Friday, January 13, 2017

Homemade German Chocolate Cake

For my husband's birthday I make him a german chocolate cake from scratch. It is a tradition that his mom started when he was younger and one that I continued and have continued for the last 14 years. I will say that the main killer ingredient that has to be made homemade, in my humble opinion, is the frosting. Yeah, the canned variety is great, but I have found that I LOVE the homemade frosting so much more! So regardless if I use a box for the cake, because some years I just haven't had the time or the willpower to make a homemade chocolate cake, I will always make the frosting by hand.

This year I did something different though. I didn't have any evaporated milk on hand. I thought I did but when I got home. I didn't. And I could have gone to the store to get it, but after researching how easy it was to make, although a little time consuming, I knew I could do it myself. Plus, one thing I learned is that the shelf life on the canned evaporated milk is YEARS! However, homemade evap milk is only a day or two, in the fridge, only. It made me think...what the heck makes the canned version last so long? I get it. It is sealed in a can but still, it didn't sit right with me for whatever reason yesterday so...I made the evaporated milk myself! Yes, I am crazy but, when I indulge in foods, I want them to be AMAZING and still as healthy and clean (no preservatives) as possible.

WAIT!!! I thought I came here for healthy eating and not junk food...Well, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Or at least allowing yourself to still have indulgences. I firmly believe in eating clean and healthy 80% of the time and allow myself to enjoy other types of foods, that I don't eat very often 20% of the time.

Foods I eat less of / less often: sweets, treats like ice cream, cake, doughnuts, even pasta with cream sauce.

Foods I eat more of / more often: veggies, fruit, brown rice, lean protein, oatmeal.

Foods I avoid: processed foods, preservative laden foods.

General rule of thumb is to have an indulgent meal a week, or every other week, or once a month. It depends on how you want to think about it so that you can still enjoy life and avoid having major binge episodes. Think about it, in the past when you denied yourself having treats or whatnot, the diet didn't last long and often would end in a binge episode. Since I am not on a diet, but a lifestyle change, I need to allow myself those treats so that I don't deprive myself of the things that my mind wants or those fun meals with my family. My goal, to usually have an indulgent meal once a month for a birthday, Valentine's day. Holiday, family get together. If you can use those days as the day that you indulge and enjoy foods you don't have very often you are more likely to succeed and reach your healthy natural weight. Healthy living is not about depriving yourself. It is about creating healthy habits!

HOMEMADE GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE


CHOCOLATE CAKE: 

Ingredients: 
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup coco powder plus 1 tablespoons more for pans
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs (or 3 large eggs) at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans. Spray with cooking spray then dust the pans with coco powder. shaking it all over the pans to coat.
Sift flour, sugar, coco, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. mix on low speed until combined.
In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
with mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until just combined. Scape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing equally.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean
Cool in pans.
Frost as desired.



COCONUT PECAN FROSTING

Ingredients:
12 ounces of homemade evaporated milk
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (6 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) pecans

Directions: 
In a large pot combine evaporated milk, brown sugar and butter and bring to a boil.
Once at a boil remove from heat.
Add salt, coconut and pecans and stir
once evenly coated, transfer to a medium bowl and let cool before frosting.



HOMEMADE EVAPORATED MILK
makes 12 ounces (equal to 1 can) of evaporated milk

Ingredients: 
30 ounces whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions: 
in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring milk to a simmer, stirring frequently (do not let boil, because it will boil over very quickly and make a HUGE mess)

Once simmering lower temperature to medium low heat and now the waiting begins. Stir with a spatula every 5 minutes for about 40 minutes to break up the skim on the top to allow the milk to steam / evaporate the water in the milk and also to help avoid burning the milk on the bottom of the pan. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan with every pass.

Using a strainer over your measuring cup, be sure to strain the milk before use. You may have to measure a couple times to make sure you have the desired amount of 12 ounces.

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