Peel off parchment if you chose to use.

get started on frosting:

Using an electric mixer, beat first four ingredients in a medium bowl until a light and fluffy frosting forms, 2-3 minutes.

assembly:

Place one cake on a plate.  Spread 1 1/4 cups frosting evenly over the top of the cake.  Place remaining cake on top with flat side (bottom) facing up.  Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.  Garnish with chocolate chips however you see fit!  You can spell something, do a design, or just leave it random.

note:

Cake can be made 2 days ahead.  Cover and chill.  Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.  (My kids complained that the frosting was hard when serving a slice right from the fridge..boo hoo).