Chocolate Chip Date Cake – A Chemist/Baker in the Kitchen

December 2nd, 2009 / Comments 4

Last week, as I was serving my favorite chocolate cake, I remembered that my fascination with chemical reactions began when I was eight. Every Saturday morning, I watched Mr. Wizard explain the science behind ordinary things on our fuzzy black and white television. He said that chemical reactions made cakes rise. I wanted to be a chemist at work in the kitchen. It was time to move on from transforming copper saucepans from dull brown to garish, peachy pink with lemon and salt.

Pt Boat 01 c egbert Chocolate Chip Date Cake   A Chemist/Baker in the Kitchen

I was ready for more than powering my green plastic boat across the sink with a chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar. Curdling milk and making my sister cry by adding blue food coloring to her milk were child’s play.

I would become a baker/chemist. Kitchen experiments would be well received if the end results were sweet and tasty. After all, my sister always smiled when she saw a cake. My first cakes began as powder in red and white boxes from the grocery store. I measured water, broke eggs and mixed. Not much chemistry there. I moved onto the more complicated angel food cake mix and enjoyed transforming white powder into fluffy peaks using a primitive, hand operated, eggbeater. That was a bit more fun but I wanted to really make a cake, I wanted to “Start from Scratch!”

Pt egg beater 02 c egbert Chocolate Chip Date Cake   A Chemist/Baker in the KitchenThe first cake I made from scratch was a Chocolate Wacky Cake. I knew that this was the recipe for me when I read the part about creating a volcano with vinegar and baking soda to give the cake its ‘lift’. I had found a way to have both a chemical reaction and a sweet reward. I branched out and created brownies and pound cakes in my search for even more interesting recipes.

When I was nine, I saw a recipe for a walnut, chocolate chip, date cake in a small cookbook from the grocery store. I had only eaten dates at Christmas time and couldn’t imagine how the cake would taste, but with chocolate chips and walnuts, it sounded delicious and it was. I made it a couple of times before I lost the recipe and moved on to the challenge of perfecting tapioca.

ZPD Birthday Cake Chocolate Chip Date Cake   A Chemist/Baker in the Kitchen

Nearly ten years later, I saw a recipe for a chocolate, date cake in a newspaper column. With minor adjustments, this is the cake I have baked for many parties. I always use a Bundt pan and slather the cooled cake with unsweetened, heavy cream that has been beaten to stiff peaks. Last week, I topped the cream with sliced strawberries and promised our guests that I would share the recipe. Here’s how I did it:

Chocolate Chip Date Nut Cake

I began by preheating the oven to 350 F degrees. I used a pastry brush to carefully spread butter on all of the curves and bends of a Bundt pan before I dusted the pan with a tablespoon of cocoa powder.

I softened one cup of chopped dates in one and a quarter cups of boiling water and one teaspoon of baking soda. While the dates cooled, I used an electric mixer to cream three quarters of a cup of unsalted butter with three quarters of a cup of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla. Then I added two eggs, beating well after each addition.

I used a fork to blend one and a half cups of flour, a large pinch of salt and three tablespoons of cocoa together on a piece of waxed paper.

I added the cooled date mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and then stirred in the dry ingredients. I poured two thirds of the batter into the prepared pan, topped it with a mixture of one cup of chocolate chips, half a cup of chopped walnuts and a quarter of a cup of sugar. I spooned the rest of the batter into the pan and used a small spatula to swirl the batter and chocolate chip/ nut mixture together. In forty minutes, the cake had pulled away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick came out dry when poked into the center of the cake.

Getting this cake out of the pan in one piece can be a challenging even when you use butter and cocoa and a non-stick pan. It helps if you cool the cake in the pan for ten minute before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. If, in spite of all these precautions, the cake still sticks to the pan, gather all the bits, reassemble the cake and use the whipped cream to disguise any visual imperfections of this otherwise perfect cake.  Your guest will never know!

Download and print cake recipe with an ingredients list here.

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• 4 Responses to “Chocolate Chip Date Cake – A Chemist/Baker in the Kitchen”

  • Carol, I just made your chocolate date nut cake for coffee hour this AM. There was not a crumb left and Irene asked for the recipe. Dates from the Cassells in Saudi Arabia. It was a winner as we knew it would be! Have fun! Polly
    PS Richard Shramm won Charles’ architectural offer for the pledge drive. He is thrilled. He hung around and made sure he had the final bid! Sounds as if Charles will have an interesting project. I’m ready for more story when you return!

  • Lynda Barber says:

    Carol is a true Wizard in her Vermont Kitchen. Love the history mixed with passion all served with grace. Keep the blogs coming!

  • kathy says:

    YUM! This blog just gets better and better!!! And I LOVE getting an email notification….

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