I decided to make a gooey butter cake of sorts. This phenomenon, the transformation of a cake mix into something heart-attackingly decadent, was pointed out to me by All & Sundry and her commenters. It sounded too good to pass up. As you well know, I can’t see a dessert and not try it.
I had a few obstacles, as there always are in expat life. First off, there’s the missing cake mix (see the original recipe here). I wanted to do a chocolate peanut butter version, so found an easy peasy Devil’s Food recipe online and changed it’s fluids a bit to resemble the altered state of the cake mixes in those recipes. I also changed some amounts to generally make it more to my liking (more chocolate). Then there’s the space issue. Everything in our apartment (everything in Shanghai, really) is sized down to squish into our 2-bedroom, 500 square foot apartment. This means small oven, small bowl, small cake pan, no mixer, etc. So I halved the recipe, which means it fits better in our oven and in our only two stomachs.
My third, and I hate admitting it, obstacle is my desire not to gain 10 pounds after a night with this cake. It is made with a cup of butter, a package of cream cheese and 4 eggs. That adds up to (hang on while I get out the calculator) +/- 290 grams of fat. And I was going to add peanut butter! Crap. So first, by halving the recipe, I cut that number in half! Wahoo! Then I took 3 of the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter out. Gone, just like that. Sorry butter. I used half-the-fat cream cheese and low-fat milk (not no-fat milk, the Chinese don’t appear to believe in this). I did, however, use 3 eggs, because splitting those 4 eggs in the recipe in half doesn’t really make sense for the composition of the cake. You want the lower half to be less cakey ( so less egg, only 1) and the top half to be a bit custardy (more egg, so 3). I didn’t really want to be trying to put ¼ of 2 eggs into one batch of goo and the other ¾ in the other batch of goo. So I put one egg in my bottom layer and 2 in my top, hoping for a peanut butter cheesecake kind of consistency for that top layer. My final count is +/- 120 grams of fat for my half-sized cake. Dang, that still sounds like a lot (spoken with mouth full of cake). I did add all that stupid peanut butter, though.
Now, a few helpful hints to avoid the problems I had. Don’t put your plastic measuring cup in the oven to melt your butter. Plastic melts, dummy, take your head into the kitchen with you next time. Also, don’t underestimate the cooking time, gooey is good, slimy is not.
Here’s the recipe: Oven 350-ish; pan 8×8 or 9×9 or whatever
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons melted butter (with no plastic in)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup milk
½ package light cream cheese
½ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Grease that pan. Mix together all the stuff for the bottom part and sqooge it down into the pan. Don’t wash the bowl because you are lazy. In same bowl, mix together the stuff for the top part (and bring your damn muscles if you don’t have a mixer) and pour it over the top. Bake it for somewhere between 25 and 40 minutes. If 25 minutes, then you will take it out and dig into a corner, think it’s delicious, let it cool a bit, dig a bit more out and realize it’s not done in the middle but is tasty and slimy. If you put it back in at this point for another 10 minutes, you will take it out and find that your cursed oven has given it a dark brown toasted top. Maybe you liked it better slimy.
Now, this is a cake to be served to a kitchen full of family right when it comes out of the oven. A husband who you have deprived of dinner in order to experiment with cake will do in a pinch.