A couple weeks ago, in my strawberry frenzy, I made Deb Perelman’s Strawberry Summer Cake. While the strawberries are definitely the star of the cake, I found myself enjoying the cake part of the mixture more than the strawberries (if that’s possible). It is the burden of food blogging that when we like a recipe, we start thinking of ways to personalize it to our tastes – change a few things to make it the dish of our dreams. And so it was with the strawberry cake.
complained observed that since coming to California, I’ve had to be more conscientious about how much I cook. When I lived in VA, I thought nothing of making a large batch of cupcakes or salsa because I knew I could pawn the excess off on our friends. That’s simply not an option here in California.
In light of that truth, I’ve had to downsize my baking. I often find myself apologizing to Amanda when she comes home to find cookies or a cake cooling on the counter while I’m preparing dinner; I feel I have to legitimize my decision to introduce yet another calorie-filled treat into the apartment. But my feelings of guilt are relieved when I can downsize – make smaller things. Smaller batches, and yes, smaller cake.
Small cakes are cute cakes. Think of the topper of a wedding cake. No one makes a cake that small on purpose (except movita beaucoup, perhaps, but she’s a super legit baking goddess). When I got the Joy the Baker cookbook, I was happy to find a bunch of “single girl” recipes – one-serving recipes for molten chocolate cake and pancakes. But I’m not a single girl either. There are two of us. Two women who can put away some food, just not that much.
Like Goldilocks, I have been searching for the recipes that are not too big, not too small – juuuuuust right.
Sometimes, though, it’s not the recipe we need to look at. It’s the container in which we cook the dish.
For my birthday, one of our neighbors gave me an absolutely adorable stoneware casserole dish, but about 1/3 the normal size. This 5 1/2″ x 7″ dish makes a rectangular cake that easily cuts into 6 very sensibly-sized portions.
So let’s return for a moment to that strawberry cake with the divine buttery-sugary cake base. While I like strawberries (a lot), I love chocolate. As a teenager, I decorated my bedroom in vintage Hershey’s memorabilia. I took my senior pictures in a Hershey’s t-shirt. This weirdness goes deep.
I wanted to mix semisweet chocolate with this buttery-sugary divine cake. My first thought was ganache, but I thought I didn’t have heavy cream (epic fail: I did have heavy cream, and I didn’t realize it until two days later). So I thought, why not make it like a cookie, but in cake form.
And with that, the Chocolate Chip Cake. I’m a fan of salty with my sweet, so after I sprinkled the top of the cake with a layer of chocolate chips, I added a little sprinkle of fleur de sel as well. To each her own.
Goldilocks Chocolate Chip Cake
Adapted just slightly from smitten kitchen
Let’s say Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood live in one of the 12 fantastic states where their marriage is legal and want to eat cake, but don’t want to have tons and tons of cake lying around for a week. This cake would be juuuuuuust the right size for them to eat, enjoy, and finish within days without it going bad and thereby being wasted, something that really bugs the crap out of Goldilocks.
If you don’t have a 5 1/2″ x 7″ casserole dish, just double the recipe and use an 8×8″ dish. Or, you can leave the recipe as is, and use 4 small ramekins.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the plate
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Semisweet chocolate chips, to taste
Fleur de sel (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 5 1/2″ x 7″ casserole dish (see note above for dishes).
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluff, 2-3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk, and vanilla just until combined. Stir in half of dry mixture, mixing until just combined. Repeat with second half. Don’t over-work the batter.
Pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with chocolate chips; you want to try and create a single layer of chocolate chips as the cake will puff up around them.
If you are so inclined, add a delicate sprinkle of fleur de sel.
Bake cake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake an additional 20 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or cool; like a chocolate chip cookie, there’s no wrong way to eat it.