Treasure Cake

When I was a kid, we lived in Eleanor's house for awhile after my mom inherited it. I had my mom's old room, there were palm trees in the front yard, a grapefruit tree in the backyard, and a Spanish tile roof that sounded just amazing during thunderstorms. (There was also green shag carpet which devastated me when my parents removed it). The palm trees dropped tiny nuts that I loved to collect and pretend were pirate money, because clearly it took very little to amuse me. I'd collect giant buckets of them and bury them in our yard or in the playground across the street, and I thought they were awesome. I guess pirates and buried treasure are always awesome, but there's something especially awesome about them when you live in Florida where real pirates made their living and real pirate gold is still being found (at least according to every old man with a metal detector walking the beach after every tropical storm).

So obviously I was excited when I found this recipe for Treasure Cake. Surely it would have something to do with pirates, right? Even Judson got excited that it would be like a king cake and we'd get to bury toys in it. Alas, I thought, when I realised that the 'treasure' was actually just chocolate chips.

We've discussed, ad nauseum, how I, of the world's largest sweet tooth, somehow managed to marry a man who is completely indifferent to the wonders of desserts. Clearly I come by this sweet tooth legitimately, as there's nothing Eleanor loved as much as desserts...

...Which is why I was surprised to find this recipe in the box. I mean, it's a dessert, but it's kind of on the low-end of awesome desserts, since there's no frosting and barely any chocolate (or so I thought). Let not this description deceive you: this cake is a treasure

Hear me out on the list of attributes:

  • It's frosting-free, which means you don't have to plan ahead in order to take it to an event (or even just to have it with dinner), because there's no cooling time to accommodate frosting it.
  • This also means there are fewer dishes to wash.
  • And it's significantly lower in sugar and fat than a frosted cake would be.
  • Plus, maybe it's the beaten eggs or the relatively high amount of baking powder, but this cake rises in the oven to more than twice its original size... which means it somehow strikes the perfect balance between fluffy and cakey.
  • And... if it's your birthday or a day for treating yourself, this cake makes a killer breakfast paired with a dark black cup of coffee.
  • And last, it's stupid that it's taken me this long to realise it, so I'll just come out and say it: I'll take chocolate chips over chocolate cake any day of the week. Something about melting chocolate and then stirring it into the batter makes it lose that perfect chocolatey flavour, whereas sprinkling chocolate chips throughout a thick, buttery batter like this one leaves you with pockets of decadent melted chocolate, just bitter enough to counteract the sweetness of the cake.

Basically, if you don't like sweets, this is totally the dessert for you. And if you DO like sweets, then this is the kind of thing to make for a party where you don't know the audience very well and you don't want to alarm them by bringing something too heavy, decadent, or sweet (like the time I showed up to a party of grown-ups who didn't like sweet things with a giant platter of baked s'mores, which no one touched and I had to take home and eat all by myself, more's the pity).

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. If you're going through a cooking funk like I have been the last few days, this is the perfect, easiest recipe to get you out of it. It's simple, delicious, and versatile, plus, the recipe divides easily into two layers, or you can leave it all in one pan for an insanely high-rise cake. It's definitely best on the first day, but it last 3 days before getting dry.

The recipe:

Treasure Cake

the directions:

Preheat oven to 176C/350F.
Grease 2 round layer cake pans (or one, if you want your cake high like mine).
Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla thoroughly.
Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
Mix and sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add to egg mixture, alternating with milk.
Beat until smooth and well-blended.
Mix in the chocolate chips with the last of the flour.
Pour into cake pan(s) and bake 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

the ingredients:

1/3 c butter
¾ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
2 ¼ c flour, sifted
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 c milk
¾ c chocolate chips (or 1 c if that's how you roll)