Black Magic Cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing


I found this recipe back in college and have used it ever since as my go-to chocolate cake.  It’s simple to make and very reliable.  The chocolate ganache icing adds a nice touch but is not necessary.

Original recipe for cake

Original recipe for chocolate ganache icing


Black Magic Cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing
Adapted from AllRecipes

Yield: One 2-layer 9″ round cake, one 9″ x 13″ cake, one bundt cake, or 12 cupcakes


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee OR milk (or even water if you’re out of milk)
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR milk (or even water if you’re out of milk)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache Icing

  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or liqueur of your choice (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans, one 9″ x 13″ pan, or a bundt pan, or line a muffin tin with paper cups.
  3. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  4. Add eggs, coffee (or milk), buttermilk (or milk), oil, and vanilla extract.
  5. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be very thin.
  6. Pour into prepared pan(s).
  7. Bake for specified times, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean:
    1. 9″ round pans: 30-40 minutes
    2. 9″ x 13″ pan: 30-40 minutes
    3. Bundt pan: 45 minutes
    4. Cupcakes: 15 minutes
  8. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  9. While cake(s) are cooling, combine chocolate, heavy cream, butter, and brandy or liqueur (if using) in a small saucepan.
  10. On the stove, melt icing ingredients together, stirring frequently, until smooth.
  11. Cool a little before spreading on cake.



This fluffy, buttery half-bread, half-cake dessert comes from Alsace, southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and has different names depending on location (Gugelhupf, Guglhupf, Gugelhopf,…).  It also reminds me of a buttery croissant-inspired bread from a Chinese bakery that I love.    Even though it’s very time consuming to make, it’s definitely worth it!

Baking notes:

  • You’re supposed to make it in a special turban-shaped pan, but if you don’t have one, a regular bundt pan works just as well.
  • If you don’t like or don’t have raisins, you can substitute dried cranberries.
  • This recipe is very time-consuming: about 4 hours to prepare the dough one day, followed by another 3 1/2 hours the next day to let the dough rise and bake.
  • It tastes best the day it’s made.  If it lasts any longer, you should toast slices briefly.


From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

  • 1/3-1/2 cup raisins or cranberries
  • Scant 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup milk, just warm to the touch (preferably whole milk, but fat free works fine)
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. Boil a little water in a small saucepan and toss in raisins or cranberries.
  2. Turn off heat and let steep for 2 minutes (or less if you’re impatient like me).
  3. Drain raisins or cranberries and pat dry.
  4. Put milk in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add yeast and stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved.
  5. Add flour and salt and stir to moisten flour.  The mixture will look shaggy, with dry patches of flour.
  6. In a separate small bowl, beat eggs and yolk together with a fork.
  7. Fit mixer with dough hook if you have one.  With mixer on low speed, pour in eggs and mix until they are incorporated.  Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as necessary.
  8. Add sugar and increase to medium-high speed.
  9. Beat for 5 minutes, until dough comes together and smooths out a little.
  10. Reduce speed to medium and add butter in 4-6 additions.  Squeeze each piece a little to soften it before adding it.  Beat until each piece is almost fully incorporated before you add the next piece.  The dough will be very soft.
  11. On medium-high speed, beat for 10 minutes, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and climbs up the hook.  Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
  12. Remove bowl from mixer.  Stir in raisins or cranberries.
  13. Scrape dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until nearly doubled in size.
  14. Deflate dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall back into the bowl.
  15. Cover dough again and put it in refrigerator.
  16. Slap down the dough every 30 minutes for about 2 hours, until it stops rising.
  17. If you have time, let dough rest in refrigerator overnight. (It can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
  18. Generously butter a 9-inch Kugelhopf mold (8- to 9-cup capacity).
  19. Put chilled dough in pan, trying to spread it evenly.
  20. Cover pan with buttered parchment or wax paper and let dough rise in a warm place for 2-3 hours, until it almost comes to the top of the mold.
  21. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  22. Remove paper and bake for 10 minutes.
  23. Cover pan loosely with a foil tent.
  24. Bake for 15-20 minutes until Kugelhopf is golden brown and has risen to the top or over the top of the pan.
  25. Remove Kugelhopf from oven and unmold onto a wire rack to cool.  It tastes best right out of the oven, when the crust is crispy and the inside is very soft.


Chicken Enchiladas


This is another family recipe from my friend.  He always says that he can’t order enchiladas in restaurants because growing up on these spoiled him.  After tasting them, I have to agree!

Chicken Enchiladas

Yield: 16 enchiladas

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, chopped or cut into thin strips
Olive oil
Garlic clove, mashed
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste
1 can small pitted olives, drained
1 pound grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 small can chopped green chilis (Ortega jalapeno)
2 (10-oz) cans Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce Medium-Red
Vegetable oil for frying
16 corn tortillas

  1. Combine olive oil, mashed garlic clove, chopped onion, chili powder, oregano, salt, and chicken in a saucepan.
  2. Saute until chicken is well cooked.
  3. Remove chicken mixture from pan.
  4. Fill a small frying pan 3/4″ deep in vegetable oil and heat oil until just before it smokes.  Start with the burner on high and turn it down to medium.
  5. In a separate frying pan, heat enchilada sauce until it simmers, then turn down heat to keep sauce warm.
  6. Using tongs, dip tortillas one at a time into hot oil.  Immerse for a few seconds.  Before they turn stiff, remove them, immerse them in enchilada sauce, and then put on a plate.
  7. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  8. For each enchilada, place a few strips of chicken on a tortilla and spread 1/2 teaspoon chopped chilis over them.  Add 3 olives and sprinkle cheese on top.
  9. Roll up enchiladas and place in a jelly roll pan.  Don’t line pan with aluminum foil.
  10. With a spatula, spoon enchilada sauce in a thick ribbon over the middle of the enchiladas.
  11. Sprinkle grated cheese along the middle of the enchiladas and top with each one with an olive half.
  12. Warm enchiladas uncovered in oven for 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

Family Reunion Chilis Rellenos


This chilis rellenos recipe has been passed down in my friend’s family for generations.  It’s definitely a more time-consuming dish to prepare, but it’s well worth it.  The chilis rellenos are addictive!

Family Reunion Chilis Rellenos

Yield: 6 chilis rellenos (6 servings)

6 canned whole green chilis
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/2″ x 3″ rectangles
1 cup flour
12 toothpicks
2 cups corn oil

3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fine masa/corn meal

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Olive oil
Bay leaf
1 large can tomato sauce (the size doesn’t seem to matter too much)
1 large can tomatoes
1 can beef bouillon/beef broth
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
Salt to taste

For the sauce:

  1. In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic until golden.
  2. Add remaining sauce ingredients.
  3. Bring sauce to a boil, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

For the batter:

  1. With the burner on high, heat corn oil in a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer until oil is very hot but not smoking.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  3. Fold in flour and corn meal.
  4. Fold in egg yolks.

For the chilis:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Slice open each chili lengthwise and remove seeds and membrane.
  3. Pat dry and dredge both sides in flour.
  4. Put one rectangle of cheese in each chili.  Fasten closed with 2 toothpicks.
  5. Dip stuffed chilis in batter.
  6. Dip chilis in hot oil and fry until golden brown and puffy.
  7. Transfer to paper towel-lined dish to absorb oil.
  8. Transfer chilis to casserole, pour sauce over them, and heat in oven until bubbling.

Spanish Rice


This Spanish rice dish comes from my friend’s family recipe, and it’s amazing.  It goes wonderfully with dishes such as chilis rellenos.

Spanish Rice

Yield: 4 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white rice
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes and jalapenos (or just stewed tomatoes, if you don’t like spicy foods)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon beef bouillon

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Dump in rice and stir constantly until it turns golden brown.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat.
  4. Add can of diced tomatoes and jalapenos (or stewed tomatoes), water, and beef bouillon.
  5. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.