Chocolate Cake with Creme Anglaise and Raspberry Vinegar

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This is by far the best chocolate cake I’ve had; even better than the “from scratch” cakes I’ve tried.  I have always like Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake.  My kids always preferred it over other chocolate cakes.  I recently found  Godiva instant pudding at the grocery store and decided to try it in the boxed cake mix.  It worked out great.  The cake was moist and delicious.  I served it with Creme Anglaise and drizzled raspberry vinegar over the top.  Yes, vinegar and chocolate goes great together.

I learned this recently while I was in North Carolina.  There’s a small shop in downtown Marion, NC called Flavors on Main.  They sell flavored olive oils, infused vinegar, jellies, and spices.  Out of curiosity I sampled their raspberry balsamic vinegar with a piece of brownie.  I was amazed…it was delicious! Actually, everything I have bought there is very good.  Love their jellies also.

I’ve made this cake twice and both times it was a huge hit with the family.  The first time I made it, I used two 8″ square pans and just placed  both layers together without any filling in the center.  The second time I made it, I used my 9″ round pans and filled the center with a chocolate butter cream frosting from my Magnolia’s Bakery cookbook.  I used part dark chocolate and part semi-sweet chocolate.   When using an 8″ pan, cook the cake for 25 minutes; for the 9″ pans it should take around 20 minutes.  Check at around 18 minutes so your cake won’t burn around the edges.  You can try using a sheet pan, bundt pan, or a spring form pan if you don’t plan on filling the center, but it will most likely take 40 minutes or more to cook.

The recipe for the Creme Anglais is from Christopher Kimball’s, “The Dessert Bible.” I love this recipe.  I’ve had creme anglais many other times at restaurants and I must say this beats them all.  It’s very silky!


Ingredients for the Cake:

1 box Duncan Hines Devil’s Food cake mix
1 box Godiva dark chocolate instant pudding
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs


Creme Anglaise: 
(from–Christopher Kimball’s “The Dessert Bible”

2 cups Half and Half (not low fat or fat free)
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Drizzle:
Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar



Instructions for the cake:


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease two 8″ or 9″ cake pans and dust with cocoa powder.
3. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, combine all ingredients (do not over mix)
4. Pour batter into prepared pans.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes for 8″ and 20 minutes for 9″ (I start checking it a           few minutes before the timer sounds). Insert a toothpick in the middle and see if it             comes out clean, then your cake is done.


Instructions for Creme Anglaise:

1. Heat the Half & Half to a simmer in a small saucepan, over medium heat. Do not let it boil. *I like to remove it when it starts to smell like cooked milk.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed 1 -2 quart saucepan until it is creamy and light colored (about 3 minutes). This is easier with an electric mixer.  I’ve done it by hand and it takes a little more effort and time.
3. Slowly add the heated half and half into the egg yolk mixture by adding first 1/4 cup in a slow stream while you whisk it, then adding another 1/4 cup, and finally slowly pouring all of it. You don’t want to cook the eggs, so this has to be done gently.
4. Stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon, over low heat until and instant-read thermometer reaches 178 degrees. This may take about 8-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken as it cooks and as you stir you will notice that the back of a wooden spoon will be coated with the cream mixture. It will not be like pudding or heavy sauce; this is a relatively thin sauce and will thicken slightly more as it cools.
5. Once it is done, pour the sauce through a fine strainer into a small bowl and stir in the vanilla. Use a bowl with a lid so it may be reserved for pouring over your cake, but do not cover until it has rested and is at room temperature. It is best not to refrigerate it immediately, but if you do not use it all in one day, you may refrigerate the remaining custard in the covered bowl and keep it for a couple of days.

When the cakes have cooled, place them one on top of the other. You can add your favorite frosting to the center or leave it without any filling at all.  The cake will absorb the creme anglais and the vinegar drizzle, so it’s really not necessary to add anything extra.  To serve cut the cake, and when plated, pour the Creme Anglaise over each piece served and drizzle with raspberry vinegar.

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