My friends! My little friendy friends.
I need to come clean here: I don’t bake.
Allow me to be more precise: I find baking to be totally, completely, utterly, horrifyingly terrifying. Was that too vague for you? Fine. I shall expand further: When I’m cooking, I’m in control. I can taste what I’m cooking, add a little something, try it again, let it simmer, try it again, tweak it further, and finally deliver something to my mouth – and, god forbid, someone else’s mouth – that I already know is delicious. I know, because I tasted it. And it tasted effing great.
But baking? Oh, no. Not with baking. With baking, here’s how it goes:
- Read a food blog. See delicious pictures of delicious thing. Become very hungry. Decide to embark upon a project to cook said delicious thing. Realize that I only have 2/3 of the ingredients (if I’m lucky).
- Go to store. Look for ingredients. Spend 15 minutes trying to find one weird spice/sprinkle color/type of flour. Curse a lot. Ask someone for help. Watch them flounder. Silently curse the day that they were born.
- Return home. Become violently hangry. Eat a leftover chicken breast. Realize I’m not even hungry anymore and am somewhat flummoxed about why I’m baking in the first place.
- Mix ingredients together. Dump in a cup of flour and then realize afterwards that it was supposed to be sifted first (god damnit). Add other ingredients. Mix together. Taste a little bit of the batter from the spoon, but hide that from my husband because he thinks I’ll get salmonella.
- Butter and flour pan(s).*
- *I do not do this. I hate doing this and refuse to do this. I make my husband do this. He likes it, so everybody wins. If it can be sprayed liberally and exuberantly with PAM, I am in.
- Pour batter into pans. THEN remember to preheat the oven (god damnit).
- 20 minutes later, finally put the soon-to-be-baked item into the oven.
- Set timer on oven for 65 minutes. 65 MINUTES?! Check recipe again. That’s right. It will need to cool also. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.
- Shut oven door. Wait for a million years. Take out red-hot pan. Receive blister on hand as thanks for hard work and reminder to never bake again. Go about my life for 2 more hours while it cools.
And then….and then, after all of that, you actually get to try it. AND IT MIGHT NOT EVEN BE GOOD.
But this cake is special. This cake is a dream. It’s a dream wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in another dream. My uncle married a kick-ass lady with a penchant for baking exciting things (she makes BOXES made out of CHOCOLATE), and she brought this creation to Christmas eve dinner a few years ago. I fell utterly and completely in love. POUND CAKE with DARK CHOCOLATE? Sign me up.
It turns out that it’s almost embarrassingly easy to make. You still need to have at least a modicum of patience, and you could still screw it up, but honestly, this cake is pretty simple (I hope you now understand that it’s a big deal for me to say that) and SO delicious. And what a crowd pleaser, for realzies – we served this at Friendsgiving this past year, and everyone went nuts.
Make this cake. Have fun. Just don’t ask me to grease the pan (I MEAN THIS).
Philly Fluff Pound Cake with a Dark Chocolate Swirl
10 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (Optional)
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan. Make your husband do it if you’re smart.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and shortening with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix on low speed until blended – it will be very thick.
3. Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the remaining 1 cup sugar and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until the batter is smooth.
5. Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Top with the melted chocolate and swirl a knife through the batter to marble it. Top with the remaining batter.
6. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 25 minutes. Invert the cake onto a platter and cool completely. Before serving, dust with a generous amount of confectioner’s sugar.