Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Checkerboard Cake with Old Fashioned Chocolate Icing

It's my second son's 17th birthday today.  Given the condition of my hands, I wasn't really in the mood to bake him a cake.

BUT not making him a cake just wouldn't feel right to me.

I thought I should do something very easy.  I have been wanting to try out Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake, a recipe great for beginners.  Would certainly suit me at this time.

Then I remembered my checkerboard cake pans.  I never ever used them after the terrible experience I had buying them.  Maybe it was high time I did.

One thing I can tell you....the checkerboard cake experience wasn't a breeze at all.  Because my fingers are not quite fully functional, I made quite a mess! I found it really difficult filling up the dividers neatly with the two cake batters.  I had to wash a whole lot of bowls and utensils as well. Talk about planning to do something easy!

Was the trouble worth it?

Here's the cake covered in an old fashioned chocolate icing.  Doesn't look impressive at this point.

Ta Da! Beautiful, isn't it? The checkerboard is a little bit wonky but I am forgiving myself given my circumstance! Next time I try this, I'm sure I'll do better.
The cake recipe I used is from the Cake Bible of Rose Levy Beranbaum.  You can find the recipe here.  I'm totally a chiffon cake girl (you know that by now), so this is not the sort of cake I would typically make. Having said that, however, I still enjoyed the cake, it being moist and tender.  The chocolate flavour is very mild. A little to mild for me actually.  Ms. Beranbaum did do this intentionally so as not to overpower the yellow cake's flavour. 

The chocolate icing is my aunt's recipe.  Tasting this icing after so many years just took me right back to my childhood!  The icing is a spreadable one and  remains soft and creamy even when refrigerated, much like the caramel icing. It is, however, not suitable for piping.  What my aunt used to do was cover her chocolate cake with this icing then use buttercream to do the borders and decorations.  

Just one note - I reckon the milk in my aunt's recipe really refers to evaporated milk (because it is what they most often used) but I am not 100% certain about this so I am sticking to whole milk until I am able to verify.  Feel free to experiment. Also, with this icing recipe, I was able to fill (thinly) and frost the three-layered checkerboard cake shown here.

Here is the recipe for you!

(makes about 2 1/2 cups icing)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk, divided
2 tablespoons butter

1. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the milk.
2. In a medium saucepan and over a low-medium heat, bring the remaining milk to a soft boil.
3. Add the chocolate mixture from step 1 to the boiling milk.  Whisk continuously until mixture is thick and of a spreading consistency. (This will not take very long.)
4. Remove from heat then add the butter.  Mix until butter is fully melted and incorporated.  Set aside to cool. (The icing will thicken a bit more upon cooling.) 

Let me know what you think of the icing if ever you get to try it, ok? Enjoy!

PS. My fingers are healing quite well (but look really disgusting). Thank you for your prayers and well wishes!


  1. Your cake looks delicious and beautiful. Thank you for the icing recipe. I will have to try it soon. I am glad to hear your fingers are healing. I hope it is not too painful.

  2. Hola Corinne, no me acuerdo cómo llegué aquí, pero me encantó tu blog.

  3. Hi Corinne !!!!

    Thank you for sharing this Choco Icing Recipe... you are truly heaven sent for first timers like me.... if its not too much, i'd like to ask for your help in doing royal icing because i tried several times to make one for my cupcakes but unfortunately they always end up either soggy or watery after a few hours ( i tried using just egg whites and confectionery sugar / and then i also tried with cream of tartar but still getting the same result :( ) Hope you can help me on this one....

    thanks in advance and God bless you and your family !

    1. I don't really make royal icing but from what I know, you should use it straightaway after making. Also, if it seems soggy, maybe try beating in more powdered sugar to get it to the right consistency for piping. Sorry I couldn't be of much help!

    2. Thanks Corrine for the response... may i ask what icing /frosting do you use for your cupcakes ? i tried vanilla buttercream frost but not getting the best result as well because it gets soggy /oily after a few hours.. What are -the cost-efficient ingredients i can use for my small-scale/homebased cupcake business ? Super thanks again for sharing your expertise to first timers like us ..

      much love from the philippines :) danggle

    3. Can you email me at pike(dot)corinne(at)yahoo(dot)com so I can answer your questions via email?

      Also, what buttercream recipe are you using?

    4. Hi Corrine,

      I tried sending my response to your email add but having problems (mail is bouncing back. Hope you can email me at danggle@gmail.com so i can reply with my inquiries... again, thanks for the support .

  4. Hello Corinne! I tried making your chocolate icing and they melt in humid weather. Did you have the same issues?

    Anywho, I'm attempting again this weekend and increase amount of Cornstarch and reduce the milk just a tad.

    1. I don't usually make this icing so can't really tell how well it holds up in humid weather. What I can tell you though is that my aunties used this recipe in their bakeshop in the Philippines where it is also hot and humid.