It’s true. I’ve been cooking recipes from this silly, dusty, amazing, special cardboard box for one entire year. I’ve made eleven cheesecakes, dozens of cookies, about a million casseroles, and more pie crust than I care to remember.
I’ve had some wild successes as well as some abysmal failures, and for every thing that I’ve learned, at least one more question has arisen: I've become great at melting chocolate! Why don't my cakes rise the way Eleanor's recipes almost inevitably say they will? I'm an amazing crepe-flipper! Why do nearly all of my recipes cook in half the time Eleanor promised they would? My pie crust is the butteriest, flakiest pie crust in all of Scotland! Why can't any of these recipes use cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate? I like casseroles! Why can't I make a batch of icing without coating my entire kitchen in a fine dusting of powdered sugar? I can make a soufflé! Why does every recipe in this box require me to sift flour? The weirdest things taste good, even when you think they won't!
I’ve conquered a huge amount of my cooking fears: things like making crepes, soufflés, and meringues no longer elude me. I’ve discovered go-to recipes for my favourite cheesecake, cranberry sauce, and an amazing recipe for apricot cookies. My patience and willingness to try new recipes has improved, and my ability to experiment successfully is constantly getting better.
Before you ask, though, Aunt Jenny is not my Aunt Jenny... or at least she's not only my Aunt Jenny. Aunt Jenny is the WORLD'S Aunt. The 1950s equivalent to Betty Crocker, Aunt Jenny was the mascot to a company called Spry, which was a major competitor to Crisco. In grammatically questionable history, Aunt Jenny is famed for her slogan 'With Spry, we can afford to have cake oftener!' Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Spry was a major competitor to Crisco and a staple of the New York City skyline, where they had a giant blinking sign that was visible from Brooklyn and probably viewed by Eleanor on a daily basis.* So, really, it's a miracle I only have the one recipe from Aunt Jenny, given Eleanor's love of all things cake-related.
So, when choosing a recipe to celebrate one year of successes, failures, trials, experiments, and taste-tests, what else could I possibly have chosen besides a chocolate cake? And since, in my humble opinion, homemade whipped cream will always trump almost any other ingredient,** here's a chocolate cake topped with fresh, sweetened whipped cream and bitter chocolate shavings. Perfect for enjoying like a grown-up, with a glass of red wine while you celebrate your accomplishments... and keep wondering what went wrong with the disasters.
*The other reason I know that this recipe dates to the 1950s is that the back of it includes an ad encouraging pregnant women to smoke Lucky Strikes, so... glad we've learned our lesson on that one.
**Except cheese, duh.
5 spoons out of five. A dense crumb due to the whipped cream sandwiched between the layers, a sweet lid with dark, bittersweet chocolate complementing the cloud of whipped cream, and double layers for added deliciousness? What else could you want out of a celebration cake?
Grease two 8” square or round cake pans and line bottom with parchment.
Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Into a large mixing bowl, pour sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Stir gently, then add shortening or Stork, melted chocolate, evaporated milk, and 1 tsp vanilla.
Beat on very low speed until combined and smooth, approximately 45 seconds.
Add 2 eggs, then blend on low speed until combined and smooth, another 45 seconds, scraping sides of bowl.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a pick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Turn cakes out of pans and allow to cool thoroughly before decorating.
Once cakes have cooled, make whipped cream: blend cream, powdered sugar, and ¼ tsp vanilla at high speed until light and fluffy.
Layer half of cream between the layers of the cake, then spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the cake.
Decorate with shaved chocolate curls and chill for several hours before serving.
Once chilled, pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy.
You deserve it.
1 ¾ c cake flour, sifted
1 1/3 c sugar
3 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2/3 c shortening or Stork
2 oz chocolate, melted and cooled, plus extra for shaving
1 c evaporated milk
1 tsp + ¼ tsp vanilla, divided
2 c double cream or whipping cream
½ c powdered sugar, sifted