Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chocolate Joy Cake

Thanks to Betty Crocker, I now know what men from 1938 like: they apparently liked Chocolate Joy Cake. 

I know this because it comes from a recipe out of a 1938 Betty Crocker cookbook called New Editions of Old Favorites Men Like. I wasn't reading that book exactly, the recipe was reprinted in one that I was, called Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food. 

It's not a secret that I am an avid reader. I go stir crazy if I don't have something to read, so I usually have more than one book going at the same time:  one on my night stand, one in my purse, and one definitely in my car (most practical people prepare for the unfortunate occurrence of car trouble by keeping tools in their car; I keep reading material). I enjoy reading many different types of books, but lately I’ve been going through a phase of reading about anything food-related. This is a broad category encompassing juicy chef memoirs, intensely informative books on the consequences of our eating habits, and books on the history of food and the food industry.   

This is where Betty, and my newfound knowledge of her, comes in. Invented in 1921 as a marketing tool for the Washburn Crosby Company (which later, through mergers and acquisitions, would become the General Mills that we know today), it was interesting to learn that a lot of people thought Betty Crocker was a real person. The public would write letters to her seeking advice about cooking, but also about love and marital issues, which, really, is kind of strange. But knowing the time period, and that Betty was fielding questions on that topic, it's not strange to see that an entire cookbook was created with recipes that women could use to woo and keep their men. Hence: Chocolate Joy Cake. I saw the recipe in the book and thought: Why not?

Considering what I went through last time, making this cake was simple, and, I'd even go so far as to say relaxing (but that's also because I had an entire lazy Saturday to spend on it). 

How did it turn out? Well, I shared this with my husband (so that I can woo him and keep him happy) and my neighbors (because I need to woo and keep them happy, too). The agreed upon word to describe the cake is this: fudge. As in, it tastes fudgy and chocolatey and good. I had no complaints from anyone but myself: I didn't like the icing (it consists of a lot of powdered sugar). I would definitely make the cake again, but I would experiment with a different icing. Meanwhile, I've been told that the remaining cake will not be in existence much longer. Some men around here apparently really like it.

Chocolate Joy Cake
From New Editions of Old Favorites Men Like, by Betty Crocker
Reprinted in Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food, by Susan Marks

3 sq. chocolate (3 oz), grated or shaved
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)
1-2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour milk or buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour

Chocolate Icing:
6 tbsp shortening (I used butter)
1 egg yolk
3 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tbsp cocoa
3 to 4 tbsp hot water

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

2) Mix shaved chocolate with hot water and cook to a thick paste, stirring constantly, about 3  to 5 minutes (I did this by putting the chocolate and hot water in a small stainless steel bowl and placing it over a saucepan of boiling water, so that I wouldn't scorch the chocolate). Set aside to cool.

3) Cream shortening, then add sugar gradually and cream thoroughly. Beat eggs well and blend into the creamed mixture. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend well.

4) Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the buttermilk and flour mixture to the creamed by adding them alternately while blending thoroughly. 

5) Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then loosen the cakes around the edges and invert onto the wire rack. Cool completely.

Make the icing:
Cream the shortening and blend in the egg yolk. Whisk together the flour and cocoa and alternate adding it and the hot water to the creamed mixture. Beat until smooth.

Assemble the cake:
Spread the chocolate icing between the layers and over the top and sides of the cake. *Note, I did find that I needed a double batch of icing, but it wasn't totally necessary: I just really loaded on the icing.


  1. I have a couple of thoughts on this. First, Betty Crocker wasn't REAL? Are you kidding me? I feel so...foolish..and so...TAKEN. Second, I love reading books from the 50's - like Helloise's Kitchen Hints. You might want to add that to your automobile first aid kit. Third, ask that nicest-guy-on-earth neighbor of yours, cousin of mine, if he remembers eating our grandmother's chocolate cake. It was the best chocolate cake I ever had - and it had coffe as one of the ingredients. I'll try this one you've just posted sometime when the gluten-free boys are away and we gluten-tastic girls can go gluten crazy!Betty Crocker isn't real...sigh.

  2. Oh wow. Really? You didn't, um, know? What I mean is, this whole post was entirely made up. Seemed pretty believable, right? Of COURSE Betty is real! :-)
    Second - I love the suggestion for my automobile first aid kit. It will be added (also, because Heloise rocks).
    Third - why has Ryan not told me about this awesome cake yet?? I'm going to go barge into his apartment and demand some answers.

  3. Consider me "wooed and Happy" even with your BARGING into the apartment