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Chocolate Cake and Secrets

11 Jun

Secret #1: The other day I spent $15 (with shipping) on vanilla extract. You read that right. FIFTEEN. DOLLARS. Am I going insane? How can a person spend that much on 4 ounces of vanilla extract? Well, you see, it was Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract.

“Finest Quality” is right! Not only did I get a fancy glass bottle and pretty label, I got the Rolls-Royce of the vanilla extract world. You want to know another secret? I was insane not to buy it sooner. You won’t believe the difference this vanilla makes! I’ve got an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that I love. It makes the greatest cookie ever. And this vanilla catapulted it from great to astoundingly delicious. It was like heaven in a hand-held, two bite raisin-y package. I’m not kidding. This is my new secret weapon. I can’t wait to see how it tastes in sugar cookies!

However, instead of sugar cookies, the very first thing I made with this vanilla was chocolate cake. Ghirardelli chocolate cake. From scratch.

It involved a LOT of brown sugar and butter. So naturally, it was delicious.

Pretty unassuming for such a rich, yet light cake. Light as a pillow!

Wait a minute… Maybe not that light.

That, by the way, is one of my brothers. He’s about 8 feet tall and 100 pounds. You know the type. And he’s the only one out of us 5 kids that is a blonde. Yet he has darker eyebrows than I do. Psh, genetics! I’ll never figure it out.

Super Fancy Ultra Delicious Chocolate Cake


– 1 stick unsalted butter
– 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
– 3 eggs
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
– 2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (I used Swan’s Down. This is actually the recipe from the back of that box)
– 1 cup sour cream
– 1 cup boiling water


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch layer pans.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth.

3. Add brown sugar and eggs. Beat with mixer until light and fluffy.

4. Beat in vanilla and chocolate, then baking soda and salt.

5. Add flour alternately with sour cream, beating until smooth.

6. Pour in boiling water, stirring with spoon until blended.

7. Pour batter into layer pans and bake about 30 minutes or until done. Cool completely.

*Note: if you’re in a hurry, you can put the cakes into the freezer to cool them down quickly. I did that for about 10 minutes and they were cool enough to frost.

Super Fancy Ultra Delicious Ghirardelli Buttercream Frosting


– 6 Tbsp butter, softened
– 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
– 1/2 Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa
– 1/3 cup milk
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1. In bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.

2. In a separate bowl, mix powdered sugar and cocoa.

3. Blend sugar mixture with butter alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth.

4. Blend in vanilla.

You want to know my most shameful secret? I am not the biggest fan of cakes. I don’t actually really like them. Give me a cookie any day! Or a brownie, or chocolate, or hard candy, or… You get the picture. I have to really be in the mood for cake to eat more than a couple forkfuls. Or it has to be especially good cake. And this cake? I would eat a second piece. In my book, there’s no higher praise. Enjoy!